On the UK's changeable road surfaces the 7 Series struggles to maintain its composure. At higher speeds, things remain well settled, but on broken roads at low speeds it fidgets noticeably. This is despite our car being fitted with BMW’s Executive Drive Pro option, which studies the road ahead and makes constant adjustments to the suspension as the surface changes.
The BMW’s more agreeable high-speed ride, its hushed cabin and good engine refinement mean the 7 Series is a highly adept and quiet, long-distance cruiser. Switching the drive mode to Sport stiffens everything up resulting in good balance and body control, along with plenty of grip. Considering this is a two-tonne car it’s impressively agile and certainly better tied-down than rivals such as the S-Class and Range Rover, although the relative lack of steering feel still leaves something to be desired. The top-spec M760Li xDrive uses specially tuned M Sport air-suspension and comes as standard with active anti-roll bars and four-wheel steering (optional on lesser models), which make it feel nimbler still, and quite entertaining to scythe across country in. As with all the xDrive versions, there’s plenty of grip, even in tricky conditions.
Performance is first-rate. BMW’s superb 3.0-litre diesel engine offers 457lb ft of torque, and with a standard eight-speed auto there's plenty of instantly available power. Not surprisingly, the more powerful 740d has even more get-up-and-go, but will be slightly less efficient. We’re yet to try the V8 petrol, but company drivers might want to consider the 740e plug-in hybrid. It combines a four-cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor, and can travel up to 29 miles on electric power alone in luxurious silence. It’ll sprint to 60mph in less than six seconds, all the while emitting just 49g/km of CO2.
Finally, for the chosen few there is the gloriously smooth 601bhp V12 petrol in the M760Li xDrive. It’s also mega quick, a point proved by being the fastest accelerating car BMW currently makes, including all its M performance cars.