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Review

BMW 7 Series Saloon (2019 - ) review

The BMW 7 Series is the company’s luxury saloon, and is designed to appeal to those that sit in the back of cars as much as it does to those who drive. Hence, it competes directly with the Audi A8, Mercedes S-Class, Lexus LS and Jaguar XJ.

Words by: First published: 5th April 2019
The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 4.0
Thanks to a wide range of engine options, two body lengths and advanced technology, the BMW 7 Series is both a luxurious and prestigious car to cruise around in, and also one that is rather good fun to drive. If you can live with the styling, then it’s undoubtedly one of the best cars in the segment.

Pros

  • Strong performance
  • Wide choice of engines
  • Comfortable and agile to drive

Cons

  • Looks will divide opinion
  • Expensive to buy
  • Running costs are considerable
Pick of the range
BMW 745Le xDrive M Sport
Future-proofed hybrid power for performance and civility
Most economical
BMW 730d
For long-distance drivers, in the real world, you still can’t beat diesel
Blow the budget
BMW M760Li xDrive
Phenomenal V12 petrol engine with supercar performance

Interested in buying a BMW 7 Series?

How good does it look? 3/5

The front end of the BMW 7 Series will divide opinion, because the huge, unmissable, in-your-face grille will come across as eye-catching to some folk, and garish to others. Then again, those overly bloated nostrils - and the slender LED headlights - certainly set the Seven apart from more humble BMW models. As standard, the 7 Series gets lots of chrome detailing, as is the norm in the luxury sector, including a prominent near-vertical air outlet behind the front wheels and a thin strip joining the rear lights. Opt for the more expensive M Sport version, and some of that is changed to a black finish, while there’s an option to go for full black detailing (including the grille). The smallest wheels fitted are 18 inches in diameter and there’s a selection of 20-inch options, too. A more sporting appearance is given to the M Sport cars by the addition of unique bumpers, which can be further accentuated from the options list with a boot lip spoiler. Buyers can also choose between standard and long wheelbases.

What's the interior like? 5/5

The interior of the BMW 7 Series doesn’t only look and feel good, it smells good. That’s thanks to acres of soft leather upholstery as standard, available in a range of colours, complemented by plenty of trim material choice. The feeling of quality is enhanced by ceramic-coated switches, which are all well-placed and lovely to use. Behind the simple-but-tactile steering wheel is a large digital screen in place of traditional instruments. It looks impressive, but it isn’t always easy to read at a glance, so we’d recommend ticking the ‘Technology Package’ options box to get the head-up display. A wide touchscreen in the middle of the dashboard takes care of other functions and it can be intuitively operated with a rotary controller on the centre console. It’s very easy to get comfortable thanks to electric adjustment of the front seats as standard.

How practical is it? 4/5

BMW quotes a figure of over 500 litres for the boot capacity of the 7 Series, which should be enough to carry luggage for four adults going to the airport. And it’s the type of car that will be used primarily as a limousine. Space in the back of the standard wheelbase version is generous by any measure, but the long wheelbase model feels especially luxurious. That feeling can be ramped up further by the addition of upgraded rear seats with electric adjustment, heating and ventilation and even a massage function. Even the tallest of people will be comfortable in the back and there’s plenty of storage for bits and bobs, too.

What's it like to drive? 5/5

While the primary role of a luxury car is to be, well, luxurious, the BMW 7 Series has always married that with a driving experience that’s engaging enough to convince those in the back that they might want to take the wheel. That can be said about few other rivals in the sector, save perhaps the Jaguar XJ. The BMW’s abilities stem from its air suspension, which is inherently very comfortable, while the driver can choose to make the car sportier on the move at the touch of a button. The 7 Series also adapts automatically to the driving situation, which is highly effective. The end result is very little body lean in corners, excellent comfort and real civility, even at high speeds. We’d recommend going for the Integral Active Steering option, as it makes the 7 Series feel more agile in the corners and easier to park thanks to steering of the rear wheels.

