I’ve had ample opportunity, but until recently I hadn’t got round to driving the latest BMW 7-Series, and certainly not driving it to review in a way I could do it any justice, or say anything remotely new. To be honest, the absolutely superlative, no holds barred statement wagon is to ultra-high earning directors and diplomats what a Golf GTi is to your or me when we were 18…a bit of a willy wangler.
Despite this, underneath all the statement, there are little touches here that still make this 7-Series one of the most luxurious straight out the factory cars money can by. Here are few reasons to illustrate the point…
It’s one of a small selection of cars you don’t want to drive
But when you do, it’s still bloody good. Let’s face it, with THAT much legroom, who wants to sit up the front amongst BMW convention when you can lounge amongst the leather and the laptops (ok, tablets) in the back? It’s pure childish joy. How many cars can you say that about?
The air freshener!
Yep, a built in fragrance. Or two, in fact, so you can alter the smell to suit the preference of your dictator (ahem, director) in the back…
We’ve got used to a pretty perfunctory way of switching between screens in most cars, and we know roughly what to expect on each of the screen and amongst the displays. In a car big on screens however, nothing quite prepares for the quality of the HUD and the display transitions in the 7-Series. It’s a absolute delight watching the gradation, colour and visuals change in the car when you switch between menus on the HUD or the centre binnacle. It’s the little details that make all the difference.
The quality of cruise control acceleration
Speaking of little details, the cruise control is an absolute joy, as you’d expect. It’s adaptive, and it’ll probably be on all the time, so it better be good, but the way it accelerates out when overtaking or speed up behind the car in front is perfection. You hardly feel it, and that’s no bad thing.
Heating / Cooling
No matter how many heating / cooling options you think you need, the new 7-series makes you realise you actually need a whole lot more. As well as preconditioning/warming accessible via the smartphone-esque remote, it’ll gently cool you (or your rear end) as gently or as quickly as you want, pretty much from a standing start. It has a million vents, and the temperature difference between the front and the back is, even for a passenger centred car, very impressive. And of course, you can control it from the tablets.
The ride and economy
Well, it’s incredible, and for a change the 7-series rises out of the shadow of the Mercedes S-Class. Noise? What noise. It’s full of little bits of tech which you can tell make it even more refined, and there’s something there to praise BMW for. For a huge car it’s also pretty frugal once your bank manager’s recovered from ticking all the boxes on the options list – the hybrid model is well worth it for more than 100mpg.
With a 10 in screen, it’s the first BMW to feature such comprehensive infotainment options, with smartphone-esque on screen control and a surprisingly easy to use gesture feature from what feels like almost anywhere in the cabin. Of course, you can control all this via the iDrive system too, and add to your entertainment with any number of streaming services.
I loved my time with the 7-Series and it most certainly left and impression. Got anything else to add? Let me know on Twitter!