Review

BMW 7 Series saloon

Price  £58,275 - £104,260

BMW 7 Series saloon

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Top-quality interior
  • Brilliant diesel engines
  • Fun to drive
Cons
  • Poor resale values
  • Uneconomical petrol engines
  • Firm suspension

At a glance

The greenest
730d SE 4dr £58,275
The cheapest
730d SE 4dr £58,275
The fastest
760Li M Sport 4dr £104,260
Top of the range
760Li M Sport 4dr £104,260

"The BMW 7 Series is great fun to drive, even if the suspension is too firm for a luxury car."

The BMW 7 Series is almost as close as it gets to being the perfect limousine for top level executives in need of a car that's both luxurious enough to carry the Chairman from meeting to meeting, yet still good to drive. It's understated looks help it slice through busy city traffic almost unnoticed, yet inside it's one of  the most stylish, and well equipped cars on the market. Our favourite cars are those with a diesel engine – both the 730d and 740d offer the same basic twin turbo 3.0-litre engine, but the 740d, with its extra performance is the star of the show. The less powerful 730d is no less appealing however, it offers low CO2 emissions and can return combined fuel economy of around 40mpg.

MPG, running costs & CO2

2.3 / 5

Service costs are reasonable, but resale prices are low

The basic 3.0-litre diesel engine fitted in the BMW 730d is one of the most fuel efficient engines available in the luxury car market. Capable of returning over 41mpg in the 730d M Sport, the car also offers low CO2 emission figures of 148g/km. Predictably, insurance groups are high, with the majority of 7 Series cars in groups 46-49 and the two range-topping 760i petrol models in group 50. Servicing offers good value for money, as the number of BMW dealers means there is lots of competition for custom, driving prices down. What's more, all 7 Series models feature CBS (condition based servicing), which monitors the quality of engine oil and the level to which certain parts become worn. The more carefully you drive, the longer the car will go between services.

Engines, drive & performance

3.2 / 5

One of the best luxury limousines to drive

With accurate steering, strong brakes and impressive agility, the BMW 7 Series is one of the best luxury limousines to drive. Only the Jaguar XJ and the Mercedes S-Class can rival it. Both diesel engines are very powerful, but the 3.0-litre twin turbo in the 740d is the most impressive, going from 0-60mph in just 5.5 seconds. The suspension fitted to the 7 Series is a compromise between sporty performance and comfortable luxury but the balance is not always perfect. Driving along bumpy surfaces can be more uncomfortable than you might expect in a large luxury saloon car, and twisty or uneven roads can still cause it to pitch around when travelling quickly. Top-of-the-range 6.0-litre, V12 petrol models are obviously very fast in a straight line, but feel heavy, which subdues their performance through corners.

Interior & comfort

4.3 / 5

Supportive seats and high-tech optional extras

Comfort and luxury are two of the most important things a limousine like the BMW 7 Series should offer. The good news is that the BMW delivers plenty of luxury as standard, as well as a long list of high-tech optional extras including built-in TV screens, automatic window blinds, electrically adjustable rear seats and large glass sunroof. Long wheel base versions offer huge amounts of head and legroom, and all cars are very quiet at motorway cruising speeds. The only real drawbacks to life inside the cabin are some slightly unintuitive controls and the car’s suspension, which has been designed to improve the car's performance through corners. While it certainly makes the 7 Series feel agile, it can cause problems when the car hits bigger potholes, with bumps felt through the cabin – though altering the drive select setting to Comfort or Comfort+ does help in this regard.

Practicality & boot space

3.8 / 5

Lacks the versatility of rivals like the Range Rover

The boot is spacious, the interior is light and airy, and there are plenty of storage spaces dotted around the cabin. The long saloon body does make the boot a little awkward in terms of shape, though it's low enough to get heavier items in the back nice and easily. The hybrid models in the range sacrifice some boot space in order to accommodate a battery but this is true for many hybrid models – from small hatchbacks to luxury limos. The long wheelbase models are the most comfortable and practical for passengers because of the extra leg and headroom, but even the standard model is roomy in the rear. The 7 Series is certainly practical, but it still lacks the ultimate versatility of a car like the Range Rover.

Reliability & safety

3.7 / 5

Robust controls that few rivals can match

The BMW 7 Series is extremely well built. The interior generally offers a high-quality feel, and there's a robustness to the controls and switches that very few rivals can match. There are driver, passenger and curtain airbags, as well as traction control and electronic brake-force control, which helps keep the car manageable under extreme braking conditions. The 7 Series has never been crash tested, but the high level of safety kit should give customers plenty of reassurance in the event of an accident.

Price, value for money & options

2.3 / 5

Even the cheapest model is expensive, but standard equipment is good

The entry-level model in the 7 Series range costs well over £50,000, but buyers can expect full leather seats, climate control, sat-nav, Bluetooth connectivity, BMW’s iDrive cabin control system, and a Bang and Olufsen stereo as standard. While even the cheapest model in the 7 Series range is very well equipped, some elements of the interior are not as plush as those found in rivals like the Mercedes S-Class. The range-topping 760Li M Sport will cost considerably more than £100,000 before any optional extras have been factored into the price, so be careful when speccing a car like this from new – as the list price can rocket. Watch out for low resale prices, as the 7 Series has historically lost large amounts of its value in depreciation. According to experts, the top specification 760i will retain just 29 percent of its purchase price after three years.

What the others say

3.5 / 5
based on 3 reviews
4 / 5
"Viewed in isolation, the BMW 7-Series is a remarkable car. Little can touch it for hi-tech features, while the engine and transmission combination is one of the best in the business."
7 / 10
"An all-new Seven that actually doesn’t look like it. It's a great car – but some reservations about the ride and driving dynamics remain. Which is a weird thing to say about any BMW. Engines and gearboxes are superlative though."
3 / 5
"Hugely accomplished in many areas, but the BMW 7 Series just not comfortable enough to rival a Mercedes S-Class as our favourite luxury car."
Last updated 
13 Dec 2013

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