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1999 BMW 7 Series Sedan

740IA 4dr Sdn

Starting at | Starting at 17 MPG City - 23 MPG Highway

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  • $62,400 original MSRP
Printable Version

1999 BMW 7 Series Sedan

Printable Version

1999 BMW 7 Series Sedan


1999 BMW 740i

Source: New Car Test Drive

by John Matras

The ultimate enthusiast's luxury sedan.

Base Price $62,970
As Tested $67,270

Like a linebacker performing a pas de deux, big cars aren't supposed to be agile. But with the new Sport Package, the BMW 740i puts a lie to that expectation by hustling down winding roads like a two-seat roadster. The 740i is a handlin' fool and it's powered by a 4.4-liter V8 with even more torque than last year. It is a luxury car for the enthusiast.


The 740i is the shorter member of BMW's big 7 Series sedan line. The 740iL and 750iL have a longer wheelbase for limousine-like rear legroom. While the 740i and 740iL are powered by the V8, the 750iL comes with a magnificent V12. The shorter 740i, hardly a runt, has a 115.4 inch wheelbase and stretches to a full 196.2 inches from stem to stern. It has those BMW trademarks, the dogleg C-pillar and the classic double-kidney grille flanked by quad-headlamps served under glass. The 7 Series is distinguished from smaller Bimmers by kidneys wider than tall, though still with the obligatory vertical slats.

The V8 powering the 740i (and the 740iL) also graces BMW's faster 5-Series models. Swiss watches should have the same engineering elegance. A cover makes the 32-valve double-overhead cam engine look more like a Romulan starship, but the real space age stuff lies underneath, including Bosch HFM-Motronic M5.2.1 with adaptive knock control and VANOS. No, not an archvillan or Star Wars locale, VANOS is an acronym for the German VAriable NOckerwellen Steurung, which translates into "variable valve timing" and can't be used in Scrabble. New this year, VANOS didn't alter the V8's peak power output, a healthy 282 horsepower at 5400 rpm, but it beefed up the torque to 324 pounds-feet at 3700 rpm, bettering last year's output by 14 and lowering the peak by 200 rpm. Normally, we'd say this should make the '99 740i more flexible around town, but the older models hardly had a problem. The new V8s will accelerate faster and are certified for the government's LEV, or low emission vehicle, standard. The V8 also gets long-life spark plugs, and oil-change intervals are now 100,000 miles on average (calculated by an on-board computer).

All 7 Series models come equipped with a 5-speed automatic transmission, but the 740i with the Sport Package features Steptronic transmission control (as does the 750iL). The visible part of Steptronic is a gear selector with a special quadrant. Instead of the usual PRNDL, Steptronic ends at "D." The lever can be slid to the left into another slot for a semi-automatic mode. In this slot, moving the lever rearward selects a lower ratio, moving it forward goes up one. Steptronic can be overridden, sudden full throttle will cause it to downshift, and it will upshift when maximum revs are reached.

The Sport also has a shorter final drive ratio, 3.15:1 instead of the usual 2.81:1, for quicker acceleration. It also includes a torque converter with a higher stall speed for a quicker jump off the line. Underneath, the 740i Sport retains the basic 7 Series suspension: double-pivot strut-type front suspension with forged aluminum lower arms, and four-link independent rear suspension with twin-tube shocks, and anti-roll bars front and rear. But the front suspension is lower by 0.8-inch, springs are 10 percent and 25 percent firmer front and rear while shocks are twice as firm as on the standard 740i. The 740i Sport Package also gets a bigger-22 mm vs. 20.5 mm-front anti-roll bar.

The sharp-eyed may notice the lowered front end and Shadowline exterior trim (matte-black replacing chrome around the side windows, body-side molding and windshield washer jets). The most obvious external cues to the Sport Package are the elegant 18-inch M Parallel Spoke wheels, eight inches wide in front and an inch and a half wider at the rear. The front rims are mounted with 235/50ZR-18 performance tires while the rears are wrapped with fantastic 255/45ZR-18 performance rubber.

The Inside Story

The 740i is a luxury car, something that adding performance bits won't change, obvious to anyone who slips into either front or rear seat. As the Sport Package is available only on the shorter-wheelbase 7 Series, back seat passengers won't get the legs-out-straight room or the footrest of the L models, but 740i has room enough for three authentic adults to be comfortable in back. The Sport Package has its own version of sport front seats that, in addition to providing lateral support for enthusiastic driving, have an articulated backrest that flexes up to 27 degrees for more or less shoulder support as desired. Thigh support - the forward portion of the seat cushion - may be extended up to 2.4 inches. Including the other 14-way power adjustments, including 4-way lumbar adjustment, that's a total of 18 adjustments and more accommodation to one's physique than a waterbed. Full leather is standard. Appropriate to this executive hotrod, the interior is warmed with Vavona redwood trim in place of the usual burl walnut.

