BMW

Review of the BMW 7 Series: Luxury, Performance, and Innovation

The BMW 7 Series showcases why luxury limousines still make sense today. Compared to SUVs like the Bentley Bentayga and Range Rover, the 7 Series offers superior comfort and efficiency due to its streamlined design. This is especially important for its plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models, the 750e xDrive and M760e xDrive, both delivering impressive performance. The M760e, for example, can sprint from 0-62 mph in 4.3 seconds. Additionally, the 7 Series boasts a luxurious interior, advanced infotainment, and extensive rear legroom, but some features like the Theater Screen and premium sound system are extra. Despite depreciation concerns, it’s a compelling choice, especially the all-electric i7 variant for tax efficiency.

Introduction

What Car? says…

Like oversized sunglasses, luxury limousines have fallen out of fashion in recent years. But the BMW 7 Series is a shining example of why they still make sense today.

For starters, they tend to be more comfortable to drive and ride better than taller SUV alternatives, such as the Bentley Bentayga and the Range Rover. Because they’re lower and sleeker, they’re also more streamlined, which is good for efficiency.

That’s especially important when you rely on electricity for forward momentum, as all versions of the 7 Series do to some extent. Here, we’re focusing on the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) variants – there’s also an electric car model called the BMW i7 (which we’ve reviewed separately).

So, let’s see how the BMW 7 Series stacks up against luxury car rivals. In other words, is it as good to drive as the Audi A8 or as pampering as the Mercedes S-Class?

Performance and Drive

What It’s Like to Drive, and How Quiet It Is

You can’t buy a pure petrol or diesel version of the latest BMW 7 Series in the UK. So, assuming you’ve ruled out the all-electric i7, you’ll have to choose between two PHEVs: the 750e xDrive and the M760e xDrive.

We haven’t tried the 750e yet, but it combines a 308bhp 3.0-litre petrol engine with a 194bhp electric motor (for a combined output of 483bhp) and has four-wheel drive. It’s the slowest version of the 7 Series, but with an official 0-62mph time of 4.8 seconds, it’s still capable of out-sprinting hottest hatches.

The M760e xDrive uses the same petrol engine but has been boosted to 375bhp, producing a combined 563bhp with the electric motor. When you hit the accelerator, the electric motor responds instantly, causing the car to surge forward. And while there’s a short delay before the petrol engine kicks in to help deliver maximum acceleration, you’re positively thrown down the road once it really kicks into gear.

The M760e can officially sprint from 0-62 mph in just 4.3 seconds, making it faster than PHEV versions of the Audi A8 and Mercedes S-Class (the i7 M70 is even quicker).

More Comfort and Smooth Ride

More relevant, perhaps, is how smooth and easy the M760e is to drive when you’re not in a hurry. If there is a charge in the battery, it behaves just like an electric car, building speed effortlessly and almost silently. As a bonus, the brakes are less pleasant and unpredictable than they are in some PHEVs, including the Mercedes S580e.

Ride comfort is another strength, although it’s not as brilliant as in the i7. The standard 21-inch alloys are undoubtedly part of the reason for this (the i7 and the less powerful 750e are available with smaller wheels), imparting some very small lumps to occupants. However, overall, the M760e is more forgiving than PHEV versions of the A8 and S-Class, especially around town.

Quieter Cruiser

It’s also a quieter cruiser than those rivals, insulating you and your passengers remarkably well from wind and road noise. What’s more, the six-cylinder petrol engine is silky smooth when it cuts in, humming away in the distant background – either when you’ve asked for quick acceleration or because the drive battery is running low.

Thanks to a relatively low center of gravity, the 7 Series is, unsurprisingly, far more agile than any luxury SUV alternative. But it also impresses compared to its sedan rivals. There are fewer tight turns, and the steering gives you a good enough sense of connection with the front wheels to feel confident pushing forward.

Officially, the M760e can cover 48 miles without burning a drop of gas, while the less powerful 750e can manage up to 49 miles (it varies slightly depending on the size of the wheel). You won’t actually get that far, but 30 to 40 miles should be achievable in real-world driving. That’s a perfectly usable range, although the rival S580e can go even further on pure electric power, which brings big tax benefits.

Driving Overview

Strengths: Excellent ride comfort; silent cruise modes; rapid acceleration
Weaknesses: Some rival PHEVs can go further on electric power

BMW 7 Series rear bend

Interior

The Interior Arrangement, Fit, and Finish

Although rear passengers are generally the priority in a luxury limousine, someone will always be behind the wheel. Whether that’s you or your driver, we think there will be few complaints in the BMW 7 Series. The driving position is great, plus there’s plenty of power seat and steering wheel adjustment.

You sit much closer to the road than in a luxury SUV, such as a BMW X7, Bentayga, or Range Rover. However, visibility in the 7 Series is excellent (unless you have the optional Theater Screen blocking the rear view out). All versions come with parking sensors at the front and rear, plus a 360-degree camera.

The 7 Series is a level above its direct rivals for quality. There are plenty of gloss black and crystal-effect finishes to give the interior a luxurious and expensive feel, along with a semi-transparent touch-sensitive panel that extends right across the dashboard.

That might sound like an example of style over function, but it responds consistently to presses – a good thing when you consider that it contains some important controls, including the glove box release and hazard warning lights.

As standard, the seats are trimmed in a faux-leather material called Veganza. Alternatively, you can have genuine leather or there is a part merino wool, part cashmere option, which raises the price a bit but feels surprisingly luxurious.

All versions of the 7 Series come with the latest BMW iDrive infotainment system, which appears to be one giant screen stretching across more than half of the dashboard.

