BMW 7 Series saloon
Price £63,530 - £80,330
- Finally matches Mercedes S-Class
- Very low running costs
- Stunning interior
- Hugely expensive options
- Nondescript styling
- Not all engines available with all trims
At a glance
"This latest BMW 7 Series gives its chief rival the Mercedes S-Class a real run for its money – something that hasn't always been true of previous versions"
The BMW 7 Series has for many years been BMW's rival to the Mercedes S-Class and Audi A8 in the large luxury saloon class – cars that tend to be used for high-end chauffering duties, especially in long-wheelbase form. The BMW has sometimes struggled to match the imperious S-Class in particular, but this latest 7 Series – the sixth generation – is very impressive indeed.
As well as its two traditional German sparring partners, the 7 Series faces the elegant Jaguar XJ and the Audi A7 luxury four-door hatchback. It can also be considered a rival to large luxury SUVs like the Porsche Cayenne, Range Rover and Audi Q7.
Although the 7 Series now boasts some of the most advanced in-car technology ever, it remains a fairly low-key car from the outside, with sharp, stylish, yet restrained lines. Many of this model's target customers like it that way, however, preferring not to attract too much attention as they drive (or are driven) around.
Inside, it's a different story, however. The 7 Series’ designer, Adrian van Hooydonk, has stated that there isn’t a single piece of black plastic visible to occupants – high-quality materials are the order of the day instead. There's loads of space, too – for both front and back-seat passengers. Those in need of truly expansive room to stretch out can order the long-wheelbase version.
The 7 Series range begins with a BMW 730d diesel model, which also offered with a long wheelbase as the 730Ld. The diesel's efficiency should ensure it's by far the biggest seller, but you can also choose a petrol-powered 740Li (which is long-wheelbase only) and a 740e petrol-electric plug-in hybrid. This returns a claimed 134.5mpg, while its low CO2 emissions put it in the bottom Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) bracket, making it an appealing prospect for company car buyers. At the top of the range is a V12 petrol, badged 760Li which comes with BMW's xDrive four-wheel drive system.
As you’d expect from a car in this class, the list of standard equipment is long and comprehensive, taking in air-suspension, parking sensors, auto-dipping headlights, DAB digital radio, cruise control, 18-inch alloy wheels and four-zone climate control.
The infotainment system responds to your hand gestures, so you don’t even have to touch the screen to do things like select a phone number or adjust the stereo volume. And if you employ a chauffer to drive your 7 Series, they may start to worry about being out of a job soon, as the car can practically drive itself in slow-moving city traffic or on the motorway.
There are some even more exotic features on the list of optional extras, including a double panoramic sunroof, reclining massage seats (heated and cooled), a self-parking system (which can be operated remotely via BMW's Display Key) and a tablet controller for back-seat passengers to operate the in-car infotainment system. BMW's xDrive four-wheel-drive system can also be specified to give the car a bit more grip on slippery surfaces.
Diesel engine and fuel-saving tech ensures even a large luxury saloon like the BMW 7 Series can be efficient
The BMW 7 Series has always been the most entertaining large luxury saloon to drive and this latest model is no different
Top-quality materials, stunning design and advanced technology put the BMW 7 Series cabin in a class of its own
There's no shortage of space for passengers or their luggage in the BMW 7 Series – particularly if you go for the long-wheelbase model
Unlimited-mileage warranty means you don't need to worry about BMW 7 Series tech going wrong