Review: BMW 7 Series (2016)

Rating:

Air ride provides outstanding ride quality. Huge array of high tech gadgetry as standard. Superb long distance comfort. Strong performance from all engines.

Steering feels overly assisted even in Sport setting.

BMW 7 Series (2016): At A Glance

This generation BMW 7 Series is the largest car the German brand has ever produced. The long wheelbase version is huge - more than 5.2 metres long to be exact - yet thanks to those familiar BMW proportions it hides it's length well, looking more like a 6 Series Gran Coupe. This is no bulky four-door but a surprisingly sleek and good-looking saloon.

Of course these cars are all about wafting around in luxury - and the 7 Series is impeccable when it comes to ride comfort. Its predecessor didn't ride very well but there are no such problems with this generation. BMW has ditched coil springs and dampers in favour of what the Americans call 'air ride'.  

This two-axle self-levelling air suspension system comes as standard and means the 7 Series is wonderfully smooth over even the poorest of surfaces. It really comes into its own at motorway speeds where the lack of road noise and its ability to effortlessly glide along make this a relaxing car to drive or travel in.  

Performance is all that you'd expect of the flagship BMW model, with the mainstay engine being the impressive 730d. It offers all the power you need with 265PS but it's the 620Nm of torque that gives it strong in-gear acceleration. It's also available with xDrive four-wheel drive for added traction and security in wet or wintery conditions.

When it comes to technology, the 7 Series can give the Starship Enterprise a run for its money with a new iDrive system, an improved head-up display and an incredible 360 degree camera. You can even remotely park it using the key.

There is, of course, acres of space inside, particularly in long wheelbase models, although the lengthy rear doors mean you have to be wary of standard parking bays which the 7 Series dwarfs. The interior quality is impeccable with a truly luxury feel and great attention to detail.

The only criticism of the 7 Series is the steering which feels light and overly assisted, even in its sportiest setting. But then this isn't a car designed to tackle tight corners. What it does do is offer more standard equipment than its S-Class rival for the same sort of money, making the BMW one of the best luxury saloons around.

BMW 730Ld and 730d M Sport 2016 Road Test

What does a BMW 7 Series (2016) cost?

List Price from £69,565
Buy new from £55,345
Contract hire from £642.95 per month
Get a finance quote with CarMoney

BMW 7 Series (2016): What's It Like Inside?

Dimensions
Length 5098–5248 mm
Width 2142–2169 mm
Height 1478–1485 mm
Wheelbase 3070–3210 mm

Full specifications

The interior of the 7 Series is like the Starship Enterprise. Only with more gadgets and gizmos. If you want an easy way to pass a few hours, just start playing with all the different functions and settings. Even if you're familiar with other BMWs or the old 7 Series - this model is on another level. 

So is the quality of the finish. This is every inch the luxury car that BMW bills it as with a real premium feel to everything. Yes it's an expensive car, but that's reflected in the leather finish on the dash top and doors, while all the buttons and switches are finished in aluminium, as are the door handles and engine start button. There have been no corners cut here.

The iDrive system has been improved and the main display is now a touchscreen, in line with most other cars at this level. Still, many will find it easier to use the dial control. The system has a huge number of functions and settings, but the display is fairly easy to navigate.

BMW has replaced many of the conventional buttons with touch sensitive ones, giving this 7 Series a modern feel. So the air conditioning, vents, heated seats and new fragrance system are all controlled by touch buttons. 

That new fragrance system is not a new idea - Citroen used to have it in the C4 several years ago - but it is a pleasant touch in the 7 Series. Called 'Ambient Air' the optional extra has functions for ionising the air and releasing a gentle fragrance too. Go for the the Extended rear air-conditioning option on long-wheelbase models and you get two extra, individually adjustable air vents in the roof liner.

Of course if you really want to look after those in the back, there's the Executive Lounge Seating option. As the name suggests, it's similar to business class on a plane, with backrests that can be reclined up to 42.5 degrees. It's amazingly comfortable with extra padded headrests making this the best place from where to enjoy the 7 Series. If you've got someone else to drive you. 

On top of that there's an electrically operated fold-out footrest on the back of the front passenger seat while the rear-seat entertainment system screen can be electrically adjusted to the ideal viewing angle. And to control everything there's something called the Touch Command unit that's housed in the fold down armrest.

