Parkers overall rating: 4.3 out of 5 4.3
  • Comprehensive range of turbocharged units
  • Pace and refinement the order of the day
  • M760Li offers a sports saloon experience

The BMW 7 Series can be specified with a range of six, eight and 12 cylinder petrol and diesel engines, as well as a plug-in hybrid drive system with more electric miles and better performance than ever.

Standard fit is an eight-speed automatic transmission on all variants, plus there’s the option of BMW’s xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system.

Frugal diesel powerplants

The vast majority of British 7 Series sales are diesel-fuelled, as is typical across the luxury saloon end of the market. Regardless of which version, all are powered by a six-cylinder, 3.0-litre turbodiesel.

There’s a good argument that the 265hp 730d with its 620Nm of torque spread broadly across the rev range is all the 7 Series you’ll ever need.

Like every model in the range its top speed is electronically governed to 155mph, while the 0-62mph time is a sportscar-quick 6.1 seconds.

Choose the 730d xDrive with its four-wheel drive and the extra traction enables the 0-62mph time to drop to 5.8 seconds. Alternatively, the rear-wheel drive, long-wheelbase 730Ld sees the figure stretch out to 6.2 seconds, making it the slowest in the range.

However, if you’re a performance junkie and a 7 Series diesel is the only option for you, then it would be advisable to choose the 740d. For the UK it’s only available in four-wheel drive xDrive form, either with the standard- or long-wheelbase 740Ld option.

There’s 320hp on tap with a generous 680Nm of torque, slashing the 0-62mph time down to 5.3 seconds (or 5.4 for the 740Ld).

Performance-centric petrol choices

Less popular in the UK are the 7s with a penchant for petrol. The ‘mainstream’ offerings kick off with the twin-turbo 3.0-litre six-cylinder unit fitted to the 740i or 740Li.

There’s 340hp on offer but at 450Nm it’s the least torquey in the range. Everything’s relative, though, and that’s still a strong amount, even in a car this size: the 0-62mph sprint takes 5.5 or 5.6 seconds depending on wheelbase.

If you fancy the charismatic timbre of a V8, then the twin-turbo 4.4-litre motor installed in the standard-wheelbase 750i could be more up your street – upgraded in 2019 cars for even more power.

Power and torque are both significantly ramped up – to 530hp and a diesel-like 730Nm respectively. This car carries huge power in reserve and sounds superbly muscular in its delivery, thanks to its standard fit M Sport exhaust system.

Best of all this V8 luxury limo has a broader spread of talents than the decidedly sportier Mercedes-AMG S 63. It might not be the cheapest to run but for petrolheads it’s an easy choice.

Previously this model took nearly five seconds to crack the benchmark sprint but a power hike post-facelift brought this down to four seconds – seriously questioning the performance benefit of the faster M760Li.

If you simply must have the fastest 7 Series however then there’s only one option: the twin-turbo 6.6-litre V12 fitted to the long-wheelbase, four-wheel drive M760Li xDrive. It’s not a full-blown M7, but it has been significantly reworked by BMW’s M Performance sub-brand.

Its statistics are extraordinary: 585hp and 850Nm of torque from 1,550rpm mean this is going to be one quick saloon. That 0-62mph blast takes just 3.8 seconds - and, yes, while the top speed’s still 155mph, if you specify the optional M Driver’s Package, it will increase to a mightier 189mph.

Promising more of everything, the M760Li features two additional modes on the Driving Experience Control switch – Sport+, which gears the car up for track driving (believe it or not) and the eminently more useful sounding Comfort+ mode for maximum relaxation.

Wafty, efficient plug-in hybrid

Working in conjunction with an electric motor is a straight six-cylinder petrol engine in the 740e and 740Le xDrive. This car previously used a smaller four-cylinder petrol but benefits from more power all round from 2019 with a more advanced, 12kWh high-voltage battery as well as a larger combustion engine.

Combined, the two power sources produce 394hp, making it more powerful than the 740i – so it’s not short on performance, especially with 600Nm of torque at its disposal.

BMW claims the 740e can run up to 36 miles in pure electric mode, although this will depend on your speed and driving style. Don’t expect that range if you plan to use the electric top speed of 87mph.

Also likely to drain the battery quickly is repeated use of the 0-62mph sprint time - 5.2 seconds, or 5.1 if you go for the 740Le xDrive. No slouch, then.

  • Sharper to drive than its rivals
  • Carbon core structure saves weight
  • Four-wheel drive on many engines

If there’s something the BMW 7 Series was always renowned for, it was the way it drove. Certainly, it was always a better car to drive than its competitors, even if it couldn’t entirely match them for passenger comfort.

That balance has shifted – slightly – with this model, but the 7 Series remains engaging, agile and responsive.

Partly, that has to be attributed to the lightweight carbon core construction which can save up to 130kg off the car’s weight compared with a similarly-specified predecessor. That’s despite the vast increase in technology available on the car.

Another step forward over the old 7 Series is the suspension, which moves from air suspension just at the rear, to a self-levelling system right across the car. This can be raised by 20mm for when the going gets slightly rough, or lowered by 10mm – which also occurs at higher speeds for extra stability.

Raft of advanced electronics

Active roll stabilisation ensures the BMW reduces roll around even the tightest of bends to a minimum, resulting in a luxury limo that corners with a flat, composed and poised attitude. Using the camera in the windscreen, sat-nav data and analytics of driving style, the 7 Series is available with predictive active suspension, so it can predict the camber of a corner or severity of a speedbump before you’ve even reached it – setting up its suspension and responses accordingly.

And of course the 7 Series comes with variable damper control as standard, allowing users to specify the type of response they want the car to make over any given road surface. The Adaptive function on the Driver Performance Control will optimise responses based on historical and current data, while users can individually configure elements of the chassis to their taste.

The Integral Active Steering with its variable rack is an optional extra, and the 7 Series is available with active rear-wheel steering. For the first time in the UK the firm’s flagship can also be had with its xDrive four-wheel drive system, which shuffles traction between the tyres with the most available. Where it really comes into play is in poor weather, especially in winter, when traction is at a premium.

All this results in a BMW 7 Series that feels much like the rest of the BMW range to drive, which is to say fluid, responsive and a pleasure to drive – even if it remains at least one notch away from a truly engaging, and fun-to-drive car, mostly due to its size.

M Performance version

Fun is an adjective that can be used to describe the handling of the M760Li xDrive V12, the flagship engineered by BMW’s M division.

The fundamental components have been recalibrated to deal with the V12’s copious amounts of power, but those modifications make the BMW feel more lithe and responsive, belying its size with its newfound agility.

And unlike many BMWs that are rather sanitised, by switching into Sport mode and turning off the stability control system (DSC), tail-sliding heroics are also on the cards.

It’s a positively engaging sports saloon, albeit in XXL size.