"Understated looks hide a stylish and well-equipped limousine interior. It's good to drive, even if the suspension is too firm for a luxury car."
With accurate steering, strong brakes and impressive agility, the BMW 7 Series is one of the best luxury limousines to drive. Only Jaguar's XJ comes close. Both diesel engines are very powerful, but the 3.0-litre twin turbo in the 740d is the most impressive, offering a 0-60mph sprint of only 6.3 seconds. The technologically advanced suspension is quite stiff, meaning the car offers impressive agility at the expense of some comfort. This can be altered, however, by switching the car to Comfort or Comfort+ mode. Flagship 6.0-litre, V12-engined cars are obviously very fast in a straight line, but feel heavy, which blunts their performance through corners.
Comfort and luxury are two of the most important things a limousine like the BMW 7 Series can offer. The good news, is that the BMW delivers luxury in spades, with an interior that offers supportive seats and high-tech optional extras like built-in TV screens, automatic window blinds and electrically adjustable rear seats. Long wheel base versions offer huge amounts of head and legroom, and are very quiet at motorway cruising speeds. In fact, the only fly in the ointment is the firm suspension, which has been tuned 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 road divots, with bumps felt through the cabin – though altering the drive select setting to Comfort or Comfort+ improves this somewhat.
The BMW 7 Series is extremely well built. The interior 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.
The boot is spacious, the interior is light and airy, and there are plenty of stowage 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. Long wheel base models increase the amount of leg and headroom to a more comfortable level. The 7 Series is certainly practical, but it still lacks the ultimate versatility of a car like the Range Rover.
Value for money
BMW has recently hiked prices for the 7 Series - even the cheapest version costs more than £50,000. While cars are well equipped, apparently simple pieces of functionality, like MP3 players and bluetooth phone connectors are listed as optional extras. Watch out for low resale prices. According to experts, the top specification 760i will keep just 29 percent of its purchase price over three years.
The entry level 3.0-litre diesel engine fitted to the BMW 730d is one of the most fuel efficient engines available in the luxury car market. Capable of returning over 40mpg in the 730d M Sport, the car also offers low CO2 emission figures of 178g/km. Predictably, insurance groups are high, with most of the cars in group 50. At least servicing offers good value for money. The number of BMW dealers means there is lots of competition for custom, driving prices down. What's more, all 7 Series 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.