THE BMW 7-Series is a good drive. No, it’s better than that. It’s a terrific drive. It is a big car, even as a shortwheelbase 730i, yet it shrinks around you and allows you to cover long distances with minimal fuss. It has sporty performance, with loads of luxury, yet is not demanding or nasty.
Best of all, after the previous Seven, it is a welcoming car that is easy and rewarding to drive.
I was not a fan of the previous Seven, partly because of its nasty iDrive and a cabin which was confrontational and hard to learn, but the failure for me was that it was not a driver’s car.
Previous Sevens were built to drive, but the last one was a back-seat special loaded like a Harvey Norman showroom.
Not now. The new 7-Series has more technology than any car I have driven but it is easy to use and adds to the experience.
The rear-steer system makes the long-wheelbase iL easy to turn in a narrow street, the safety gear is all unobtrusive and useful — including the speed-limit camera — and it is good to know the engines are so lean and efficient.
Still, visibility can be a problem, there was some wind noise on one of the German test cars, and some people complain that getting into the low-seat rear seats can be a problem. But those are minor niggles.
BMW only had the short-wheelbase 730d diesel and the long-wheelbase 750iL to assess on global press preview at Dresden in the former East Germany, and all the cars were loaded.
But the basics show how good the car is for 2009 and beyond and reflect a return to the traditional values of the Seven.
The cars are crisp and responsive and there is absolutely no indication that the 730d has a diesel six under the hood. The V8 in the 750 is a cracker and easily took the car to its 250km/h top speed on an unrestricted autobahn.
They have traditional rear-wheel drive with six-speed autos that slur through the ratios but respond well to a touch on the tiptronic lever. Something else back in the Seven . . .
There is a lot to like in the new 7-Series. Best of all, it proves BMW is prepared to step back to go forwards — even if no one admits there was anything wrong with the previous car.
Terrific drive: responsive on the road but some find the rear seats low.