This is a removable Samsung seven-inch tablet which can be used from any seat and even outside the vehicle. It lets you control functions such as seat adjustment, interior lighting and air conditioning, as well as the infotainment, navigation and communication system. It can also be used to play external audio and video files, as a games console or for browsing the internet.

Child seats that fit a BMW 7 Series (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.

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What's the BMW 7 Series (2016) like to drive?

The main criticism of the previous 7 Series was the ride. It was by far the harshest luxury saloon on the market. But BMW has clearly listened to its customers as this generation has impeccable road manners with a wonderfully cushioned ride. That's down the fact it's fitted with self-levelling air suspension as standard, rather than standard coil springs of old.

This means the 7 Series is always smooth, even over poor road surfaces or motorway expansion joints. It's easily good enough to be a match for the excellent Mercedes-Benz S-Class. For long motorway journeys, the combination of an effortless ride and good noise insulation means the 7 Series is a wonderfully cosseting car to travel in.

The one let down is the steering. While the 7 Series handles impressively in corners for such a big car, the new electric steering system lacks the weight you'd expect of a BMW, especially compared to the smaller 5 Series. It feels light and overly assisted, not giving you much feedback and subsequent confidence through high speed corners. However, this is not a car that's designed for throwing through bends, rather it's an effortless cruiser.

It also comes with some of BMW's best engines, with the mainstay of the range the 730d. With 265PS it has plenty of power but it's the hefty 620Nm of torque that makes this the perfect engine for the 7 Series. It pulls along with real gusto if you want, yet is near silent if driven gently.

Claimed economy looks good on paper with an average of 60.1mpg - a big improvement over the old 730d. That's down to a drop in weight. The 7 Series has been on a diet and thanks to a new 'carbon core' for the body, the 7 Series is up to 130kg lighter than before - a significant reduction.

The 730d is available with xDrive four-wheel drive plus you can opt for a long wheelbase. However, if you want those two together it means opting for the 740d model. It uses the same engine as the 730d but with power boosted to 320PS and more torque - now 680Nm.

It's incredibly quick with a 0-62mph time of just 5.2 seconds but what's impressive is the effortless way it accelerates. However, there's very little difference between the 740d and the 730d in every day driving so you'd be better off saving the money.

BMW continues to offer petrol versions. There's the 740i and the even rarer 750i while the pinnacle of the range is the 760Li with a twin turbo 6.6-litre V12 engine producing an immense 600PS. 

Of more interest is the 740e plug-in hybrid model. This emits just 49g/km of CO2 (53g/km in the 740Le xDrive model) making it exempt from the London congestion charge.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
725d 55–56 mpg 6.9 s 122–126 g/km
725Ld 55–56 mpg 7.0 s 123–127 g/km
730d 50–52 mpg 5.8–6.1 s 124–142 g/km
730d xDrive 49–50 mpg 5.8 s 132–148 g/km
730Ld 50–57 mpg 6.2 s 127–143 g/km
740d 47 mpg 5.2 s 134 g/km
740d xDrive 46–47 mpg 5.2 s 134–155 g/km
740e - 5.4 s 49–50 g/km
740i - - 161–166 g/km
740Ld xDrive 46–46 mpg 5.3 s 137–156 g/km
740Le xDrive 97 mpg 5.3 s 54–56 g/km
740Li 40–42 mpg 5.6–5.7 s 159–184 g/km
745e - - 48–51 g/km
745Le xDrive - - 52–57 g/km
750i 35–35 mpg 4.7 s 186 g/km
750i xDrive - - 217 g/km
760Li 22 mpg 3.7 s 294 g/km
M760Li xDrive - - 282 g/km

Real MPG average for a BMW 7 Series (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.

Average performance

78%

Real MPG

12–90 mpg

MPGs submitted

38

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.

What have we been asked about the BMW 7 Series (2016)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

What are the best five cars for cabin quietness and insulation from wind and road noise at speed?

What are the best five cars for cabin quietness and insulation from wind and road noise at speed?
The most surprising I have ever driven was the Peugeot 407 Coupe. Astonishingly quiet even at high speed. Otherwise, a Mercedes-Benz S500e, a Lexus LS600h (new Lexus hybrid next week), new BMW 7-Series, Citroen C6.
Answered by Honest John
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