Ride & Drive

This may be a roomy and luxurious sedan, but that's moot for the driver who wants to see if the 740i Sport lives up to its moniker. The short answer is, "Yes, indeed." We were able to sample the Sport on the Il Potrero Highway, a sinuous California two-lane snaking through the mountains between Route 166/33 and Pine Mountain Club. The road is an excellent test of the 740's suspension, in many places broken and uneven, while twisting with some corners posted with recommended speeds as low as 10 mph. The 740i took to it like a magic carpet, whisking over the rough stuff with, if not a total absence of feel of the road, at least an insulation from the worst of the impacts. The solid chassis doesn't quiver or shake, providing a stable base for the suspension.

The suspension is remarkable for a large sedan. One might expect a safe but boring understeer designed to keep all but the talented out of trouble. Not so with the 740i Sport. The Sport turns in like a sports car, answering commands from the steering wheel with a reaction from the car as a whole unit. Instead of wanting to push straight ahead, the 740i swings around the corner, taking a set, the rear end moving out to point the car in the desired direction. It's uncanny, almost as if the big car had the telepathic qualities usually found only in two-seaters. It's a perfect example of how a well-designed suspension doesn't need electronic assistance for outstanding performance. The big Bimmer also generates impressive raw cornering forces as well, with more rubber on the ground than a tire store after an earthquake. We found ourselves swinging around corners much faster than the posted advisory speeds and with more confidence than one would expect with a car this big.

The engine is an even match for the chassis, a rolling cornucopia of flawless torque. Silent at idle or cruise, at full throttle the engine emits a mellow V8 burble with nice round vowel tones. The 740i weighs more than two tons, but there's torque abundant to push it through a 0-60 mph sprint in a quick 6.8 seconds, according to BMW, the shorter final drive ratio clipping a tenth off the run.

Using Steptronic to control the transmission yielded a more sports car-like experience with the 740i Sport. Although it lacked the intimate feel of a conventional manual transmission, the transmission responded quickly, shifting up and down without the usual delay of an automatic gearbox shifted manually and there was no chance of overshifting, as with a conventional automatic shiftlever manually controlled. Purists will still pine for a clutch pedal, but Steptronic is a reasonable compromise and possibly the best you'll get in a luxury car here in America. And anyone driving in stop-and-go traffic will appreciate the left thigh-saving feature of the automatic.

Final Word

There are drawbacks to the 740i Sport. The ride is firmer than that of its standard siblings, and the lower final drive ratio exacts a penalty of two miles per gallon in both the city and highway EPA tests. The Sport Package adds $2,600 to the $62,970 list price of a 740i, but also requires a $1,700 gas guzzler tax. One can also add options including a $1,100 cold weather package (heated front seats and steering wheel, headlamp washers and ski bag), an $1,800 premium sound system, rear side-impact airbags (front side airbags and head protection system are standard), and $2,600 break-resistant security glass.

Like other BMWs, the 740i comes with free scheduled maintenance for 3 years or 36,000 miles.

It's hardly inexpensive, but it's the perfect luxury sedan for the enthusiast. After all, sometimes you need that back seat that the M Coupe just doesn't have.

© New Car Test Drive, Inc.

Printable Version

1999 BMW 7 Series Sedan

Safety Features & Equipment

Braking & Traction

4-Wheel ABS Std
Traction/Stability Control Std
Active Suspension System Opt

Passenger Restraint

Driver Air Bag Std
Passenger Air Bag Std
Side Air Bag Std
Side Head Air Bag Std
Rear Body Side Air Bag Opt
Child Safety Locks Std

Road Visibility

HID Headlights Opt
Daytime Running Lights Std
Fog Lamps Std
Electrochromic Rearview Mirror Std
Intermittent Wipers Std

