“The best car to drive, the best car to be driven in”. That’s BMW’s mantra for the latest 7 Series limousine.
Launching Down Under in its seventh generation this month, the all-new 2023 BMW 7 Series line-up goes hard on design, luxury, dynamics and comfort; and for the first time there’s an all-electric BMW i7 flagship.
While the Big Bimmer’s usual competitor set includes its arch rival the Mercedes-Benz S-Class as well as the Audi A8 and Lexus LS, BMW has drawn heavily upon its connection with über-premium Rolls-Royce to make the 7 Series as opulent as ever.
The range of variants from its predecessor’s line-up has been trimmed back to just two powertrain offerings and one wheelbase for the seventh-gen – though it’s now bigger than even the previous long-wheelbase version.
It’s as big and bad and luxurious as ever, but is it the best 7er yet?
This new-generation 740i is $23,000 more expensive than the outgoing 740Li, but BMW says the new model “offers significantly expanded level of specification, technology and dynamic capability”.
2023 BMW 7 Series pricing:
- BMW 740i: $268,900
- BMW i7 xDrive60: $297,900
Prices include GST and LCT but exclude on-road costs
More affordable still is the Lexus LS500, which at $195,830 in F Sport guise represents something of a bargain against the German flagships.
The BMW i7’s competitive set is a little narrower; the Mercedes-AMG EQS 53 retails from $328,400 (though offers more performance) and that’s about it for EV competition in the segment.
The Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid ($456,000) and Porsche Panamera S e-Hybrid ($433,500) are plug-ins but also feature combustion power, and are more pitched as driver’s cars compared to the chauffeur-friendly i7 – and are significantly dearer.
Within the BMW Group there’s also the new Rolls-Royce Ghost, which shares DNA with the 7 Series line historically but is currently offered with V12 petrol power – something the 7 Series now lacks. The most affordable Ghost starts from $663,650 – which will buy you two whole i7 xDrive60s with change for some choice options.
We were all raving about the BMW iX’s interior when it launched last year, but I argue the new 7er has one-upped its all-electric stablemate.
Standard BMW Individual ‘Merino’ leather upholstery adorns the majority of the cabin, coating the interior in the lovely smooth hide, and CraftedClarity glass controls feature also. Very high end.
On test we had a mix of colour combinations, including the lovely ‘Amarone’ brown you see above. We also got a look at an i7 with the optional wool and cashmere combination which is a no-cost option on the EV but $15,800 extra on the 740i – just wow, what a combination.
However, said upholstery needs to be ordered in conjunction with the rear Connoisseur Lounge, which basically turns the rear of the 7 Series into something better than a business class airline setup. It’s $27,900 on the 740i, and $9000 on the i7.
The 7 Series and i7 get the BMW Live Cockpit professional setup, which incorporates a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster combined with a massive 14.9-inch Curved Control Display for the infotainment touchscreen; all running BMW Operating System 8.
It’s got everything you can think of: connected navigation, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, DAB+ radio, over-the-air (OTA) software updates, and a range of net-based services. There’s a big colour head-up display with multiple views standard, as well.
The 740i has all this hooked up to a 655-watt, 18-speaker Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system, though the i7 upgrades to a thumping 1965-watt and 35-speaker Diamond Surround setup with 4D technology. It basically turns this sumptuous German limousine into a rolling nightclub at high volume.
BMW OS 8.0 has done away with a lot of physical switchgear that we’ve come accustomed to with iDrive, and relegates an unnecessary amount of functions to the infotainment system – drive modes and adaptive cruise distance are two things that come to mind, which are better adjusted with actual buttons.
Storage is pretty good, with a decent cubby under the front centre armrest, a rubberised wireless fast charger at the base of the centre stack ahead of two toothed cup holders, as well as decent-sized door bins.
Even better is front seat comfort, thanks to the plentiful padding and bolstering, full-electric adjustment with memory presents, heating and ventilation, massaging functions, as well as surface heating for the steering wheel and armrest areas. All of this is standard too, by the way.
I spent plenty of time in the driver’s seat and can attest to the 7er’s long-haul comfort. It felt like I was sat in a big leather armchair, and I almost didn’t want to get out of them at the driver change during our test drive.
The new M leather steering wheel on this 7 Series was another highlight. With a modern take on a classic, sporty design, the new tiller looks and feels gorgeous, and the multifunction controls operate with a solid feel – though again I wish the adaptive cruise distance toggles were kept here.
