The BMW 7 Series has always lived in the shadow of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, but this could be the car to finally change that – and not just because that chrome and LED grille is visible from space.
With the world moving away from sedans and into higher-riding crossovers, the role of the 7 Series has changed.
It’s never sold in huge numbers, but fewer people than ever want a long, luxurious sedan. Rather than trying to please everyone, BMW has used that fact as licence to make the 7 Series a more polarising proposition.
The cabin majors on flashiness, with an intriguing mix of colours and materials combining to help elevate it above the crowd, and the exterior makes all the controversy about the Bangle Butt seem like much ado about nothing.
Rather than a more grown-up 5 Series, the new 7 Series has been set up to feel like a more modern, more confidently German version of the Rolls-Royce Ghost.
Forget about buttoned-down luxury for demure executives, this is a car for buyers who want the world to know their name.
And, it’s all the better for it.
How much does the BMW 740i cost?
The new 7 Series is more expensive than the long-wheelbase version of the model it replaces to the tune of $23,000.
With that said, it’s even bigger than the previous LWB model, and comes loaded with standard equipment. The only petrol model is the 740i on test here, with a price of $268,900 before on-road costs.
You can spend $17,500 on a range of BMW Individual colours, while frozen matte colours like that of our tester are a $2600 option.
Our tester was fitted with the Connoisseur Lounge package, which brings opulent add-ons such as a panoramic entertainment screen to the rear seats for the not-inconsiderable sum of $27,900.
2023 BMW 7 Series pricing:
- BMW 740i: $268,900
- BMW i7 xDrive60: $297,900
Prices include GST and LCT but exclude on-road costs
What is the BMW 740i like on the inside?
Absolutely stunning. It doesn’t have quite as much screen real estate as an S-Class, but it looks and feels special in a way the big Mercedes-Benz just doesn’t.
From the cushy front seats trimmed in soft, waxy Merino leather, to the crystal iDrive controller and backlit dash trim; it feels as though every little element in the cabin has been designed to surprise and delight.
It gets even better in the dark, where there are little LED motifs visible through the metal speaker grilles and the dashboard comes to life.
Throw in the metallic finish on the carbon-fibre inlays and you’re left with a cabin that isn’t subtle, but one that’s so confidently executed it’s hard not to fall in love.
The driving position is standout, and the steering wheel is as beautiful to hold as it is to behold. The cheap-feeling paddles are the only real letdown – although as we’ll mention later, a few more buttons wouldn’t go astray.
BMW has made a conscious effort to improve its screen technology of late, and it’s paid off.
The curved setup rolling out across the range, including in this 7er, has rich graphics and responds quickly to inputs from the touchscreen, a rotary controller on the transmission tunnel, or Hey BMW voice prompts.
I don’t know that it’s actually simpler to use than the iDrive 7.0 system it replaces, though. The fact BMW has chosen to bury its climate controls in the screen is disappointing though, as it makes what should be simple tasks more time consuming.
At least wireless Apple CarPlay looks great on the big screen, and the wireless charger at the base of the dashboard holds a modern smartphone in place.
The rear seats are even better than the fronts, at least with the Connoisseur Package fitted. For starters, the seats themselves are heated, cooling, and massaging, and they’re every bit as lusciously padded as the fronts.
Each passenger gets a little touchscreen in their door capable of controlling the climate, media, and seats, and the sound system back there is even better than up front. The seats can be set to pulse in time with your music, and the surround effect on the 40-speaker (!) sound system is stunning.
Legroom back there is good, although it’s still not quite Rolls-Royce great.
Headroom is excellent, and the blackout blinds really do keep prying eyes at bay – to the point where you can’t see a thing through the rear window using the rear-view mirror when the rear blind is deployed. Take that, paparazzi.
Then there’s the 32-inch 8K cinema screen. It’s mounted on the roof and slides into place at the press of a button… when the driver’s seat is so far forward, only a very short chauffeur could actually get you where you’re headed.
Once it’s folded down you’re able to slide the seat back a bit, though. The display itself has a higher resolution than most expensive televisions, and it’s capable of showing streaming content if you’re signed into an Amazon account. That content can be central, for both passengers, or oriented to suit the left or right seat.
It’s a unique selling point, although it’s only likely to appeal to chauffeurs carting around very important people.
What’s under the bonnet?
Power in the 740i comes from a 3.0-litre turbocharged inline-six cylinder petrol engine mated with a 48V mild-hybrid system, for system outputs of 280kW and 540Nm.
