The mighty BMW 7 Series exhibits a Jekyll and Hyde split personality, thanks to it’s incredibly quiet and well insulated interior. Rolling down my driveway at low speed, the highly detailed and full range sound system delivered a pleasing musical experience that was uninterrupted by road or engine noise, and continued similarly throughout a range of normal driving conditions. However, stomp down on the accelerator, as I gleefully did from time to time while testing the 7, and a new personality emerges as the TwinPower Turbo 4.4L V8, producing 450 hp at 5,500–6,000 rpm and 650 Nm at 1,800–4,500 rpm. Meanwhile the 7 sips 34mpg while spewing 195 g co2/kg to meet EU6 exhaust standards. Like many big, powerful cars, the 7 probably feels faster than it actually is. Which only matters if you’re actually racing or just obsessed with specs. I mean, it is fast, handling the 0-100kmh sprint in 4.4 seconds as per BMW, which is quite good; it’s just that it feels even faster. Human perception is limited after all and, while I know (if we can permit a brief foray out of BMW-land) that the Veyron is faster, the experience of launch control in a Carrera S is experientially so close that I’m not sure I’d be able to judge it accurately without foreknowledge. Forgive me dear reader; I’m all too human.
In concert with the eight-speed steptronic transmission, the powerplant fills the cab with a symphony of automotive excitement, propelling you forward with head snapping vigor. Side note on the accelerator; I noticed that, at very low speed, the 7 tended to lurch forward until I either depressed the pedal further or released it completely. It was never really a problem, but can feel slightly disconcerting. I suppose the car just resents being driven slowly, particularly because it handles so effortlessly well, above the speed limit and within my own humble speed threshold.
The 7 tucks into corners with high-speed nonchalance, as if gravity were an old school chum who, while obscenely successful, just isn't worth being intimidated by; after all, you’ve seen their pale legs in purple gym shorts long ago. Which is to say that, even when I tried to push the 7, it always offered a smooth yet nuanced road feel that exuded confidence and competence. The car’s double aluminium track control arm front axle and the Integral-V rear axle are exclusive BMW designs, and combine with rear axle air suspension and hydraulic rack-and-pinion steering (with on demand steering servo pump) to create a ride quality that is classic BMW. And this is where the 7 really earns its luxury stripes because, picturesque scenery or not, this is a car that I can imagine enjoying on long drives.
The steering has a nice heft to it, it’s on the lighter side and very comfortable across various driving conditions. Body roll is mitigated by active roll stabilization, and the electronically adjustable suspension sets the car up nicely for comfy and/or spirited driving, depending on what you’re up for. The brakes offer plenty of stopping power but could maybe be a tad more linear, although we always felt incredibly safe and assured in the 7.
The car’s drivetrain is buttery beyond belief, and the rev band offers continuous torque making you to ponder whether Bentley has the “plateau” market cornered. In the blink of an eye you’ll be going faster than you realized, and hopefully it won’t be the flash of a traffic cam that alerts you to your folly. That’s because this thing is weirdly quiet when hauling serious, er, donkey. Throttle tip-in feels a teensy bit laggy here, which is counterintuitive given all the torque this car enjoys, but then it’s passed in an instant and you’re silently rocketing up to wherever your comfort level is vis-á-vis speed and your surroundings.
While I personally like the 7’s unique looks, which are intended as the crown jewel of the BMW stable, I had one person volunteer that they found the design a tad odd. Well, I’ll go on record as liking things that are odd, lest every car wind up looking like a Camry---not that there’s anything wrong with that. One component of the 7’s formidable touring credentials, is its full size, VIP-worthy back seats. Alternately, if your idea of a VIP is an antique desk or, maybe a Shetland pony; the rear seats can be folded down to reveal plenty of volume for storage. The storage space is large enough that the 7 easily outpaces the 5 series, and is probably closer to the X5 when it comes to hauling your possessions around.
We were also very impressed with the car’s implementation of lane control, which is perhaps the most elegant version we’ve seen. It comes WiFi equipped, and loaded with BMW apps for accessing social media. Add to which, it’s one of the few cars in which you can feel equally at home behind the wheel or in the back seat. In fact, with BMW’s remote parking functionality, you don’t have to be in the driver’s seat at all— pretty cool.
Check out the below interior photo gallery
BMW already had a good thing going with the 7 series, and the good news here is they haven’t managed to muck it up. One question though, should we be expecting a coupé called the 8 series any time now? Probably not but if they ever did I suppose, “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.