After two months of wavering while my 1998 740i lease ticked to the end, I started the process of buying the 740 from BMW because of my misgivings about the 745. This tread was a huge source of info on this.
When BMW offered very favorable financing terms to move out the 2002s, the cost of getting the 745 became fairly close to buying the non-warrantied '98 740. So I made the decision to get the 745 -- without ever having driven it. Can't really explain why.
My conclusions so far:
** The iDrive complexity issue is vastly overstated. It took very little time to get familiar with the base functions. The system's logic is fairly transparent, so I did not even consult the owner's manual on the iDrive until I wanted to do some more advanced tasks, like programming in voice commands for the built-in telephone. The "this car makes me feel like an idiot" folks should buy Cadillacs and shut up.
** The 745 is about 30% more fun to drive than the 740, which was already a near-perfect driving experience. The extra power in the engine is evident, making it just a tick smoother in highway driving. The sensation is slightly up-higher and more knife-like, more like the 5-series, instead of the lower sedan-like 740 feel.
** Once you drive it, the "looks" issue becomes less of a problem for those, like me, who consider the 740 a classic. The 740 is still the better looking car, but the feel of the 745 is in synch with the body changes, the rearward location of the cabin, the accent on the wheels, the more rounded corners. (It's cute that the video BMW gives you with the car includes a Chris Bangle segment explaining that the raised trunk design is tied to the roof aerodynamics -- they clearly are defensive on this point.)
** There are a couple of really silly quirks that are beyond explanation. Why would any engineer design a headrest to automatically rise when the seat is adjusted?
** Of course, if the car ends up spending 2 weeks in the shop because of software snafus, I'll have a completely different view. But I've heard the mantra "those problems have been fixed and all the campaigns have been performed on the late-build vehicles" enough to believe it, for now.
Been driving 745i since Feb'02. I was very excited upon arrival. The car is an engineering marvel! Well, except the one I leased? Let me explain. Had accelerator/throttle/handling problems that took BMW 2-weeks to pin down. Sent a guy out from the tech-ranch to figure out. Ran out of fuel 3 times on Hiway w/wife, tank was always ľ-Ĺ full. This put the car out of service at BMW for 1-week. Driving control recently diminished that the rear axle was virtually replaced, including both rear tires. This took 9-days at my friendly BMW dealer. My wife things itís a death trap and wonít ride again in the vehicle. I left it with the dealer because I donít want the car on account the above. BMWNA knows about and have offered nothing but to pay for the total of 10-days off-lease based on the records. Any suggestions?