The 730Li is among the larger cars in BMW Malaysia’s fleet. Its wheelbase at 3,210mm is 140mm longer than the F01 7 series. The car’s width excluding the side mirrors is 1,902mm while its length is 5,212mm. These dimensions are considered physically imposing and are not the norm for sedan cars in Malaysia. This I found out when I tried to fit this car into a designated car park. The sides just fit the yellow box nicely but the rear still stood out by quite a fair margin.
The F01 and F02 are the latest redesigned 7 Series and its design cues appear to have inspired and influenced the recent F10 5 Series. At the front the twin large kidney grills take prominence, conveying an immediate recognition from afar that this is a BMW car.
The rear lights are slightly larger than the previous E65 facelift. Overall, the design of the F02 is more aerodynamic than the E65 but retains a very businesslike image which will put those who are uncomfortable with revolutionary designs at ease.
The sampled model is the entry level 7 series car in Malaysia and is fully assembled in Thailand. Although this is an entry level car, the specs are still quite comprehensive. Some of the features which are not commonly found in the 3 and 5 series include a backup (reverse) camera, Dynamic Driving Control, rear CD/DVD player with 8 inch LCD inch displays, soft close function for doors, illuminated vanity mirrors for front and rear passengers and a 10.2 inch control display with 12 GB of storage facility.
The list of safety features are comprehensive with multiple airbags at front, side, head and rear (curtain), Dynamic Stability Control including Traction Mode (DTC), ABS, Brake Assistant, ISOFIX child seat attachment, Safety battery terminal, Safety body shell with crumple zones, Side impact protection, and Inertia-reel seat belts.
The car is equipped with the iDrive Navigation System Professional plus Bluetooh and telematics (voice control). The car also comes with an electric sunroof and electric sunblinds for rear and side windows.
The centre console house the iDrive controller, the gearshift lever (which works similar to the 5 series), control buttons for Dynamic Driving Control & Parking brake and a lockable centre armrest.
There is plenty of leg room and headroom for the driver. The doors are sturdy and are equipped with an automatic soft close function. This system automatically closes the doors firmly in the event any of the doors are partially closed (the door needs to at least click on the latch). This does away with the need to slam the doors and also makes closing the doors a relatively quiet affair.
The black Dakota leather seats are firm, comfortable and provide good support. The front seats are electronically adjustable with memory functions. The dashboard layout is unique as the main controls are arched towards the driver and the glove box area is pushed forward to provide more legroom for the front passenger.
A DVD changer is housed above the two section glove compartment. The carpet used for the car floor needs to be improved. It leaves dark marks when it is pushed against the grain and creates an untidy appearance even when the car floor is clean.
The instrument panel is unique and is one of the highlights of this car. It utilizes the black panel technology whereby only the chrome rings of the circular analogue instruments are visible once the car is switched off. When the doors open, the LCD display comes to life and the full display of the four analogue instruments become visible. This display has two colours, white in the day and amber (when the lights are switched on) at night, and it displays a wealth of information about the car.
The 730Li is powered by a 2,996 cc six-cylinder in-line N52B30 powerplant with Valvetronic and Double-VANOS technology. The engine churns out a max output of 190kW (258PS) @ 6,600 rpm and a max torque of 310Nm @ 2,500 – 3,000 rpm. Acceleration from 0 to 100km/h is achievable in 7.8 seconds and its CO² emissions are 229g/km. The engine sounds very refined upon ignition and idles at around 700 – 800 rpm.
The first challenge in driving a car of this size is to reverse. Thankfully, the Park Distance Control and the rear view camera come in handy. The rear view camera is activated once you engage the reverse gear and enables you to have a clear full colour rear views on the 10.2 inch LCD display. The green line (driving line) and red lines (turning circle) offers a simple guided and nearly fail proof way to reverse without damaging your rear end.
The engine does a good job of hauling a car of this size and weight (1,930 kg unladen) with brisk acceleration and responsiveness. The free-revving nature of the engine and the high first and second gears make hard acceleration an exhilarating experience. At first gear the engine revved all the way close to the red line at 7,000 rpm before the next gear change.
I felt the engine is tuned for a bit more power and torque. The rpm showed that the engine was running at slightly higher speeds than expected when the car was cruising at 110 km/h. Transmission is a 6 speed automatic with Steptronic. Gear changes are so smooth it is difficult to tell which gear you are in at times.
