Pros: better than the 745li. Spacious for short people.
Cons: POOR INTERIOR SPACE, I-DRIVE still blows, interior control issues/design issues
BANGLE BUTT (noun) - a derogatory term for the current rear-end styling paradigm among high-end automobiles. The name comes from controversial BMW designer Chris Bangle. Although all of Bangle's designs have been the subject of heated debate, no element has been more discussed and copied than his two-level rear end styling. It features separate rear fenders with a "bustle-back" trunk (boot) lid. [Wikipedia]
WHAT WAS THE 7-SERIES BMW 745li?
In 2002, BMW, introduced the 745li. Basically, the car was instantly coveted by the rich, wealthy, rappers, drug dealers and aficionados alike. And Rightfully so - The car was probably the most technology advanced vehicle of all time when it was released. Basically, BMW loyalists, American and European alike appreciated the new Beemer but many buyers hated it. Why? Well first of all, the car featured the most radical styling anyone had seen on a BMW for the time. It was an elongated, hog-nosed vehicle with the dorsal features similar to those of a humpbacked whale, or perhaps to some, appeared to be very Shark- like in appearance with an up tilted lip atop its strange fin-like, bulging trunk. The huge GPS antennae on its back oddly shaped like that on the back of a Great White - would have many people screaming shark attack if the 745 ever found itself driving ashore.
The front fascia lighting was tolerable but the trademark BMW Kidney intakes were about 2/3rds the size they should be. The rear lighting style, to some, was likeable and gave the car character. To the so-called artists in the automotive world, the only question they could come up with was:
what was BMW thinking ?
If you were able to stomach the exterior of the car, stepping inside this 2002 7-series brought you into the immediate presence of the feature that was sure to damn the 745 for sure. Basically, the people behind the 745 decided that the future of Beemer luxury technology was to be presented to the world within the 745.
No longer would people start their cars the traditional way. No longer would features such as temperature and radio adjustments be done by simply turning a knob. Behold the Almighty German control knob!!! otherwise known as I-drive.
Basically, the I-drive was a Microsoft Windows Computer system specifically for automotive applications that divided major component controls afforded to the driver into 4 main groups which were further segregated by points of a compass which had to be remembered by the driver.
North - Communication
East - Navigation/GPS
South - Entertainment
West - Climate controls or A/C
Each subgroup could only be reached by manipulating the control knob.
As the driver, you were required to take your eyes off the road ahead of you, so you could stare into the 745s LCD screen, which was small and poorly placed,
and navigate the cursor to subgroup in order to do simple things such as entering a navigation point or changing the radio station
The control knob itself could be rotated along its axis to move the cursor, shifted forward, backwards side to side or pressed downwards to simulate the left click of a computer mouse thereby selecting an option on the LCD screen. Microsoft even decided to included a force feedback function so that the knob could snap back which would give tactile acknowledgement to the driver that he had made a selection.
Though it might sound simple to use, I-Drive had a steep learning curve. The user interface was simply terrible and unintuitive. Many people faced with the challenge were determined to master it, but ultimately, it was designed poorly and user response to it was as poor as poor could be.
Furthermore, the 745lis unintuitive redesigning of the basic elements of driving a car such as simply starting it had been warped by the imaginations of BMWs engineers. #1 Insert Key, #2 Mash on Brake, #3 Press start button. No it is not as easy as it sounds. Without reading the owner manual first, it took me almost 5 minutes to figure out what the car demanded from me. Furthermore, you had to learn how to get the car into gear. With the 745s now electronic shifter, first you were required to pull the shifter forward and then, either nudge it up or down to select a gear/ drive setting.
What about adjusting my seat? Well firstly, the 745li had probably one of the tightest drivers positions I have ever seen in a car that is this long.
It was almost as if I were stepping into the seat of a Lamborghini Murcielago or other race car designed for the small, jockey framed - rather than a true luxury sedan. This was made even more- so disappointing since the car was made so low to the ground that people taller than 6ֶ would need to first lower their entire body in a squat motion and then slide themselves into the drivers seat. All of the drivers space is gobbled up by the cars thick seat cushions, not that there was much space to begin with. I estimated that anyone larger than a 6ֶ Male and more than 250 pounds would feel smothered by the cars puny interior spacing. Sure the Europeans in Germany might fit well in it, but, this is America where people tend to be taller, thicker and of generous girth. In order to adjust your seat, assuming you are a relatively thin person, you must use your left hand to reach over to the side of the armrest so that you can first: select the portion of the seat you wish to adjust -based on seat part icons which featured illuminated borders to show you what you were manipulating, and then you had to rotate a small knob in order to make that selected part adjust.
