The BMW 7 Series features a long-standing range of luxury sports saloons. They offer the highest levels of prestige, engineering prowess and luxurious cabins – the Alpha of executive driving. Passengers can expect sumptuous comforts, while the driver will enjoy surprising handling agility in such a large car. The 7 Series reaches a pinnacle in the most powerful high-spec models that can rank as supercars.
The latest generation of the 7 Series arrived in 2015, packed with up-to-date automotive technology and built with race-bred materials like carbon fibre and aluminium.
From the outside, it’s a conservatively-styled range of large four-door saloons as new buyers tend to be older business chiefs. The latest model adopted sleeker lines and more of a distinctive BMW family look.
The M Sport, meanwhile, adds bigger wheels and more purposeful body trim. A mid-life facelift in 2019 made minor exterior changes across the range, you may spot that the front grille is a little bigger and more aggressive.
The latest model adopted sleeker lines and more of a distinctive BMW family look.
What’s it like to drive?
With lightweight materials used extensively throughout the design, the large saloon can still slalom through bends like a smaller sports car. In a class in which many buyers will hand the keys to a chauffeur, the BMW still targets those who like driving.
On most roads – and at almost any legal speed – the big Beemer seems to glide imperiously. Bumps aren’t noticeable and gear changes are almost imperceptible thanks to the standard 8-speed automatic gearbox.
The engines are all impressive, from a punchy 3-litre diesel up to a 6.6-litre petrol V12 capable of more than 200mph (just not on British roads, thank you). From 2019, economical hybrid versions became available too, one of them with standard permanent four-wheel drive. Others are available with all-wheel drive for extra grip, look out for the tell-tale ‘xDrive’ badge.
The BMW still targets those who like driving.
The interior is probably the main selling point of the 7 Series. It offers a palatial level of quality, creating a leather-lined cocoon of comfort and space. Highlights include a superb multi-adjustable driving position, a smaller sporty steering wheel with multi-function controls, and a superior sound system.
Seats are big and supportive in both the front and back and there are no weak points in the trim. It all feels superbly screwed and stitched together – enough to put Savile Row to shame.
This is the pinnacle of the BMW range, so expect more luxuries than an Oscars' gift bag. Even the humblest 7 Series has a bright and clear 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen, all-around parking sensors, rear-view camera and heated leather seats with an indulgent built-in massaging system.
Higher spec levels bring extras like the unique gesture control for the infotainment — just wave your hand to change tracks — or a (champagne?) chiller between the seats. There's an array of connectivity systems too – perhaps the most useful is the on-board wi-fi network that allows all occupants to separately access whatever they want on the internet.
The long-wheelbase version is not a rarity and it’s a total of 14cm longer, so definitely worth seeking out if you want Royal levels of rear-seat legroom. It makes less sense if you mostly drive yourself.
Buyers of the BMW flagship don’t typically worry too much about cupholders and folding seats. Nevertheless, the 7 Series is well endowed with practical details.
Let’s start with the obvious – as a saloon, it has a secure and separate boot, not a hatchback luggage area. The size of the car allows for a much larger boot than an ordinary family car, although the concentration on cabin comfort means the back seats don’t fold down to increase cargo space.
Unless you plan on carrying five people in a 7 Series, look for cars with the optional two rear seats instead of the wide bench seat. These can individually adjust and recline for extra comfort. Another factory-fit option worth looking for is the remote parking system, allowing a 7 Series to be manoeuvred using the key fob.
Running costs and reliability
New buyers in this market don’t usually worry about the price of fuel. It’s still worth noting that the newer self-charging and plug-in hybrid versions claim extremely high fuel economy figures of up to 157mpg. Real-world driving may make these numbers hard to replicate, however.
The plug-in hybrid’s electric-only range is just 36 miles. Many drivers will find the smaller diesel versions have an equally impressive mileage return, closer to 60mpg. That’s still very good for the size and performance of the car.
Used purchasers should budget for higher than average running costs as the 7 Series’ insurance, tax and servicing typically costs more than smaller, less complex cars.
What we love
All luxury cars provide luxuries, of course, but what makes the 7 Series stand out is the way it drives. There's a sporty tinge to this big, comfortable saloon that makes progress both rapid and refined – and for the driver, more enjoyable than in many rivals. There are excellent engines too, and a well-conceived cabin that stands in comparison with the world’s best.
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It’s sharp to drive and superb to travel in, so consider the BMW 7 Series as a serious contender among the world’s best luxury cars. The cabin is as good as any rival and the conservative looks will never go out of style. The level of equipment is impressive and the build quality unlikely to be bettered.
This review was