How powerful is it? 5/5

BMW offers plenty of engine options for the 7 Series, all paired with an excellent eight-speed automatic gearbox. It’s worth considering the xDrive four-wheel-drive upgrade, as it endows the 7 Series with more on-road traction. Some models have it as standard, including the range-topping M760Li, powered by a twin-turbo V12 petrol engine, with over 600 horsepower. It’s essentially a supercar in the body of a luxury limousine. There are two less-deranged petrol-only versions, in the shape of the 740i and 750i, which are smooth and fast enough by any measure. Diesel choices include the 730d and 740d, both of which offer a compelling blend of low-down pulling power and palatable fuel economy. The most interesting model, however, is the 745e. This is a plug-in hybrid using a six-cylinder petrol engine and electric motor, plus a lithium-ion battery. It’s good to drive, produces nearly 400 horsepower and yet can travel on electricity alone for up to 36 miles at a time.

How much will it cost me? 3/5

The BMW 7 Series costs a similar amount to buy as its main rivals – such as the Audi A8, Mercedes S-Class and Jaguar XJ - and, like most large luxury cars, it doesn’t hold its value as well as, say, a large SUV might. On top of that, all of its consumables, such as the brakes and tyres, are expensive items, though BMW offers fixed-price servicing to assist with budgeting. Insurance is also costly. The purely-petrol versions of the 7 Series use a lot of fuel, especially at higher speeds, so long-distance drivers should consider one of the diesel models. It’s well worth looking at the 745e hybrid if you spend a lot of time driving in town or at slower speeds, especially if you have the means to easily charge up its battery from an external source with little difficulty.

How reliable is it? 2/5

A three-year, unlimited mileage warranty comes as standard with the BMW 7 Series, which is reassuring given the expense of major repairs to a car such as this. That’s slightly better than most rivals’ warranties, which have mileage limitations within the same three-year period. The battery of the 745e hybrid model gets its own six-year warranty, though it is limited to 60,000 miles. If you look at the Warranty Direct Reliability Index, very little has separated Audi, BMW and Mercedes in the past in terms of reliability. However, Lexus generally makes far more dependable cars, and Jaguar also ranks higher. The JD Power Vehicle Dependability Study makes for properly grim reading, though, as BMW finished stone-dead last in the manufacturer rankings in both 2017 and 2018.

How safe is it? 4/5

Large and expensive cars such as the BMW 7 Series are not regularly tested by Euro NCAP, so there’s no rating currently, but the smaller 5 Series does very well so it’s expected that the 7 Series would, too. Indeed, the 7 Series has always been used by BMW as the debut vehicle for new safety technology, so its occupants are comprehensively protected. Along with a vast array of airbags and active headrests to reduce injury in the case of a crash, the 7 Series uses a suite of cameras and sensors to monitor the road, in a bid to prevent a crash in the first place. There are two distinct levels to the assistance technology, the second of which is, sadly, optional. Even so, lane departure warning, rear collision prevention and cross traffic alert systems are standard, as is a pedestrian warning and automatic braking at slow speeds in an emergency.

How much equipment do I get? 4/5

As you would hope at this price level, the BMW 7 Series features a lot of equipment as standard, but as ever with the premium car brands, there’s a long and tempting options list, too. Alloy wheels and soft leather upholstery in a choice of colours (extending to the dashboard) are expected in the luxury car sector, as is an automatic gearbox, electric windows, cruise control and a decent sound system. The 7 Series also gets four-zone air-conditioning, Bluetooth and other connectivity functions, heating for the front and rear seats, classy ambient lighting, an advanced self-parking system and what BMW calls its Display Key, which has a dinky little touchscreen with which it can communicate with the car. Saying that, it’s a bit bulky, and expensive to replace if you drop it…

Why buy? 4/5

The BMW 7 Series appeals to several disparate groups of buyers. Some will want it as a working limousine, whisking guests quietly and comfortably, in luxuriant rear space, from engagement to engagement. It has a lot of presence, lending it a certain grandeur in a class that is mostly full of demure alternatives. Other buyers will just want the ultimate BMW saloon and that means one they’ll enjoy driving for themselves. The 7 Series delivers all that, in a high-tech package, and a lot more besides.

Interested in buying a BMW 7 Series?