When A 7 Series Becomes The Perfect Roadtrip Car
It feels great to be home after being away for quite some time. My hometown city has changed so much that I have to double check some of the landmarks whenever I pass through. Personally, I think it is a good sign as it also indicates that Ipoh is on its way towards more urban development, and the fact that BMW plug-in hybrid charging stations were recently introduced here, a first in the State of Perak, says a lot about the coming potential of my hometown. I mean, it might not seem like a big deal, since hybrid charging stations can be found in many places around Klang Valley, for a small town like Ipoh, it’s a very good leap.
It’s also been awhile since we went on the road with BMW Group Malaysia to get up close and personal with their model range. All thanks to the current trend of going green and the large tax-cuts from our local government for hybrid cars, car manufacturers are capitalising on this to make a sharp product intensive, as we’ve seen with how Mercedes-Benz Malaysia has been doing. So naturally, BMW needs to respond. Hence, on this drive I attended recently with BMW Group Malaysia, I got to sample most of the brand’s hybrid, iPerformance models on the way up north. Fate would have it that the final destination would be my beautiful hometown, Ipoh.
Of all of the models I tried, my two favourite picks on this iPerformance road trip were the new Seven Series, the BMW 740Le xDrive and the big SUV, the BMW X5 xDrive40e M Sport.Together with my drive partner, Jonathan from BenAutobahn, we made began our journey from KLPAC (Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre) in the 7er. As stated in one of our previous car reviews done by our Associate Editor, Adrian Thomas, the 7er is more than just a limousine. It’s BMW’s calling card, a remarkable reminder of why and how the German marque is still ahead of the game (you can read Adrian’s story here), especially in its hybrid offering.
To be very frank, the exterior does not tell this truth that Adrian talked about. It’s only on the inside where one gets to see the stunning craftsmanship and features of the Seven Series. At first glance, I did not at all expect to be overwhelmed by such high technology and comfort. In fact, I was even more suprised by the sheer drive-ability of the 7er, because again, from its looks, it did not express that. To get a better picture of how it handled on the road, click here because, my focus on this Seven Series is going to be solely on how well a cabin this luxury sedan has.
During the journey, I seized the opportunity to be chauffeured around in this Seven Series hybrid (Thanks Jonathan!). It was so that I could experience the tech and comfort inside of 740Le. In the middle of the rear seat, apart from the leather-made hand rest, I found a tablet placed elegantly at the customised compartment laid on top of the hand rest. Once I reclined my seat with a push of a button, I began to operate most of the car’s cabin from the tab. Leaving Jonathan for dead in the driver’s seat (which I’m sure he didn’t mind!) I began to toggle around with the Seven Series’ ‘massage functions’ and needless to say, I enjoyed every bit of it.
I was delighted to find out that there are many massage options for me to pick; neck and shoulder, back, lower body, or upper body, I was basically at a mobile masseurs. This became a very great feature to have with me for a long roadtrip, as it instantly soothed my growing backache from moving a lot and trying out the Seven Series’ features. Did you know, that you can also easily control the sun-shields of the 7er with the same tab? Now you do!
While this handy tablet isn’t a new feature, it definitely deserves more praise for how it enhances the passenger experience in the Seven Series. Where in something like the S-Class, such an experience isn’t available, in the 7er, it’s a huge winning point. It adds on to the fact that the Seven Series is also very spacious. I personally find it very difficult to find a car which can satisfy both my driver’s adrenaline and also cater for maximum passenger comfort. To bring this car on a road trip, it will definitely decrease the likelihood being journey-weary, especially on a long distance road trip like this.
As the drive went on, we finally had the chance to jump into BMW’s X5 at Teluk Intan. While they’re two different models entirely, the 7er and X5 I mean, it was only after getting into the X5 that I realised how great the Seven Series actually is as a road trip car. Strange, I know, considering how the X5 is made exactly for something like a road trip. I started to miss the massage seats and that remote tab that made things so easy as a passenger. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the road presence and the high vantage point from the X5.
I’ve always felt that a higher vantage point provides a more heightened experience to the driver, especially out on the highway. Unsurprisingly, the X5 didn’t start off pleasantly and I immediately didn’t think it drove like a dream or even as close to the Seven Series. It’s a lot more sluggish and it’s also slower compared to the Seven Series, taking 6.8 seconds to hit 100 km/h from standstill. Still, for a hybrid powertrain, its 245 hp is still quite an experience to get behind of.
Together with its electric motor, it allowed us to perform overtaking with ease and this is down to a well-tuned amount of torque- 350Nm. After more prolonged time in it, I began to feel the X5’s athleticism. For its size and weight, it is very agile on the road and sharp on the corners. It’s a handling experience I’d love to have with me everyday, as I usually drive an MPV to work occasionally.
As the sunset finally caught up with us at Ipoh, the sight of a string of electric-hybrid Bimmers was quite satisfying to look at. We were even welcomed with a warm shower of Ipoh rain, a token of blessing I suppose. But from the second our feet hit the ground of this charming city, we were soon overwhelmed by the sincere hospitality by BMW Group Malaysia. Thank you once again BMW Group Malaysia for bringing me home in some really good cars. I look forward to a more dedicated time in your hybrids soon.