2022 BMW 735i Review : Savoir Faire
Singapore - There aren’t many cars that can encapsulate the splendour and prestige of a Rolls-Royce. There’s a reason that it's often referred to as the “Best car in the world”, or why it’s heralded as the epitome of luxury motoring.
Carmakers have tried, and many have come close, but none of them has really nailed down the exact formula that makes a Rolls-Royce… a Rolls-Royce.
But when you consider the facts, the new 7th generation BMW 7 Series could be considered a distant relative.
Like a Rolls-Royce, it is a product of the BMW AG consortium. Like a Phantom or a Ghost, it is a full-sized luxury saloon with automatic closing doors. It may not bear the Spirit of Ecstasy on its hood, but this is perhaps the best visual representation of luxury from the Bavarians we've seen in recent years. And it all begins with its regal, slab-sided monolithic appearance.
BMW 735i - Bling My Whip
Right off the bat, it has to be said that the new 7er may not be for everyone’s eyes. While its looks aren’t as divisive as the massive grilles on the 4 Series (and BMW i4, and M4 Coupe and M3 Sedan) or as polarising as the electric iX SUV, it is a massive deviation from the previous G11/12-generation 7 Series. Both in terms of looks and size.
The new 7er only comes as a long wheelbase model, but even then it's a big step up over the previous (G12) LWB 7er. Its frame has been elongated by 130mm and its wheelbase extended by an additional 5mm, it also sits 51mm higher and 48mm wider than the outgoing LWB model.
To put it into perspective, that makes it longer than a Bentley flying spur, wider than a 1st generation Rolls-Royce Ghost and taller than a Mercedes-Maybach S-Class. That’s a lot of real estate for an abundance of chrome lashings and numerous flashy accoutrements.
That being said, it often boils down to buyer’s preference and individual specifications that can make or break a car. Tick the right boxes in the options list and the new 7 Series could look very special indeed.
Our 735i test car’s Oxide Grey and Tanzanite and Blue paintwork paired with BMW Individual 21-inch rims certainly looks and feels the part of a grandiose luxury sedan. Especially so when you take in the sheer size of the car, the Swarovski crystal DRLs and the two-tone paint job (with hand-applied pinstripes).
The latter paint option does set you back north of S$36,000, but it’s an option that we’d highly recommend selecting when it comes time to spec your 7er. Why, you ask? Because why wouldn’t you? If you’re spending north of 600 grand (S$636,888 at the time of writing) on a luxury vehicle, a nearly S$40k difference would hardly deter you. Besides, if you're spending that kind of money on a car, you’d expect it to be unabashedly opulent in any way, shape or form. To that end, the 735i has it down to a tee. Even on the inside.
BMW 735i - Liquid Crystal Deluxe
Drawing on what they’ve applied in the iX, BMW’s designers have gone to town festooning the cabin with more screens, more tech and even more crystalline elements to spiff up the interior. When dusk settles, the ambient mood lighting shimmers to life beneath the faceted interaction bar that extends from the dash to the doors. It’s a dazzling sight, with multiple colours varying based on the selected driving modes.
But as a whole, the cabin design isn’t a massive a departure from BMW’s traditional design language as its exterior outlook would suggest. Screens aside, it still feels like a Bimmer, and it looks like one too. Albeit with a lot more bling.
Just ahead of the driver sits BMW’s curved display panel, which houses a 12.3-inch gauge cluster and a 14.9-inch infotainment screen. The front door cards and centre console see the addition of Swarovski Crystal accoutrements à la iX, and each of the rear doors has been fitted with a 5.4-inch touchscreen for your rear occupants to operate the multimedia system, blinds and massage functions.
Of course, as with any luxe-barge limo, rear passenger occupancy is of paramount importance. It's a trait that BMW has capitalised on with the extended dimensions of the G70 7er. It’s a space that rear passengers can luxuriate in, insulated from the humdrum and hubbub of the outside world as they settle into the plush quilted leather and raise the blinds.
