BMW 7 SERIES REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Large luxury sedan
Price: $204,600 (plus on-roads)
Fuel Economy claimed: 5.6l/100km | tested: 8.4l/100km
Don’t be fooled for a minute into thinking BMW’s 730d is somehow a poorer cousin to the petrol-powered cruise ships from the Bavarian automotive alchemists.
This engine gets by with a 'mere' 560Nm of torque. Enough to launch it effortlessly ahead of the traffic, and just the thing for the imperious cruising dictated by the limousine classes.
The rest of the package carries the same attributes: an impressive interior, gadgets aplenty and sumptuous comfort.
Best of all, the recently updated 7 series diesel now slips under the government’s Luxury Car Tax consumption-threshold, allowing it to skip a very large chunk of tax (that you might wish to invest elsewhere).
Quality: Few could find fault or take umbrage with this cabin.
Though it may lack the hand-crafted look of a Jaguar XJ, the interior is a convincing interpretation of modern luxury with beautiful soft-touch finishes, quality appointments and snug construction.
If it opens or closes, its damped; leather is flawlesssly stitched and grained, the metalwork is real metal and cool to the touch, and the optional ‘natural finish’ woodwork is exactly what it purports to be - quality wood.
Just five seconds inside and you'll know: the 730d is a premium purchase.
Comfort: BMW applies the Goldilocks treatment to the seats with a ‘just right’ size, shape and padding. Powered adjustment of the front seats and steering column make it simple to find the right seating position - in no time the BMW will fit like a glove.
Those being chauffeured will find good rear room, but the centre position is best kept for occasional use. Those requiring the extra legroom of the long wheelbase 7 need to forgo the diesel option and head for a petrol or hybrid-powered model.
Equipment: Standard features include BMW’s iDrive interior control system governing the six-disc DVD player, CD/MP3 player, 20GB built in hard drive, navigation system, bluetooth phone and audio, and in-car internet display.
Also standard: heated and cooled front seats with electric adjustment, multi-function electrically adjustable steering wheel, multi-function trip computer, electric opening boot, soft-close doors and proximity key with keyless start, electric rear sun blind, dusk sensing LED headlights with automatic high beam, automatic wipers, sunroof, four-zone climate control and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Optional equipment as tested included natural finish wood interior (no cost), Exclusive Nappa leather ($6900) and surround view cameras ($1300).
Storage: Boot capacity measures 500 litres, The boot itself is long and deep, but the loading lip is high and the boot is narrower than expected (the well trimmed wheel-wells intrude). As is the standard for the class, rear seats are fixed.
Inside the cabin, the glovebox, centre console and door pockets provide a little storage, but not a lot and the front lidded cup-holder really only holds cups, lacking even the ability to swallow a mobile phone or set of keys due to its folding mechanism
ON THE ROAD
In the same way that BMW crafts precise-handling hatches and class-leading sports sedans, it also turns its mastery to grand touring limos. This car not only provides the quiet and comfortable ride occupants expect, but will also leave the driver with a self-satisfied smug grin.
Part of that joy lives in the 730d’s 3.0 litre turbo diesel engine: it pumps out 190kW of power at 4,000 rpm and 560Nm of torque from just 1500rpm.
That’s less torque than Mercedes or Jaguar offer, but the low peak has the big 730d surging forward on an effortless wave should a stab of power be called for.
For a big car, it has no trouble picking up its skirts.
Our recorded fuel consumption was higher than the factory claim, but still acceptable after a week of harder work than you might subject the car to.
With better conditions there’s no doubt the 730d would be capable of much better figures.
Refinement: No qualms with refinement. Inside the cabin is whisper quiet, theres hardly a murmur of wind or road noise, and no diesel clatter, just a stirring throb that grows into a metallic symphony should you decide to push hard.
Selecting from the different drive modes sees the superb eight-speed automatic deliver crisp shifts in Sport and Sport+, or seamless changes in Comfort and Comfort+.
Only in EcoPro mode did the gearbox dither and occasionally shudder through gearshifts.
Suspension: A double wishbone front-end provides precise control, while the rear features a self-levelling multi-link setup. The result is impressive passenger comfort while still offering razor road holding.
Braking: Four-wheel ventilated discs take the job of bringing the circa 1840kg 7 Series to a halt.
Its hard to find fault with these stoppers, they’re strong when they need to be, able to perform repeatedly and, for gentle running, both smooth and silent.
ANCAP rating: Not tested.
Safety features: The 7 series safety roll-call includes six airbags, Dynamic Stability Control, with Cornering Brake Control, Dynamic Traction Control and brake assist, three-point seltbelts with load limiters for all seats and front pretentioners.
There's also adjustable head restraints and Active Protection to close windows and sunroof, tension seatbelts, and adjust the passenger seat if a probable accident situation is detected.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/unlimited kilometres, body panels are warranted for up to 12 years against corrosion.
Service costs: Service intervals and costs are ‘condition based’ and vary with usage. Consult your BMW dealer for more information.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Audi A8 Quattro 3.0 DT ($188,000) - Something of a bargain in this comparison, but perhaps the Audi's family styling makes it look too much like the smaller A4.
The good news is inside however, where Audi’s handsome well-built interior shades all. (see A8 reviews)
Mercedes-Benz S 350 BlueTEC ($213,428) - The big Benz is quickly coming to the end of its model cycle, and as the only car without an eight-speed auto, plus the highest fuel consumption and slowest sprint to 100km/h, that age is starting to show.
It still delivers a high quality drive, and feels solid, but lacks polish against newer opposition. (see M-B reviews)
Jaguar XJ Premium Luxury 3.0 DTT ($198,800) - With a combination of drivetrain finesse, attention-grabbing looks and an interior that mixes modern technology with old fashioned craftsmanship, the XJ is quite a scene stealer.
If any limo can give the 7 Series a run for its money on a winding road, the XJ can - with a more sumptuous interior to boot. (see XJ reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
From the moment you punch the starter button and slip into traffic, the 730d's feel as an effortless touring saloon will be apparent.
Its breeding is unmistakeable: never skittish nor abrupt, comfortable but always willing, and always the 'driver's car'.
The 7 Series answers the demands of owners who expect more. Something comfortable for clients during the week, that can be pointed at a sweeping road with verve on the weekend.
The diversity of the segment, and the different styling approaches and dynamic feel of the top-tier luxury sedans proves how broad this market can be.
And, at the same time, leaves little doubt that the 730d is the pick for keen drivers looking for the effortlessness and economy of diesel power.
- 2013 BMW 730d - $204,600
- 2013 BMW 740i - $211,500
- 2013 BMW 740Li - $226,500
- 2013 BMW 750i - $281,100
- 2013 BMW 750Li - $297,800
- 2013 BMW 760Li - $391,500
- 2013 BMW ActiveHybrid - $222,000
- 2013 BMW ActiveHybrid - $237,000
Note: prices exclude on-road costs.