Infotainment Excellence

It is, in fact, a 14.9-inch touchscreen butted against a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel behind the steering wheel. The whole setup is slightly curved towards the driver to make it easier to see and help you reach the outer edges.

The graphics are very sharp, and the touchscreen responds quickly to presses. Plus, there’s the added convenience of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay so you can run selected phone apps through the screen. The operating system is not as intuitive as previous versions of iDrive (mainly because of how many functions there are now). It is still better than the systems in the Audi A8 and the Mercedes S-Class.

That’s partly because BMW has decided to buck the trend of doing away with physical controls (in its more expensive models, at least). Yes, you can operate the screen by touch when you’re parked, but there’s also a rotary controller between the front seats, which is far less distracting when you’re driving. It is complemented by a natural speech voice control feature that works well most of the time.

Rear Passenger Entertainment

Your rear passengers will be hoping you’ve specified the optional Theater Screen – a 31-inch screen that folds down from the ceiling to provide a cinema-like experience. Thanks to a built-in Amazon Fire TV and a 5G antenna on the roof, you can stream on-demand TV or watch YouTube on the go. The screen is partially touch-sensitive, although it takes some getting used to.

If you’ve added the Theater Screen, you’ll probably also want the 40-speaker Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system (this comes as part of either the Technology Plus Pack or the eye-wateringly expensive Ultimate Pack). Sound quality is amazing, and you get shakers in the seat backs so you can feel and hear every scene as if you were part of the action.

Internal Overview

Strengths: Exceptional interior quality; good visibility; excellent driving position
Weaknesses: Theater Screen tech costs extra; infotainment system is quite complex due to a large number of functions

BMW 7 Series interior panel

Passenger and Boot Space

How It Deals with People and Disorder

At nearly 5.4 meters long, the BMW 7 Series is one of the largest cars on the road. It is longer than its main rivals, the Audi A8 and the Mercedes S-Class, as well as lesser-known luxury sedans like the Lexus LS.

That length helps give BMW’s flagship a huge amount of rear legroom. Even if you’re sitting behind a really tall driver, you’ll have several inches between your knees and the back of the seat in front.

Headroom is also good, despite the fact that the 7 Series comes with a panoramic glass roof as standard. However, if no one is sitting in the front passenger seat, you’ll want to be on that side of the car because then you can slide the front seat all the way forward out of the way and even use it as a footrest.

The optional Executive Package replaces the standard rear seats with two lounge alternatives that have extra adjustment options, a massage function, and can even be turned into business class beds.

Boot Space

Boot space in the 7 Series is a very respectable 525 litres, so trips to the airport or local golf club won’t be a problem. That’s about the same amount of luggage space as you’ll find in the Mercedes S580e, and far more than is offered by the A8 plug-in hybrid.

However, the sedan opening is relatively small, and many luxury SUVs, including the BMW X7 and the Range Rover, can carry much more luggage.

Practicality Overview

Strengths: Excellent rear leg room; surprisingly good master bedroom
Weaknesses: Luxury SUVs give you more room for luggage

BMW Series 7 interior rear seats

Buying and Owning

Daily Costs, Reliability, and Safety

If you’re looking to save money on benefits-in-kind (BIK) tax, there are cheaper company car options than the BMW 7 Series in the luxury car range. The cheapest of all run-on electricity only, including the electric version of the 7 Series (the i7) and the Mercedes EQS.

However, if a fully electric car doesn’t work for you, the rival Mercedes S580e PHEV also offers lower tax bills due to its longer all-electric range. The 7 Series is a cheaper option than the PHEV Audi A8, however.

Large sedans tend to suffer heavy depreciation, and there is little doubt that the 7 Series will lose its value faster than a Range Rover or even an equivalent S-Class. Mind you, the A8 will be worth even less in three years.

The 7 Series comes with plenty of standard luxuries, of course, including soft-close doors. However, some of the most attractive features – including the saloon rear seats, the Theater Screen, and the Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system – cost extra.

Remember, we can help you find a competitive price if you check out our BMW 7 Series deals.

Reliability and Safety

Reliability is something of an unknown quantity as the 7 Series was too new to feature in our 2023 What Car? Reliability survey. That said, BMW came a respectable 12th out of 32 brands in the overall manufacturer league table, well above Audi and Mercedes, but below Lexus (which finished on top).

The 7 Series has not been rated for safety by Euro NCAP but it comes with many active and passive safety equipment. Plus, there’s an optional Professional Driving Assistant Package that includes a self-steering system that’s generally very smooth – although it can struggle if the road doesn’t have clear road markings or you hit a tight corner. In short, it’s best left for highway driving.

A full (0-100%) charge of the 7 Series’ 18.7kWh PHEV battery takes about three hours at the maximum charge rate of 7.4kW. That’s comparable to most rivals, although the Range Rover PHEV can charge much faster (at speeds of up to 50kW).

Cost Overview

Strengths: BMW’s respectable reliability record; lots of standard safety gear
Weaknesses: Higher depreciation than S-Class; costly add-ons

BMW 7 Series interior infotainment

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the BMW 7 Series worth buying?

The 7 Series is a brilliant all-around luxury car but it makes the most sense in all-electric BMW i7 form.

Which engine is best for the BMW 7 Series?

The fully electric BMW i7 xDrive60 is the ultimate all-rounder. It delivers strong, smooth acceleration and is exceptionally quiet. Moreover, it minimizes car tax bills.

What is the price of the BMW 7 Series in the UK?

The 7 Series is priced roughly in line with the rival Mercedes S-Class but is more expensive than the equivalent Audi A8. Check out our New Car Deals pages for the latest prices.


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