What is it like on the inside?
It took a while, but BMW is now catching up Audi and Mercedes for “hey, cool!” interior design. That trend started with this 7 Series. To keep it fresh, BMW’s added plenty of new gadgetry, but how much of it is actually welcome, let alone useful, is up for debate.
Take the 10.2-inch digital instrument cluster. It’s from the 3 Series and Z4, and just like in those cars, it’s a mess. The speedo and rev counter ‘bars’ that surround the screen are illegible, and the space between them hasn’t been cleverly utilised. You can cycle through power meters and trip data and the instructions to your dishwasher, probably, but it looks like there’s a lot of wasted space. BMW used to do the clearest, best dials in the business. Not any more. The 7 Series has dropped the ball badly here.
What’s more, there’s a lot of duplication. You can, for instance, view your current heading on the excellent iDrive screen sat-nav, the instrument cluster map, and on the head-up display, all at once. Three maps, and potentially three different orientations. Why? It’s pointless.
Same goes for inputting your requests – choose from using the iDrive clickwheel, covering the touchscreen in fingerprints, waving your hands about to catch the attention of haphazard gesture control, or waking up the “Hey BMW!” voice assistant. Sooner or later, the Germans will learn that the ultimate luxury in life is time and relaxation. Spending time deciphering the 7’s world of tech is very unrelaxing. And no amount of seat massage, ambient lighting and themed ionising fragrance being pumped into the air-conditioning (really) will alleviate that.
Lovely materials, mind you. Cool metals meet expensive, intricately stitched leather, convincing wood and in rare places, solid plastic. It looks, smells and feels very opulent inside. Much more welcoming than the austere, fingerprint-haven A8.
Course, the best seats in the house are the back ones. In the rear, you notice the wind noise tumbling from the door mirrors less. Here, you can recline, use a detachable tablet to set your massage function and bum-warmers just so, and play with the many motorised sunblinds to your heart’s content.
And just in case you had your heart set on an SUV, you might like to know that the rear seat passengers sit a good deal higher than the folks up front in the 7. More so than in rivals, that’s for sure, for a commanding view out, when you want it. Or, up go the blinds and you relax into a cocoon of leather and pixels.