Seat functions such as heating and cooling were located on buttons even more-so poorly placed at the back of the armrests side as if they were intended to be manipulated by your love handles.
Perhaps the only thing saving the new 745Li from being referred to as an abysmal failure, was the ride quality. The 745li featured a 325 HP V8 engine joined with a very appropriate 6-speed automatic that was silky smooth. Press down on the pedal and the 745s 4600 pound body immediately surges forward to 60 MPH in about 6 seconds. Power was not an issue here at all.
The ride quality was equally enjoyable since the 745 was able to make even the ugliest potholes and imperfections in the road, sound and feel like distant thumps.
There was even a fantastic roll stability system in place which kept the 745li from experiencing body roll when you attempt to whip around corners on the highway.
There was actually one such curve on the Southern State Parkway, a flat, near perfect stretch of road connecting Eastern Long Island to NYC, which I always tend to speed around when I drive though the speed limit signs suggest no more than 40MPH.
745li managed this portion of the road at 65 MPH without throwing and pressing me against the drivers side window despite the fact that centripetal motion laws indicated it should.
The eye candy inside the 745li was awesome at first. You see and feel the soft, cushy seats in the front and back of the car. You see the large wood grained sections shockingly similar to the wood of the furniture in my dining room - separating the hardened plastic with all its buttons and knobs. Unfortunately button placement, as I indicated with the seat control layout was horrible.
The only thing I did like about the seats were to head pads, which could be manipulated by your love handles, to clasp the back of your neck for those long drives where you know you will be doing illegal speeds for the majority of your ride.
Basically, for the $55,000 my Father spent on this car years ago, I would have gladly saved him $20,000 by convincing him to purchase a Chrysler 300C instead.
No the 300C doesnt have the I-drive or the wood grain or the profile of a barracuda, but, what it did have was, reasonable luxury, ease of use, opulent retro looks and most importantly interior space.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE 750LI....DO THE CHANGES MAKE IT BETTER?
I spent time recalling my experience with the 745li because I felt it important to actually let you understand why the 750Li exists. Basically the 750li came as a response to all the bad criticism, bad press about the I-drive and disappointments owners had with the previous model. The only people who responded to the 745li well were trendsetters such as rappers and the media personalities we all know and love who were BMW lovers determined to get the newest technology. Many of them learned the I-Drives specifics in no time flat in the manner you would learn how to use an Ipod and they had no disappointments at all with the 745s design. After all, they were driving a top of the line BMW whose reputation and name recognition preceded them.
750LI was produced because the 745LI, despite its high speeds and quarter mile record settings was a failure. It was less than perfect.
The 750li features a restyled face. Firstly, the lighting fixtures have been slightly restyled so that they no longer appear to be chiseled out, separate parts of the frame. The front grills trademark kidney intakes have been made larger the size they should have been and the entire front end appears much more solid and aerodynamic.
The hood has been raised a little and the angled lines associated with it have been reshaped so that they appear far more contemporary. 750 also has a restyle air dam with a less hungry appearance.
The infamous rear of the 745Li has been altered so that now, there is no more fin lip. The rear bumper does not have its menacing slatted look any more and now there are thicker, larger rear lighting fixtures rather than the 745s thin brake strips.
I never complained about the rear styling of the car. I appreciated the shark like styling of the car because I felt it gave this new BMW character. After all, a shark is a fast, majestic marine animal. Personally, If I was on the 7s design team I would have made the Kidney grills larger and left the rest of the car alone. Of course, art forms vary from one person to the next.
Not much has changed since 745li. The centerstacks air conditioner controls have been altered to make them feel a little higher in quality. The wood grain has been changed to offer different color tone. And the horrific Almighty German control Knob has been changed from cheap feeling, painted plastic to a thin aluminum metal with a leather cover insert top hat.
The LCD screen is still too small. The seats and button placement havent changed and are still annoying and the vast majority of the car seems untouched with the exception of some new dealer options. You can now get a dealer installed DVD player for the rear passengers.
