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The range available in BMW's new 7-series line-up is wider than ever before, and this is possibly the best one of the lot for senior executives trying to balance cost-consciousness and extravagance.
The prestige brand added the 740d to the line-up in four guises - standard and M-sport spec across both regular and long-wheelbase versions - all of which are four-wheel drive because senior execs can't be seen to be held up by a bit of snow. This generation of car is the first time BMW has offered all-wheel drive on its top saloon, where it's available on the 730d and the plug-in hybrid 740Le.
The 320hp 740d is 55hp up on the 730d model, and that oomph is clear when accelerating off roundabouts or anywhere where straight lines are rapidly dispatched, and although it's lighter than the previous 7-series - and for nearly two tonnes of saloon car, handles better than any of its rivals - the new luxury saloon still feels like a large and heavy machine.
But the emissions tell another story, and even this 320hp all-wheel drive luxury saloon comes in at 142g/km, while the entire 7-series range starts at just 132g/km, bar the 49g/km plug-in. Natural rivals for the 740d are at 155g/km (300hp Jag XJ), 157g/km (258hp Merc S-class) and 190g/km (385hp Audi A8).
The interior is befitting of almost £80,000 of car, and levels of technology include remote control parking and business class air travel-style rear seats that move in a series of directions.
The M-sport visual adornments make the 7-series look serious enough to mean business, but they are a pricey upgrade at £3850, and the extra 14cm of space in the long-wheelbase model is appreciated, but at £4150 that equates to nearly £300 per centimetre.
This 740Ld is possibly the finest exponent yet of a luxury BMW that ticks boxes in desirability, performance and balance sheet terms. The big problem is that the S-class has a residual value several points greater, and is cheaper because diesel power doesn't go higher than 258hp in the Merc's range.
The BMW's advantages over its arch rival come in performance, handling and emissions, but the S-class beats it on the balance sheet and still holds that air of finesse that makes it seemingly unbeatable, even in this company.
BMW 740dL Xdrive M-sport
Model price range £64,475-£79475
Residual value 29.0%%
Service, maintenance and repair £4288
Vehicle Excise Duty £435
National Insurance £9871
Cost per mile 156.38p
Fuel consumption 52.3mpg
CO2 (BIK band) 142g/km (28%)
BIK 20/40% per month £371/£742
Warranty 3years/unlimited miles
Boot space 515l
Engine size/power 3000/320hp
Closer than ever to the S-class, but still coming up a touch short
Stunning interior (front and back
Doesn't quite carry the same image, or running cost, as an S-class, and BMW's driver's-car focus compromises comfort orientation for important rear-seat occupant