Monday, December 21, 2009

2011 BMW 740i, 740Li: First Look

2011 BMW 740i
  • Competes with: Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Audi A8, Jaguar XJ
  • Looks like: Power isn’t everything -- even in imposing German sedans
  • Drivetrain: 315-hp, twin-turbo six-cylinder with six-speed automatic transmission
  • Hits dealerships: Spring 2010
BMW’s flagship sedan is getting a power dump — not bump — for 2011. The 740i and 740Li will pack BMW’s superb twin-turbo V-6 engine used in the 3 and 5 Series. In the 740s, it will produce 315 horsepower and is teamed to a six-speed automatic.

We’re not sure why BMW thinks this is a good idea. No other luxury car in this class features a six-cylinder, even a turbocharged one. We’re also not sure on pricing, but it probably will be north of $70,000 since the 750i starts at $80,455.

At either price buyers may demand a V-8 — fuel economy be damned.

We recently tested a BMW 535 wagon with the same engine producing 300 hp and found it to be plenty powerful. The 750 weighs 450 pounds more than the 535 wagon, but the turbo engine should bring the 7 Series’ weight down slightly. The 740 will be rear-wheel drive only and pack regenerative braking technology; the 740Li will be an extended model, just like in the rest of the range, for more interior room.

Even if performance is acceptable, will the 7 Series buyer be content with the 740i badge on the back? Or will they pull an Ari Gold who famously put a higher-end badge on his wife’s luxury sedan in the popular HBO series “Entourage.”

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