Posted on May 22, 2016 by Matt Pressman
Here is a true battle between two automotive titans in the ultra-competitive premium, luxury car category. According to Australia's Car Advice* (CA), "These are two cars that barely need an introduction. One is a long-time luxury vehicle from a respected German brand, while the other is a lightning-fast newcomer from an American brand with a focus on green credentials. We’re talking, of course, about the BMW 7 Series and the Tesla Model S. Both vehicles sit at the [$144,000 USD] mark and offer owners a healthy split between luxury and efficiency."
To make this a fair fight, CA "chose the BMW 730d with M Sport Package, which offers the efficiency of a six-cylinder diesel engine and a sporty drive courtesy of the M Sport Package. On the Tesla front, our test vehicle is the Tesla Model S P90D with Ludicrous Mode. Our long-term tester seemed like the perfect car to pit against this luxury limousine. Both vehicles offer the latest in automotive technology and both offer an engaging drive courtesy of a sporty chassis and plenty of torque."
Let's start with the one area where BMW possibly has a leg up on Tesla: "both cars really blew us away when it came to interiors. The BMW is classic BMW, but features a luxury edge... [in contrast] unlike the BMW, the Tesla’s interior is very simplistic — in a good way... [however] it’s the 7 Series that wins on the comfort front. Comfort levels sit much higher than the Model S and we found it more comfortable to sit in either the first or second rows. The Model S claws back in terms of storage [see below] and simplicity, but we felt the 7 Series interior was more representative of a car in this price bracket."
Above: Top photo showcases the massive trunk storage space in the Tesla and don't forget -- you get additional storage in Tesla's frunk; bottom photo shows the rather limited storage in the BMW's trunk
When taking both cars out on the road, CA reports that the Model S has the upper hand: "If you love attention, the Model S is for you. During our city loop in the cars, the Model S was the center of attention with people turning around to watch the car drive by. We also spotted three separate people taking photos of us in traffic. The Model S really is the definition of the people’s car... [that] garners a great deal of attention, which is great." Yes, it's head-turning, but what about performance? Again, Tesla wins this one hands-down, "The Model S is totally ballistic in a straight line. The acceleration is absolutely unmatched in this segment and absolutely never gets old."
What about vehicle technology? There were problems with the BMW which were, "likely to be the result of dodgy firmware or glitches in the matrix, but we all felt that if we had spent north of $200,000 on this car, we’d want it to work perfectly." Regarding interior tech, the advantage clearly goes to Tesla as the: "car’s functions are confined to either the central 17-inch infotainment screen or the steering wheel. The central screen is easy to use... and features an incredible suite of features." Looking at self-driving tech, Tesla also wins as CA noted, "To BMW’s defense, the system isn’t designed to autonomously drive the vehicle, it acts more as an assisting mechanism as opposed to a controlling one... The Model S on the other hand takes autonomous driving technology to the next level."
So... what's the verdict? CA concludes: "Aside from the technical gremlins in the 7 Series, it really is the ultimate luxury fuel-efficient cruiser. Technology levels are a huge step up from the outgoing 7 Series, but equally they are not at the levels of the Model S. The Model S counters that with heaps of storage space, a simplified interior and incredible performance.... [yet] if it’s the generic luxury feel you are after with excellent fuel efficiency and a plush ride, you can’t look past the BMW 730d. But, on the other hand, if you want to be at the cutting edge of technology with manic performance to boot, the Model S P90D is the car for you."
*Source (article excerpts and images): Car Advice