Cape Town - BMW's uber luxurious sedan, the 7 Series, is usually associated with company CEO's, politicians and wealthy motorists.
This also means that its owner might be driving as secondary, preferring to be chauffeured around and relaxing in the rear seat.
Well, I'm neither a businesswoman nor a politician, so when I experienced the BMW 740i, I wasn't going to pretend to be either.
Instead, here are a few reasons why the BMW 7 Series could actually make a great daily drive as a family car.
A quick look at the stats of this luxury sedan:
The 740i houses a 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine capable of 240kW/450Nm. It has a ridiculously low claimed fuel consumption, at least for its size and power, of 6.6-litres/100km on a combined cycle. Its carbon emissions are only rated at 154g/km.
#1 - It goes the distance
Can you say roadtrip, in a 7 Series?! I hauled my hubby and baby into the car and decided to drive to the well-known annual Snoek en Patatfees (snoek and sweet potato festival) in Goedverwacht, near Piketberg. Its approximately a two-hour drive out of Cape Town, factoring in road works, at 144km.
As a grandchild of the West Coast, I was utterly disappointed by the poor quality of pap snoek served, along with the two tiny sweet potatoes in my styrofoam dish. My fisherman grandfather probably turned around in his grave about six times. We're never going back there again. Fortunately, the 740i was a dream to drive the distance. Baby was comfy in her car seat and hubby was enjoying the back massages courtesy for system equipped in the front and rear seats. I was the chauffeur, a role I was glad to perform considering just how comfortable the 7 Series is on the open road.
We hardly felt the bumps on poorer sections of road and the large sedan is as comfy on gravel as it is on tarred roads.
#2 - Room with a view
For those at the rear, the view ahead isn't too shabby. The centre console is packed with features and technology though overall the fascia has a minimalist design. Neat and tidy akin to an executive's office. A cluttered mess is never a welcome especially in a vehicle in this class.
#3 - It smells lovely!
This may sound weird but the interior of the 7 Series emits a delightful scent. French automaker's Citroen and Peugeot were the first automakers to launch fragrance cartridges in their vehicles. Hop into a French car fitted with a cartridge and you'll be treated to scents of flowers or notes of Chanel No.5 lingering in the air. I loved it, and when you needed another dose, you could hit a perfume button along the fascia. The 7 Series is similarly equipped with scent-dispensing cartridges. However, as delightful as it is, my husband disliked the French car perfumes, stating that the smell was "too sweet" and gave him a headache.
BMW has taken this to another level, you can select a fragrance when speccing your vehicle. The car I had on test included the cartridge fragrances Golden Suite No.2 (Dusk of shimmering desert) and Authentic Suite No.2. They smell divine and are, at least according to BMW, more masculine. Simply access the car's settings and select the cartridge you desire and select the level strength. Or access it via the fragrance button on the centre console for a quick burst of aroma.
#4 - Just call for help
Just like when you're in a hotel, and would call the concierge to book a shuttle, taxi, or a theatre booking, the concierge services listed in BMW's 7 Series ConnectedDrive menu does the same. Of course you can also call for road side assistance, or perhaps you're lonely and want someone to talk to (just kidding). I had accidentally, and unknowingly hit the button when a polite and friendly operator answered the phone on the other end. I was baffled at first, not knowing who I was suddenly speaking to. Somewhere in the vehicle, there's a simcard which connects the car directly to this service. Awesome, right? The lady sounded eloquent and foreign, as if she was calling direct from BMW's head office in Munich, Germany.
#5 - What's the weather like?
Who needs a mobile phone app, when you can access the week's weather forecast in your car?
#6 No, it's not KnightRider
...But it does have Night Vision. I think all cars should have this nifty safety feature as standard. The image below is a screen-grab of one of the sections en route to my office in Cape Town. Despite being well-lit area of road pedestrians are still difficult to spot during the early hours of the morning. Spotting pedestrians in the dark or during severe weather conditions is difficult but with Night Vision active you are able to pick out road users easily.
#7 - It's Fully loaded
The 7 Series is hardly a vehicle you would associate with performing mundane tasks such as weekly, or even monthly shopping, yet its boot is definitely more than capable of handling the needs of any family.
A haul from a single trip to the baby store sees the boot swallow two large boxes of diapers, five cans of milk, a month's supply of baby juice, toiletries, and all of the kit a toddler might need. This includes luggage for a family weekend away further in the load bay. Company CEOs have kids too...
#8 - Your chariot awaits...
The BMW 7 Series makes for an elegant vehicle for a South African matric ball. And, of course, the neighbourhood came out in droves to catch a glimpse of this fine automobile. 2016 matriculant Celestene Speak was so impressed by the luxury and technology of the car, she had almost forgotten about one of the most important events of her school career.
She was totally impressed by the detachable tablet to control the massaging seats, the temperature and the fact that it was an actual tablet to connect online that worked the same as any smart mobile phone. She almost didn't want to get out of the car in her beautiful mint green ballgown at Florida High's dance venue in Parow.
#9 - Good enough for a daily
So you don't have to be a suited-up businessman to drive a 7 Series. Sure, it's ostentatious as a family car but who cares when it's this good. It's comfortable, has all the bells and whistles you can think of, and it has a huge boot. It gets top marks in my books. When I had first experienced the car on launch, I was expecting the leg room to be a lot bigger, but to be fair, it was the short-wheel base version. Even so, after driving it with my family in tow for a few days, I have to say the legroom is more than suffice any way. Okay, so it's not cheap, but it has convenience features and niceties that would probably put Nkandla to shame, is worth it's R1 339 000 price tag.