Luxury of a limo
IF you spend almost £80,000 on a saloon you expect it to be a bit special and the new 7-Series from BMW does not disappoint. The sixth generation model is crammed with all the latest technology to engage both the driver and passengers.
The flagship BMW’s elegant design is handsome rather than flash and competes with Jaguar’s XJ, the Audi A8 and the ubiquitous MercedesBenz S-Class for the luxury saloon crown.
This 7-Series is the largest car ever produced by the German brand and the long wheelbase version tested is huge – more than 5.2 metres long.
The looks have evolved from the last model and the car hides its bulk well and does not look clumsy from any angle. It is a sleek and good-looking saloon and with the M Sport body additions and larger wheels it certainly makes a visual impact.
Cars in this range are all about luxury and comfort and the 7-Series cannot be faulted in either department. BMW has dumped springs and dampers in favour of a two-axle self-levelling sir suspension system which is standard throughout the range and it delivers a superb smooth ride over even the worst surfaces.
At higher speed there is a lack of road noise and the 7-Series glides along making it ideal to drive, or relax in the superb cabin.
Thanks to its Carbon Core passenger cell, this generation is 130kg lighter than its predecessor despite its larger dimensions and that helps with performance and economy.
When it comes to technology the 7-Series is amazing. It features a new iDrive system, an improved head-up display and a stunning 360 degree camera which helps you to avoid scuffing those expensive alloys. And if that is not good enough you can use the key to remotely park the car.
The cabin can only be described as sumptuous and you won’t find a single piece of black plastic anywhere. All surfaces are trimmed in leather, Alcantara or varnished wood and the switches are chrome.
The long-wheelbase test car provided all the luxury and space you could want in a limo and your toughest decision will be deciding to sit behind the wheel or in the back.
Standard features are too numerous to mention but include four-zone climate control, navigation, infotainment system, ambient lighting, leather and soft touch finishings.
In addition you also get gesture control - which allows you to change infotainment functions with just a hand movement. In this way you can control the 3D display, adjust volume, answer or reject telephone calls thanks to a 3D sensor.
To protect the occupants the 7-Series boasts all the latest safety features including a Dynamic Safety system which if a collision looks likely, activates seat belt tensioners, closes the side windows and glass roof and brings the seat backrests up to an upright position.
On the practical side boot space is good with 515 litres available and there are numerous clever storage areas in the cabin.
This car was powered by the more potent of the diesel engines on offer – the 320ps unit linked to the standard eight-speed Steptronic gearbox – and it is superb.
It delivers its power with such ease that you are happy to have the head-up display to keep you within the legal limits. It is good for 155mph (restricted) and reaches 62mph in just 5.3 seconds.
BMW claim it can do 54.3mpg on the combined cycle with emissions of 142g/km. I did not match that but averaged in the mid 40s – an astonishing figure for such a big car with four-wheel-drive.
Surprisingly agile for its size the 740Ld xDrive allows you to choose different driving modes and was a treat to drive. It felt secure in all conditions, including snow, and its strong acceleration made overtaking easy.
There is no doubt that it is one of the best luxury saloons in the world and at £79,675 it should be. Astonishingly the test car came with an additional £24,355 worth of extra equipment taking the total price to a hefty £104,030.
If you can afford to spend that amount of cash on a car you are very lucky and the big BMW should certainly make it to your shortlist.