4.4 out of 5 4.4
Parkers overall rating: 4.4 out of 5 4.4

BMW’s bold, technology-laden executive car is a plug-in hybrid only in the UK

BMW 7-Series Saloon (22 on) - rated 4.4 out of 5
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PROS

  • Truly impressive interior design and quality
  • Innovative technology sets it apart
  • PHEVs capable of 50 miles on battery power

CONS

  • Design is very divisive
  • No standard petrol or diesel engine choices
  • Not on sale until 2023

BMW 7-Series Saloon rivals

Written by CJ Hubbard on

The all-new 2023 BMW 7 Series is a total reinvention of the German company’s flagship car. Gone are the days of conservative design and reserved road presence, BMW thinks its new-generation car will attract those looking for ultimate luxury and cutting-edge technology. Keep reading for full details and first driving impressions from our early test of a prototype.

It’s a bold design, with a large central grille and split headlights at the front, and the option to specify two-tone paint colour schemes. The brand has even confirmed you can add wheel designs that look very much like those you see on the latest M3 and M4. It will be sold alongside a pure-electric version called the BMW i7 but in the UK will otherwise be available as a plug-in hybrid only.

Given its size and price, the new 7 Series is aimed squarely at the Mercedes-S-Class saloon (our 2022 Luxury Car of the Year), as well as the Audi A8 and Bentley Flying Spur. We think its biggest rival, the Mercedes, will be shaking in its boots right now, as the BMW offers technology not seen anywhere else. But you’ll have to wait for now – the new 7 Series doesn’t arrive in the UK until 2023.

What’s it like inside?

It’s very much a luxury car inside. The design has taken inspiration from the iX electric SUV, with a two-spoke steering wheel and crystal elements dotted around including the seat adjustment switches and rotary controller on the centre console.

There’s a huge curved display that integrates a 12.3-inch driver display and 14.9-inch central touchscreen, and the dashboard is dominated by something called the ‘Interaction Bar’, a backlit panel with a glass effect to it that houses some of the few remaining physical (and we’re loathe to call them that; they’re technically haptic) switches. The ambient lighting can change colour depending on your own preference and drive mode, as well as show animations; the central area flashes when you’re being called, for example.

Technology like an optional Bowers and Wilkins diamond audio system, automatic doors that open and close with just a button press and an ‘executive lounge’ rear seat arrangement that allows for passengers to truly recline in the rear are all available. But the 7-series party piece is the ‘Theatre Screen’.

The ‘Theatre Screen’ is essentially your own private cinema for the rear seats and it’ll be an option (and likely a very expensive one). The system comprises a huge 31.3-inch 8K display that folds down from the ceiling, and incorporates Amazon Fire TV that allows you to stream content from it for your own entertainment. Included in the package are small touch panels in the door to control it, and blinds that darken the rear compartment so you get the best viewing experience. You can even include ‘seat exciters’ – points within the seat that vibrate and pulse with loud sounds.

What models and trims are available?

At launch, the 7 Series will arrive in two trim lines – Excellence and M Sport – and two engine options in the UK: the 750e xDrive and M760e xDrive.

As far as we know, the two trims are only broadly distinguished by their design – the M Sport trim features exhausts at the rear while Excellence doesn’t, for example. We’ll have to wait a little while to see what else sets apart the two variants.

Both of the engine options are plug-in hybrids, and those are your only choices in the UK market. They use a straight-six petrol engine connected to an electric motor, which is powered by an 18.7kWh battery pack. Acceleration and top speed performance figures aren’t confirmed yet, but we know that the 750e has 490hp and the M760e has 571hp available – neither will be slow.

Range and charging

BMW has confirmed that both the new 7 Series plug-in hybrids are capable of 50 miles of zero-emission driving regardless of which version you pick, with fuel economy figures set at 235.4mpg and emissions as low as 28g/km.

As for plugging in, BMW says the plug-in hybrids can be charged at up to 7.4kW – a full charge can take as little as three hours.

What’s it like to drive?

While we’ll have to wait until closer to the car’s 2023 launch date to find out what the production version is like to drive, we have had early access to a prototype. While this xDrive pre-production model was fitted with a powerful twin-turbo petrol V8 mild-hybrid – rather than the plug-in system that will be offered in the UK – it still gives us a good idea about how future owners can expect this big car to drive.

The brand has a long history of making entertaining cars to drive regardless of their shape or size, and the 7 Series is no exception. It comes equipped with air suspension (which lowers at high speeds or in Sport mode) and rear-wheel steering as standard to help its ride quality and manoeuvrability respectively, and both features work very well.

Particularly impressive about the V8 prototype was the way it handled twisting, undulating roads. The air-suspension works in cooperation with electronically controlled dampers, and together these do an outstanding job of controlling the car’s mass, making it feel remarkably, and genuinely, nimble.

Very much like a giant 3 Series, in fact – although the composure is such that it doesn’t feel giant from behind the wheel for very long. Despite features such as rear-wheel steering, it still manages to feel remarkably natural to drive, so you won’t be left second-guessing its responses. You do sit rather low behind the wheel, however, which occasionally makes visibility towards the opposite front corner feel a little limited.

It almost goes without saying that performance is outstanding, with huge overtaking capability and very high speeds achievable on the unrestricted German autobahn. The eight-speed automatic gearbox works well, and the xDriver four-wheel drive system ensures there is plenty of traction.

But it is worth noting that compared with the all-electric i7 prototype we drove back-to-back with it, this conventional version did feel somewhat old fashioned. And though the petrol model was marginally better in the corners, the electric 7 Series offers better ride comfort over the poorest surfaces.

Prices and release date

BMW hasn’t confirmed pricing of the new 7 Series in the UK just yet, but the first deliveries are expected in the early months of 2023. Globally, BMW will start taking orders in November 2022, so expect the first pricing details around then.

BMW 7-Series Saloon rivals