Relatively few drivers are likely to sample the delights of the ultimate BMW to link a high performance petrol engine with an electric motor.
Only a small percentage of the 200 customers planning to buy long wheelbase versions of the 7 Series next year are expected to opt for examples that come with ActiveHybrid badges.
“Our expectations are modest,” says BMW UK product manager Brian Cox. “This part of the market is best described as a niche of a niche. Britain is not a big hybrid market, but all the indications are that there are still people who will want this kind of transport.”
Most likely to be interested are corporate customers based in central London and, not surprisingly, energy firms.
Cox says: “We think customers who need to make frequent trips across cities are turning to hybrids because they like the idea of travelling with zero emissions and low fuel consumption. Even at this end of the market, people are becoming more eco conscious.”
Eco mobility has come a long way since the first hybrid became a hit in smog-bound southern California two decades ago.
BMW’s ultimate eco-warrior offers an impressive best-of-both-worlds compromise in a package that blends driving pleasure with luxury and generous space and is backed with servicing for five years or 60,000 miles.
As in other ActiveHybrid models, the limousine gets a combined 345bhp from a silky, 3.0-litre, six-cylinder twin turbo engine linked with a synchronous electric motor, an output that provides 0-62mph acceleration in 5.7 seconds without fuss and in near silence. And the powertrain also delivers more than 40mpg economy with 158g/km emissions into the bargain.
Gear shifting is imperceptible through the eight-speed transmission and the car behaves with equal aplomb wafting along motorways as it does when it makes its way through busy streets using just battery power for up to two miles at a time.
Like other 7 Series models, the hybrid shares upgrades introduced in the summer to add elegance through an 8mm reduction in height, new bumpers, a stretched grille and more elongated headlights plus redesigned lights at the rear.
Component changes and rear air suspension make ride quality smoother.
Improved mirror styling and added soundproofing are claimed to have further lowered cabin noise.
Daytime running lights, a speed limiter, voice control and enhanced ambient interior lighting all add to the plush ambience of the German firm’s ultimate take on exclusive travel.
The only drawback is that hybrid technology represents a hefty premium over the diesel-driven 740, which offers even sharper acceleration with 149g/km emissions and 49.6mpg economy.
By Maurice Glover