Used test: BMW 7 Series vs Mercedes-Benz S-Class
Amid higher interest rates, you might need to forgo that new luxury car for a used one. But which opulent barge is best?...
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 driver's seats that adjust electrically in every way you could possibly need, including the lumbar region, side bolsters and tilt, as well as the standard backwards, forward, up and down. It’s a shame that the 7 Series’ steering wheel doesn’t drop low enough for some drivers and the seatbelt height can’t be adjusted.
Huge, sweeping screens dominate both cars' dashboards; it's a high-set, protruding 10.3in affair in the BMW barge and a 12.3in screen inset into the broad driver’s binnacle of Mercedes' version. Both cars have rotary controllers and intermittently effective voice control for navigation and audio functions, but the 7 Series’ 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 features.
These extended-wheelbase limos have long rear doors for easy access and around 10cm more rear leg room over their standard counterparts. Our 7 Series has the rear-seat comfort pack, which adds reclining and massaging seats, a rear entertainment system – including two 10.0in 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 in the Mercedes limo and an equally indulgent amount of leg room. Our S-Class is equipped with a similar rear seat pack and is 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 square boot in the S-Class is narrower but has an underfloor cubby in which you could stow a bottle of de-icer and the chunky handbook. Both have big boot apertures by saloon standards, so loading a heavy suitcase won’t be too difficult.
The two cars envelop you in soft textures, expensive scents, subtle mood lighting and a near-peerless sense of build solidity. However, the S-Class just edges the 7 Series in the finer details of its material finish and more dramatic-looking dash. Neither disappoints, though, that’s for sure.