There’s just something about a large, German luxury sedan that makes you feel like you’ve arrived. Often referred to as “executive sedans,” they can make you feel like a CEO as you glide down the road in ultimate comfort. A healthy competition between Audi, Mercedes and BMW has meant that we have access to an ever-dizzying array of features and amenities to lure buyers. The one thing that these cars aren’t synonymous with is fuel efficiency. That’s all changing because now you can get this flagship sedan with an eco-friendly plug-in hybrid drivetrain.
In the past, you’d order your executive sedan with a V8, or sometimes even V10 or V12 engine. This 740e comes with a 4-cylinder. A 2.0-Liter turbocharged 4-cylinder. It’s 255hp and 295lb-ft of torque is supplemented by an electric motor with 111hp and 184ft-lb. That means this has pretty substantial thrust when both are driving it. It also means there’s enough power to run it in electric only range. What this means is that the big sedan with the small engine can reach 60mph in a sprightly 5.1 seconds. That’s behind its more powerful siblings, but it returns an EPA rating of 64 MPGe with a 14-mile EV only range.
If you have a nice, short commute, you’ll never need to buy gas at all! But you’ll want to, because this is fun to drive with both power plants churning. The driving dynamics belies the heft of this sedan, with a remarkably nimble feeling. But it’s the torque of the turbo 4-cylinder combined with the electric motor that’s most impressive. It’s got a smooth, silky shove of power – not the typical buzzy personality that a 4-cylinder has. By placing the electric motor inline between the engine and transmission, there’s a very “non hybrid” feel as well. In other words, this hybrid is good at hiding what it really is.
One of the contributing factors to the 7-series’ efficiency is the first of it’s kind carbon-fiber passenger cell. Essentially a carbon fiber unibody, it effectively cuts the weight of the structure by 50 percent while being stronger than the typical steel. There’s a carbon badge in the door jam in case you forget just how cool your chassis is!
The technology and safety features are comprehensive and wide ranging. From a full suite of safety features like lane assist, radar cruise and traffic-jam assist (with 50 seconds of hands-free driving) to rear seat entertainment and executive seating packages. Multi-zone climate control, high level Bowers and Wilkins Diamond audio system, seat massage and night vision. There’s an almost unlimited combination of options and finishes you can choose.
Of course, all this luxury and choice come at a price. Starting at $90,000, you can easily option one well into hundreds of dollars, but you’re getting a lot of car – both literally and figuratively. With impeccable finishes, superior luxury and comfort and top technology, there’s not much left you’d want to ask for. Even the active air suspension gives an almost hard to believe combination between comfort and handling. With an incredible amount of rear seat legroom, you are going to want to sit back there from time to time just for the comfort. But with this executive sedan, you can enjoy yourself just as much from behind the wheel. And that’s something we never thought we’d say about a 4-cylinder sedan of this size! It’s really easy to forget the plug-in hybrid part of the equation, and that’s what pushes it over the top. Who would think being good to the environment could be this luxurious?