All of those highlights carry into the rear – and then some.
Several vehicles on the launch were fitted with the Connoisseur Lounge, which allows the rear-left passenger to recline their chair like a theatre seat. There’s also heating and ventilation, as well as massaging functions.
These are all controlled by little 5.5-inch touchscreens in the doors, which again give off that cool business class airline feel. Couple that with the massive 31.3-inch 8K Theatre Screen optional in the 740i and standard in the i7, and you have yourself a portable cinema.
When in use, the rear blind deploys and the display can stream movies and shows from Amazon Fire TV via the eSIM connection, or you can hook up a device via an HDMI cable to broadcast your own. There’s even a camera to conduct virtual meetings on the move.
The screen wouldn’t deploy with a taller driver in the front, however, as it is wary of being obstructed by the front seatbacks. Given I’m 6’1 and not overly tall compared to some other journalists as well as the potential customer set, this seems like a bit of an oversight.
I will say also, while the amenities and luxury features in the 7 Series’s second row are super cool, I was expecting a bit more in the way of outright passenger space.
Given how much the new 7 Series has grown in size – to the point where it has around 200mm more wheelbase over the old 7 Series L – I would have expected a greater amount of leg and knee room, though that’s not to say it was in short supply.
There’s just a sense of luxury that comes with being able to stretch out – without moving the front passenger seat forward into the lounge setting.
In terms of luggage capacity, the 740i offers 540L of boot space whereas the i7 xDrive60 has 500L. There’s no spare wheel, just a tyre repair kit for the standard run-flats.
The BMW 740i is powered by a 3.0-litre twin-turbo inline-six-cylinder petrol engine with a 48V mild-hybrid system, with total system outputs of 280kW of power and 540Nm of torque.
This is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, with drive sent to the rear wheels only. BMW claims the 740i can do the 0-100km/h sprint in 5.4 seconds, while fuel efficiency is quoted at 7.9L per 100km on the combined cycle and CO2 emissions rated at 179g/km.
The all-electric flagship i7 xDrive60 uses a dual-motor all-wheel drive electric powertrain with total system outputs of 400kW and 745Nm. It’s mated to a 106kWh battery pack. BMW claims it can do the 0-100km/h sprint in 4.7 seconds.
The i7 xDrive60 has an electric range of up to 625km according to WLTP testing and has a maximum DC fast-charging speed of 195kW. BMW says the i7 xDrive60 can charge from 10 per cent to 80 per cent in 34 minutes, and consume that energy at a rate of 22.2kWh per 100km.
The i7 also comes standard with a third-generation BMW Wallbox for home charging (excl. installation), as well as a complimentary five-year subscription to the Chargefox Fast and Ultra-Rapid DC charging network.
Since the 7 Series is the ultimate Ultimate Driving Machine, I had high expectations.
BMW typically tunes its vehicles for dynamics and engagement, with a balance of comfort dialled in to. This is a tough recipe to master.
Given its size and weight (2090kg 740i, 2640kg i7 xDrive60), I was pleasantly surprised at how responsive and light on its feet the 7 Series felt both around town and on the winding B-roads we drove heading to the Zonzo Estate in Yarra Glen.
The steering is fairly light but is quite quick and direct, meaning the 7 Series shrinks around you and steers like a much smaller car.
Body control was also impressive, keeping flat through corners thanks to the active roll stabilisation and good grip from the Pirelli P Zero tyres on both engine variants.
Our drive program for each variant was split into a driver leg and a passenger leg, and for the latter I obviously perched myself in the rear for both models to test out the long-haul comfort.
In both instances, wind noise is non-existent, and ride comfort is very good. The 7 Series errs on the firmer side despite being a big limo riding on air suspension, but some will prefer the more communicative chassis.
The run-flat tyres do transmit a faint level of roar into the cabin on rougher black top, but the Big Bimmer is far from unrefined.
It’s particularly impressive on the freeway at 100km/h, where it wafts along beautifully, if without the magic carpet ride synonymous with the likes of Rolls-Royce.
Playing around with the various My Modes demonstrated the breadth in feel the 7 Series offers, despite its more opulent positioning in the BMW line-up.
Sport mode notably firms things up a bit, and the 7er becomes quite sharp and athletic. I doubt anyone is driving the 7 Series as a getaway car in a James Bond film, but if you’re inclined to pilot this two-tonne limo in such a manner, you’ll be impressed with its dynamic talents.
