BMW 7 Series

Find out more about the BMW 7 Series in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

Loading...
4
Out of 5

Pros

  • Surprisingly low running costs
  • Fabulous interior
  • Extremely refined

Cons

  • Very similar in looks to the 5-Series
  • Expensive options
  • Complex trim and engine line-up
  • MPG

    0 - 0

  • CO2

    48 - 282 g/km

Model Review

The first 7 Series came on sale in 1977 (E23), followed by the second-generation E32 that went on sale in 1986, which was the first 7-Series to have a long-wheelbase version – something every model has had an option since.

In 1994, the third-generation E38 went on sale and it was the first car to be available with curtain airbags as well as the first European car to be offered with satellite navigation. In 2002, the fourth-generation car went on sale (E65 to E68). It was the first BMW to be fitted with the iDrive system, something that is now fitted to all new BMWs.

Moving on to the modern models, the FO1-FO4 versions went on sale in 2009. It was the first 7 Series to be offered with a hybrid drivetrain – the Active Hybrid 7.

In 2015, the latest sixth-generation 7 Series went on sale. Since its release, hybrid powertrains have been added, as well as the monstrous V12-powered M760 Li.

Latest Model

The Mercedes S-Class has long been the king of the luxury car class, but for 2015 BMW upped its game with its latest generation 7 Series. The latest car is based on an all-new platform and an adaptive chassis.

The new model is also offered with a plug-in hybrid powertrain – the 740e – that returns 128.4mpg and emits just 50g/km of CO2.

For those wanting the ultimate say in performance, there is the 6.6-litre V12-powered M760 Li xDrive – which is a bit of a mouthful to say!

Value for money

When compared to its rivals, the 7 Series actually looks like good value for money. The latest Mercedes S-Class and Audi A8 dip just under the £70,000 marker, whereas the 7 Series starts from £61,300, making it almost £10,000 cheaper than its rivals. However, particularly on luxury cars like these, you need to remember that you should never be paying the list price – although most will be purchased with finance. Deals of £5,000 off can often be found easily, so make sure you shop around.

Also, as you would expect from a car costing more than £60,000, it does come very well kitted out as standard. You get 18-inch alloy wheels, a BMW Display Key, a 10-inch display, LED headlights, navigation system, front and rear parking sensors, as well as a parking camera and front and rear heated seats.

Similar to most luxury cars, they are not known for holding their value, meaning that used examples can be picked up for thousands off the list price - if not tens of thousands. We saw a new shape 2016 (16) 730d M Sport for sale for just £35,000, which is not too far off losing half of its value in under 18 months. If you can’t quite stretch to this, the previous generation version makes equally good sense on the used market. We saw a ’14 plate example that had covered 40,000 miles for sale at £19,000. In short, the 7-Series makes more sense on the used market.

Looks and image

While the 7 Series isn’t primarily focused on the driver - rather the passengers in the rear - the 7 Series is one of the better luxury cars for driving. Its lightweight carbon core construction makes it light for its size, helping it feel surprisingly manoeuvrable. The steering is a bit light, but it will definitely come in handy for squeezing through inner-city gaps. However, it doesn’t quite live up to BMW’s image of being the ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’.

The 7 Series does excel is when it comes to refinement. It blocks out wind and road noise tremendously, while the ride seems to be able to soak up almost any bumps – helped by the air suspension and adaptive dampers that are now fitted as standard. There is even a special mode that you can stick it in where the satellite navigation tracks the road ahead, and can adjust the suspension accordingly depending on the terrain.

It is also pleasing that the quality is up there with what you would expect from a flagship BMW. Top-quality materials appear throughout the interior, and the dash is a work of art in terms of clear infotainment and uncluttered design.

BMW offer a long-wheelbase version of the 7 Series for those who want even more room in the back – ideal for the wealthiest of business people – and makes it feel even more like a limousine.

Space and practicality

While the 7 Series is not exactly aimed at families, there is nothing to say you couldn’t use it as a family car.

The rear space is, unsurprisingly, where it is most impressive. If you want even more rear space you can choose the long-wheelbase car which is 14cm longer than the standard car, offering ridiculous amounts of rear legroom. You can choose whether you want a two- or three-seat layout in the rear, too, depending on what the 7 Series is going to be used for. As for boot space, it offers 515 litres of space, which should be easily enough for carrying your golf clubs.

EuroNCAP never tested the 7 Series, but it would undoubtedly fair well. It features some of the latest safety technology, such as all-round airbags, stability control and braking assistance. Optional packages can also drive the car completely in stop-start traffic as well as on motorways, with collision assist featuring as well. One of its cleverest packs, though, is one that comes as standard – the Dynamic Safety pack. This can close the windows and move the seats to an upright position to protect the passengers, if it senses an imminent impact.

