2020 BMW 745 Le PHEV: The Rewarding and Conscientious Limousine

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What sets the BMW 7 Series apart from its peers is precisely the balanced focus of driver-centric dynamic performance and luxury. The BMW 7 Series is meant to be driven first and then enjoyed as a passenger second. Which honestly could also be its undoing because the vast majority of flagship buyers in our market will be chauffeur-driven. So all the fabulous perks, comforts, and features like Gesture Control will not be used. In fact, I can see the more senior ladies taking offense at their driver’s hand gestures; thankfully, for the pilots, all the standard functions are in their usual locations to operate discreetly. 

The recently virtually launched new 2020 BMW 7 Series (G12) LCI models (BMW calls its mid-life updates ‘LCIs’ – Life Cycle Impulses) comes in two pure rear-wheel drive flavors: the slightly less equipped shorter-wheelbase 730i Pure Excellence at P5,990,000, and our opulent long-wheelbase 745Le hybrid test unit at P9,590,000. The 730i Pure Excellence is powered by a 2.0-liter TwinPower inline-4 turbocharged gasoline engine with 265 bhp and 295 lb-ft of torque which is certainly enough motivation for every occasion. Both models get active suspension to help maintain the majesty inside the cabin even under duress. 

Photo by ANDRÉAS N. DELOS REYES

Being an updated mid-cycle model, the new BMW 7-series are once again using the modular OKL platform that uses carbon-fiber-reinforced polymers as structural chassis components. The 745 Le drives characteristically like a larger 5-series with more space and a lot more compliance. So the handling, even at its sharpest drive mode, will have a sense of wallow to absorb road imperfections better but the lines of travel are not compromised with the help of excellent mixed alloys wrapped oddly with Hankook Ventus S1 evo2 245/45R19 98Y front and 275/40R19 101Y rear tires.

Dimensions and platforms are carried over (Dynamic Damper Control with two-axle self-leveling air suspension, aluminum front and rear subframes, 14.7-inch front vented discs with four-pot Brembo calipers and 14.6-in vented rear discs with single-sliders, Carbon Core construction that includes carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic, aluminum, steel and magnesium body structure components) but aesthetics and equipment levels have been upgraded significantly but with familiarity. There are additional sound deadening materials that you don’t see and even new power-window motors that are quieter and smoother than before. The most obvious details changed are the adaptive front and rear light assemblies as well as the massive active kidney grille first seen in the all-new X7.

The 740Le predecessor used a smaller 2.0-liter engine and smaller 9.2 kWh battery. This new model uses the brilliant and sweet ubiquitous 3.0-liter inline-6 blended with a new 12 kWh battery beneath the rear seats. The combined blended power is 389 bhp and 442 lb-ft managed by an intelligent eight-speed automatic. The 745Le can travel under electric propulsion at up to 110 km/h in Hybrid mode and up to 140 km/h in pure eDrive modes for up to 56 kilometers depending on road conditions and how aggressively you drive. It will effortlessly accelerate from 0-100 km/h in 5.1 seconds with a governed 250 km/h top speed.

You certainly can and should use the supplied J1772 plug-in AC Charger (3.7 kW) to top up the battery when you are home for maximum range. If the battery is completely exhausted, it would take less than 3 hours to charge up to 80 percent and an additional 50 minutes or so to charge the remaining 20 percent. But if you don’t bother charging it and drive the 745Le like a traditional hybrid, the flagship will perform flawlessly and can actually charge itself with your participation. There is a toggle switch called ‘Battery Control’ that can charge up the battery in selectable increments while you’re driving.

The 420-liter trunk is still commodious but it has been reduced by 95 liters from the standard capacity to accommodate the electric components. The wonderful interior, the full-featured quilted seats, all the gadgetry, and the magnificent 464-watt 16-speaker Harman Kardon Surround Sound Audio System all contribute to an extraordinary driving and riding experience especially on out-of-town trips where the big boy can stretch its legs. The new BMW 745Le is an absolute proper flagship that is such a joy to drive. It feels small and athletic when you want to and runs like a flying coach when you don’t. It accelerates, corners, and brakes like a rabid sport sedan with the class and opulence of a full-size first-class luxury saloon but with exemplary fuel efficiency and empathy for the environment.

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