Personal, Efficient, Relax and Theatre modes are also available, tailoring various aspects like the drivetrain, damping, steering and displays accordingly. To be honest, I preferred the old Comfort, Sport and Eco Pro settings much better as they were more easily defined.
I also noticed a distinct difference between the two variants. The 740i is definitely a little firmer and keener, while the i7 is a little softer and more comfortable by comparison.
The vast array of driver assists were also put to the test, and the semi-autonomous Steering and Lane Control Assistant proved very helpful in Melbourne’s peak-hour traffic in the morning on the Monash Fwy, and then on the return leg on the M80 Metro Ring Rd.
The tall body, bluff edges and large glasshouse mean the 7 Series is actually not too bad to see out of, plus you have the aid of surround cameras and parking sensors on top of your usual array of mirrors.
Manoeuvring in inner-city Melbourne was quite easy, as the light, accurate controls and lengthy list of assists made the 7 Series a fairly easy machine to park and thread through traffic. Keep in mind; this thing measures a whopping 5391mm long and 2192mm wide.
- M Sport package
- 20-inch M light alloy wheels
- Run-flat tyres
- M front, rear aprons
- M High-Gloss Shadow Line
- M Sport Brakes with dark blue calipers
- M Side Sills in High-Gloss Black
- M Leather Steering wheel, flat-bottom design
- M Headliner Alcantara Anthracite
- Design Pure Excellence package ($NCO)
- BMW Individual metallic paint
- BMW Iconic Glow illuminated grille surround
- Adaptive 2-axle air suspension
- Auto self-levelling
- Manual raising by 20mm (35km/h max)
- Integral Active Steering
- Adaptive LED headlights
- BMW Crystal Headlights Iconic Glow
- High-Beam Assistant
- Ambient interior lighting
- Electric folding mirrors, auto-dimming (driver)
- BMW Live Cockpit Professional
- 12.3-inch digital instrument display
- 14.9-inch Curved Control Display
- BMW Operating System 8
- Voice recognition
- Map updates*
- BMW ConnectedDrive
- Intelligent Emergency Call
- BMW TeleServices
- Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- News, Weather apps*
- BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant*
- Remote Software Update*
- Remote Services*
- Real Time Traffic Information*
- Interior camera incl. anti-theft video recording
- Head-up display
- BMW Touch Command 5.5-inch displays in rear doors
- Wireless smartphone charging
- 18-speaker Bowers & Wilkins Surround Sound, 655W
- 6 x USB-C ports, 4 x 12V power sockets
- Surround View Cameras
- BMW Individual Merino leather upholstery
- Multifunctional Seats, front
- Electric adjustment incl. lumbar
- Electric adjustment of headrests
- Memory function
- BMW CraftedClarity handmade glass
- BMW Controller
- Start/stop button
- Volume roller
- Gear selector
- Seat adjustment buttons
- Seat heating, front and rear
- Heated steering wheel
- Surface heating
- Front centre console armrest
- Front, rear door armrests
- Instrument panel, lower section
- Active seat ventilation, front
- Seat massage function, front
- 4-zone climate control
- Remote Engine Start
- Remote climate pre-conditioning
- Comfort Access
- Auto tailgate operation incl. contactless function
- Panoramic Glass Roof Sky Lounge
- Instrument panel, upper doors in Walknappa leather
- Fine-wood interior trim
- Roller sunblinds, rear
- Soft-close doors
i7 xDrive60 adds:
- 21-inch M light alloy wheels
- Executive Drive Pro
- Active roll stabilisation
- Active Roll Comfort
- BMW Iconic Sounds by Hans Zimmer
- 5-year Chargefox membership
- BMW Wallbox (excl. installation)
- BMW Service Inclusive Basic (6yr/Unlimited km)
- 31.3-inch Theatre Display
- 32:9 ultra-wide format
- 8K resolution
- 35-speaker Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound, 1965W
- Automatic Doors
- Multifunctional Rear Seats
- Forward/back adjustment
- Seat base inclination
- Backrest angle, upper adjustment
- 4-way lumbar support
- Head restraint height adjustment
- Loudspeaker in head restraint
- Executive Lounge Rear Console
- Auxiliary heating, A/C and pre-conditioning
Design Pure Excellence package: $NCO
- Chrome exterior elements
- Grey brake calipers
M Sport Pro package: $NCO
- M Sport brakes with black high-gloss calipers
- Black high-gloss M rear spoiler
- BMW Individual high-gloss shadow line
- Grille frame and struts
- Rear apron trim
- Tail lights
Connoisseur Lounge package: $27,900 (740i), $9000 for (i7 xDrive60)
- Automatic doors (740i)
- 31.3-inch 8K BMW Theatre screen for rear passengers (740i)
- Executive Lounge seating
- Rear multifunction seats (740i)
- Rear ventilated seats
- Massaging rear seats
- Executive lounge rear console (740i)
- 35-speaker Bowers and Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound
A range of other options are available, including upholsteries, trims and alloy wheels.
