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Road Test: BMW 7 Series

BMW’s 7 Series update is much more than just skin-deep, finds Jonathan Musk.

SECTOR Large executive  PRICE £64,530-£76,320  FUEL 35.3-134.5mpg (WLTP)  CO2 49-186g/km (NEDC Correlated)

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BMW expects to sell around 2,000 7 Series in its first full sales year in the UK, with the 730d and 740d the expected big sellers, while the new and improved plug-in hybrid should take a good 10% chunk of sales.

Short or long-wheelbase is the first choice to make, but if you don’t ever intend on ferrying passengers it might be worth looking at BMW’s more svelte 8 Series instead.

Next up is engine choice, which consists of silky straight-six diesel and petrol options, as well as BMW’s only V12 offering in the form of the magnificent M760Li xDrive. The 730d is hard to fault, however, and happens to be the cheapest in the range, starting from £69,445. It’s outrageously quiet and refined, not to mention powerful and reasonably economical, returning 41.5-44.1mpg (WLTP). It also benefits from NEDC Correlated CO2 emissions of 138g/km.

Urban drivers would do well to step up to the £76,815 plug-in hybrid that features a 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol engine in place of the old PHEV’s 2.0-litre four-pot. Although on paper it ‘only’ offers an extra 68hp, the straight-six makes a huge difference and ensures the 745e is properly premium, while the useful 34-36 mile electric range keeps CO2 at 48g/km (52g/km for the LWB 745Le xDrive). And that electric oomph means it’s monstrously quick.

External styling changes include the difficult-to-ignore barbeque-sized ‘hexagoned’ front grille that’s 40% larger than the outgoing model and a more upright stance to the car all-round. LED head and tail lamps are also now standard, as is thickened glass to aid acoustic insulation.

New to the range are six colour choices, as well as four alloy wheel designs, three of which are available on M Sport trim – which also adds M Sports steering wheel and de-chromed exterior trim.

You could easily fill this magazine with the 7’s lengthy equipment list alone, but interior highlights bring the latest iteration of BMW Live Cockpit which includes a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, 10.25-inch central touchscreen, ‘Hey BMW’ natural voice control, USB-C connectivity, wireless charging and Harmon/Kardon speakers.

Choose from four simplified interior packs – Visibility, Premium, Technology or Rear Seat Comfort – to add typically desirable options. Chauffeuring must-haves comprise the £5,995 Rear Seat Comfort pack, or crème-de-la-crème LWB-only £9,995 Rear Seat Comfort Plus pack that bring executive rear-seat opulence at the tick of a box.

Choosing a 7 must reward with a sense of occasion and the updates to this latest version don’t disappoint. The six-cylinder engines evoke notions of past great BMWs and it’s a credit to the Bavarian firm’s engineers that they’ve managed to make them economical in such a large car. Ride quality is nothing short of superb thanks to twin-axle air suspension too, although this does mean that coming to a stop without the car nodding takes a little practice.

Wafting about in the 7 Series is what motoring is all about and there’s no question the updates bring the car bang up-to-date.

The Lowdown: 

Key Fleet Model: 730Ld

Strengths: Elegant, modern and high quality

Weaknesses: It’s massive. Costly options

The Verdict:

Updates to the 7 Series cement it as our favourite large executive car of the moment thanks to its excellent range of efficient engines, prestige, technology and comfort.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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Jonathan Musk

Jonathan turned to motoring journalism in 2013 having founded, edited and produced Autovolt - one of the UK's leading electric car publications. He has also written and produced books on both Ferrari and Hispano-Suiza, while working as an international graphic designer for the past 15 years. As the automotive industry moves towards electrification, Jonathan brings a near-unrivalled knowledge of EVs and hybrids to Fleet World Group.