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Expert Review

BMW 7 Series Saloon (2008 - 2012) review

Read the BMW 7 Series saloon (2008 - ) car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.

The Auto Trader expert verdict:

4

The BMW 7 Series offers a mix of the latest technology and engines to afford every luxury to its owner. It's also more fun to drive than to be chauffeured in.

Reasons to buy:

  • tickLuxurious specification
  • tickSpacious interior
  • tickComfortable long-distance cruiser

At a glance:

How good does it look?

Available in standard or long wheelbase guise, the BMW 7 Series offers a package which exudes luxury and performance. The wheelbase is 10cm longer than the outgoing model and the cabin has been moved rearwards. This model boasts the largest-ever BMW kidney grilles and a new air intake runs nearly the entire width of the front bumper. The front lights feature new detailing while the rear lights have been revised. The 7 Series successfully conceals bulk with elegance. We drove the M Sport Saloon model with 19-inch M Sport V-spoke style alloy wheels and an M Aerodynamics body kit.
Expert rating: 4/5

What's the interior like?

The 7 Series is a car of understated luxury as befits the flagship of the BMW range. The newly-introduced M Sport Saloon model we drove reflects its sportier image with sport seats, M Sport steering wheel, M Sport door sill inlays, brushed aluminium interior trim and Anthracite headlining. The iDrive controller sits between the front seats behind the distinctive ergonomic gear shift. There is an attention to detail which justifies its place as a luxury saloon.
Expert rating: 4/5

How practical is it?

Parking spaces need to be chosen with care due to the size of the 7 series, but the camera systems work well while the reduced turning circle offered by Integral Active Steering option, which allows all four wheels to be steered, helps. Inside, there is plenty of space for people, but there are also intuitive storage solutions. Luggage requirements are met by a 500-litre boot.
Expert rating: 4/5

What's it like to drive?

The 7 Series offers a choice of four chassis set-ups, from Comfort through Normal and Sport to Sport+ with varying gear change speed, accelerator response, power steering assistance and damper settings. The comfort and normal settings both provide a luxurious rear-seat experience while the two sport settings offer a more engaging feel. Cornering roll can be further reduced by specifying the Dynamic Drive option. There is a clear difference between the settings, but none offer the ride quality of the Mercedes S-Class or the driving dynamics of the Jaguar XJ.
Expert rating: 4/5

How powerful is it?

The BMW 730d is the big-seller in the range, although the 740d offers a more powerful alternative. The power is delivered incredibly smoothly and the range of set-ups (Comfort, Normal, Sport and Sport+) offer a more dynamic or more comfortable journey, with sportier settings delivering quicker acceleration and gear change responses. A pair of petrol engines offer an even quicker time, hitting 62mph from a standstill in 5.9 seconds and the 750i achieving the same feat in 5.2 seconds. The 730d covers 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds. All cars are mated with an enhanced six-speed automatic gearbox.
Expert rating: 4/5

How much will it cost me?

Benefiting from BMW’s Efficient Dynamics technology there’s a significant and positive difference to running costs. By incorporating features including brake energy regeneration, both the 730d and 740d boast a claimed return in excess of 40mpg. We covered 144 miles on our test drive, over which the 740d returned 32.1mpg. The 740i and 750i are harder on the pocket, returning an average 28.5mpg and 24.8mpg respectively with CO2 emissions of 232g/km and 266g/km.
Expert rating: 4/5

How reliable is it?

BMW’s reputation for producing reliable cars is reflected by a good performance in the Reliability Index. The 7 Series is a model which tends to feature new technology, which might explain why other models in the range are less likely to require attention. Our loan period was trouble-free.
Expert rating: 4/5

How safe is it?

Dynamic Stability Control + incorporates a host of safety features including Electronic Brake-force distribution, Brake Assist and Anti-Lock Brakes. Speed Limit Display scans the road ahead for road signs and displays the current limit, however, we found the limit display did not always match the one on the road. The camera system also informs the Lane Departure Warning system, with rear bumper sensors designed to warn drivers of vehicles in the blind spot. On top of that a night vision system scans the road ahead, warning the driver if a pedestrian is likely to walk in front of the car.
Expert rating: 4/5

How much equipment do I get?

BMW 7 Series can now be specified in SE or M Sport trim. Standard equipment on the SE includes 18 inch alloy wheels, Dynamic Stability Control, iDrive controller, satnav and 10.2 inch colour display screen, four-zone control aircon,  wood interior trim and six airbags. The M Sport trim adds 19-inch M Sport V-spoke alloy wheels, body styling and high-gloss exterior as well as sport seats, steering wheel and door with sill inlays and brushed aluminium interior. There is an extensive options list as well as bundled packages to choose from.
Expert rating: 4/5

Why buy?

The big talking point for us is the combination of economy and performance offered by the diesel models. Although we didn’t meet the claimed mileage figures for the 740d this is likely because of the demands of our road test and we expect to see Efficient Dynamics live up to its name.
Expert rating: 4/5

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