A history lesson…
The elder statesman of the BMW range is the 7-Series. This car demands respect. It expects respect. And if you don’t show it respect, it will destroy you and your pathetic car. The 7-Series has always been BMW’s flagship saloon, thanks to its sheer size and price tag. Bond used one in Tomorrow Never Dies, and the modern 7 is as technologically advanced as a cruise-missile.
The 1980’s 7-Series was typical BMW and helped cement the company as a luxury car powerhouse, but now, with the new 7, BMW really have given the S-Class a damn good rival. Even if you don’t like the design, you have to respect what the 7 can do. It’s basically a rolling Dixons but with a nicer interior.
If all you want is an expensive badge be driven round in and look cool, the 7 can do that in its sleep.
Bang for your buck
Let’s get this one out of the way: the 7-Series is not cheap. The top model, the 760Li can cost just under £100k new, so probably best to buy second hand. The price represents just the type of luxury you’re going to get with a 7, and this is really what the 7 is all about. Inside, you get tonnes of dead cow, chopped wood and buttons. There’s four-zone climate control, massage seats and more airbags than if you were to put four Katie Prices in a line.
You also get BMW’s much praised and often hated iDrive system, which is basically the control for everything in the car. Much has been said of the iDrive, but later incarnations have been given the thumbs up, so if you can afford a newer 7-Series, get one.
BMW’s engines, whether petrol or diesel, are legendary, so don’t worry; whatever engine you pick, you’ll be happy. The diesels are good but still thirsty, thanks to the sheer size of the 7. There is a top of the range 6.0-litre V12 760Li variant, but that will cost you several millions a year to run.
What you’ll pay
You’re looking at anywhere between £17k and £20k for a 735i SE, which is very respectable for what you’re actually buying, plus it has one of the best engines BMW makes. The higher the engine size, the higher the insurance, and the 760Li comes with a Group 20 insurance tag, which is the same as a Ferrari, so wade carefully.
What to check
Nothing has been reported that is worth mentioning on the luxury barge, so just the basic checks will do. You’re probably better to opt for the more popular colours, as choosing an obscure one will limited your re-sale consumer base. Silver looks nice.
Main dealer prices are never cheap, and with such a luxurious saloon you can’t expect to get parts for a tenner. Based on a 760Li, a xenon headlamp is a ridiculous £360, while starter motors are priced at £170.
Again, the parts aren’t cheap, but with the 7-Series being such a reliable car, you shouldn’t have too many issues.
How it drives
The 7-Series is not a sports car, and it has never been billed as one, but with all the technology BMW throws on to the chassis, you’ll be in for a shock when you do give it the beans. Yes, there is body roll, but this is a 1000 tonne saloon with massage seats, what do you expect? It’s a brilliant compromise between decent handling with some feel and absolutely incredible comfort. There are only a few cars more comfortable than the 7-Series and they cost over £250,000.
It’s really a car to be driven in, so you needn’t worry about how the thing feels. Just sit back and relax in your seat and watch some DVDs. Take in the beautifully stitched leather work and bask in your wealth. If we had one, we’d do the same!