Feature

New BMW 7 Series vs Mercedes S-Class

With its new 7 Series, BMW is trying to oust the Mercedes S-Class in a luxury car boardroom coup. So, which comes out on top?

Words ByWhat Car? team

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BMW 7 Series rear seats

What are they like inside?

These are the finest interiors you’ll find in what can only tentatively be called mainstream cars. Both have broad seats that adjust electrically in every way you could possibly need, including the lumbar region, side bolsters and tilt, as well as the usual back, forward, and up and down. It’s a shame, then, that the steering wheel in the BMW 7 Series doesn’t drop low enough for some, and that the seatbelt height can’t be adjusted.

Huge, sweeping screens dominate both dashboards; a high-set, protruding 10.3in affair in the 7 Series, and a 12.3in screen inset into the broad driver’s binnacle of the Mercedes S-Class. Both cars have rotary controllers and intermittently effective voice control for their navigation and audio functions,
but BMW’s system is much the easier to use. If you prefer not to take your hands off the wheel, both have steering wheel controls for most of the important functions.

These extended-wheelbase limos have long rear doors for really easy access, and around 10cm extra rear leg room over the standard versions. Our 7 Series also had the Β£4815 rear-seat comfort pack, which adds reclining and massaging seats, a rear entertainment system – including two 10in screens – and an upgraded Harman Kardon sound system. The sculpted seats are wide, supportive and satisfyingly squishy, and there’s masses of room: more head room than the S-Class, and equally indulgent leg room.

Our S-Class was equipped with a similar rear seat pack, costing Β£3500, and was just as lavishly comfortable, if slightly less roomy and airy feeling.

The 7 Series has the longer boot, which broadens to a usefully wide area behind the intruding wheel arches, while the S-Class’s square boot is narrower but has an underfloor cubby that you could stow a bottle of de-icer and the chunky handbook in. Both have big boot apertures by saloon standards, so loading a heavy suitcase won’t be difficult.

You get soft textures, expensive scents, subtle mood lighting and a near-peerless sense of build solidity, whichever car you choose. However, the S-Class just edges the 7 Series in the finer details of its material finish and more dramatic looking dashboard. Neither disappoints, that’s for sure.

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