BMW's 7 Series is one of the lower profile luxury saloons, but it has been quietly upping its game, writes Andy Enright
Although cars like the Mercedes S Class, Jaguar XJ and the Audi A8 may proclaim their talents rather more stridently, the BMW 7 Series remains the choice for the enthusiast driver. Better looking and with a hybrid model on offer, the latest model is a formidable package.
The most popular engine choice for UK buyers is the 258PS 3.0-litre 730d diesel while at the other extreme of the range is the 5,972cc 760Li V12, which features TwinPower turbo technology and delivers 544PS. This spirits it to 62mph in just 4.6s.
The BMW ActiveHybrid7 uses a 320PS 3.0-litre petrol engine borrowed from the 740i and mates it to a synchronous electric motor, driven from a lithium-ion battery. Combined, the motor and engine can rustle up 354PS and 500Nm of torque. Other highlights include the 449PS 750i with its 4.4 V8 and the more mainstream 320PS 740i, a car that's a little overshadowed by its 740d diesel sibling, which manages 313PS and a rippling 630Nm of torque.
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The latest 7 Series is one of those cars that looks indisputably more modern than before but it's hard to put a finger on quite why at first. That's because BMW has been deliberately subtle about the exterior styling updates. The main exterior changes are to the front and rear of the car, but in addition, the 8mm drop in the overall height of the vehicle has given it a more purposeful stance. At the front you'll spy the thirteen rather than nine slats in the more prominent kidney grille and the three-part lower air intake. Adaptive LED headlights can also be specified. Turn indicators on the lower part of the door mirrors, a redesigned rear light cluster and a splash more chrome on the back end complete the look.
The BMW 7 Series is a car that has done excellent business for its Munich manufacturer but which hasn't carved out a big slice of the pie in the UK. Since it was launched, there have been a number of very talented rivals arrive on scene to further complicate its task, but a policy of continuous incremental improvement has seen it maintain its position as the best of the luxury saloons to drive.
It remains a hard car to love but one that demands respect. It's a towering technical achievement and one that does everything you'd expect from a flagship BMW. The 3.0-litre diesel engine is the most relevant and with abundant torque, it never feels as if you've taken the low cost option. If you do prefer the response of a petrol engine don't overlook the clever ActiveHybrid7 model.