What is it?
Since the release of the revolutionary i8 back in 2014, BMW has been striving to remain at the forefront of both plug-in hybrid and pre-preg carbonfibre technology, and the BMW 740Le xDrive, as seen here, represents the vanguard of those developments thus far.
Designed for business tycoons looking to skirt restrictive emission legislations, the 740Le is essentially two cars in one: an electric car with an extended zero-emission range as well as a continent-crushing cruiser with searing straight-line performance. It’s a compelling combination that BMW hopes will be popular in the rapidly growing plug-in hybrid market.
In the name of downsizing, BMW has opted to base the drivetrain around its already excellent 2.0-litre, four-cylinder 'Twinpower' turbocharged petrol engine. However, to give the two-tonne saloon a bit more shove, the twin-turbocharged unit has been retuned to produce a whopping 265bhp and 295lb ft, making it the most powerful four-cylinder petrol engine ever used in a series-production BMW.
Mated to a specially developed eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission, which is also fitted with a 111bhp electric motor, the combined reserves of 322bhp and 369lb ft are channelled to all four wheels, allowing this 7-Series to complete the run from 0-62mph in just 5.3sec.
It’s a clever powertrain, and one that also provides the driver with a choice of two eco-focused driving modes: Auto eDrive and Max eDrive. In the former mode, the car shuffles power between the petrol engine and battery like a traditional hybrid, while in the latter the car runs purely on electric power until it reaches 87mph.
In addition, three adaptive chassis settings also affect the way the hybrid transmission works. Comfort mode delivers a smooth power delivery by carefully balancing the outputs of both power units, Sport mode sees the electric motor and petrol engine work together to deliver maximum performance and Eco Pro mode is designed to maximise the car’s electric range.
Depending on the settings, the 740Le is claimed to be capable of a pure electric range of 29 miles and a combined economy figure of 113mpg.