There’s another purpose to be served here too: I deliberately opted for a high-powered diesel because, in among all the grandstanding from politicians and newspaper editors alike, there lurks within me a more than sneaking suspicion. That for certain people who live their lives a certain way, diesel is so spectacularly preferable to any other source of power provision that even to contemplate its demise is to contemplate a move that seems stupid at best, at worst closer to insane.
Beyond the engine, I had no say in the specification of a car that belongs to BMW and which it will have to sell to someone else once I’m done with it. The people responsible said they wanted a car that had a decent number of useful extras without giving it ‘the full Christmas tree’ but, where I come from, a car whose every seat provides an extensive massage menu, which has rear seat televisions, one of the best sound systems I’ve ever heard in a car (despite it not being BMW’s top-of-the-range system) and which will park itself while you stand outside seems pretty lavishly specified to me.
Combined with many other items detailed below, this is enough to push the price of a car costing £85,255 well into six digits, which is a scary amount to spend on a large saloon, particularly given the well-documented initial depreciation suffered by all such cars.
But all that’s for another time. For now I just need to get used to it, a process helped by it being handed over to me by Sukh Bhamra, BMW GB’s product manager for large cars. It was he who told me, for instance, the difference between the £2420 Driving Assistance Plus package and the £2450 Executive Drive Pro system, which sound to me like they could be one and the same.
Not so: Driving Assistance Plus provides an additional suite of safety systems including active cruise control and traffic jam assistant, which allows the car to drive all but autonomously at low speeds. By contrast, Executive Drive Pro comprises active anti-roll bars that are all but disengaged in a straight line but stiffen not just as the car corners but in anticipation, using data from the satnav and windscreen-mounted road-reading cameras. Yes, really.
The Seven also has Integral Active Steering, which not only varies the steering ratio according to speed but also turns the rear wheels in the opposite direction to those at the front at low speed to effectively shorten the wheelbase, and in the same direction at high speed to help promote stability.
So it’s clear from the out that this is an immensely clever car, and early impressions are of an implausible blend of towering performance and unfeasible economy all wrapped up in the most comfortable, best riding BMW ever created.