BMW 7 Series saloon
Price £58,275 - £104,270
- Fun to drive
- Top-quality interior
- Brilliant diesel engines
- Firm suspension
- Poor resale values
- Uneconomical petrol engines
At a glance
"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 the perfect limousine for top-level executives in need of a car that's both luxurious and good fun to drive. Its 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 models are those with a diesel engine – both the BMW 730d and BMW 740d offer the same basic twin-turbo 3.0-litre, but the 740d's extra performance makes it the star of the show. The less powerful 730d is only slightly less appealing however, as it offers low CO2 emissions and can return combined fuel economy of around 40mpg.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Service costs are reasonable, but resale prices are low
The basic 3.0-litre diesel engine fitted to the BMW 730d is one of the most fuel-efficient engines available in a luxury car. Capable of returning over 41mpg in the 730d M Sport, it also offers a low CO2 emission figure of 148g/km, so road tax will be £145 a year.
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's 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 amount of wear on key parts. So the more carefully you drive, the longer the car will go between services.
Engines, drive & performance
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 BMW 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'nt always perfect. Driving along bumpy surfaces can be more uncomfortable than you'd expect in a large luxury saloon car, while twisty or uneven roads can cause it to pitch around when travelling quickly.
The 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
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 it delivers on both counts, with 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-wheelbase versions offer huge amounts of head and legroom and all 7 Series are very quiet at motorway cruising speeds.
The only real drawbacks to life inside the cabin are some slightly confusing controls and the car's suspension, which has been designed to improve its handling 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. Altering the Drive Select system's setting to Comfort or Comfort+ does help in this regard.
Practicality & boot space
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 shape a little awkward, although it's low enough to get heavier items in the back easily.
The ActiveHybrid model sacrifices some boot space in order to accommodate a battery, but this is true for many hybrid cars – from small hatchbacks to luxury limos. The long-wheelbase models are the most comfortable and practical for passengers because of their 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
Robust controls that few rivals can match
The BMW 7 Series is extremely well built. The interior feels high-quality and there's a robustness to the controls and switches that very few rivals can match.
As regards safety, there are driver, passenger and curtain airbags, as well as traction control and electronic brake-force control, which helps keep the car manageable when braking heavily. The 7 Series hasn't been crash-tested by Euro NCAP, but the extensive safety kit should give customers plenty of reassurance in the event of an accident.
Price, value for money & options
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 for that you get full leather seats, climate control, sat nav, Bluetooth connectivity, BMW's iDrive infotainment control system and a Bang & Olufsen stereo as standard.
Yet while even the cheapest model in the 7 Series range is very well equipped, some elements of the interior aren't as plush as those found in rivals like the Mercedes S-Class. The range-topping 760Li M Sport costs considerably more than £100,000 before any optional extras have been factored in, so be careful when speccing a car like this from new.
Watch out for low resale prices, as the 7 Series has historically lost value very quickly. According to market experts, the top-specification 760i will have retained just 29% of its purchase price after three years.