BMW 7 Series vs Mercedes S-class
These nearly new luxury limousines have plummeted to just £34,000
The BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-benz S-class immerse their owners in luxury but also shed value rapidly.that’s good news if you’re buying used
DISASTER: YOUR STOCK has tanked, suppliers are putting their prices up and, to top it all off, the Bank of England has raised the interest rate, so the monthly payments on that mortgage you’ve just taken out have gone through the roof. All this means the shiny new luxury car you promised yourself is now no longer viable.
But all is not lost, because while you may not be able to afford a brand new BMW 7 Series or Mercedes-benz S-class, prices of their used equivalents have fallen faster than a lift with the cable cut, bringing them into the financial grasp of a much broader group of people.
Unbelievably, the two examples you see here have lost as much as half their original value in just two years. This makes them a tempting alternative to a factory-fresh executive car from the class below; just think how much better it would look to have one of these former plutocrats’ runarounds on your drive.
The 730Ld and S350d SE Line L variants tested here are long-wheelbase cars that allow their rear passengers to stretch out even more, and both have powerful 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel engines that enable them to waft effortlessly down the road while only sipping fuel. Automatic gearboxes, rear-wheel drive and adaptive air suspension are also common features. But which is better as a used buy?
DRIVING Performance, ride, handling, re nement
Ride comfort is a crucial factor, and here the S-class has the edge. The 7 Series glides over bigger intrusions, such as speed bumps, just as
serenely as its rival, but it tends to shimmy around a little more at low speeds, particularly over scruffy town roads, bothering occupants with the odd suspension clunk. It doesn’t ride as smoothly on the motorway, either.
Our 7 Series is fitted with the optional four-wheel steering set-up and Executive Drive Pro, which includes active anti-roll bars. The result is that it corners with less body lean than the standard S-class. However, the 7 Series’ light steering isn’t as satisfying and naturalfeeling as that of its rival, even if it’s marginally more accurate when you’re cornering quickly. It’s enough of a difference to make the S-class more rewarding, not just through bends but also when in town traffic and manoeuvring.
The 7 Series gets one over the S-class in terms of performance, though, accelerating from
30-70mph in 5.9sec, compared with 6.8sec. And while both are effortlessly smooth and responsive when you ask for a surge of acceleration, the 7 Series’ eight-speed gearbox shifts more precisely and without the dithering that afflicts the S-class’s seven-speeder when pulling out of junctions or onto roundabouts.
Both cars are supremely hushed, but the S-class has a smoother-sounding engine and suppresses wind noise better, making it quieter at 30mph. The 7 Series suffers from noticeably less road noise at 70mph, though, so it’s a slightly quieter companion on the motorway.
BEHIND THE WHEEL
Driving position, visibility, infotainment, quality
These are the finest interiors you’ll find in what can only tentatively be called mainstream cars. Both have broad drivers’ seats that electrically adjust in every way you could ask for, including the lumbar region, side bolsters and tilt, as well as the usual back, forth, up and down. It’s just a shame that the 7 Series’ steering wheel doesn’t drop low enough for some drivers and the seatbelt height can’t be adjusted.
Huge, sweeping screens dominate both cars’ dashboards. Both have rotary controllers for their infotainment and intermittently effective voice control, but the 7 Series’ idrive system is much easier to use. If you prefer to keep your hands on the wheel, both also have controls thereon for most of the important features.
SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Front space, rear space, seating exibility, boot
These extended-wheelbase models have long rear doors and around 10cm more rear leg room than their standard counterparts. Our 7 Series has the Comfort Pack for its rear seats, which adds reclining and massaging functions, a rear entertainment system with two 10.0in screens and an upgraded Harman Kardon stereo. The sculpted seats are wide, supportive and satisfyingly squishy, and there’s masses of room – more head room than in the S-class and an equally indulgent amount of leg room. Our S-class is also equipped with a similar options pack, making it just as lavishly comfortable, if slightly less spacious and airy.
The 7 Series has the longer boot, which broadens to a usefully wide area behind the intruding wheel arches, while the square boot in the S-class is narrower but has an underfloor well in which you could stow a bottle of de-icer and the chunky owner’s handbook. Both have large boot apertures by saloon standards, so loading a heavy suitcase won’t be too difficult.
BUYING AND OWNING
Costs, equipment, reliability, safety and security
The S-class was slightly cheaper to buy new, and the same is true on the used market. A 2016 S350d SE Line L that has covered around 10,000 miles could be yours for £34,000, while an equivalent 730Ld will cost around £2000 more. However, the 7 Series has lower servicing costs and, going by the official figures, is slightly more frugal. It will also cost less in road tax, at £120 annually compared with the S-class’s £155.
Standard kit is predictably extensive; LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors, a full leather interior, heated front and rear seats, adaptive cruise control, customisable ambient lighting, 18in alloy wheels and the full gamut of infotainment functions – including sat-nav and a wi-fi hotspot – were standard on both cars.
Soft-closing doors, a powered bootlid and rear climate control were optional on the S-class but all standard on the 7 Series, while it’s the inverse
‘The 7 Series has lower servicing costs and of cially is slightly more economical’
for adaptive headlights. A head-up display and a panoramic roof were options on both, although all 7 Series got an opening, single-panel sunroof.
Neither car has been tested by Euro NCAP, but both have front, side and curtain airbags. The S-class has rear side airbags, too, plus traffic sign recognition and more advanced active safety systems. Traffic sign recognition and automatic emergency braking were optional on the 7 Series.
Both cars can be had with a year left on their warranties and European roadside assistance. They get similar cover if you buy through the official approved used schemes, although BMW guarantees its cars will have a full service history, whereas Mercedes doesn’t. Thatcham highly rates both cars for resisting break-ins and theft.
They should be fairly reliable, too. Although Mercedes finished well below BMW in our latest Reliability Survey (26th against 16th out of 31 brands), the S-class itself has a good track record.
STATS, SPECS AND RATINGS BMW 7 Series