Home >mint-lounge >business-of-life >BMW 730Ld: In the lap of luxury

The petrol-powered version of the latest 7-series luxury limousine, the 750Li, impressed us because not only was it a match for the Mercedes S-class, the Jaguar XJ and the Audi A8 in terms of luxury and comfort, it also moved the game far ahead in terms of performance and technology. However, it is important to factor the 730Ld, the diesel version of the same car, into the equation when you consider the 7-series line-up. That’s because the 730Ld M Sport is assembled in India, while the petrol 750Li is a CBU (completely built-up) import. This means that while the 750Li M Sport costs 1.55 crore (ex-showroom, all-India), the 730Ld M Sport costs 1.19 crore.

More importantly, diesel is still the more popular choice for luxury cars (except in the National Capital Region, where there is currently a ban on diesel cars with engine displacement of more than 2,000cc).

In terms of looks, the diesel 7-series is almost identical to its petrol sibling. The only difference is the default 18-inch or optional 19-inch wheels instead of the 20-inch wheels on the petrol car. There’s the “Design Pure Excellence" trim, which uses “Dakota" leather for the interior. The locally assembled 730Ld feels just like one built in Germany. In terms of comfort and luxury, it’s right up there with the S-class, but the cabin feels too straightforward for a luxury car.

The 7-series is huge, with a lot of the space enhancements going to the back seat. The seats themselves are incredibly comfortable and adjustable in a multitude of ways. A really cool feature is a Samsung tablet that acts as a remote control for some of the car’s features. When it comes to the gadgetry, BMW’s iDrive is better than it has ever been. It can now be controlled using a click-wheel dial, a touch pad, the touch screen, even hand gestures. The interface is smooth and the new functionality—apart from the gestures, which are a little clunky and feel like work in progress—is superb.

BMW’s 2,993cc in-line, six-cylinder diesel motor produces 265hp and 620Nm torque, which is 7hp and 60Nm more than in the previous-generation car. While that outdoes some rivals, it’s still a little short of the Jaguar XJ’s mighty engine, which produces 300hp and 700Nm. Still, the actual performance is stronger than the numbers suggest. BMW claims that the car can do 0-100 kmph in 6.2 seconds, and performance is also propelled by the fact that the 7-series has a relatively light kerb weight of 1,795kg, thanks partly to the use of carbon-fibre reinforced plastic in its chassis.

You also hear a lot less of the motor in the cabin, and that could be down to a more refined engine and/or better insulation.

There are three drive modes—Eco Pro, Comfort and Sport: Each alters steering, suspension, engine, gearbox, even the performance of the cabin air conditioner. The Eco Pro mode reduces power for maximum fuel efficiency. In the Comfort mode, the motor is tuned to casual driving. The Sport mode comes into the picture if you want to drive flat out. In this mode, the digital dials on the information cluster glow red, the seat bolsters become tighter around your midriff and engine performance is at its peak.

Previously, the 7-series used air suspension only on the rear axle; now, that type of suspension is available on all four wheels—and this has made a huge difference to the ride quality. It feels pillow-soft in the Comfort mode, ironing out bumps well. It is, in fact, an improvement over the previous car across all modes.

The 7-series deftly belies its mammoth proportions with good old-fashioned steering and suspension tuning, as well as perfect weight distribution. The steering is lighter now while remaining perfectly accurate, and the air-suspension system reacts faster for a more comfortable ride.

In the last few years of its life cycle, it was hard to recommend the previous 7-series over its newer, more accomplished rivals. The new 7-series, however, puts BMW back in the super luxury game with its superbly appointed cabin and truckload of technology. Its ride perhaps lacks that last degree of finesse that an S-class has, but the new 730Ld is a far improved limousine to be chauffeured in. And in case you occasionally drive it yourself, it will still be a lot of fun.

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