Source: BMW via Bloomberg
Cars

BMW 7 Series Review: This Car Will Solve Your Personal Image Crisis

The somber sedan from BMW lends real driving authority in a long, lean package

Are you facing an image crisis?

Trying to gain more clout? Need to be taken a little more seriously by your peers and superiors?

Then allow me to suggest the BMW 750Li xDrive Sedan. Long, lean, dark, and powerful, it’s just the thing to lend you some much-needed gravitas.

I also suggest you wear black.

The Drive

I drove the $95,000 7 Series for a week around New York state, from Manhattan to Brooklyn, out to Fort Tilden beach and up to Nyack. I had it on the crowded streets on a Saturday in SoHo and on icy post-blizzard roads in New Jersey.

BMW's 7 Series family offers five main engine configurations including hybrid, diesel, and this V8 750Li.
BMW's 7 Series family offers five main engine configurations including hybrid, diesel, and this V8 750Li.
Source: BMW via Bloomberg

Driving the 7 Series—the biggest of BMW’s line—feels like putting on a structured charcoal suit. This is not a soft, serene ride like you might expect from a Mercedes S600. It’s fitted. It’s a little heavy, very serious, but you know it’ll do the work.

The one I drove came with enough upgrades to push the price to $118,000, and I recommend you do the same. Why scrimp when you’re buying a car that should double as an office? Lord knows you’re already paying enough for it.

Executive Options

This version of the 7 Series (there are many others of varying horsepower and efficiency ratings, including an inline six, 12-cylinder, hybrid, and diesel engine) comes standard with an interior clad in soft black Nappa leather, bright adaptive headlights, heated front seats, soothing interior ambient lighting, parking cameras and safety control, AWD, and an 8-speed automatic transmission.

It has a standard V8 engine that gets 445 much-needed horsepower, given its 4,800-lb. heft. To that point, its 16 city/25 highway mpg isn’t great—a byproduct of the fact that this car dwarfs things like, say, a 2 Series by more than 1,500 lbs.

But I digress.

The back seat of the 750Li includes two large viewing screens, dual climate control, heated massaging seats, and footrests.
The back seat of the 750Li includes two large viewing screens, dual climate control, heated massaging seats, and footrests.
Source: BMW via Bloomberg

Here’s where to splurge: the $3,100 Executive Package (power rear sunshade, instrument panel, ceramic knobs), luxury rear seat package including massage chairs ($3,700), and the rear entertainment package ($2,800) complete with 6-disk DVD player and one large rectangular screen attached behind both the driver and the shotgun front seats.

The M Sport package ($3,300) adds subtle swagger: Those tiny Ms with three bold stripes appear near the accelerator pedal, on the doors, and in other quiet places. This also features steering wheel gearshift panels, an aerodynamics kit, and several choices of cool double-spoke alloy wheels.

You might also consider the $2,600 Night Vision System. In short, it sees warm bodies. It allows the driver to peer five times farther into the dark than with regular headlights, potentially saving you from an expensive (or worse) collision with nighttime animals like deer. It’s the same one Rolls-Royce and Maybach use, with alternating colors for animal and human activity ahead. The tool is accurate and at the forefront of crash-avoidance technology.

Clutter-Free

The new multifunction front panel display is easy to read and totally digital.
The new multifunction front panel display is easy to read and totally digital.
Source: BMW via Bloomberg

The design inside the 7 Series is clean, modern, and relatively minimal. Germans don’t believe in clutter. Or small talk, but that’s another subject. The instrument panel here is the same one BMW Group has perfected in all of its models, including those from Rolls-Royce. Every dial is oriented toward the driver, every knob reassures with its tactile feedback, every angle is meant to enhance driving enjoyment.

I like how the front gauges (speed, gasoline, rpm) are all digital—they’re displayed on a colorful black-lit screen that blends well with the head-up and night-vision displays embedded in the windshield. It doesn’t tax the eyes like regular computer or television screens. I also like how the blind spot sensor warns with the briefest of flickers in the side mirrors as you change lanes. It is effective but unobtrusive.

Elsewhere, BMW’s flawless navigation system (why wait till you’re already lost?) comes standard with its generous technology package, as does the blind spot detection, active cruise control, and a concierge service that locates points of interest (restaurants, theaters, shops) wherever you’ve ventured. Though I will say the service is more specific than GPS maps, I find the advice of friends and town locals is always best.

The overall effects set simultaneously engages you and alleviates you from the more annoying parts of sitting behind the wheel. It makes you a better driver rather than taking over driving responsibilities or, worse, just getting in the way.

The car's angled front beams contain LED lights that adapt to the road ahead.
The car's angled front beams contain LED lights that adapt to the road ahead.
Source: BMW via Bloomberg

 

Big Ego

Parking this car is a challenge. It’s 206 inches long—an inch shorter than the Mercedes S600 but 3 inches longer (and considerably more expensive) than an Audi A8. Multiple times along narrow SoHo streets I had to reverse and re-angle the car before pulling out of a parking spot. I had to do the same in the East Village, as I maneuvered it around the steel fenders of a double-parked truck.

The moral of the story is this: I liked this automobile. You should buy it if you’re in the market for a town car and looking among other big guns (Mercedes S600, Audi S7) in the category. Or if you’re trying to decide between the smaller 6 Series Grand Coupe or the 5 Series, you might as well go for the 7, too. It’s nearly 10 inches longer than both, for a comparable price and the full bragging rights the top-of-the-brand status affords.

Plain Good Looks

The exterior of the 750 is not charismatic. It’s not stunning, and it’s not sexy. But it isn’t meant to be. And unsexy doesn’t mean bad-looking. The 7 Series uses BMW’s signature kidney grilles, angled headlights, and subtly athletic body as a lesson in form following function. Again, think of the 750 as a high-powered lawyer at the height of his career—efficient, effective, and expensive. The fact that he’s well-dressed is just part of the package.

The car is 206 inches long, more than 9 inches longer than the 6 Series Grand Coupe.
The car is 206 inches long, more than 9 inches longer than the 6 Series Grand Coupe.
Source: BMW via Bloomberg

And when you finally crawl in back, you’ll find a rear portion large enough for a pair of NBA power forwards. It even comes with small footrests embedded into the floor, perfect to rest your sneakers.

As you might expect, the trunk follows suit. You could fit the team manager—or your opposing counsel—inside. Not that you should. But he may take you more seriously after that.

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