Accident Prevention

Rear Parking Aid Opt


Alarm Std
Printable Version

1999 BMW 7 Series Sedan

Original Warranty  help
Original Warranty
An original warranty is the warranty associated with a vehicle when it is brand new. In addition to the original warranty, select items, like tires, are typically covered by respective manufacturers. Also, an act of Federal law sometimes provides protection for certain components, like emissions equipment.
The original warranty is often broken down into multiple sections, including:
Basic Warranty:
Typically covers everything except for parts that wear out through normal use of the vehicle. Examples of non-covered items are brake pads, wiper blades and filters.
Drivetrain Warranty:
This warranty covers items the basic warranty does not protect. Wear and tear items such as hoses will not be covered, but key items like the engine, transmission, drive axles and driveshaft often will be.
Roadside Assistance:
The level of service differs greatly with this warranty, but many manufacturers offer a toll-free number that helps provide assistance in case you run out of gas, get a flat tire or lock your keys in the car.
Corrosion Warranty:
This warranty focuses on protecting you from holes caused by rust or corrosion in your vehicle's sheet metal.
Please check the owner's manual, visit a local dealership or look at the manufacturer's website to learn more about the specifics of the warranties that apply to a vehicle.

Basic 4 Years/50,000 Miles
Corrosion 6 Years/Unlimited Miles
Roadside Assistance 4 Years/50,000 Miles

BMW Certified Pre-Owned Warranty  help
Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
To be eligible for Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) status, vehicles generally must be recent models with relatively low mileage. CPO vehicles must also pass a detailed inspection, outlined by the manufacturer, which is measured by the number of inspected points.
Warranty coverage can vary from one manufacturer to the next. While most certified pre-owned programs transfer and extend the existing new car warranty terms, others offer a warranty that simply represents an additional year and mileage value. Always check with the manufacturer for the specific warranties they offer.
Common features and benefits of Certified Pre-Owned warranties include:
Age/Mileage Eligibility
To even be considered for certification, a car must be a recent model year and have limited mileage. The exact requirements are established by individual manufacturers.
Lease Term Certified
Some manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars for lease. The length of the lease is often shorter than a new car lease, but it will cost you less.
Point Inspection
These inspections entail a comprehensive vehicle test to ensure that all parts are in excellent working order. The point inspection list is simply a numbered list of exactly what parts of the car are examined. While many inspections range from a 70- to 150-point checklist, most are very similar and are performed using strict guidelines. Ask your local dealer about specific details.
Return/Exchange Program
Some manufacturers offer a very limited return or exchange period. Find out if you will get the sales tax and licensing/registration fees back should you return or exchange the car.
Roadside Assistance
Most certified pre-owned programs offer free roadside service in case your car breaks down while still under warranty.
Special Financing
Reduced-rate loans are available through many certified pre-owned programs. Manufacturer-backed inspections and warranties help eliminate the risks involved with buying pre-owned, so buyers who qualify can take advantage of the great offers.
Transferable Warranty
When a new car warranty transfers with the certification of the car and remains eligible for the next owner, it is known as a transferable warranty. Once the original transferable warranty expires, an extended warranty takes effect.
Warranty Deductible
This is the amount for which you are responsible when repair work is performed under the warranty. Some manufacturers require a deductible while others don't, so always ask.

Every Certified Pre-Owned BMW comes with a protection plan designed to give you the ultimate peace-of-mind.

All Certified Pre-Owned BMW vehicles are exceptional, as are our two tiers of certification:
BMW Certified Pre-Owned
Covers you for 2 years/50,000 miles1 after the expiration of the 4-year/50,000-mile New Vehicle/SAV Limited Warranty for a total of 6 years/100,000 miles1. This includes 24/7 Roadside Assistance and BMW AssistTM Emergency Call, which includes automatic collision notification, and TeleService.
BMW Certified Pre-Owned Elite
These are newer model year, lower mileage (more than 300 miles but less than 15,001 miles) vehicles. This warranty covers you for 1 year/25,000 miles1 after the expiration of the 4-year/50,000-mile New Vehicle/SAV Limited Warranty or for a total of 5 years/75,000 miles1. This includes 5 years of 24/7 Roadside Assistance and BMW AssistTM Emergency Call, which includes automatic collision notification, and TeleService.

Vehicles must pass a rigorous pre-certification inspection conducted by BMW certified technicians.

For complete program details, visit cpo.bmwusa.com.

1whichever comes first
Age/Mileage Eligibility 5 years / 60,000 miles
Lease Term Certified Yes
Point Inspection View & Download the BMW Certified Pre-Owned Inspection Checklist
Return/Exchange Program No
Roadside Assistance Yes
Special Financing Yes
Transferrable Warranty Yes
Warranty Deductible $50

Learn more about certified pre-owned vehicles

Printable Version

1999 BMW 7 Series Sedan

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