I realised on about day three, when it transpired that I could talk to the BMW 7 Series, talk to it as if it really understood me, that I was prepared to upend my life for this car. I would move to somewhere with off-street parking to protect it from envy. I would install an outdoor plug in respect of its hybridity. I would make my peace with looking like a bizarrely scruffy chauffeur. I would do whatever it took. Unfortunately, the main thing it would have taken was that I go back in time, embark on a different and more remunerative career, spend 20 years being good at it, whatever that even involves, and then arrive in some other 2017 with £80,000 to spend on a car.
The drive is so beautiful, it made my eyes prick with nostalgia for a nonexistent past when I owned a BMW i8 and everybody stared. It has none of those fancy-pants touches, no gull-wing doors, and looks very much like a regular car, but it has borrowed from the bodyshell of the i8 and is incredibly light, strong and agile, like a businessman taking off his suit to reveal that he’s actually Daniel Craig. Is that wrong? Am I allowed to sexualise a car? Will Craig feel objectified? Don’t worry, I haven’t turned into a petrol-head. But I am a madly enthusiastic petrol-cum-electricity-head.
I say I could talk to it, but it’s not flawless: name an album, and it will come on if it’s on the hard drive. I said, “Play me Hatful Of Hollow by the Smiths”, and it played Hollow Hats Full of Hate by Grunky Funk, and all I could think was how much better its taste in music was than mine. Rear passengers can watch live TV while having an electronic seat massage. The children preferred it to the house and sat outside all week, watching Sam & Cat and giving themselves a deep lumbar rub.
Totally insulated by the hi-spec interior, and liberated from the frictions and bumps of the road by its agility, strength and lightness, it doesn’t feel like you’re driving at all, more like flying. If your ambition is to feel like a racing driver, this might irk, because you need the jeopardy of contact to feel like the boss. But the boss isn’t driving in this; he’s in the back, playing with the air-con on the built-in iPad, stroking the leather seats and wondering if he could get a pet that colour.
This spoiled me for all the other cars, which is OK, because this is my final car review. My parting advice? Get this car. And because you can’t afford it, get a bike.
BMW 740Le xDrive: in numbers
Acceleration 0-62mph in 5.3 seconds
Top speed 155mph
Combined fuel consumption 113mpg
CO2 emissions 56g/km
Cool rating 9/10
Eco rating 9/10
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010