- Alpine White
- M Carbon Black metallic
- Black Sapphire metallic
- Sophisto Grey Brilliant Effect metallic
- Mineral White metallic
- Oxide Grey metallic
- M Brooklyn Grey metallic
- Sparkling Copper Grey metallic
- Aventurine Red metallic
- Space Silver metallic
- BMW Individual Dravit Grey metallic
- BMW Individual Tanzanite Blue metallic
- BMW Individual Frozen Pure Grey metallic ($2600)
- BMW Individual Frozen Deep Grey metallic ($2600)
The 2023 BMW 7 Series and i7 haven’t been crash tested by ANCAP or Euro NCAP yet, and are therefore unrated.
Standard safety features include:
- 7 airbags incl. front-centre
- Active Protection inc. Attentiveness Assistant
- Active front headrests
- Driving Assistant Professional
- Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
- Lane change warning
- Lane departure warning
- Front, rear cross-traffic alert
- Rear collision prevention (AEB)
- Exit Warning
- Steering and Lane Control Assistant
- Auto speed limit assist
- Evasion Assistant
- Front Brake Intervention (AEB)
- Forward collision warning
- Parking Assistant Professional
- Parking Assistant
- Active Park Distant Control
- Lateral Parking Aid
- Surround View cameras
- Panorama View
- 3D View
- Reversing Assistant Professional (up to 200m)
- Object and line marking detection
- Automated Manoeuvre Assistant
- BMW Drive Recorder
- Speed limit recognition
- Speed limiter
- Tyre pressure monitor
i7 xDrive60 adds:
- Acoustic Protection for pedestrians
The BMW line-up is covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty as of October 1, 2022.
No longer does the Bavarian marque trail behind rival luxury brands in the ownership support stakes.
Buyers of the 740i get a complementary five-year Service Inclusive Basic package, covering five years or 80,000km. Meanwhile the i7 xDrive60 is covered by the same package for six years and unlimited kilometres.
As noted earlier, i7 customers also receive a five-year subscription to the Chargefox Fast and Ultra-Rapid DC public charger network, as well as a complementary third-gen BMW Wallbox, excluding installation.
Our fairly short launch drive didn’t yield an accurate representation of real-world fuel consumption in either vehicle, though I will note that the i7 xDrive60 showed 18kWh/100km on a separate 47km drive loop incorporating inner-urban and city driving combined with a freeway stint – not bad considering the claim is 22.2kWh/100km.
With BMW having focused on other products of late, the 7 Series has finally received the flagship treatment it deserves.
The 7er now has the levels of luxury and tech to properly rival the new-generation S-Class as well as über-premium limos from Bentley and Rolls-Royce, and all things considered is decent value relative to the competition.
Design wise it may not appeal to the widest of audiences, but it definitely grows on you thanks to its imposing presence. I’m usually quite critical of BMW’s latest designs, and this really resonated with me seeing it in person.
It’s attention-grabbing, beautifully appointed inside, and there’s a very wide range of colour and trim options to tailor your vehicle to your or your clients’s tastes. Add to that the ultra high-end tech, and you’ve got something that’s a status symbol and good to ride in whether you’re the driver or passenger.
Having an all-electric variant of the flagship nameplate is also a plus, given Mercedes-Benz has brought in the EQS instead of developing an S-Class-branded EV. Other than that, there’s next to no direct competition for the i7.
Being pragmatic probably isn’t appropriate here; at this end of the market it’s more down to brand image, tech and luxury features – regardless whether you intend to use them to their full potential.
With that said, the BMW 7 Series is a vehicle worthy of the brand halo role, and in a lot of ways is a cut-price Rolls in the nicest way possible. Add to that the peace of mind that comes with its comprehensive ownership program, and it’s a package that’s hard to beat.
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