When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
The doors shut with a satisfying clunk, the rear blinds flicked up automatically and the entrepreneur and the actress settled back to enjoy the ride. They switched on the TVs, adjusted their seats and stretched their legs out in front of them.
In front the chauffeur switched the drive setting from “normal” to “comfort,” flicked the six-speed automatic gearbox into “drive” and with a whisper, the BMW glided off towards its destination.
All this was perhaps a snapshot of the future as the actress was in fact my daughter, the entrepreneur her friend, and the chauffeur myself.
But the car was very real. The BMW 730Ld is a true executive limousine that takes the words “fully loaded” to a new dimension.
The ‘L’ stands for long, as it is 14 cms longer than the conventional 7 Series, and that is reflected in the rear legroom which stretches so far that a foot rest is provided.
It is designed to be chauffeur-driven with controls for the entertainment system, climate and individually powered seats all accessed from the centre of the rear seats — it is only a four-seater.
Cocooned in leather, the passengers can relax with a broadsheet newspaper or work on their laptops, and will remain comfortable whatever length of journey they may have.
But all this attention to the rear seat occupants does not mean the driver has been ignored.
The chauffeur could have a great deal of fun with this beast once the passengers have been safely despatched, as it remains a real driver’s car.
There are four drive settings which also include “Sport” and Sport plus” which adjust the chassis and, rather than being a gimmick, the difference is tangible.
Acceleration from the three-litre diesel engine seems limitless, while the car matches its undoubted presence with poise, grace and sheer driving pleasure.
Look through the windscreen and projected in front of you is a “head up” display showing speed and any other warning which may be relevant, and can help you avoid looking down at the instruments.
The slightly unnerving part is that the car seems to know what you are doing — for example, once I accelerated hard and an on-windscreen warning told me the temperature was just three degrees celsius, and there was a risk of ice.
The other difficult (but fun) part is finding out what this car can do. It took me three days to discover it could actually operate live television as well as DVDs, and connect to the Internet.
At the heart of these functions displayed on a central screen is an advanced version of BMW’s i-drive operated by a wheel in the centre console. Want to make a telephone call? No problem — it can be done hands-free through Bluetooth technology. A little chilly? Choose which setting you would like on the seats, which are heated front and rear.
Satellite navigation prevents you from getting lost and ingenious cameras not only look after parking, but also allow you to see what is coming from the side at difficult junctions.
You name it, it’s there along with a lot more, but all this technology does not come at the expense of build quality which, as you would expect with a top of the range BMW, is superb.
It’s not all fun, though. Even in the good times someone would have the tough task of justifying the acquisition of such a car.
Luckily the 7 Series range, and the 730Ld in particular, presents a solid business case.
It is fitted with a diesel engine which promises decent fuel economy and emissions, although I was returning an alarming 17.3mpg around town, according to the car’s computer.
But motorway cruising is sublime with power on tap to get away from trouble.
Back to the actress and the entrepreneur — let’s hope their dreams come true.
And if it involves driving a 7 Series, I won’t mind being their chauffeur, either.
Model: BMW 730Ld Peformance: 0-62mph: 7.3 seconds, top speed 153mph Economy: 38.7mpg CO2 emissions: 194g/km
Price: From £56,795 Web: www.bmw.co.uk