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?...

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What Car? team
04 October 2015

What will they cost?

These plush limos will often be leased for use as chauffeur vehicles, in which case it’s the BMW 7 Series that has the cheaper monthly charges at £752 before VAT, while the Mercedes S-Class costs an extra £46. Company car drivers will find an even bigger incentive in the 7 series; its lower emissions translate to savings of £3000 in benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax over three years.

Anyone in the enviable position of being able to buy outright will pay less for the S-Class to start with thanks to bigger dealer discounts, yet it will depreciate more slowly, making it the cheaper car to own over three years by some £7000. That gap will narrow with time, though, as BMW introduces even bigger discounts, and the 7 Series is also cheaper to service. An unusual exhaust design prevented us from assessing its real-world fuel economy, but the official figures suggest the 7 Series will be marginally more frugal.

New BMW 7 Series vs Mercedes S-Class

Equipment levels are predictably extensive. LED headlights, all-round parking sensors, full leather interiors, adaptive cruise control, heated front and rear seats, changeable ambient interior lighting, 18in alloys and the full gamut of multimedia and sat-nav functions – including wi-fi hotspots – are standard features on both cars. There will still be a few popular options, though. Mercedes charges £610 for soft-close doors and a powered tailgate, and £1170 for rear-seat area climate control. All are standard on the 7 Series.

However, Mercedes fits full adaptive headlights, where BMW charges £1360. Head-up displays and panoramic glass roofs are pricey options on both cars, although the 7 Series does get an opening, single-panel sunroof as standard, so gets the nod for being the slightly better equipped overall.

New BMW 7 Series vs Mercedes S-Class

Neither car has been crash tested by Euro NCAP, but both have front and side airbags in the front, and curtain airbags to cover the side windows. The S-Class gets rear side airbags, too – not available on the 7 Series – along with traffic sign recognition and more advanced collision warning systems. Traffic sign recognition and automatic braking are part of a £985 pack on the 7 Series.

Both models get three years’ manufacturer warranty and European roadside assistance, and are rated highly by Thatcham for resisting theft and break-ins.