Primary Navigation Mobile

There is a newer version of this car Read the latest BMW 7-Series Saloon review here

BMW 7-Series Saloon engines, drive and performance

2015 - 2022 (change model)
Performance rating: 4.9 out of 54.9

Written by Adam Binnie Published: 21 April 2022 Updated: 25 April 2022

BMW 7 Series review, front view, driving, engines and handling
BMW 7 Series review, front view, driving, engines and handling

  • Petrol, diesel and hybrid powertrains
  • All are powerful and quiet
  • 745e hybrid is most appealing

Petrol engines

Petrol engines form the bulk of the 7 Series range, and things start with the 3.0-litre straight six-cylinder engine in the 740i and 740Li. That engine has 333hp and 450Nm of torque, making it the least torquey option in the range, but everything is relative. It still has enough oomph to get from 0-62mph in 5.5 or 5.6 seconds, depending on the wheelbase.

For those who prefer the charismatic timbre of a V8, then the twin-turbo 4.4-litre engine installed in the standard-wheelbase 750i could be more apt. Along with 530hp, the engine produces a diesel-like 730Nm and distributes it between all four wheels via the eight-speed automatic gearbox common across the 7 Series range. The 750i is blessed with massive performance reserves and a muscular sound thanks to its standard 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.

Diesel engines

Diesel has traditionally led the way when it comes to 7 Series sales, and the current model range is underpinned by a pair of smooth six-cylinder, 3.0-litre turbodiesels with mild-hybrid technology. The basic 730d, with 286hp and 650Nm of torque, could well be all the car you ever need, offering a 0-62mph time of 5.9 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 155mph.

Opt for the optional xDrive all-wheel-drive system and the acceleration time falls to 5.8 seconds. However, the rear-drive, long-wheelbase 730Ld is the slowest car in the range, with a 6.2-second 0-62mph time.

If that sounds a little less than ideal, try out the 740d, which is only available in all-wheel-drive xDrive form, but offers the choice of standard- and long-wheelbase bodies. That version ups the power to 340hp and increases torque to 700Nm, cutting the 0-62mph time to 5.0 seconds (or 5.4 seconds for the 740Ld).

Hybrid engines

The sole plug-in hybrid option is a cracker, and arguably the pick of the 7 Series range. Combining a straight six-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor and a modest battery pack, the 745e xDrive (and long-wheelbase 745Le xDrive) combine power, effortlessness and refinement.

BMW claims that the 745e can run up to 36 miles in silent electric mode, although this will depend on the speed and your driving style. If you put your foot down, the 3.0-litre petrol engine kicks in and the system produces up to 394hp, making it more powerful than the 740i. It’ll get from 0-62mph in 5.2 seconds (or 5.1 seconds if you go for the 745Le).

What’s it like to drive?

  • Sharper to drive than rivals
  • Carbon Core structure saves weight
  • Four-wheel drive available on many versions

If there’s something the BMW 7 Series was always renowned for, it was the way it drove. Certainly, it has traditionally been 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.

That’s partly due to the lightweight carbon core construction that is claimed to reduce the weight considerably. Meanwhile, the air suspension can be raised by 20mm for when the going gets slightly rough, or lowered by 10mm for improved stability – something that happens automatically at high speeds.

BMW 7 Series review = what's it like to drive?
BMW 7 Series review = what's it like to drive?

Add in BMW’s active roll stabilisation technology that reduces body sway in corners and the adaptive suspension that can ‘read’ the road ahead, and the 7 Series is a very composed car. It corners without rolling too much and the ride is supple, if not as soft as an S-Class’s, but the 7 Series’ party piece is the way it handles.

It feels like an overgrown BMW 5 Series, in that it feels fluid and responsive at any speed, and it’s a real pleasure to drive – even if its size means it never quite feels like a proper sports saloon. But for a big, soft motorway cruiser with huge armchair seats, it’s as agile as you could ever ask it to be.