The car’s standard leather steering wheel with multifunction buttons can be adjusted electronically. The steering is accurate, light and very easy to steer although I prefer a bit more weight and feedback. The cruise control is operated via the multi function buttons on the left side. To use it first press on the I/O button then press on the “Set” button to lock at the current speed. To increase or reduce speed push upwards or downwards on the small lever switch. There will be a green light indicator plus details on the cruise speed on the instrument panel.
The Dynamic Driving Control which incorporates the Dynamic Damping Control enhances the driving dynamics and driving comfort. This system configures the shock absorbers, stability controls and shifting strategy of the car. It is activated via two control buttons on the right side of the gear lever. There are 4 different programs available ie Comfort, Normal, Sport and Sport +. In the Sports + mode, the DSC is deactivated.
Generally I found little difference between Comfort and Normal programs. In these settings, the car felt very smooth and comfortable, matching some of the higher end cars with soft and comfortable suspension set-ups. The engine purrs as gear changes occur in a very smooth and refined manner. As a driver this felt very un-BMW like but should appeal to those who are first time converts to this luxury model.
I found myself and the other alternate driver preferring to keep our settings to Sport and Sport +. In these programs you can feel the suspension tighten, a rise in the engine note and gearchanges occurring rapidly. This felt more BMW-like although credit to the engineers, the car still maintained a very firm grip on the road even at the softer Comfort and Normal programs. Tyres are 18 inch Dunlop Sp Sport run flats (254/50 R18) which performed beyond my expectations with good grip and low road noise.
The specs stated an average fuel consumption of about 9.8 litres per 100 km (EU test cycle) based on a tank capacity of 82 litres. In the actual test drive on town roads and highway runs, the on board computer registered a relatively high fuel consumption of about 13.9 liters per 100 km. This was not unexpected due as we ran mostly on Sports mode and with a fair bit of spirited driving.
The boot is spacious with a capacity of 500 litres of space. The opening and closing of the boot is automated. The boot can be opened via the remote control, the button near the driver’s footwell or by pressing the switch near the number plate. Closing the boot is done by pressing on the button inside the compartment lid.
The car is constructed with rear passengers comfort in mind. Due to the large wheelbase, there is plenty of legroom for rear passengers, allowing even for taller passengers room to stretch their legs.
For entertainment there is an 8 inch LCD display on each side powered by a common DVD/CD player at the rear console. The quality of the LCD display is adequate but not to high definition standards. Perhaps the next facelift should have LED screens which have better contrast and colour accuracy.
The suspension system appears state of the art, the specs listing features such as self-levelling pneumatic rear suspension, Double-joint spring strut front axle and multi-arm rear axle and Aluminium integral rear axle. It sounds a mouthful but it works as even at the firmer Sport program, comfort levels remain high.
The car’s main entertainment system which comprised HiFi loudspeaker system with digital amplifier and 12 loudspeakers performed within expectations. The overall sound is balanced, full and leaning more towards a bass heavy sound. As with all the BMW cars tested so far the radio reception is first rate and is able to lock into radio stations with minimal distortions.
There is plenty of ambient light and interior/reading lights to make it a cosy affair at night. Both front and rear passengers each have their own individual reading light which is of sufficient brightness. The car’s Dynamic Xenon headlights for high and low beam, including automatic headlight range control provide superior illumination of the road ahead for easy and safer driving at night.
The 730Li makes a compelling argument for those who appreciate the finer things in life. The car has characteristics that can please both the driver and passenger. As a driver the car still has the option of retaining the renowned BMW feel and set-up that may be enough to persuade the owner to trade places with the chauffeur once a while. As a passenger it offers good comfort levels, generous leg room and a rear entertainment system to make it an enjoyable ride.
For those who wish to scale to greater heights, the higher end 760Li includes more comprehensive features like the Integral Active Steering, Night Vision, Head Up display, Lane Departure Warning System, Seat Heating, Massage functions, Individual Refrigerator Box, Fine-grain Merino leather seats, but all these come at a cost of more than double the asking price of the 730Li.
|6-cylinder in-line petrol engine with Valvetronic
|190 kW (258 hp) / 6,600 rpm
|310 Nm / 2,600 – 3,000 rpm
|9.8 ltr/100km (combined)
Source: BMW Brochure
Note: Please reconfirm the above specifications with an authorized BMW dealer
Click on these to sample sounds from the car!