First Drive: 2016 BMW 740e iPerformance

First Drive: 2016 BMW 740e iPerformance

It comes as little surprise to see that earlier this year Cape Town was voted the No.1 city in the world to visit.

Over 75 000 readers of The Telegraph took part in the survey and our little piece of paradise at the tip of the continent came out tops.

Not a bad achievement when you consider it pipped at the post the diversity of Vancouver and historic charms of Venice.

Mind you, visit the Mother City on a summer’s day, when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun is shining, and it is easy to see why this is a favourite destination for so many.

Take in the scenic beauty as you drive along Chapman’s Peak — a narrow road chiselled into the mountain that twists and turns before opening up to a spectacular view of the fishing village of Hout Bay.

Or perhaps explore one of the many world-class wine farms in the Stellenbosch region before retiring under the oak trees for a traditional Cape lunch, complemented by a chilled sauvignon blanc.

740e iPerformance

The places to visit and things to do are endless in this region, and one of the spin-offs has been a significant influx — due to various socioeconomic conditions — of people not only from the Eastern Cape and Gauteng, but many other African and European countries.

One of the downsides to this migration is that you are likely to experience some of the worst traffic jams this side of Lagos.

On Rhodes Drive last week — where houses are shrouded by towering old pine trees and change hands for nothing less than a cool R30-million — I found myself ensnarled in a traffic jam that carried on for kilometres.

The only thing that stopped me from gouging out my eyes in frustration was that I was cocooned in the luxury of the new BMW 740e iPerformance — the new plug-in hybrid variant in the luxury-class sedan range.

While other motorists appeared to be getting agitated, I eased back in the rich leather seats, adjusted the air-conditioning, found some soothing music and let the world carry on.

But best of all, while the majority of other motorists unfortunately caught up in this mess risked having their cars overheat and were unnecessarily burning fuel, I was not consuming a drop, nor emitting any of those nasty CO2 gremlins.

You see, in this particular vehicle you can travel up to 40km — and at a speed of up to 120km/h (highly unlikely in the scenario I found myself in) — in pure electric mode.

The lithium-ion high-voltage battery sits beneath the rear seat, thus not encroaching on the boot space, which is a rather respectable 420 litres.

740e iPerformance

Charging of the battery can simply be done at home by plugging into a wall socket and it will take up to about four hours to charge, or just under three hours from a BMW I Wallbox.

After escaping the madness of the traffic jam, it was time to explore the other side of the 740e — and that is where the 2-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with a twin-scroll turbocharger came in to play.

Integrated into the eight-speed steptronic transmission — and including the power generated by the electric engine — there is a total output of 240kW and combined torque of a respectable 500Nm.

Petrol consumption — as claimed by the manufacturers — is a measly 2.1l/100km.

Performance-wise — considering this is a pretty big vehicle — the 740e is surprisingly swift.

Figures supplied, and these I don’t doubt, indicate a 0-100km/h sprint time of 5.4-seconds while the top speed is governed to 250km/h.

It was pointed out during a business presentation that the technology available in the 740e is the result of research and development that have been continuously worked on and improved since the early 2000s.

As a company representative said: “We can expect more changes in the next 10 years than we have had in the last 50.”

This will no doubt make for an incredibly exciting next decade. – Bruce Fraser


740e iPerformance starts at R1 431 500