- driving appeal
- Derivative looks
- limited engine range (initially)
Six generations in, the BMW 7 Series is still showcasing the talents and technologies of the firm and its engineers, with 13 industry firsts debuting on the model ready to filter down into the rest of the BMW range.
For much of its 28-year history, the 7 Series has sat in the shadow of the Mercedes S-Class (and to a lesser extend the Jaguar XJ and Audi A8), but the firm believes this latest model will see that balance redressed. As its flagship model it’s an important car, and the outcome of this BMW 7 Series review is crucial.
More tech, more luxury
Included in the 13 industry-first technologies showcased on the new BMW 7 Series is the firm’s Gesture Control – a £160 option – which reduces the reliance on physical buttons to control various functions within the cabin.
Sensors near the rear-view mirror detect hand movements from the driver, with a simple rotation of the wrist enough to change the stereo’s volume or a dismissive swipe of the hand able to reject an incoming phonecall. It’ll take a little while to get used to, but once you do it’s strangely satisfying.
Parking this gargantuan car can even be done while you’re stood outside, thanks to the Display key (with built in 2.4-inch screen); stand within four metres and operate the controls, and the 7 Series will drive forward or reverse slowly into your selected space. If you want to stay in the car, then the Surround View suite of cameras can project your 7 Series into the surroundings so you can see exactly where you are manoeuvring.
Ambient Air Fragrance with ionisation allows the climate control to reduce any harmful or irritant particulates from the air inside the car, improving the experience for any allergy sufferers, plus dispersing a fragrance of your choice.
At night BMW’s ‘Laserlights’ take LED technology one step further, with a full-beam reach that doubles previous systems’ with faster reactions and more precise beam pattern. Meanwhile the Welcome Light Carpet will project an illuminated walkway to the doors when you unlock the vehicle after the sun has gone down.
Touch Command endows rear-seat passengers with their own removable tablet to control various functions inside and outside of the vehicle, and mobile phone charging is handled wirelessly for compatible devices.
Fully leather-lined from the most basic model upwards, the cabin also offers plenty of personalisation through BMW’s Individual programme and separate optional extras. Choose the Individual Design Composition and you’ll notice special exterior paint, wheels, Merino open-pore leather, head-up display, Surround View camera, panoramic glass roof, ventilated seats, Harman Kardon audio and rear-seat entertainment with a pair of screens.
Those looking for even better quality audio can choose the Bowers & Wilkins surround sound audio system with 16 speakers and 1,200-watt output, while the Sky Lounge panoramic glass roof uses a series of LED patterns to recreate a starlit sky on the move.
Petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid engines
At launch there’s just one diesel and one petrol engine available for the BMW 7 Series - both six-cylinders. The 730d produces 261bhp and 620Nm of torque for a 6.1 second 0-62mph time, while the 740Li manages 321bhp with 450Nm for a 5.6 second 0-62mph sprint.
The diesel is especially clean with a CO2 output of just 124g/km and promised combined economy of 60.1mpg. It’s smooth, refined and perfectly suited to the car’s easy-going nature too. All engines are mated to the firm’s excellent eight-speed automatic gearbox.
Later on, the range will be bolstered by the more powerful 740d and 750i models, which produce 316bhp with 680Nm of torque and 443bhp with 650Nm of torque respectively. Both complete the 0-62mph sprint in around five seconds, but the diesel still manages a claimed 55.4mpg with 134g/km CO2 emissions – the 750i returns just 35.3mpg and pumps out 186g/km.
The forthcoming 740e plug-in hybrid redresses that with its 2-litre four-cylinder petrol engine mated to an electric motor for a combined output of 321bhp, with 500Nm of torque, and a 5.5 second 0—62mph time. That’s despite a 49g/km CO2 output and 134.5mpg combined economy figure. It’ll even travel on electric power alone at speeds up to 75mph.
Long-wheelbase and xDrive available
The new 7 Series is longer (by 19mm) than its predecessor, with the longest wheelbase in its class, but if you need even more room for your rear passengers a long-wheelbase model is also available –denoted by L in the model title. This increases the distance between the wheels by 140mm, giving rear-seat passengers enough room to properly stretch out.
It’s even more luxurious if the buyer of the car has opted for the Executive Lounge Seating (available from July 2016) that offers two rear chairs with an adjustable backrest angle (up to 42.5 degrees) and a front passenger seat that can slide forward by up to 90mm. There’s a fold-out table and extra storage compartment there too, and occupants can control various functions from the firm’s Touch Command removable tablet while enjoying their own entertainment on the rear screens.
For the first time in the UK the BMW 7 Series is available with the firm’s xDrive four-wheel drive system too, which apportions power to the wheels that need it most. Buyers keen on the extra security this system offers can choose from the 730d xDrive, 740d xDrive, 740Ld xDrive and 740Le xDrive.
Read on for the full verdict on every single facet of the BMW 7 Series, on sale now.