Engines

BMW has certainly been generous with its engine line-up in the 7 Series.

On the petrol front, there is the 740i, 750i and M760Li. The 740i has a 3.0-litre engine that produces 322bhp, the 750i comes with a 444bhp 4.4-litre V8, while the top-of-the-range M760Li is fitted with a monstrous 6.6-litre V2 that produces a supercar-rivalling 602bhp.

As for diesels, there is again three options – the 725d, 730d and 740d. The 725d is fitted with a measly 2.0-litre, 228bhp, the 730d comes with a 261bhp 3.0-litre and the 740d also comes with a 3.0-litre engine, but instead produces 316bhp.

There is the option of a plug-in hybrid, too – the 740e. Its 2.0-litre petrol engine combined with an electric motor to produce 254bhp.

Running costs

One of the most impressive things about the 7 Series is just how cheap it is to run, particularly the diesel engines and the 740e plug-in hybrid.

The petrol engines are best avoided unless you cover small miles or do a lot of driving in urban environments. The 740e returns an impressive, claimed, 113-134.5mpg depending on the wheelbase and wheel size. The short wheelbase version of the 740e also has emissions under 50g/km, meaning it qualifies for the £2,500 plug-in car grant. The diesel engines are also extremely good on fuel, particularly for a car of this size. The entry-level 725d manages 61.4mpg, while the more powerful (and better) 730d still has a fuel economy figure of 60.1mpg, for not a lot more money to begin with.

Road tax shouldn’t be too bad either on the plug-in hybrid or diesel engines, although expect to pay much more for the petrol engines - most notably the fuel-guzzling M760Li. As for insurance costs, unsurprisingly for a car of this size, its groupings are high, varying from 46 to 50 depending on the model selected.

Things to look out for

While every version of the latest-generation 7 Series is still covered under warranty, the main problems that have occurred with it have been with recalls. Issues have included the brake switches and also problems with the airbags and seat tensioners not deploying in the event of a crash. However, the vast majority of these cars will have had the recall fix carried out, so it is always worth checking the vehicle’s history.

Rivals

For a long time the main rivals to the 7 Series have been the Audi A8 and Mercedes S-Class, and these three remain in fierce competition with each other. Less conventional rivals include the Range Rover, which is increasingly being used by chauffeurs, the Porsche Panamera and Jaguar XJ.

Depreciation

This is where the 7 Series does not fare well at all. Like most luxury cars, it plummets in value initially. You can find examples that are not even a year old with £20,000 off the original list price, which is a significant amount of money to lose. You are much better off haggling a discount off a brand new car or buying an ex-demonstrator that will save you quite a lot of money.

Which 7 Series to Pick

Cheapest to Buy When New

730d 4dr Auto

Most MPG

730d 4dr Auto

Fastest Model (0-60)

M760Li xDrive 4dr Auto

Trims Explained

The BMW 7-Series is available in a number of specifications.

Standard

The standard 7 Series includes 18-inch alloy wheels, four-zone air conditioning, a BMW Display Key, a 10-inch display, LED headlights, satellite navigation, parking sensors front and rear as well as a parking camera and front and rear electric seats, to name a few.

This model kicks off the range at £61,300

Exclusive

The Exclusive trim level includes BMW Gesture Control, rear comfort seats and soft close doors. This trim offers little over the standard car, although it is particularly tailored for cars that carry rear passengers frequently.

This trim level costs from £62,800

M Sport

Next is the M Sport that includes 19-inch alloy wheels, an M Sport styling pack, an M specific key, an M steering wheel and a sport automatic transmission.

The M Sport starts at £66,300.

Plug-in Hybrid 740e

This model mainly includes hybrid specific features such as eDrive services, eDrive door sills and hybrid specific modes, alongside the basic trim levels of the other cars.

The plug-in hybrid 740e starts at £70,140,

M760Li xDrive V12

At the very top-of-the-range is the M760Li xDrive V12. It has 20-inch alloy wheels, an Advanced Parking package, a Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system, Driver Assistant Plus, a head-up display, electric rear sun blinds and rear massaging seats.

This model costs an eye-watering £135,340

Long-wheelbase specification

These models have extra legroom, an electric glass sunroof and roller sun binds for the rear windows.

These start at a cost of £65,250

Summary

  1. Surprisingly good on fuel (diesels and hybrid only)
  2. Cheaper than key rivals from Mercedes and Audi
  3. Large depreciation penalties
  4. Good range of engines
  5. Well equipped
  6. Specifically tailored for rear passengers
  7. ...Meaning it is not as good to drive as it could be
  8. Long-wheel version available
  9. Also available with a monstrous V12 engine - M760Li
  10. Supremely well-refined

Related News

View BMW News Archive
View All Motors.co.uk Reviews