Motors: Let battle commence

BMW has upped its game with the new 7 Series, producing a serious contender in the large luxury saloon market, as twice British-rally champion and owner of Karting North East (KNE), Guy Wilks, discovers

 

Posters of BMWs adorned many a young boy’s bedroom walls during the 80s and 90s, but seldom would the image be of a 7 Series. It was more likely to be the 3 Series or the 5 Series, prefixed by an ‘M’ badge – for these were the cars that helped BMW build its following thanks to multiple motor sport championship wins.
The BMW 7 Series was perhaps thought to be the flagship of the marque when initiated back in the late 70s, but it has led a life in the shadow of the superior Mercedes S Class which, until now, has dominated the market share of sales.
So is this latest version of the 7 Series worthy of more attention?

Key features

First things first: you know you’re going to need a technology update when you see the key.
Resembling a small smart phone, this key can show the car’s fuel level, climate settings and security status. You can even remotely park your car with it – James Bond style.
If you’re a regular phone-dropper, don’t panic; phone manufacturers could learn a lot from the BMW design, which is stylishly robust.

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Sporty styling despite size

The outside of the new 7 Series will definitely turn heads as it is rather large. The designers from BMW also seem to have brought along their motor sport styling roots and subtly incorporated them into the design of the new 7 Series, leaving the range’s previous look of blandness behind.
Styling options allow you to tone up or down depending on whether you desire the owner/driver look or the luxury chauffeured look.

Market leading composite car

With size comes cost and weight and with this new model starting from just north of £63.5k, you’d expect a sturdy vehicle.
BMW has pulled out all of the stops not only to match its rivals but also to try and gain a lead. There is a ‘carbon core’ design which helps reduce and lower weight and deflect energy more efficiently throughout the chassis – giving a better driving experience. Before you get carried away thinking the whole chassis is carbon fibre, though, it isn’t, but BMW has seriously raised the bar with this car by combining the best attributes of steel, aluminium and carbon fibre to knock other manufacturer’s recent ideas into the rough.
It seems that BMW is the most committed manufacturer out there to making composite cars.
Another weight-saving feature of the 7 Series is the fully aluminium callipers, reducing the overall weight by around 130kg, compared to its predecessor, and giving the driver the feeling of better all-round ride and handling.
Anybody who has driven a BMW recently will know that one of the strongest areas is the engine characteristics. I drove the 730d, which produces 261bhp and 620Nm of torque and a 6.1 second 0-62mph time. With figures like these, I don’t know why anybody would want to venture up in engine size for this type of car.
Coupled to this is an eight-speed gearbox, so you can waft along, akin to any super tourer. Just add xDrive if you want the reassurance of travelling safely in all the challenging conditions the UK weather can throw at us.

Drive or be driven?

Both options appeal. That said, with the superior interiors of the new 7 Series, I’m sure you would be quite happy to spend time inside without moving!
Massage front seats as standard with Nappa leather, a great sound system for your favourite tunes and a wonderful view through a panoramic roof will leave you contentedly relaxed.
There is also a list of extras that seems to go on forever, but the main thing you really need to decide is if you want to drive, or be driven!
Looking over your shoulder to the back seats usually doesn’t fill me with envy but it was different in this car.
The usual pleasure of owning a big ‘gondola’ like this comes from the luxury offered in every seat – although if you do want to sit in the rear or have cause for adults to be sitting there, I suggest you go for the long wheel base, as it’s very good value at roughly £3.5k extra.
In addition, if you are going to plonk yourself in the back seat regularly, even if it is just being chauffeured from the pub on a Saturday night, you may also want to opt for the rear-seat comfort package.

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Verdict

It seems BMW has finally taken its duel with Mercedes seriously and has turned up with one of its most potent motoring weapons.
My only concern is whether this model can halt the slide on residual value that it has suffered from in the past. But I suppose if you can afford one and you want one, who cares?

 

Guy tested the new BMW 7 Series from Cooper BMW Durham, Broomside Park, Belmont Industrial Estate, Durham, DH1 1HP

www.cooperbmw.co.uk |  0191 283 5503

KNE is located at Warden Law Motorsport Centre, Sunderland, SR3 2PR

www.kartingnortheast.com

@GuyWilks

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