2015 BMW 740Ld xDrive First Test
BMW's Turbodiesel Meets Its Biggest Challenge Yet
An expensive BMW wouldn't be complete without a mouthful of a name, and the 2015 BMW 740Ld xDrive is certainly proof of that. Let's break it down, shall we? The letter "d" is relatively new for the 7 Series and designates what's under the hood: a 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline-six. The "L" means that this flagship sedan is a long-wheelbase model, and "xDrive" is BMW-speak for all-wheel drive. Add it up, and you get a spacious all-weather, luxury cruiser that tips the scale at 4,680 pounds. With stats like that, this engine had better be an overachiever.
And an overachiever it is. Rated at 255 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque, this workhorse is also found in other diesel-powered BMWs, such as the 535d, where it provides a near-perfect combination of speed and efficiency. The engine has a more relaxed demeanor in the 7 Series, but it never struggles to get the hefty sedan up to speed. And like the 535d, the 740Ld xDrive is fitted with the quick-shifting, ZF-sourced eight-speed auto.
Pushing this powertrain hard results in respectable numbers. Running to 60 mph, for example, takes 6.3 seconds, and completing the quarter mile requires 14.8 seconds. For comparison, the gas-powered 740Li xDrive, which packs a 3.0-liter I-6 rated at 315 hp and 330 lb-ft, is quicker based on BMW's 0-60 mph estimate of 5.4 seconds.
Also quicker is the Audi A8 L TDI, the BMW's closest competitor. The big Audi runs to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds and finishes the quarter mile in 14.5 seconds. Both cars are essentially matched in power, with the Audi making 240 hp and 406 lb-ft from a 3.0-liter V-6 turbodiesel. The Audi, however, is significantly lighter with a curb weight about 300 pounds less than the BMW.
Despite its weight handicap, the BMW puts down a figure-eight time of 25.9 seconds, trumping the Audi by 0.6 second. How is that possible? Well, for starters our tester was fitted with Adaptive Drive, an optional package that includes active roll bars and dampers. The system constantly adjusts to keep the sedan flat and planted, making it nearly impossible to upset the chassis, whether it's an emergency braking situation or a quick maneuver to avoid one of L.A.'s many potholes. The system is a must-have and is well worth its $2,500 price tag.
Big luxury cruisers are expected to erase the impacts of those nasty potholes, but the 7 Series occasionally struggles with that task. The most probable culprits are the optional 20-inch wheels that definitely look handsome but are fitted with run-flat Pirelli P Zero. Unfortunately, the 7 Series is only sold with run-flats. The steering feel could use work, too. Although nicely weighted and precise overall, on-center feel occasionally felt wonky and rubbery, requiring a few corrections to keep the big sedan in its lane.
If those issues were fixed, the 740Ld xDrive could be a near-perfect highway cruiser. It certainly has the range to do so, with a gigantic 21.1-gallon fuel tank, enough for more than 600 miles of cruising.
Speaking of fuel, the EPA rates the 740Ld xDrive at 23/31/26 mpg city/highway/combined. Our Real MPG numbers, however, are up to 16 percent better, with the big 7 returning 24/36/28 mpg. We have yet to get Real MPG numbers on the Audi. But the A8 L TDI edges out the BMW with EPA estimates of 24/36/28 mpg. Real MPG numbers are also unavailable for the gas-powered 740Li xDrive, but its EPA numbers (19/28/22 mpg) aren't significantly lower than its diesel sibling.
With a base price of $83,450, the 740Ld xDrive costs $1,500 more than the 740Li xDrive. It's not a sizable amount, but neither are the mpg benefits (based on EPA numbers). The gas-powered 7 looks even more attractive when you consider the diesel's slower straight-line performance. A diesel Mercedes-Benz S-Class doesn't exist (yet), so if you must have a large diesel-powered luxury cruiser, the Audi is the better choice. Although it's more expensive, ($86,025), the A8 L TDI is faster, smoother, quieter, relatively efficient, and has a much more special interior. The bottom line is that this current-gen 7 Series has been around since model year 2009, and it's starting to show. The good news is that prototypes for the next-gen model have already been spotted, which means the new 7 Series should arrive sooner than later.
|2015 BMW 740Ld xDrive|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$101,850|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan|
|ENGINE||3.0L/255-hp/413-lb-ft turbodiesel DOHC 24-valve I-6|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||4,680 lb (51/49%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||205.3 x 74.9 x 58.3 in|
|0-60 MPH||6.3 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||14.8 sec @ 92.0 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||109 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.92 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||25.9 sec @ 0.80 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||23/31/26 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY||164/122 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.85 lb/mile|