2005 BMW 745 iView Vehicle Profile
2002-08 BMW 7 Series: Repair bills will leave you breathless
One of the benefits of buying used is that astronomically priced models become attainable thanks to the ravages of depreciation, especially coveted German iron.
Contemplating a top-of-the-line BMW? Consider this assessment by the editors of consumeraffairs.com: “Consumers buy these things thinking that because they’re expensive, they must be reliable and trouble-free, which is about as far from the truth as Stuttgart is from Santa Monica.
“They’re notorious for being afflicted with all kinds of exotic problems. If you’re looking to raise your self-esteem by buying something really expensive, we recommend real estate.”
When the fourth-generation BMW 7 Series arrived for 2002, it was arguably the most technologically advanced passenger car in the world. But is that a good thing?
The new 7, or “Heaven” as one fan dubbed it, was BMW’s flagship sedan, available in regular 745i and extended 745Li editions. Each new rear-drive-only model was about 5 cm longer in wheelbase, overall length, width and height.
An all-aluminum suspension with ride stabilization and electronic damper control was standard issue to minimize body roll and keep the big car’s cornering stance flat. It worked remarkably well.
The centrepiece of the sumptuous cabin was BMW’s inaugural iDrive system, which controlled the GPS navigation, cellular phone and emergency notification system, as well as climate and entertainment functions, totalling more than 700 commands. Rather than allow occupants to touch a screen with their naturally oily fingers, most functions were routed through the enigmatic rotary push-button console dial. Anger sometimes ensued.
“Unnecessary complexity, the radio is basically non-functional outside of the pre-selected stations,” one iDrive user fumed online.
Initially, power was supplied by a 4.4 L V8 with bi-VANOS dual-variable valve timing, making 325 hp and 325 lb.-ft. of torque — a 43-hp boost over the previous 740i. A six-speed automatic transmission — the world’s first — utilized shift-by-wire technology. Drivers used a stalklike steering-column control instead of a console shifter.
The 760Li joined the lineup for 2003, propelled by a 6.0 L 12-cylinder engine, good for 438 hp and 444 lb.-ft. of torque. It was the first BMW to adopt direct gasoline injection. The same V12 migrated to the regular-wheelbase 760i sedan in 2004.
The 7 Series cars were thoroughly refreshed for 2006. A muscular 360-hp 4.8 L V8 powered the 750i and 750Li. All received updated styling, new interior trim and chassis tuning. The dreaded iDrive got some simpler menus.
ON THE ROAD
The 2002 745i climbed to highway velocity in 6.0 seconds, exceptional for a hefty luxury car. The V12-powered 760Li did the feat in 5.4 seconds, hampered by its added girth. The enhanced 750i V8 sedan for 2006 accelerated to 96 km/h in 5.4 seconds.
Typical for a BMW, the steering was weighted nicely with excellent feedback. While it wasn’t necessarily nimble, it was easy to confuse the 7 Series with a sport sedan — it drove smaller than it looked.
Demonstrating its autobahn breeding, its cabin was free of engine and wind noise even at supralegal speeds. Owners relished the sedan’s serene deportment and moneyed furnishings, including air-cooled seating.
Even its fuel usage was comforting. On the open road, the big engines returned good mileage (as little as 9.5 litres/100 km), while city traffic exacted a toll.
WHAT OWNERS SAY
When a 7 is running well, there are few automotive pleasures that can match its delights: “Be My Wife (BMW), as it is called in Nigeria, is the best car on planet Earth,” reads an unsubtle post.
Unfortunately, it’s a fickle ride and mechanical glitches can punish the unwary something awful.
“My grand total repair bill (is) over $15,000 for a car that’s worth $30,000,” concluded the owner of a 2006 750i after itemizing repairs that included water and vacuum pumps, control-arm bushings, a wireless key fob and a $2,200 seatbelt module.
Typical mechanical faults owners reported included transmission failures, ignition system replacements, worn camshafts, fluid leaks, malfunctioning doors and trunk lids, countless iDrive snafus, multiple warning lamps, broken air conditioners and drippy moonroofs.
The 2002-03 models were riddled with issues related to the car’s Kafkaesque electronic systems. Owners talk about too many motors and unnecessary gizmos prone to go bad in early models. Gadget reliability improved in later 7s, but repair bills can be breathtaking just the same.
If you know what owning a (very) low-altitude corporate jet entails and are willing to lavish time, money and attention on one, a used 7 Series may be for you. Otherwise, look elsewhere.
We would like to know about your ownership experience with these models: Honda CR-V, Hummer H3 and Nissan Cube. Email: email@example.com.
2002-08 BMW 7 Series
WHAT’S BEST: Lap of luxury, serenity now, induces badge envy
WHAT’S WORST: Perplexing iDrive, electrical glitches, transmission woes
TYPICAL GTA PRICES: 2004 — $16,000; 2008 — $32,000
Used BMW 740 All Used Vehicles
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