That isn’t to say that the lavish cabin can only be enjoyed by being chauffeured. The Chauffeur too would be cosseted by the indulgence and tranquillity to be had in the 735i. Though, given its large dimensions, you may have to grow accustomed to sitting a little higher and craning your neck to look out past the high waistline.
BMW 735i - Grand Touring
On the move, you’re hardy aware of the mild-hybrid 3.0-litre straight-six working away under the hood unless you surpass 3000rpm. The MHEV 3.0-litre B58 straight-six in this 735i generates a combined 286hp/400Nm. It isn’t much to shout about, but it’s more than enough shove for you to go about your business. The engine’s full torque is available low in the rev range, so it has plenty of grunt to get you moving even under lower engine loads.
Ease it along and the car readily shuts off the engine when you enter a cruise or as you’re slowing down for a stop light. But when your right foot demands more power, there’s an almost imperceptible tremor as the MHEV system spurs the engine back to life.
As a driver, you’re almost completely insulated from the inner workings of the engine bay and the exterior elements while you’re on the go. The air suspension is unfazed by even the worst that Singapore’s road network can throw at it, and cabin insulation is impervious to road and tyre noise.
The one glaringly obvious oversight is the absence of double-glazed windows to muffle the wind noise at higher speeds. However, in most instances, the aural intrusions would be drowned out by the car’s stellar Bowers & Wilkins stereo as you’re whisked along.
BMW 735i - Sheer Driving Pleasure
In the grand scheme of things, sporty driving and luxury cruising aren’t mutually exclusive traits. While the 735i is certainly adept in a myriad of road conditions, it’s immediately apparent that the car feels more at ease when you’re just cruising along.
But I wouldn’t go as far as to say that the 735i isn’t an invigorating drive, because it can be roused to action when called upon. Rip it around a bend in an exuberant manner and this luxobarge handles itself with a deftness that belies its nature. A remarkable feat especially when you remember that it’s nearly 5.4 meters long and nearly 2.1 tons.
BMW 735i - ICEd Out
It’s at this juncture where one may wonder about the i7 xDrive60, the electric counterpart to this ICE-powered 735i. In many respects, an all-electric powertrain offers up the very traits that one would come to expect of a luxury saloon such as this: the immediacy of power, the lack of vibrations and a near-silent drivetrain.
So, on paper at least, the i7’s only undoing is the charging infrastructure in Singapore.
Objectively, topping up the tank of the 735i is quicker than completing a full charge for the i7. It's not cheaper, because petrol is costlier, nor is it more convenient, because some buyers may, or already have easy access to a charging terminal, but it is quicker.
That fact alone trumps the feasibility of owning the i7 for a large majority of buyers, which is a good reason why the 735i would undoubtedly be the hotter pick between the two in our market.
BMW 735i - Half a Rolls?
While a powerful, high-displacement engine would no doubt cement the 7 Series’ credentials as a luxury automobile, performance metrics are secondary factors in determining how well a luxury saloon executes the 'luxury' aspect of things. Just like how a Rolls-Royce has a V12 engine, it doesn’t utilise it for outright speed and/or performance.
In the realm of luxury saloons like the Mercedes S-Class or the Audi A8, the 7 Series stands out as the most polarising one of the three. It is dripping with cutting-edge tech, but it isn’t the antithesis of a conventional luxury saloon in the way the all-electric Mercedes EQS is. It is incredibly spacious, exceptionally comfortable and utterly sublime, as you'd expect from a flagship luxury sedan.
This is a car that you’d be happy to be driven in, but you’d be happier still if you’re at the helm. In spite of whatever comes its way, the 7 Series handles itself with grace, poise and impeccable savoir-faire.
PHOTOS Jay Tee (the still ones), Clifford Chow (the moving ones)
Engine 2998cc, inline6, 48V MHEV, turbocharged
Electric Motor 18hp/200Nm
System Output 286hp/425Nm
Transmission 8-speed Steptronic Auto
Top Speed 250km/h (electronically limited)
LxBxH 5391 x 1950 x 1544mm
Fuel Consumption 7.9l/100km