2005 745 New Car Test Drive
Few mainstream automobiles in the past 20 years have stirred controversy to the extent that BMW's ambitious 7 Series has. The BMW 7 Series still sparks debate three years after it was introduced, but we can assure you this: BMW's largest car is a luxury sedan in the truest sense, and it's impressive to drive. Its responsive engine and six-speed automatic transmission, its magic-carpet ride quality, excellent handling and awesomely powerful brakes deliver the ultimate in big-sedan driver control.
Whichever 7 Series you choose, starting with the standard 745i, you'll get a sedan that's big, smooth, fast and inspiring. It's also equipped with the latest safety technology. No matter where you sit, you'll experience a cabin that's beautiful and wonderfully comfortable. The 745Li and 760Li (L for long) offer even greater legroom in the back seats. All the 7 Series models are exceptionally powerful and responsive, and if the V12-powered 760i and 760Li don't stir something inside you, you may as well call a cab.
The 7 Series has stirred controversy as well as enthusiasm that revolves around two issues: styling and its iDrive interface. Known for brilliant high-performance sedans with conservative styling and straightforward interiors, BMW stepped out of the box with the introduction of this latest-generation 7 Series. The three years since the 7 Series launch have tempered controversy over its stunning styling only a little, and the styling direction introduced on 7 can now be seen on the 5 Series sedan, 6 Series coupe, Z3 sports car, as well as the 2006 3 Series models. One thing is for sure, the 7 Series has presence, something that cannot be said of the previous-generation models.
Virtually everything in the cabin is controlled through a single mouse-like interface called iDrive. BMW's controversial system controls the heater, the radio, the navigation system, and it demands some study to master. Once that's accomplished, however, driving the 7 Series cars is easy and quite satisfying. It will achieve your wishes quickly and efficiently, occasionally bending the laws of physics in the process. BMW says its goal with the 7 Series was building the safest car in the world.
The whisper-quiet cabin is a great place for quiet conversation or magnificent solitude. The 7 Series has a superb-sounding stereo, so it's an insulated sound studio where you can hear Mozart concertos, crystal clear vocals or crisp acoustic guitar notes. And the level of technology the 7 Series offers is mind boggling. Silent, hidden fans and heating elements cool or warm your rear end or your soft drink; microchips can instantaneously detect a skidding tire or apply the brakes full force just in case you were distracted by a phone call; power sunshades keep the sun off your rear passengers. Adaptive headlights turn with the car.
Among the big luxury sedans, the BMW 7 Series is indeed the ultimate driving machine.
Four 7 Series models are available for 2005. The 745i ($69,900) and long-wheelbase 745Li ($73,900) are powered by a 4.4-liter V8 with 325 horsepower, gobs of torque and a six-speed automatic transmission. The new 760i ($109,900) and 760Li ($117,300) share their transmission and most of their engine technology with the 745 models, but get 438 horsepower from 12 cylinders. The 760 models are two of the quickest, fastest, normally aspirated 2.5-ton vehicles in the world.
The 745i and 760i ride on a 117.7-inch wheelbase, while the 745Li and 760Li stretch that measurement to 123.5 inches. The long-wheelbase Li models are 5.5 inches longer bumper to bumper, and nearly all of that is directed into more rear-seat legroom.
Not surprisingly, all 7 Series sedans come standard with a long list of luxury features, including interiors trimmed in a choice of rich leathers and woods. The 745i has dual-zone automatic climate control with activated-charcoal microfilter ventilation, matte-finish black cherry wood trim, BMW Assist emergency and information communications, 14-way power seats, a power moonroof, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, a climate-controlled front console compartment, and single-CD audio with 10 speakers. The 745Li adds 20-way power front Comfort Seats with articulated upper backrests, passenger-seat memory and active head restraints. Both 745 models come standard with V-speed-rated 245/50VR18 tires on 18-inch alloy wheels; 19-inch wheels with performance tires (245/45 front, 275/40 rear) are optional ($1,300).
The 760i and 760Li have most everything BMW offers. The base price covers a choice of light or dark high-gloss Ash trim with inlays plus leather on virtually all interior surfaces (except the dash). The V12 models include soft-touch door-closing assists, heated and ventilated seats front and rear, Park Distance Control to keep track of those hard-to-see obstacles and power privacy shades. The only options available on the 760 models are radar-managed Active Cruise Control ($2,200), Adaptive Headlights ($300) that aim around corners when you turn the steering wheel and satellite radio prep ($75). The 760i comes standard with 20-inch alloy wheels and performance tires (245/40R20 front, 275.35R20 rear). The 760Li can be ordered with rear climate control with a cool box ($1,800). The V12 models earn the government-imposed gas-guzzler tax ($1,300).
Most of what's offered on the 760i and 760Li is available on the 745i and 745Li through individual options or packages. The six option packages for the V8s include: the Sport Package ($3,200) with 19-inch wheels and tires, sport-tuned suspension, more aggressively bolstered sport seating and specific exterior and interior trim; the Adaptive Ride Package ($1,900) with a self-leveling rear suspension and Electronic Damping Control that automatically adjusts shock damping according to conditions; the Cold Weather Package ($1,100) with a heated steering wheel, heated front and rear seats, and a ski bag; the Convenience Package ($1,000) with the soft-close doors that suck themselves shut and power trunk-lid operation; the Luxury Seating Package that adds 20-way adjustment, front and rear seat heating, fans to blow air through the seating surfaces and an automatic massager; and the Premium Sound Package ($1,800) with increased audio power, two subwoofers, Digital Sound Processing and six-CD changer.
BMW's iDrive interface system is standard on all 7 Series models, and can operate virtually everything in the car, from stereo to climate controls to telephone to navigation, with a single mouse-like control.
Ten airbags are available. The standard array includes dual frontal airbags, driver and front-passenger side-impact airbags, and BMW's Head Protection System, which amounts to a full-length, tube-shaped curtain on both sides of the cabin for front and rear head protection in a side impact. Also standard is BMW's Active Knee Protection, unique inflat.