Review: BMW 7 Series (2009 – 2016)
High quality luxurious interior. Huge amounts of space in the back. Long wheelbase versions available. Efficient Dynamics means good economy and low CO2.
Too much tyre roar makes it probably the the harshest limo.
BMW 7 Series (2009 – 2016): At A Glance
A lot of us have invested in things we might have avoided if only we'd known the world economy would start behaving like a grand piano chucked from the top of a tower block. Things like expensive shoes, shares in Woolworths or perhaps a new car. Which brings us to BMW.
It's spent about one billion Euros on a car, the latest 7 Series, which is big, complex, expensive. Around £54,000 buys the poverty version, £100k plus for one with all optional the bells and whistles and likely to be viewed by many as the last word in vehicular conspicuous consumption.
This a problem for BMW which wants to sell the 7 Series to people with a lot of disposable income, in a world where those that still have money are hanging onto it. Those that don't are now saving up for something like a lightly soiled Kia Pride, rather than a flagship uber saloon.
Then there are the private hire companies which bought the diesel versions of the outgoing 7 Series to waft captains of industry to airports and posh hotels. However, for the benefit of the five remaining people who can still afford one, let us consider the 7 as a car.
Visually, it's a clever evolution of its immediate predecessor, who's monumental, New Brutalist looks made a lot of people wince. Styled by an engaging American with a beard called Chris Bangle, some thought the old model's tail appeared to have partially melted and others found its iDrive control system a nightmare to use.
What does a BMW 7 Series (2009 – 2016) cost?
BMW 7 Series (2009 – 2016): What's It Like Inside?
- Boot space is 360–500 litres
The iDrive system is still worked by a big round knob that can be pushed and waggled about as before, but is now augmented by Audi-like auxiliary buttons. The result is perfectly usable, which is a great improvement on ‘completely unfathomable,' a description which could be applied to the old system.
The iDrive communes with enough computer power to store 8GB worth of MP3 music files and tells you what it's doing via a big centre console-mounted screen which can be linked to a very effective reversing camera and two fish eye cameras mounted in the front wings. These allow you to see into junctions obscured by street furniture. Clever stuff that works well, although it's optional.
You'd loose the will to live if we listed all the toys and gadgets boasted by this car, but should get a sense of the attention to detail if we mention the interior lighting is ambient and that the windscreen washer jets are heated. Everywhere you turn there are details intended to cosset or interest.
Child seats that fit a BMW 7 Series (2009 – 2016)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the BMW 7 Series (2009 – 2016) like to drive?
Few disagreed that the car was a technical tour de force and the 730d diesel version gained a strong following among executives and private hirers, so rather than completely ditch the outgoing 7's aesthetic, BMW hung on to visual elements like the window shapes and front lamp cluster's styling, but smoothed, rounded and generally toned down everything else, doing away completely with the old model's curious rump.
The latest 7 was also the first production BMW to feature a pretty vast version of its familiar kidney radiator grill, that became the German make's new family face. The end result isn't beautiful, but it's quietly interesting and has presence.
There's nothing dainty about this car, but BMW has worked hard to shave weight from it, using light alloys rather than steel for some of the external panels and the complex independent suspension system.
The engines are generally less porky too, with the all-alloy, 245PS, 2,993cc six cylinder diesel found under the 730d's bonnet being some 8kg lighter than before. It's also more efficient, producing 192g/km of CO2, gets the car to 62 mph in a claimed 7.2 seconds with a 153mph top speed.
There are incremental efficiency gains for the 740i six and 750i V8 petrol models (they'll only take about 15 per cent of sales). The 750i replaces a V12 and has a design first in that its twin turbochargers and exhaust catalyst are stuffed into the recess between the engine's cylinders. These things get very hot. Heat aids combustion, and since these bits make everything warm up more quickly, it's more efficient.
All three motors are attached to a six speed automatic transmission with a manual override and a series of modes which go from relaxed to rapid when changing gear. This is now worked by a conventional transmission tunnel lever rather than the chunky paddles found in the outgoing car.
All three versions prove surprisingly wieldy for such big lumps of metal. Their controls have an immediacy of action and a precision that is more engaging than, say, a big Lexus, which tends to hermetically seal its driver and occupants from the outside world. If there's a down side, then you might decide that the ride is perhaps a bit less relaxed and there's some roar from its big fat tyres, but really only an automotive pedant would either notice or care.
Both petrol engines deliver their power with the expected speed and fluidity, with the V8 demonstrating a speedy responsiveness despite having to shift an extra pair of cylinders and their associated bits as well as a big car. They sound classy too.
The oil fired 730d is the one that matters and it's a very nice thing to use. Smooth, quiet and possessed with the elastic power delivery that makes big, modern diesels so appealing. Given its economy and efficiency advantages, this is really the 7 to have.
|730d||42–50 mpg||6.1–7.2 s||148–178 g/km|
|730Ld||41–50 mpg||6.2–7.3 s||148–180 g/km|
|740d||41–50 mpg||5.5–6.3 s||149–181 g/km|
|740i||29–36 mpg||5.7–5.9 s||184–232 g/km|
|740Li||28–36 mpg||5.7–6.0 s||184–235 g/km|
|750i||25–33 mpg||4.8–5.3 s||199–266 g/km|
|750Li||25–33 mpg||4.8–5.3 s||199–266 g/km|
|760Li||21–22 mpg||4.6 s||303–314 g/km|
|ActiveHybrid 7||42 mpg||5.7 s||158 g/km|
Real MPG average for a BMW 7 Series (2009 – 2016)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
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Why does the suspension on my BMW 7 Series creak so much?
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