The I-Drive remains difficult to use. Even though the submenus have been retooled, I still hate it. Two Days ago I drove the Mercedes S550.
I witnessed its COMAND system, which was originally Benzs response to the I-Drive. Unfortunately for BMW, Mercedes actually got the COMAND system working properly and even better than the I-Drive. What I liked more about the S550 was that the Benz features two LCD screens, one in the dashboard and one for the centerstack. Both of them were larger and easier to see than the Beemers but, the best feature was that their information could be changed in order for the driver to see what he wanted on which screen he wanted to see it on, when he wanted to see it. Whether that info was the settings of the Benzs Multi-Contour massage chair, or the GPS Navigation map, the Benz just offered more usability in its sea of never ending buttons.
ULTIMATE DRIVING MACHINE ? I think not
The 745s 4.4 L V8 was replaced by a larger 4.8 Liter V8 which produces 360 hp. This new model with the enlarged engine is now known as 750i and like the 745li, 750Li is named so for the long wheel-base model. The 750i and Li have completely replaced all 745is and Lis. Pretty much all of the attention to this restyle went into the cars rear design but, it was nice of BMW to give us this new engine.
Since you get a more powerful V8, the 750 is able to make the trip from 0-60 in less than 6 seconds. It feels noticeably faster in fact when you press the pedal down intending to tear away from the light and completely embarrass the guy in the Honda Civic next to you. That is basically how I test cars ability. I wait for the light to hit red on the perpendicular lamps and then the moment I see green, I lead foot the pedal until everyone who was once besides me is long behind me. 750li handled this test very well.
Though I wasnt allowed to test drive this model on my Southern State PKWY commute, I did get to fly through the neighborhood near the dealer with the windows down and the music bumping. Speaking of music, The Premium sound package that was included in the model I checked out was extremely adequate. 13 speakers and 2 subwoofers! Only the hardest of BASS addicts would need add a subwoofer to the trunk.
I found the ride to be very enjoyable despite the tightness of the interior. Hitting curves at high speeds was completely mitigated by the 750s roll stability. I found the steering to be more than adequate allowing me to whip the car back and forth with minimal effort. The steering was very reminiscent of what Id experienced in the 300C but, it was slighly more nimble. I felt as if I could place a single palm on the wheel and turn the big body with very little effort.
Once again, the engineers of BMW coupled the engine to a smooth transmission. The interchanges from gear to gear felt quiet and smooth. While not as perfect as the 2007 S-class, there was a lot to like in terms of quality driving experience here. In fact, BMW has included a manu-matic sport shift with the 7-series which can be activated by pressing a button on the steering wheel. Then, to shift gears up or down, there are paddles located at the top of the steering wheel which you hit with your thumbs so long as you are driving in the 10 / 2 hand position. I personally tend to drive in the 12 hand position with my right hand on the wheel and my left hand out the window holding the side panels. The 750li was very easy to drive. Almost too easy in fact... as if it doesn't really need you.
There is definately a feel in this new Beemer that the car is so overly technological that there is a disconnect between driver involvement and car requirement. Some day cars will be able to drive themselves, according to Japanese scientists, working on automatic parking technology. In fact, after driving the S-Class 550 and witnessing its automatic cruise control, I have to wonder how long will it be until Luxury cars don't need drivers at all?
WHAT REALLY BOTHERED ME ?
I was bothered by the fact the seat controls are placed right next to my love handles and I cannot see them easily to adjust them or...to simply marvel at them when the car is stuck in traffic. The seats are comfy and feature soft pads for the underside of the legs (which retract) as well as the head pads which "cup" your cranium, but, I'm dissapointed that that the control knob for doing all of this is hidden, and, tasked with so many seat adjustments that it feels confusing most of the time.
I was bothered by the fact that the steering wheel controls are ridiculously complicated. Most military jets do not have the amount of knobs that this car has. For example, the steering wheel hosts the typical rain/wiper control, the transmission shifter and 2 others which I honestly can't remember the function of. Each of these knobs has multiple buttons on them - mostly to control the LCD displays in the dashboard. But isn't that what the I-Drive is for?
Mercedes' COMAND system features dual LCD screens and all the controls for both are truncated into intuitive control pads on the steering wheel or the COMAND knob. Mercede's system just makes more sense. Even the Lexus LS460 features the same tech as the 750 without being ridiculously confusing.
