£64,260 - £85,605 Price range
45 - 117 MPG
While past BMW 7 Series models were designed to offer a sportier drive compared to rivals, this new model puts more focus on being a technical tour de force.
That’s something that has traditionally been a Mercedes S-Class strongpoint but, as it has consistently outsold the 7 Series, BMW’s about-turn is understandable. That’s not to say the rest of the competition is lacking technology – the Jaguar XJ and Audi A8 both come with plenty of kit and are keen to guide you away from a BMW key fob, too.
As it happens, said BMW key fob is one of the most advanced we have ever seen. It features a 2.2-inch colour screen that tells you whether the car is locked, its range, and when the next service is due. It also serves as a console for remote-control parking.
Of course, it opens the car too, and once inside you’ll find a more spacious interior than in the old model, with plenty of room for rear seat passengers and a noticeable step up in quality. As before, a long-wheelbase model offers even more rear legroom if you need it.
Although this is the biggest 7 Series the company has ever built, it’s also 130kg lighter than the old model. That means it’s much faster than you might think – the 3.0-litre diesel (set to be most popular) gets from 0-62mph in just 6.1 seconds. It also feels quite nimble in corners for something so big.
The twin-turbocharged V12 M760i model hits 62mph from rest in 3.9 seconds and (with the M Driver’s package) tops out at 189mph. There’s also a 740e hybrid and 750d xDrive four-wheel-drive options.
Lots of equipment comes as standard, ranging from the expected kit such as alloy wheels, climate control and sat-nav, to less widespread fare such as heated rear seats, and that clever wirelessly charging key fob.
Beautifully designed and executed, the inside of the BMW 7 Series offers high-quality leathers and a wide mixture of wood veneers and metal trims. The sat-nav operates via a 10.3-inch display with crystal clear graphics.
Tick a few boxes (and write a much bigger cheque) and you’ll have more dials, switches and gizmos than the Space Shuttle. Highlights include a marvellous Bang and Olufsen audio system, and a Blue-ray player hooked up to a pair of 10-inch screens in the rear.
BMW 7 Series passenger space
BMW expects a lot of 7 Series models it sells will be put to work chauffeuring, so the company has made sure that rear-seat space is ample. Passengers also get plenty of gizmos to play with such as massaging seats, with reclining backrests, and heating. If you need more room, the long-wheel-base option is 14cm longer, with most of that increase devoted to rear passenger legroom.
BMW 7 Series boot space
Irrespective of which model you choose, all 7 Series models have a 515-litre boot that deals with most luggage requirement with ease. It’s bigger than you get in the Jaguar XJ (479 litres), Audi A8 (505 litres) and Mercedes S-Class (510 litres).
BMW hasn’t messed about with the new 7 Series. All models come with air suspension as standard in an attempt to offer the best ride in class and to the most part it works. Large bumps barely upset those aboard, but smaller ones cause more of a problem, jiggling passengers in a way that an S-Class never would. If you want to improve the ride quality you could always specify the Executive Drive Pro option, which is similar to Mercedes’ Magic Ride. It uses cameras to scan the road ahead and tune the suspension accordingly, unlike the system in the S-Class, though, BMW’s works at night and when its raining.
The push for ultimate comfort does seem to have come at the expense of an involving drive. It’s not the most exciting car to drive, but when we tested the 7 Series in 2016 we found ourselves effortlessly tackling country roads at 60mph – although the cabin is so quiet you frequently surprise yourself when you take a look at the speedo in the head-up display. It certainly doesn’t feel like a heavy, long car once you’re behind the wheel – and that’s perhaps the perfect praise for the big BMW. However, if you want a limo that’s truly fun to drive then the Jaguar XJ is the car to go for.
BMW 7 Series refinement
It’s not often we’ll give a car a separate section for refinement, but after testing the 7 Series we were astounded at how quiet the cabin is at a motorway cruise. You can easily hold a whispered conversation with a passenger at 70mph, and everything about the way the car drives is geared towards comfort. Even the way the brake pedal allows you to softly ease the car to a stop makes you feel like a professional chauffeur – of course you can hammer the left-hand pedal to stop very quickly indeed, but if you like to practice smooth driving then the 7 Series should be on your shopping list.
Some of the standard equipment also helps keep things relaxed in the cabin. The air ioniser sounds like a gimmick – ionised air is meant to help your body take oxygen onboard more easily – but it has a truly noticeable effect. Getting out of the 7 Series after an hour’s drive you realise that the atmosphere inside the car feels like that of a fresh alpine meadow, and that the oxygen outside the car is of a lesser quality. Full marks to the 7 Series for making the regular atmosphere feel inadequate.