This 48V mild-hybrid system is able to produce up to 9kW and 200Nm and is used as a starter motor to fire up the combustion engine.
It’s also able to act as a generator and recuperate kinetic energy during coasting and braking at a rate of up to 15kW. An eight-speed ZF automatic transmission is standard.
BMW says the petrol 7er dispatches the 100km/h sprint in 5.4 seconds, and uses a claimed 7.9L/100km on the combined cycle.
The fuel tank holds 74L. We saw around the 10L/100km mark during a stint spent mostly in the city.
How does the BMW 740i drive?
BMW assures us there’s a petrol engine under the bonnet, but you honestly wouldn’t know it most of the time.
The cabin is so well insulated, and the inline-six is so smooth, the 740i might as well be electric, nuclear powered, or fuelled by the hopes and dreams of S-Class owners.
The start-stop system is imperceptible, and the eight-speed automatic shuffles so subtly through the lower gears it doesn’t feel as though there’s a turbocharged engine under the bonnet. It just floats along imperiously.
Put your foot down and you can feel the 48V mild-hybrid system offering the petrol engine a helping hand down low, lending this circa-2100kg barge the performance to show Golf GTI owners a clean set of heels in the traffic light grand prix.
Accelerating hard is the only time you really hear the 3.0-litre engine, and it actually sounds good. It has a muted six-cylinder bark that is characteristically BMW, and makes the slightly strained V6 in the S-Class feel a bit underdone.
Ride comfort is exceptional on the standard air suspension, especially in Comfort Mode. Little imperfections are just steamrolled beneath the 7er’s wheels, and there’s a pillowy softness to the way it soaks up speed bumps.
It feels like BMW has taken inspiration from the Comfort Plus setting featured on Alpina cars; it’s just so lovely and languid. Coupled with fluid steering and the silken powertrain, the cosseting ride makes the 7er a beautiful place to spend long periods of time.
It’s one of those cars that instantly drops your heart rate a few beats per minute as the door closes.
The rear-wheel steering is very effective in tightening up the turning circle, but there’s no getting away from the fact this is a big bus.
At 5391mm long and 2192mm wide, it’s actually 10mm longer and 100mm wider than a Ford Ranger Raptor, and it really shows in the city.
Although it’s easy enough to thread through tight laneways and underground carparks for a limo, there really is no escaping the fact those wheels are eminently kerb-able.
Criticising a flagship sedan for being big is like criticising water for being wet, of course, but it’s worth considering if you live in the city.
The 7er is most comfortable on the open road. Just a hint of tyre roar is noticeable at 100km/h, but otherwise the 7er eats up the miles without really breaking a sweat.
It’s also capable of getting a bit of a move on when you’re feeling racy. The suspension firms up a bit in Sport Mode, and the active anti-roll bars – driven by the 48V mild-hybrid system – get to work keeping all 2100kg in check.
You can take it by the scruff of the neck and make your rear-seat passengers uncomfortable if the road is interesting, although that seems like a pretty effective way to be fired from your hire car agency…
BMW driver assists are generally excellent, and that’s the case here. The adaptive cruise smoothly and smartly maintains a gap to the car in front, and the active lane-centring does a good job keeping you between the white lines.
The fact you now have to dive into the touchscreen to change your following distance for the car in front though is hard to understand. There’s plenty of space for buttons on that lovely-looking steering wheel; for BMW to take them away in the interests of aesthetics (or cost-savings) isn’t good enough.
What do you get?
- 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
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.
Is the BMW 740i safe?
The 2023 BMW 7 Series and i7 haven’t been crash tested by ANCAP or Euro NCAP.
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
How much does the BMW 740i cost to run?
BMW has ditched its three-year warranty, and has moved into line with the likes of Mercedes-Benz by offering a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty instead.
The 740i comes standard with a five-year BMW Service Inclusive package.
CarExpert’s Take on the BMW 740i
BMW has taken a risk with the new 7 Series, and it’s absolutely paid off.
The bold nose won’t be to all tastes, but pleasing everyone clearly wasn’t high on the list of priorities here.
As a result, BMW has delivered a confident, eye-catching luxury sedan that makes its traditional German rivals look a bit demure.
It has the substance to back up its style, too. It’s so comfortable and refined, it feels more like a Rolls-Royce with a German accent than a BMW dressed up for chauffeur duties.
This is an excellent large sedan. It’s just a shame so few people will likely buy one.
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MORE: Everything BMW 7 Series