Iy was easy for me to see why so many people choose BMW, but, I feel that BMW missed their mark giving the driver a vehicle that was intuitive. Instead, the 750 feels like a professional device designed for customization. For the average driver, all these controls are an eyesore.
The car's acceleration is decent for its mass, but because it is RWD until BMW incorporates AWD (which will be nicknamed "x"), the car is prone to excess tire spin when you try to jump off the light. As I said, the car is powerful, but, that power comes at the expense of noise. This is due to BMW switching the 745li's engine to the 2004 BMW X5's SUV engine. Motor *roar* is frightening in what was otherwise a quiet interior. the S550 in a 0-80mph acceleration is much quieter.
In the 750's defense, the transmission is very well behaved and there is virtually no gear bumping or *slip shock* to let you know when the gears are switching.
OPTIONS AND PRICING
There are two main electronic options offered to you by BMW. One is th night vision system for $2300. Basically, a computer generated image, of the heat of people or animals ahead of you appears in the LCD screen when you select the system. The QVGA camera is joined with BMW's new high-beam assist feature. Similar to that system found on many other luxury cars, photoelectric sensors scan up to about 1000 feet ahead of the vehicle and automatically dim the bright lighting when being approached by another driver so as not to blind them - even able to swivel horizontally with the car's headlights during turns to detect wildlife and streetwalkers just around the bend. Its a nice gimmick, but, BMW could have won me over if this feature had the Cadillac XLRs windshield projection display so I didnt have to stare into the disappointingly badly placed LCD screen. The S550 Benz features the same system but, because it has an LCD screen in the instrument panel itself, its easier to use
Next is BMWs Intelligent Cruise Control. Whats so intelligent you ask? Basically, weve already seen this system on the Cadillac STS and a number of other cars. There is a radar sensor which is able to match speeds and decrease speed automatically compared to the next driver. Unfortunately, BMW was trumphed yet again by Mercedes Benz whose S-class has an adaptive cruise control which can actually stop the car if the next guy stops and then accelerates the car to highway speeds again all by its lonesome. For $2300, this feature is not worth it unless you really get a good deal on EBAY or its already loaded.
There are seating and entertainment packages to consider. You can get the BMWs rear entertainment system, which is a brand made DVD player specifically designed for the rear armrest which costs you $2000. You may also consider upgrading your seats to the $3000 front sport seats (12-way drivers, 10-way passengers) with adjustable thigh support or you might even opt for the $500 HD radio package which gives you access to RADIO in HD.
750i costs about $75,000 with dealer installed options and the 750Li will cost slightly closer to $80,000. Because of the manumatic system which is able to shift far down the gear list, BMW has gotten around the gas guzzler tax but, you can still expect typical taxes and dealer fees to add about $5000 - $8000 more to the purchase.
BMWs 750li to me looks like a typical sports car youd see from Lexus or Audi. I personally enjoyed Audis A8 far more than the BMW even though the BMW felt better balanced. This is a very expensive, very well made sports car but, the I-drive system is still inadequate and the seating space front and back is disappointing.
The BMWs price is pretty high, though justifiable when you consider how many luxury features the car offers. After driving the Mercedes Benz S-class, however, I feel that I have stepped into true luxury and it makes me believe the 750li should not cost more than $70,000. Before buying this car, I suggest you take a drive in the AUDI A-8, or the new LEXUS LS 460. Unlike the Mercedes S-Class, these two cars have similar sport quality in them to the BMW 750li. The S550 is a luxury yacht and it wouldnt be fair to compare it to this Beemer since it is larger, technologically superior and much more luxurious and romantic.
The 750i and Li, are much better than the cars they are replacing but, I still feel so much more improvement is needed. Besides the poor interior space, BMW needs to improve the I-Drive by giving it a better User Interface, drop the I-Drive altogether or go to Mercedes Benzs doorstep and ask them for advice. I also suggest BMW switch the seat controls to the door just like Mercedes has done in the S-class.
I find it so sad to see that BMW began the technological super car trend with the 745li, yet Mercedes Benz took the wheel and perfected it.
MERCEDES BENZ S550 http://www.epinions.com/content_252095073924
AUDI A8 L http://www.epinions.com/content_254135406212
CHRYSLER 300C http://www.epinions.com/content_249811668612
2007 ESCALADE http://www.epinions.com/content_241990143620
2007 EXT http://www.epinions.com/content_242008362628