September 05, 2005 By Kevin C. Limjoco

BMW 730 Li

New to the BMW showrooms across the country is the newly revised 730Li (E65). The local offerings are incredibly kitted out with practically every option tagged in the ‘personalization’ program punch list form dual LCD TV to moonroofs. After driving a 730d for almost two thousand kilometres in Europe I was especially interested how the new gasoline magnesium/aluminum 258bhp   Bi-VANOS VALVETRONIC (BMW’s patented technology that regulates the volume of induction air without the need for a throttle butterfly) 3.0 liter dohc incline-6 would be able to effectively carry such a majestic road warrior compared with the diesel’s E60 M5 matching 384 lbs. ft of torque carrying slightly more weight. In contrast to my 2 week long Euro jaunt, our ultra luxurious black 730Li test unit, the personal steed of BMW Philippines President Dr. Joerg Breuer, was driven only for a day. A lot can happen in a day.

The driving dynamics of a BMW are not diuted one iota in the new 730Li, Even with the added wheelbase length of 138mm (5.4”) and a whooping 140mm (5.5”) increase in overall body length over that of the non-Li models, principally the 730d and 730i only, the slightly lower ( 7mm lower) 730Li is still an excellent and nimble car to drive at a sacrifice of only 30kg (66 lbs.) additional weight.

The BMW 730Li features an aluminum suspension which offers outstanding steering precision, exceptional agility and well-balanced driving characteristics. The chassis and suspension of the 730Li combine superior agility and sporting performance on the one hand, with superior comfort on the other. The chassis and suspension of the 2006 BMW 7 Series has been updated and enhanced. The rear track is wider by 14 millimeters or 0.55 inches. Combined with enhanced suspension kinematics and BMW’s revolutionary Active Roll Stabilization, the 7 Series will continued to offer an unparalleled driving experience. There is a Sport Package offered with unique suspension calibration and wheels but it’s futile since not 99.8% but all 100% of 7 Series in the Philippines will be driven by chauffeurs and not their owners, a real tragedy. The 7 Series is such a incredible driving machine even with its massive girth and presence.

The hood, kidney grill, the headlights and the front air dam have all been revised and at the rear there is a new chrome trim strip, modified tail lights and a redesigned rear air dam. The high-end Adaptive Drive suspension which now combines Dynamic Drive with BMW’s EDC-C continuously adjustable damper control system is standard along with the rear self-leveling system which maintains consistent car height and ground clearance when under load. Furthermore BMW has also refined the iDrive control system in an effort to make it more user-friendly. It features an optimized menu guidance, upgraded presentation of menus and direct access to the various entertainment functions. Rear passenger have their own iDrive controls as well as the ability to fully control all creature comforts from climate to the DVD system. Speaking of audio system, how does 13 speakers sound through the HiFi Professional Logic7? I’ve run out of superlatives! You must hear it to believe it. But that day I had switched off to listen to the characteristic song of the BMW 24 valve inline-6 and the chirping of marginally challenged tires gently massaging its adhesion threshold on the mountain side roads.

The 730Li uses a six-speed automatic transmission with Steptronic and is guided by a sophisticated steering column stalk and manually shifted by steering wheel swithches. Road irregularities are soaked up like a sponge. The car still runs tauntly but very comfortable nonetheless. For me its precisely that tauntness that gives me the control and confidence to explore the car’s limits without any concern of the car’s inabilities which it doesn’t have. A BMW can almost always do more than you think. The ultimate weakness is the driver’s skill-set. Thankfully BMW will train all the chauffeurs of their distinguished customers. A lot of folks think the training is to master the functions of the iDrive. The training is holistic, from driving to car care, to protecting the value of the substantial investment.

Since its global launch in 2001, the 7 Series has experienced steady sales growth. With sales of almost 160,00 worldwide, the fourth generation is the most successful BMW maximum luxury car to date. In the German market, the 7 Series is the market leader in the luxury segment and the car has also shown significant growth in the developing sales markets of Asia, Middle East, Eastern Europe, Oceania and Africa. Conservative America still haven’t embraced the car hence the inevitable physical appearance adjustment to make the car visually less progressive.

The technology innovation of the new inline-6 does not end with the use of a composite magnesium/alumimun block and magnesium head, nor with the sophisticated valve train and control. It’s their combined result with intelligent ECU calibration that allows the engine to produce a wider torque powerband of 221 lbs.-ft from 2,500 to 4,00 rpm, which is the most critical upshot in keeping with the athletic dynamics required by BMW enthusiasts. So, even if the gasoline engine may make less torque than its diesel brother, the 730Li is actually lighter than the short wheelbase 730d by 65kg (143 lbs.) or effectively one passenger, and balance out the performance nuances. The culmination of all this technology means nothing if the car doesn’t drive like it’s supposed to.

Starting the engine by the default stepping on the brake and pushing the start button woke a muted engine, much quieter than expected. Slotting the gear stalk to drive takes a gentle tug towards yourself then down to a simple “D”. After a torque  braked launch, I was off. I didn’t feel the weight as much as the length. Acceleration from 0-100 km/h is a very respectable 7.9 seconds and the 730Li will hit an ungoverned 244km/h top speed and sustain it for as long as you have fuel! But when the corners started coming, especially in the tight ones, the long wheelbase made the 730Li a little uneasy, if a smidgen nervous, but after some minor steering adjustments, the 18”wheels and 245/50 ZR18 tires would sink their teeth again. You never lose confidence, you simply increase effort, not a lot but it is perceptible coming from a 730d. The handling is ultimately phenomenal for such a big car. Its just amazing how BMW can consistently transfer its characteristic driving dynamics troughout the product range.

The 760Li, 750i, 740Li and 745d are also available but since these cars will always be ridden and not driven, the larger engines are pointless for any practical use and measure. But there will be those inevitable purchases made just to outdo one another like schoolboys. I know that the 7- series is primarily targeted for captains of industry and head-of-state, but I really wish their owners would at least try to personally involve themselves in the car beyond seating in the back seat. They would appreciate their purchase a whole lot more and perhaps might even lure them to start driving again.

 

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