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The Top Gear car review: BMW 7 Series

£58,075£103,115
7/10
Overall verdict

For: 

Great engines, solid build quality

Against: 

Not wafty enough for this kind of car
Plush as any rival inside, but still trails the Merc S-Class in several key areas.

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Our choice

BMW

730d SE 4dr Auto

£47,897
N/A
33mpg
8.00s
218bhp
227g/km

What we say: 

BMW's luxo-limo doesn't quite make class best. It's close, but Merc's S-Class still reigns supreme

What is it?

Facelifted in 2012, BMW’s luxo-limo lacks the harmony of something like a 3-Series. The diesels are great, but the ride is lumpy and the 7 can’t disguise its weight like the Audi A8 can. It’s as plush as any rival inside but, while it’s closer, it still trails the Merc S-Class.

Driving

Four-wheel steer (a first on a BMW) gives stability at high speeds and a real smile when you try to park - it’s got a great turning circle. It does the usual trick of shrinking when you go faster - but the steering is possibly a little too ‘connected’. For this class of car everything needs to be a bit more wafty - the German connection seems to have forgotten.

New suspension that can cycle between Comfort, Normal, Sport, and Sport Plus is a boon, but the big BMW never really settles in any of the modes. There’s too much wind noise, too much bobble and far too much tweakery through the steering - the old car was better. Ooops. Still, we’re talking about degrees of issues - it’s lovely if you’ve come from, say, a 5-Series, but Merc S-Class owners won’t be impressed.

You can’t argue with the way any of the variants goes in this generation - there isn’t a duffer in this bunch. The best is the 730d - it hits 62mph in 7.2 seconds and 153mph with 41.5mpg economy. If you want the big hitter, then you need the 760Li; 6 litres of twin-turbo V12 power, 544bhp, 553lb ft of torque - it’s fast and surprisingly fun - if you really need more than 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds and a limited 155mph top end, then you’re a faster driver than us…

On the inside

The ride and wind noise issues might bother you if you’re a sound-specialist, but otherwise the quality is top end. The cabin has a massive multimedia screen, the iDrive is now properly sorted - it’s a very good thing. There’s something about sitting in the driving seat of a big BMW that feels right.

The new Seven is biiiiiig. There’s space for Playboy Bunnies galore, or hefty business guts. The boot is huge, and you get a massive range from a 730d. Even parking is easy - radar parking sensors and that turning circle work in the real world.

Owning

The BMW 730d is remarkably useful - you’ll get 41.5mpg, 178g/km of C02. Ok, so it’s a bit expensive and insurance is high, but it’s worth it. If you want to simply ignore any credit crunchery, then go for that 760Li - 21.7mpg (which isn’t that bad considering the performance) and group 20 insurance.

Highlights from the range

Title 0–62 CO2 MPG BHP Price
The fastest
760Li M Sport 4dr Auto
4.6s 314g/km 21.1 544 £103,115
The cheapest
730d SE 4dr Auto
6.1s 148g/km 50.4 258 £58,075
The greenest
730d 4dr Auto
6.1s 124g/km 60.1 265 £64,475

Wildcard

How about something completely different?

Wildcard

8/10

BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe

£59,025£71,695
Do most of the driving yourself? How about a rather gorgeous, rather excellent 6-Series Gran Coupe?