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BMW 7-series Test Drive Review

Date: 19 October 2015   |   Author: Tristan Young

Category: Luxury
P11D price: £68,125
Key rival: Mercedes S-class
On sale: October 2015
Equipment: 8 airbags, anti-skid control, 18in alloy wheels, Bluetooth, parking sensors front and rear, reversing camera, power-fold door mirrors, four-zone climate control, DAB radio, satnav, LED lights, auto lights & wipers, cruise control with brake function, USB connection, metallic paint, heated seats front and rear, sports body styling, sport auto gearbox
Engines: Diesel: 265hp, 320hp 3.0 Petrol: 326hp 2.0 hybrid, 326hp 3.0, 449hp 4.4
Trims: Regular, M-sport
Transmissions: 8-speed auto

The luxury car class is a difficult one for BMW. The sector is dominated by the Mercedes S-class, which means BMW will sell just over 1000 7-series in a full year, split evenly between two distinct markets: the chauffeur business and the retail consumer (who is more often than not a businessman).

Due to the high proportion of customers who will use the back seats - 60% of cars are ordered in long-wheelbase form - BMW focuses heavily on that area, just as much as it focuses on the way the car drives.

The majority of cars will be powered by BMW's 265hp 3.0-litre diesel, which hits the 22%, 23% or 24% BIK banding with excellent CO2 emissions of 124-132g/km depending on the trim level and wheelbase, and which wheels are driven.

The new 7-series is the first to offer xDrive four-wheel drive as well as the traditional rear-wheel drive. The competitive CO2 figure translates into good official economy stats, with the 730d capable of 60.1mpg - a very impressive 10mpg better than its luxury saloon diesel rivals.

BMW traditionally uses its range-topping saloon as a testbed for technology that will later filter down to the other 7-series models, and the new car is no exception.

The biggest standard gadget is the car's key, which includes a small screen that displays information such as fuel range, lock status and remote pre-heating (or cooling).

There's also a host of internal toys such as variable interior lighting colours and intensities, massage seat functions and clever parking cameras. The majority of these can not only be controlled by the driver but also by rear seat passengers via a tablet housed in the central arm rest.

Rear seat comfort is outstanding. There's a very generous amount of legroom in both the regular and long versions, and the rear seats can be adjusted nearly as much as the front seats in terms of tilt and recline functions. However, you feel like you sit high in the car rather than lower and more cosseted.

And, thanks to this high seating and sloping roofline, if you're tall then rear seat headroom is limited and your head will brush the roof.

The cabin as a whole is wonderfully well constructed and the materials used are, without exception, first rate, as they should be on a luxury car.

While the rear of a 7-series is a great place to be, the car is also one the driver can enjoy, although because of its size it's much more at home on fast, sweeping roads and motorways than it is on twistier, narrow lanes.

The suspension, even in Sport mode, still seems inclined towards a comfort orientation. While the Mercedes S-class is the default choice in the luxury car sector, and this position is safe, the BMW 7-series offers class-leading efficiency and whole-life costs, and an alternative to the rest of the field that's good value and full of the latest technology.

BMW 730d M-sport

Model price range £64,475-£76,010
Residual value 33.6%
Depreciation £45,225
Fuel £5225
Service, maintenance and repair £4172
Vehicle Excise Duty £220
National Insurance £6487
Cost per mile 127.6p
Fuel consumption 60.1mpg
CO2 (BIK band) 129g/km (23%)
BIK 20/40% per month £261/£522
Warranty 3yrs/unlimited miles
Boot space (min/max) 420/515 litres
Engine size/power 2993cc/265hp


Excellent efficiency and costs in a tech-laden and comfy saloon
  • Excellent emissions
  • Cost per mile
  • Ride quality and standard kit
  • The ultra-low-emission 740e doesn't arrive until July 2016