Motoring review: BMW 7 Series
09:00 06 March 2016
BMW’s fifh-generation magnificent Seven is refined, rewarding to drive and value for money for those with deep pockets, says Matt Kimberley
BMW’s largest car and technological flagship is ticking over into its fifth generation, having been around since 1977. It’s the place where you’ll find most of the Munich company’s most impressive technology, and there’s plenty of that to ogle. Try the completely automated entry and exit from bay parking spaces. You don’t even need to be in the car. And then there’s the oversized key, which is a small computer in its own right and can let you pre-set the climate control, check the remaining driving range and loads more. Go and see it – you won’t believe it.
Looks & image
With mainland Europe and markets further afield in mind, the 7 Series’ front end is all about horizontal lines. The lower bumper on the M Sport upgrade package has a more sculpted visage that Brits will prefer. The Seven has an impervious image. It’s a supremely confident machine. It simply does everything asked of it and adds a garnish of panache in the process.
Space & practicality
Through a generous aperture there is a large boot, as you’d expect, but it’s slightly awkwardly shaped at the sides to account for the wheel arches. It’s a long space, though, and can swallow four average-sized carry-on cases before you even need to start stacking.
As for legroom, if there isn’t enough for you in here then there’s something wrong with you. The rear passenger zone comes complete with a Samsung tablet that controls the seat movements, massage functions (oh yes) and media inputs, slotting gracefully into a beautifully crafted holder between the two rear seats.
Behind the wheel
Most 7 Series models are either 730d or 740d versions and, to be fair, the 730d is brilliant. It can feel big at low speeds, but there’s more than enough get-up-and-go to heave the car’s modest weight up to motorway speeds in a jiffy.
Even more impressive, by virtue of its unexpectedness, is how the big BMW’s size and weight disappear on a winding road. In the powertrain’s adaptive setting the body control automatically firms up at need, delivering not just level cornering and acres of grip, but poise, composure and agility. It’s amazing how well the car handles.
A final note has to go to the opulent refinement in the cabin. Sublime suspension floats gently over all but the sharpest aberrations, especially if the wheels are kept no larger than 20 inches. On smooth roads the cabin is whisper-quiet at 70mph, making the 7 Series the sort of car with which you could comfortably cross whole countries in a day.
Value for money
At nearly £65,000 for the cheapest version, you’re looking at remarkable value for money. Few of the really cool options will be open to you at that level, so you miss out on the clever fixed sunroofs with their novel lighting system that imitates a starry sky, but the Seven is at least as quiet, as solid and as capable as any other large saloon you could spend this much money on. As a driver, it’s the first place to look in this sector.
Who would buy one?
It’s likely in the UK that most buyers will be connected to the chauffeuring and VIP transport industries, and the 7 Series will excel in that arena. There’s a plug-in hybrid option on the way this year too, which will be perfect city transport for the discerning exec. The relatively small number of private sales will go to wealthier people who value the extra class and refinement the Seven brings. The 5 Series is lovely, but this is in another league.
Price: BMW 730d, £64,530 (range to £75,710)
Engine: 3.0-litre, 254bhp, six-cylinder turbo diesel
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic driving rear wheels
Performance: 0-62mph 6.1 seconds; top speed 155mph (limited)
MPG: 50.4 combined
CO2 emissions: 148g/km