There’s plenty of success to celebrate here – and only one serious criticism, at which we’ve already hinted.
The 730Ld’s ride isn’t quite as well isolated as you’d like it to be. The chassis can thump ever so slightly over raised ironwork and through drains at low speeds, and its bushing doesn’t seem to protect the cabin from the intrusive rumbles of coarser surfaces as well as some. It’s a relative criticism only, and you’ll need an S-Class, a Range Rover or something else very skilled at cosseting its occupants to know much better ride comfort than the 7 Series grants. Still, cars like this must be judged by the toughest standards on refinement – and the big BMW, like its forebears, leaves a little to be desired.
At higher speeds, there’s some complexity for the 730Ld’s driver to contend with in selecting the best drive mode for the road, the conditions and the prevailing speed. The softest suspension setting – Comfort Plus – allows the car’s body to waft along agreeably enough for passengers, but it permits too much vertical body movement and steering-corrupting body roll to be much use above 40mph. Sport mode exacerbates the slightly fussy ride you sometimes encounter around town and should probably also be ruled out whenever well-heeled passengers are aboard.
BMW’s Adaptive mode ought to offer the perfect compromise. It works well enough, keeping closer control of the 7 Series’ body than its rivals manage while being quite supple. However, as predictive chassis settings go, the Adaptive mode isn’t quite as effective as Mercedes’ Magic Ride Control; it doesn’t allow you to roll over sleeping policemen with the same sense of imperviousness, for example.
For its driver, though, the 730Ld does have marginally more poised and precise handling than its more softly sprung rivals. Those active anti-roll bars, active steering systems and adaptive dampers do an excellent job of keeping the body level and on track and maximising grip levels as you stretch the big BMW’s legs. What’s even more pleasing to find is that they operate imperceptibly, without filtering unwanted hysteresis into the car’s steering – which is light at all times and short on feedback, but at least consistent.
Unless he’s carrying someone very important away from someone very unscrupulous indeed, the 7 Series driver is unlikely to need to explore his car’s dynamic outer limits. Still, should he need to, he’ll find the car pleasingly accurate, balanced and manageable — both up to and beyond the point at which the tyres run out of grip.