Good going on the Beemer, Trev

Trevor Manuel was recently roasted for buying himself a new Seven series Beemer. Truth is, they deserve each other. No really— they do.

They say to understand a man, you must walk in his shoes. What better way to get inside the head of Manuel than to spend a week in the new BMW 7-Series. The Beemer is, as has been widely reported, his choice of personal transport. And what a controversial choice it’s been — yet another minister spending yet another million of our taxpayers’ money on yet another luxury car.

Granted, there are some slight inaccuracies in my little experiment — besides him being the planning minister and me being, well, not the planning minister, and of course me sitting in the driver’s seat and him sitting a little further back, my 7-Series wasn’t the twin-turbo V8 might of Manuel’s 750i, but instead the slightly more frugal 730d. Given the diesel’s high spec and abilities, though, I reckon it was close enough. And besides, mine was also black.

The engine — might as well get this out the way before we talk about the important stuff — is the latest version of BMW’s acclaimed 3,0-litre smoker. Again it’s an alloy block with a turbo and a high-pressure injection system. Compared with its predecessor, stats on the power and torque are happily both up (180kW and 540Nm), and down on fuel consumption.

Helping the car maximise its power output is a brake-energy regeneration system that only engages the alternator when the car is coasting or braking. Besides boosting battery power, it also means the engine doesn’t have to worry about running the ancillary components.

And now the good stuff …

Being the top-end of the Bavarian giant’s sedan range, the standard spec is right up there. Besides the herd of Schwabian cows it took to make the 730d’s lederhosen and the Black Forest trees skinned for the wooden veneer, the bog standard 7-Series comes with auto door and boot closing, heated and ventilated front seats (I’m sure Manuel has them in the back too), a head-up display speedo, headlights that peak around corners, and satnav with not just a DVD player, but TV reception too.

But, I guess all that is no real surprise in this rarefied market segment, is it? What is surprising though, is how the 7-Series behaves on the road. Of all the buttons dotted around the operating console, the most fun by far is the Dynamic Driving Control. Twiddle it from comfort, normal, sport and up to the sport-plus setting and the car changes from a comfortable cruiser into a muscle-bound sports sedan, as the suspension, throttle and steering response all hunker down into Usain-Bolt-at-the-start-line mode.

Gear upshifts are noticeably quicker, the suspension way firmer, and most of the stability control safety net is switched off. And the inline, six-cylinder turbo-diesel has more than enough low-down grunt to take advantage of all this. This car is genuinely quick off the mark.

So, Manuel, all in all a good choice. Don’t listen to all those holier-than-thou liberals — I reckon that if any government official deserves to spoil himself, it’s you. While I’m sure you’ve got a couple of skeletons rattling around the old closet — hey, who doesn’t in your line of work — from what I can see, there hasn’t been a politician who has come close to doing what you’ve done for this country in the last decade.

(Just get the diesel next time, dude. And spend more time in the front seat.)

FAST FACTS
BMW 730d
Price: R928 000
Engine: 3,0-litre, in-line six-cylinder turbo-diesel
180kW @ 4 000rpm and 540Nm @ 1 750-3 000rpm
Performance (claimed) : 0-100km/h in 7,2 sec, top speed 250km/h
Fuel consumption (claimed combined cycle): 7,2 litre/100km
Transmission: six-speed auto with optional sequential mode.
Rivals: Audi 3,0-litre TDi R809 000
Merc S350 CDi R965 000

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