/ 28 January 2023

New BMW 7 Series pushes plush

P90491700 Highres The Bmw 7 In South A
Sleek: Pretty is not the word to describe the BMW 7 Series exterior (above), which has a huge grille and two-tier headlights. Inside, the steering wheel is comfortable and clutter has been eliminated.

This is the new BMW 7 Series. It’s the brand’s flagship limo, with pricing starting at a cool R2 172 751. For that, you get an ultra-luxurious 5.4m land yacht that, on an entry level, weighs 2.1 tonnes. 

Some people will interpret these figures as a monstrous product of 21st-century excess and the bloated nature of the steady implementation of electric vehicles (EV) — a case in point being the 2.6-tonne i7 electric. 

Others will note the unorthodox styling with its sensationally large grille, a pain point for die-hard BMW fans, and suggest that BMW has lost its way with its latest models. 

The new BMW 7 Series is not what you’d call pretty by conventional standards. Sure, it has sleek lines complemented by the two-tier headlight stack that includes the usual bevy of tech you’d associate with this kind of a car — including BMW’s Selective Beam system with high beams that look to eliminate glare for oncoming motorists. Add to this Swarovski crystal headlight inserts that cast a unique glow, and the 7 represents the new pinnacle of excess. No wonder it’s so revered by the one-percenters. 

The 7 Series is definitely not conventionally pretty. Not by any stretch of the imagination but, and this it does brilliantly, it casts a stately and imposing figure against the backdrop of monotony and convention. If that’s any form of measuring stick, the BMW design department has done a fantastic job. 

The business end

With the advancements, especially in other German quarters, in how drivers interact with their cars from a cabin perspective, I’ve been increasingly critical of BMW’s overall cabin executions —especially in the mid- to higher-end spectrum of the brand’s offerings. Imagine my surprise to find a BMW interior that is nothing short of a masterful execution in luxury. All seats are upholstered with soft, supportive leather that can be optionally swapped for either Merino leather or cashmere and wool wrapping — a new option now available as part of BMW’s individual selection. 

The steering wheel has a thick, substantial feel, and unnecessary button clutter is eliminated with a digital-heavy user interactive approach. Mind you, it’s not perfect: when asking the BMW assistant, prompted with the “Hey BMW” phrase, to open the cubby, it decided to open all the windows at travel speed, despite recording my request perfectly on the Heads-Up Display. 

While the gigantic curved screen (consisting of an integrated 12.3” driver display and a 14.9” infotainment display) works brilliantly as a unit, some functions, such as the four-zone climate control, feel crammed into the interface with more configurations than can possibly make sense in terms of ventilation. 

Entertainment and comfort in the business end (for the 7 Series, that would be the back) is taken care of with a 31.3” 8K high-resolution screen and a Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system that takes in-car entertainment to a lofty new level. Select Theatre Mode on the armrest-mounted 5.5” touchscreen control and the screen folds down, the blinds darken the rear of the car, and it’s easy to get lost in hours of on-the-go entertainment as passing kilometres culminate into a multimedia blur.  

Drive polish

Ultimate comfort: The back seat interior of the BMW 7 Series is upholstered with soft leather that can be changed for Merino leather or cashmere and wool wrapping.

As comfortable, inviting and business jet-like as the back is, BMW didn’t neglect the drive dynamics. In fact, it’s a tough call to abandon the driving seat for all the opulence the rear offers. The new BMW 7 Series represents an impressive blend of power and polish, be it the 740i M Sport with its relatively quiet start-up, aided by a 48-volt mild-hybrid system, or the all-electric i7 xDrive60. While the six-cylinder inline engine in the 740i feels responsive, it’s the i7 with its dual motors, combined power output of 400 kW, and gigantic 745 Nm of torque that took my breath away in its delivery of power, despite its 2.6-tonne heft. Thanks to the lack of conventional mechanical components, the i7’s electric drive is instantaneously delivered to all four wheels, taking care of the 0-100 km/h acceleration figure in a mere 4.7 seconds, while the linear torque delivery makes overtaking a breeze. 

The steering is precise, while the suspension is tuned to provide a smooth, responsive ride. Something the one-percenter in the back will be infinitely grateful for. 

Best limo money can buy?

Ultimate comfort: The back seat interior of the BMW 7 Series is upholstered with soft leather that can be changed for Merino leather or cashmere and wool wrapping.

It depends on who you ask. Also, if you ignore diamond-emblazoned rear cup holders and LED-lit roof trimmings that emulate the constellations. 

It may be one of the best hyper-luxurious executive cruisers money can buy. With the 7 Series, BMW has achieved the perfect balance of

technology, luxury and substance. But…

BMW has made considerable strides forward in some areas, while some less obvious areas feel overlooked. The self-opening and self-closing doors shut with a considerable thud. The all-aboard digital implementation makes something usually as simple as climate control feel overly layered and difficult to use. Navigating the entertainment screen in the back, while adding a true sense of luxurious depth, isn’t as seemingly straightforward to use as you’d think. 

There are items that are easily tweakable with an update and some areas should have been more carefully considered. 

Perhaps I’m nit-picking, and judging a car as fantastic as the 7 on these seemingly insignificant details is hardly fair. 

Is it a dealbreaker, though? Not by any stretch of the imagination because, well, it’s just such a striking car.

The price of luxury

● BMW 740i Design Pure Excellence R2 160 000

● BMW 740i M Sport Package R2 235 000

● BMW 740i M Sport Package Pro R2 275 000

● BMW 740d xDrive Design Pure Excellence R2 280 000

● BMW 740d xDrive M Sport Package R2 355 000

● BMW 740d xDrive M Sport Package Pro R2 395 000

● BMW i7 xDrive60 Design Pure Excellence R2 825 000

● BMW i7 xDrive60 M Sport Package R2 900 000

● BMW i7 xDrive60 M Sport Package Pro R2 940 000