Written by: Calvin Chan
Photography by: Sammy Chan & Calvin Chan
With hybrid cars becoming so commonplace in this new generation of automobiles, it is inevitable that BMW will try to stay advanced and ease its way into the role of being green by reducing emissions. Though there are many hybrid cars in the market that like to accentuate their advanced hybrid technology and fuel efficiency with colourful hybrid badges and unusual bodywork on their cars, most drivers simply want a subtle way of feeling good about being green, without all that attention.
Welcome to the top of the line BMW ActiveHybrid 7L.
BMW has given the ActiveHybrid 7L a more delicate approach to blending it in with its regular non-hybrid fleet of 7 series models. Other than its new standard 18” spoke wheels and the faint ActiveHybrid badging on the C pillar and trunk lid, there is absolutely nothing about this car that stands out and screams “look at me I’m driving a hybrid!"
Back in 2010, the BMW ActiveHybrid 7L was the first of its kind to combine a V8 gasoline engine and an electric motor as a mild hybrid concept. For this 2013 model, instead of the 4.4L V8 455hp engine found in the 2012 model, we now have an inline six-cylinder 3.0L TwinPower Turbo paired with a 55hp synchronous electric motor, which is also found in the ActiveHybrid 3 and ActiveHybrid 5. This harmonious mix of a gas and an electric powertrain is mated to an 8-speed Steptronic Automatic Transmission that spews out 349 horses and a peak torque of 367 lb-ft. It rockets the ActiveHybrid 7L from 0 to 100km/h in 4.8 seconds, all while yielding significant fuel savings.
The ActiveHybrid models also come equipped with the Auto Start-Stop system which BMW says can cut fuel consumption by up to 6%. This function will turn off the engine when fully braked and stopped for a brief period of time. This function is rather charming as it gives you a brief moment of silence at a red light intersection or when stuck on the 401 (which I just found out is busiest highway in North America). However if you still have the mindset of driving standard transmission, having the engine spontaneously turned off and silenced can cause your heart to skip a few beats in thinking your car has stalled. Luckily this feature can be turned off if it is giving you aneurysms, but this must be done everytime you hit the ignition.
With this ActiveHybrid 7L, it is also possible to run purely on electric power if the hybrid battery has enough charge. It can cover a distance of up to 4km without producing any tailpipe emissions, however the top speed on electric power alone is 60km/h. Anything above this range and the gas powertrain will kick in and take over. We decided to give this a try and feathered the accelerator pedal very carefully around 40km/h residential roads. We found that although it is possible to keep the hybrid motor going solo, it is very challenging to feather the throttle without hearing the roar of the gas engine coming back into play.
What we did find very practical on the other hand was BMW’s addition of the ECO PRO mode, which can be selected and modifies the entire powertrain to deliver less power when on the throttle to maximize efficiency and to ultimately reduce fuel consumption. Along with the powertrain, it also saves energy on the air conditioning, heated seats, and exterior mirror heating.
When ECO PRO mode is chosen, BMW added another nifty function calling it coasting mode. At speeds between 50-160km/h, simply let go of the throttle and hear your engine decouple and the combustion engine simply shut off, allowing the ActiveHybrid 7L to coast innocently with nothing coming out of its pipes. We gave this a try on the local highways and rocketed the gargantuan sedan to 120km/h and quickly took our foot off the throttle. Amazingly the rev counter swung down to 0 revs/min while still doing 120km/h and eerily glided like a stealth fighter jet to the highway exit. Unlike cruise control where the computers will keep the speed at where you want it, the ActiveHybrid 7L will slowly decelerate until you put your foot back on the throttle.
The true gem of the ActiveHybrid 7L is not what is under the Mineral White Metallic hood, but its sumptuous interior layered with a Nappa leather supple to the touch. It does not take an experienced eye to appreciate the transition from gazing at the brisk white exterior to the luxurious leather interior and valuing the quality and time that went into making this car quite a spectacle. One will find everything that one would expect from a top end model from BMW; from the plethora of rich leather to the myriad of technological gadgets.
As the ActiveHybrid 7L only comes in the long-wheel base version, the additional 5.5 inches of length in the backseats compared to the standard 7 series models makes quite a difference and adds just the right amount of space and legroom to transform it into a first class cabin. Everything about the seats is ergonomic and can be tailored to any position whether it is the backrest angle, seat position, or head restraints (there are even carpeted triangular blocks on the floor to rest your feet on), making it perfect for road trips of any distance.
It comes standard with its own Bang & Olufsen Surround Sound System with 16 speakers and 2 subwoofers. Coupled with the $3500 Rear Entertainment Package that adds two 9.2 inch flatscreen monitors with DVD compatibility for the backseats, it allowed us to truly indulge in what we believed was a movie theatre on wheels.
With other luxury hybrids staring down the $140,200 base MSRP BMW in the rear view mirror, it can be quite a daunting task to choose between the competitors. Being the more expensive of the lot compared to the $113,300 333hp Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid, the $118,100 295hp Mercedes S400 Hybrid, and the $131,200 438hp Lexus LS600h L, it can be hard to justify choosing the BMW. If you simply crave a sporty BMW luxury sedan with no compromises then stick with the Alpina B7 or the M5. However if you fancy a car that cunningly combines luxury, comfort, power, and fuel efficiency into one package, then this elegant BMW hybrid just might be your cup of tea.
型号 Model: 2013 BMW Activehybrid 7 L
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $140,200
Price as Tested: $ 147,300
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 3210
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 5215 / 1902 / 1481
引擎 Engine: 2979cc inline-six TwinPower Turbo, Electric Drive System
最大馬力 Horsepower-HP: 315 / 5800rpm
最高扭力 Torque-LB-FT: 332 / 1300-4500rpm
波箱 Transmission: 8-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, RWD
前懸 Suspension-Front: Multi-link
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Multi-link
煞制-前 Brakes-Front: Vented disc
煞制-後 Brakes-Rear: Vented disc
循跡操控系统 ABS/Traction Control: Standard / DSC / DSC-X / DBC / EBD / ADB-X
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway/Combined)- L/100 km: 9.4 / 6.6 / 8.1
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Pirelli Sottozero 245/45R 19