BMW Malaysia has launched the BMW 7 Series plug-in hybrid in the country. The PHEV variant of the sixth-gen luxury sedan arrives here in its 740Le xDrive range-topping guise, and is eventually set to be the only G12 on sale locally, taking over from the 730Li and 740Li petrol models that were launched last year.

No difference in overall dimensions, the hybrid measuring in at 5,238 mm long, 1,902 mm wide and 1,479 mm tall, with a 3,210 mm-long wheelbase, which is exactly the same as the petrol Li variants.

Figurative differences are with kerb weight and boot volume – the 740Le xDrive tips the scales at 2,015 kg, which is 170 kg more than the 740Li (1,845 kg), and because of the need to accomodate the battery in the scheme of things, boot capacity is 420 litres, a reduction of 95 litres from the 515 litres available on the 740Li.

Only a few items help distinguish it from the petrol 740Li from an exterior viewpoint. Aside from the obvious model badging on the rear trunk lid, the hybrid is identifiable by eDrive markings on the C-pillar and i logos on both front fenders as well as the unmissable flap cover of the charging port, located on the front left fender. The kidney grille bars with blue accents seen in foreign markets is not to be found on the local car.

The rest are tucked away or to be found inside the car. Under the bonnet resides an engine cover with a central blue strip and eDrive lettering, while interior items consist of eDrive door scuff plates and an eDrive mode selector switch on the centre console, along with associated readouts in the instrument cluster.

The 740Le xDrive is powered by a B48 2.0 litre BMW TwinPower Turbo four-cylinder unit offering 255 hp (or 258 PS) at 5,000 to 6,000 rpm and 400 Nm at 1,550 to 4,400 rpm, identical to the B48 found in the petrol 730Li.

A supplementary synchronous electric motor – which is integrated into a ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission with Steptronic -[offers a maximum output of 111 hp (or 113 PS) and 250 Nm of twist, both from zero to 3,170 rpm.

Total system output is 322 hp (or 326 PS) of power and 500 Nm of torque. The former is identical to that running off the 740Li’s B58 3.0 litre inline-six, but the hybrid has 50 Nm more torque (450 Nm on the 740Li).

Performance figures for the 740Le xDrive are a 0-100 km/h time of 5.3 seconds (0.3 seconds faster than the 740Li), while top speed is 250 km/h. The hybrid can travel up to 140 km/h in electric-only mode, and operating range with the specified 19-inch wheel option is put as 41 km on a NEDC cycle.

As for the lithium-ion battery, the refrigerant-cooled 351 volt pack has a gross capacity of 9.2 kWh (net capacity, 7.4 kWh), ahead of the 9.0 kWh on the X5, for example.

In Europe, the automaker lists charging time for the car – with a BMW i Wallbox – as being approximately two hours and 40 minutes running a Level 2 charge rate of 3.7 kW (16A/230V line). BMW Malaysia, meanwhile, quotes that charging time to full capacity with a BMW i Wallbox can be done under five hours. The car can also be charged via a household three-pin power socket with a home charging cable supplied with the car.

Besides Driving Experience Control, which offers Comfort, Sport, EcoPro and Adaptive drive modes, there are three eDrive operation modes. As standard, the default setting is Auto eDrive, which utilises both engine and electric motor for movement, and adjusts how the hybrid function intervenes. The next mode is Max eDrive, in which the car runs on pure electric power, the range and duration being dependent on the available level of charge in the battery.

The last is Battery Control. With this, the car runs on engine power alone and enables the battery’s level of charge to be replenished or kept for use later on in urban surroundings. It allows the charge of the high-voltage battery to be set manually, and a value between 30 and 100% of maximum charge can be targeted.

Standard equipment specification for the local 740Le xDrive essentialy mirrors that of the 740Li, including how it’s dressed. The hybrid comes with a Design Pure Excellence exterior and interior package, with Nappa leather quilted upholstery and a Poplar Grain Grey fine-wood trim finish.

The kit list, meanwhile, includes two-axle air suspension with automatic self-levelling and Dynamic Damper Control, BMW Laserlight headlamps and the same 19-inch five twin-spoke 630 alloys (with 245/45 front and 275/40 rear tyres) found on the petrol variant.

Also on, a Sky Lounge panoramic glass roof, a BMW Display Key (which now displays eDrive-related info), a 16-speaker, 600 watt Harman Kardon sound system with nine channels of amplification and a rear entertainment system with two 10-inch display screens operated via a BMW Touch Command seven-inch touchscreen tablet.

There’s also a ConnectedDrive navigation package, a six-colour Ambient Light interior lighting system, an iDrive operating system with a touchscreen function for the Control Display, smartphone integration with wireless inductive phone charging capability and a gesture control feature.

Safety kit includes eight airbags (front and side, head/curtain for the front and rear seats), Isofix child seat mountings in the rear and an Active Protection System.

As for driving assistance systems, Driving Assistant Plus system throws in lane departure warning, lane change warning, pedestrian collision warning, crossing traffic alert (front and rear), active cruise control with a Stop&Go function, steering/lane control assistant and lane keeping assistant with active side collision protection.

Other items include a head-up display, parking assistant, automatic parallel and perpendicular parking as well as surround view. As for exterior colours, four are available for the 740Le xDrive – Black Sapphire, Imperial Blue, Mineral White and Sophisto Grey.

With hybrid tax incentives, the locally-assembled 740Le xDrive gets an import and excise reduction of RM255,000 off its RM853,800 recommended retail price – it’s priced at RM598,800 on-the-road without insurance, and comes inclusive of a five-year/unlimited mileage warranty.

Comparatively, the 730Li was priced at RM598,800 and the 740Li went for RM788,800 when they were first introduced in January 2016. The new 7 Series variant directly competes with the Mercedes-Benz S 400 L Hybrid, which retails for RM598,888.

Read our 740Le xDrive plug-in hybrid drive report, and compare the specifications of all the G12 7 Series models on Carbase.my