The all-new sixth generation 7 Series is a show piece for BMW's latest design language, the company's technological abilities plus the driver focus for which BMW has become renowned. Delivering attractive, understated styling, a sumptuous interior and excellent driving dynamics, it is one of the most civilised cars available today.
- Driving dynamics
- Interior space
- Fine build
- Some technology more suited to a smart phone than a car
- Some reflections in front and rear screens
The 7 Series is BMW's flagship saloon and the all-new sixth generation is now available. Like the earlier generations, it showcases BMW's latest design language, the company's technological abilities plus the driver focus for which BMW has become renowned.
Starting with the design, the all-new 7 has a more compact and slightly less ostentatious shape when compared to the last model. The chrome flash across the front wings and doors has gone, replaced by an understated 'hockey-stick' trim line just above the sill to lift the profile. Only the rear carries any notable chrome and the overall body shape is more compact-looking. This slightly understated look works extremely well and the 7 is a fine-looking car.
Any lavishness has been kept to the interior which offers sumptuous Nappa leather-clad seats and exquisitely detailed switchgear. The facia is pure BMW in design, with the main screen (now touch sensitive) sitting atop the dashboard and the remaining controls are reasonably intuitive, despite the car's rich functionality. The long wheel base version (denoted by an L in the model name) has an additional 14cm between the axles, giving the car an extremely roomy interior, perfect for a mobile office space or luxury tourer.
In terms of tech, seemingly everything possible has been put on the 7 Series' options list. Hand gestures above the gear selector can be interpreted (reasonably successfully) to launch apps, adjust volume or set the sat-nav for home, for example. The BMW LazerLight LED headlamps promise considerable illumination improvements and the sizeable 'display key' has a small screen on it to show the car's well-being, activate locks, lights and so forth. There is also an option to allow remote movement of the vehicle (up to 1.5 times the car's length). At the heart of the car's technology is ConnectedDrive, which ? with suitable additional equipment ? will allow the car to talk to one's home for adjusting heating times, opening a garage door or even monitoring for smoke or water leaks and checking who's in the property at the time. Its connected music streaming service certainly appeals. Driving Assistant Plus delivers a hands-off-wheel feature, which struggled to engage on the A-roads when we tested it and is probably better suited to smooth-flowing motorways.
BMW is keen to emphasise the good driving dynamics of their latest 7 Series and they have done an excellent job. Steering feedback is great and throttle responses are particularly refined. It is possible to position the car very accurately ? even the long wheel based version ? which makes this 7 feel smaller than its true dimensions. Ride from the self-levelling air suspension remains on the firm side in all but the silky Comfort Plus mode, which irons out almost every lump and bump on the highway. That said, we were testing on some poor road surfaces; at speed, the 7 hunkered down and demonstrated excellent poise with little wind or road noise. Currently, the new 7 Series is offered with smooth, charismatic six cylinder diesel and petrol units although a V12 is promised later in 2016. All models come with the pleasing eight-speed automatic gearbox and all-wheel-drive is an option available across the range.
In terms of criticisms, we'd question whether some of the technology options added either real value or pleasure. The more subtle design is very pleasing and apart from a faint reflection in the windscreen from the speaker cover (and the lighter trim on our test car also reflected in the rear screen), the ergonomics are fabulous. The new 7 Series is a delight and our torquey 730Ld balances luxury, performance and refinement extremely well.
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