The BMW 7 Series Plug-In Hybrid Can’t Beat The EV

By automotive-mag.com 8 Min Read

I pay attention to how others perceive the car I’m in, whether it’s my own bargain-basement poverty-spec Camry, or a supercar. So I can assure you that the BMW 7 Series stands alone as the most fearsome vehicle I’ve ever tested. Finished in “Frozen Pure Gray” with all-black M accents, this car—a plug-in hybrid 750e xDrive—is downright evil. Cyclists yield. Pedestrians shuffle through crosswalks faster. Minivans leave the fast lane.

Quick Specs 2024 BMW 750e xDrive Plug-In Hybrid
Drivetrain Turbocharged 3.0-Liter Inline-Six Plug-In Hybrid
Output 483 Horsepower / 479 Pound-Feet
Range 34 Miles (Electric Only)
Base Price $107,995
On-Sale Date Now

 

The 7 Series’ dramatic proportions are unmatched by its contemporaries. With present-day upper crusters obsessed with projecting their ethical consumerism, a sedan that looks like Cruella De Ville’s daily driver stands alone. Whether you find it attractive or not, the 750e means business, and for that, I love it. 

It looks a bit less like a supervillain’s lair inside, but remains just as luxurious as one. My demo car ($135,345 as-tested) had nicer carpets than I have in my apartment, and the wine-colored, full-grain Merino leather appointments are Rolls-quality. (If Merino leather is too poverty-spec, don’t worry, cashmere upholstery is also an option.)

2024 BMW 750e xDrive
2024 BMW 750e xDrive

The 18-way adjustable front power seats are some of the most comfortable I’ve ever experienced, and the fit and finish in the cabin is some of the best I’ve ever seen. One-touch automatic doors slam themselves shut with a satisfying “thunk”. The optional 1,965-watt Bowers & Wilkins speaker system ($4,800) has beautifully crafted grilles integrated into the door cards, and audio quality is sublime. The LED-woven glass roof ($950) is stunning at night and perfectly tinted during the day. The armrests are heated. No detail was lazily developed; Even the seats get a set of opulent crystal levers on the LED-backlit door panel strip for adjustment, with fine movements controlled via the center touchscreen. 

That 14.3-inch touchscreen is also where you access the 7 Series Executive Package’s ($4,600) seat massage functionality… as well as basically every other piece of functionality in the car. The driver gets a heavily customizable 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster that seamlessly blends into the infotainment system; Both of these screens are housed in the same curved glass panel that spans two-thirds of the dash. BMW’s iDrive infotainment software runs on the “floating” display, and it’s beautiful, responsive, and fairly easy to navigate, although some of the menus are hidden. 

2024 BMW 750e xDrive

There are some minor frustrations stemming from the UI’s singular focus on the touchscreen—both driver and passenger cannot adjust their seat heaters at the same time, as only one set of controls can be used at once, for example. For a cabin almost wholly devoid of buttons, the 7 Series’ overall user experience is still excellent. 

Less satisfying is the driver’s heads-up display, which takes up enough windshield real estate to become distracting. The HUD—combined with the odd half-click, half-scroll wheels on either side of the steering wheel—were confusing and difficult to use on the fly. I often changed radio stations accidentally, and had to shift my focus to the HUD to fix whatever I’d just bumped.

These quibbles pale in comparison to actually driving the 750e, which stands alone in the 7-Series lineup… as by far the most frustrating of any drivetrain on offer. 

2024 BMW 750e xDrive
2024 BMW 750e xDrive

Like the mild-hybrid and fully electric 7 Series variants, the 750e has lithe, if numb, handling for its 126.6-inch wheelbase, thanks to well-tuned four-wheel steering. The problem with this PHEV is the integration of its 194-horsepower single electric motor and 308-hp turbocharged straight-six drivetrains. 

Apply mild pressure to the brake pedal and regenerative braking is smooth, but weak. Then the car lurches, decelerating much harder, once the pedal is pressed hard enough to engage the calipers. The 750e’s pedal travel inconsistencies make smoothly stopping very difficult. What’s worse, the amount of brake pressure it takes to engage the calipers is variable based on speed, so I never quite knew what the pedal would feel like at any given stoplight. 

BMW’s insistence of always-on “adaptive braking”—where the 750e slows itself down for stop signs or traffic ahead—drove me completely insane. It was always different behavior from the brakes every single day. The only way to shut off this one-and-a-half pedal driving was to engage Sport Mode, which brought me to my next major frustration: the throttle pedal.

2024 BMW 750e xDrive

At low speeds in normal modes, the EV drivetrain is quick and responsive, but lean into the pedal harder and it becomes difficult to modulate. The throttle feels as though it has two-thirds the travel it should, and attempting to smoothly roll on the gas for a quick getaway often results in pushing past the electric-only drivetrain and into a surge of gas-powered fury. Switching to Sport Mode (to get better brake behavior) made the entire driveline twitchier. When wrung out in anger, the 750e moves in a hurry (4.6 seconds to 60) thanks to its hybrid system’s 493 hp. But driving the 7 Series in constant anger feels like defeating its entire purpose. 

The least frustrating way to drive the 750e was to get to the freeway, turn on the Level 2 Highway Driving Assistant ($2,000), and let the Bimmer do the heavy lifting. Still, I would have preferred more of me driving the Ultimate Driving Machine.

The EPA rates the 14.4-kilowatt-hour battery pack for 34 miles of all-electric range, which is middling in the class—the Mercedes S-Class PHEV achieves 56 miles of EV-only driving. The EPA estimates the 750e can achieve 65 MPGe (and 25 MPG) overall; I ran the 7-Series’s battery to zero and still achieved more than 30 MPG total, which is great for the 5,635-pound 750e. 

2024 BMW 750e xDrive

The efficiency still isn’t worth the frustration. Luckily, if you want to skip all of the annoyance of the 750e but still enjoy the 7 Series’ incredible cabin and styling, you can. The superb, all-electric i7 is on offer for $1,000 less, with all of the same strengths and a much more solid drivetrain. Skip the plug-in, and move straight to the EV.

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