The BMW 7 Series is offered with a choice of petrol (315bhp 740i, 443bhp 750i and 536bhp 760i) and diesel (255bhp 730d and 308bhp 740d) engines, or as a petrol-electric hybrid. The 750i feels astonishingly rapid for such a big, heavy car. The hybrid is less convincing; it’s fast enough, but the eight-speed automatic gearbox is feels troubled by the electric/engine mix. ?We’ve yet to drive the 740d, but the 730d has plenty of get up and go and manages impressive fuel economy figures.
BMW believes the 7 Series is an executive limo that will be driven, and that means it handles tidily for such a massive car. However, it also means the 7 Series gets nowhere near the level of comfort offered by our benchmark, the Mercedes S-Class. It’s too willing to let thuds come through to the cabin when you run over potholes, and it’s too easily unsettled by rippled road surfaces. ?
At cruising speed, the twin-turbocharged V8 petrol of the 750i disappears into the background. This is a supremely smooth engine, and even if you rev it hard, its note is sophisticated. The 730d is similarly quiet at speed, but becomes a tad noisy when worked. That said, you’re far more likely to be troubled by road noise, which intrudes into the cabin at all but the lowest speeds.
BMW deserves credit for the figures achieved by the new 7 Series. Even the 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 750i manages 199g/km of CO2 emissions - and this from a huge car that can reach 62mph in 4.8sec. The diesel figures are even better; the 730d emits just 148g/km of CO2, so even accounting for the 3% extra tax penalty for diesel cars, it’ll be affordable to run as a company car. The 740d emits just 1g/km more. ?
The 7 Series’ cabin is nicely finished, with a good choice of woods, metal finishes and double-stitched leather in all the right places. It feels superbly screwed together, too. The previous 7 Series lagged behind the Audi A8, Merc S-Class, Jaguar XJ and VW Phaeton in our most recent reliability survey, although BMW did finish ahead of rivals Audi, Mercedes and Jaguar in the overall manufacturer’s table. ?
The 7 Series contains plenty of safety equipment; there are front and side airbags as standard, while both rows of seats are equipped with head airbags. The driver assistance systems - available as options - include night vision technology that recognises pedestrians, anti-dazzle LED high-beam assistance, and a head-up display that shows speed limits and no-overtaking warnings (by reading the road signs).
The new 7 Series’ dashboard will look familiar to any BMW driver, because the layout is the same as you’d find on, say, a 3 Series. The Seven does get a multi-function dials display, though; it allows the driver to select the range of information shown, and changes automatically according to which of the car’s driving modes you are using. The 10-inch central screen has flashy 3D graphics, and it’s all controlled by the latest generation of BMW’s iDrive system. ?
There’s enough room for five adults in the regular wheelbase version, and should you upgrade to the longer wheelbase car, you’ll get a further 140mm of rear legroom and 10mm more rear headroom. The boot is a little on the narrow side, but it’s large enough at around 500 litres. ?
The 7 Series is not a cheap car, so you’ll expect plenty of equipment as standard. That’s certainly the case, with satellite-navigation, four-zone climate control, Bluetooth and electrically adjustable leather seats on every model. Other features are optional or restricted to higher-end variants; you don’t get the configurable instrument dials on the hybrid, for example, and the head-up display is a cost option, too.
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