All models now feature stop-start technology (which switches off the engine at a standstill to save fuel) and brake energy recuperation to increase efficiency, which makes even the most bonkers models economical for a car in this class.
BMW 7 Series diesel engine
The 3.0-litre diesel engine is undoubtedly the most sensible option. It produces 261hp, can accelerate to 60mph in 6.1 seconds – quick enough to beat a Volkswagen Golf GTi off the lights – yet returns sensible fuel economy and emissions. The eight-speed automatic gearbox is extremely well matched to the 730d, too.
The 740d offers more of the same, with similar economy and emissions to the 730d matched to even more performance.
BMW 7 Series petrol engines
The 740i, which comes with a six-cylinder 3.0-litre engine that is boosted by a turbocharger produces 326hp. It can get from 0-62mph in just 5.6 seconds – not far off a BMW M3 – and can return fuel economy of 41.5mpg with emissions of 159g/km. The powerful 750i can out accelerate some sports cars – 0-62mph takes just 4.7 seconds – but costs a lot to run thanks to fuel economy of 34.9mpg.
If you want the ultimate 7 Series, however, BMW offers the M760Li xDrive. This twin-turbocharged V12 monster hits 62mph from rest in a supercar-like 3.9 seconds and (with the M Driver’s pack) has a limited top speed of 189mph. Naturally, emissions and fuel economy are significantly impacted by this ludicrous performance but buyers at this end of the market are unlikely to care.
BMW 7 Series hybrid
If you want to avoid the increasingly stringent emission criteria in city centres, but don’t want to skimp on luxury or pace, then the hybrid 7 series might be perfect for you. The car’s brain knows where you are by consulting the sat-nav and adjusts the distribution between petrol and electric power accordingly. That is if you keep it in Auto eDrive mode. Of course, there are other driving modes to choose from such as Sport and Comfort, that we know from the regular 7 Series.
In charge of providing power is a 2.0-litre engine. Yes, you’ve read right – a BMW 7 Series with a piddly 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine. The good news is that the unit is far from ordinary and with a power output of 262hp it’s no slouch. The electric motor adds another 100 or so horsepower for a combined power output of 322hp – a number more fitting of BMW’s flagship.
There are some drawbacks, however, mainly resulting from the box, situated underneath the rear seats, housing the 9 kWh battery. This means the fuel tank has to be relocated and is now taking up a large chunk of the boot space – it has shrunk from 515 to 420 litres.
The fuel tank itself is very small at 42 litres meaning you’ll have to exit your cocoon of luxury to fill up more frequently than in a diesel-powered 7 Series. And herein lies the biggest problem of the 740e – a 730d has a fuel economy figure of nearly 60mpg, a normal sized fuel tank and a full-size boot. Plus it costs around £5,000 less – money better spent on options.
Understandably for a flagship model the 7 Series is packed full of passive and active safety technology such as radar-based autonomous driving as well as LED headlights.
For increased all-weather capabilities, the 7 Series can be specified with the latest version of BMW’s xDrive four-wheel-drive system.
Neither the new model or the old have been tested by Euro NCAP but rest assured BMW has made the 7 Series as safe as it possibly can.
As you would expect for a luxury saloon, even basic models of the 7 Series come packed full of equipment. In fact, the kit list is too long to list, but highlights include 18-inch alloy wheels, four-zone climate control, keyless entry, a 10.3-inch display that comes complete with sat-nav and is compatible with some of the apps on your smartphone, and a plush leather interior.
BMW has worked hard to make its range-topper as stress-free as possible day-to-day. To that end all models also include an excellent eight-speed automatic gearbox, LED headlights that turn on and dip automatically, auto wipers and automatic cruise control.
BMW 7 Series M Sport
According to BMW, high-profile buyers were keen that the 7 Series wouldn’t be an attention grabber – so the standard car’s conservative styling is no mistake.
M Sport trim caters for buyers looking for more presence and they get it thanks to huge 19-inch alloy wheels, a more aggressive M Sport bodykit and gloss-black exterior highlights. Inside the eight-speed gearbox has a Sport mode for faster acceleration and there’s high-gloss Fineline Black wood trim with a metal effect.
The new 7 Series is a vastly better car than it’s predecessor. It may not look as premium as its rivals, but it more than makes up for that with a decent ride quality, capable engines and high-tech options. The 730d is the best blend of strong performance and impressive refinement as well as very good fuel economy. The 7 Series is a car that is equally good when you are behind the wheel or lounging in the back.