The sixth generation continues to represent the top range of the BMW brand in the sixth generation. In the everlasting German competition with the S-Class from Mercedes and the Audi A8, the top is still clearly structured: The S-Class remains the undisputed world class leader. The current sevens, which we tried as the 730d xDrive, didn't change that.
The order of global market success does not necessarily say anything about the qualities of a model. The prestige of a brand, the nimbus and the image play a major role in the luxury segment above the technical qualities. The S-Class obviously has the highest image value of the luxury class worldwide, especially as a chauffeur-driven sedan. The 7 Series has somewhat younger buyers and is positioned as a dynamic driver's car, although the XNUMX Series is increasingly being seen driving up to the world's crises.
The first seconds in a car immediately signal whether you are comfortable or have to adjust to the interior in a lengthy process. This feeling of wellbeing immediately arises in the sevens. Ergonomically geared towards the driver, everything appears as usual. As usual? This is exactly the other side of the same coin: perfection in the details, but without any surprises. What applies to the interior can also be determined on the outside.
The design doesn't make big leaps
It has never happened to us that in a new BMW model we were asked so often with uncertainty: "Is this the new one?" BMW designers will condemn these questions whether they are amateurish or mumble quietly: "I already have always knew that we have to continue to jump formally. “Because in the future. If you look at it superficially, the new 7 Series could be perceived as a better facelift for its predecessor. Perhaps the reason for the only formal evolution is the controversial revolution of the Chris Bangle sevens. He was much braver. Was this sore point in the bones of the decision-makers at BMW when they blessed the design of the current seven? In fact, the current seven has been criticized internally because it does not reveal what it is made of. But what's in it isn't really borne everywhere by innovations that trigger a wow effect.
It is clear that the body-in-white structure with its intelligent mix of carbon, magnesium, aluminum and steel represents absolutely top-class production technology. This innovative element, which also saves 130 kilograms compared to its predecessor, has no signal effect for the customer with which he can score at the regulars' table, provided that upper class owners can be found there at all. Seriously: Innovations that remain invisible are only innovative for the engineer. The customer takes them for granted.
A touch of sensation is at most the possibility available in the new 7 Series to park the vehicle in a narrow parking space or garage using the display key without sitting at the wheel. Something you can proudly demonstrate to your neighbor is a detail from the future of autopiloted driving. Unfortunately, our test car did not have this feature, so we can only deal with it theoretically.
Is the seventh really “tomorrow's claim”?
The 7 Series is undoubtedly a perfect automobile and is without question state of the art. But is that enough to overtake the competition from Stuttgart? It was different in the past when BMW was the first manufacturer in the world to introduce the navigation system in 1994. A sensation. The initially controversial iDrive system, the rotary knob with which many functions could be controlled: uniquely innovative. And taken over by other manufacturers today. The gesture control that is presented today as an innovation, with which you can make the radio louder or quieter, switch off the sound or answer a phone call, is very funny. But apart from the fact that it does not (yet) work perfectly, the conventional volume control via the button in the steering wheel has the advantage of not having to take your hand off the wheel and being easier to reach. Conclusion: Innovation is not everywhere where the marketing writes innovation. "Tomorrow's claim", as BMW advertised the 7 Series for launch, is at best today's high standards.
The attraction of demonstrating gesture control to the front passenger doesn't last long. We always quickly used the controls on the steering wheel. The temperature control using the touch control bar is new and feels good. And the "key" with a small display amazes with some information. For example, how far the fuel still goes. The driver can therefore check at the breakfast table before driving off whether he should go straight to refuel. It can also be used to switch on or program the ventilation before boarding.
The future has to wait, but every kilometer is convincing
Our expectations were, however, slightly disappointed: when BMW puts a new seven on the road, there should be more to it than technological gimmicks that competitors already have or that already existed in the predecessor. Sure, everything has been improved compared to the predecessor, but is that enough? No detail that does not deserve top marks, from the head-up display with a 75 percent larger projection area to the operation and display of the navigation. From the quality of workmanship to the high quality of the materials. From the setting options of the chassis to the shift points of the silky smooth 8-speed automatic gearbox, which are matched to the respective driving mode. This is top level, as the numerous first prizes in car competitions around the world prove. But that is all present and not really forward-looking. Will the future be reserved for a BMW 9 Series that has not yet been decided? Somehow the current seventh contradicts the BMW slogan for its 100th birthday, which proclaims "the next 100 years". This sevens with all its technical finesse is stuck in the present. There has to be more.
But one thing is also certain: the 730d xDrive we tested with its 265 hp convinced on every kilometer. In terms of driving comfort, the S-Class may be a tad better, but in terms of the synthesis of comfort and driving dynamics, the seven is still the measure of all things. It is the sum of its properties that make it a top product even without leaps in innovation. How precisely it steers, how it approaches the limit and remains controllable at all times, how confidently, quietly and pleasantly soundly the diesel plays out its torque, how purposefully the 8-speed automatic controls the gears and how comfortably it rolls off thanks to the standard air suspension.
The fact that the existing assistants are impressive is also due to the competition, which also comes with an army of assistants. The active steering intervention in our test car keeps the track, but the 7er swings too much from side to side so that the driver is happy to intervene quickly if he does not want to generate the impression of a drunkenness trip. However, the system must not be confused with autopiloted driving, but tracking should be smoother. The fact that the cruise control can be set to the current speed limit at the push of a button is graphically illustrated very nicely. BMW obviously doesn't think much of an automatic speed limit regulation, such as that made possible by Audi, because the Munich-based company does not want any patronizing of the joy of driving. It is a philosophy that can be accepted.
All systems harmonize perfectly and convince
The 730d xDrive offers pure driving pleasure. The temperament of this diesel is impressive. 5,9 seconds from 0 to 100 km / h eloquently testify that torque can be more important than high horsepower. 620 Newton meters from 2000 revs say everything. The fact that the consumption of our quick test drive was between eight and a maximum of eight and a half liters proves that the diesel is still justified, especially when it is really as clean as BMW did it. It is interesting in this context that we would have had to refill about two liters of AdBlue for the SCR catalytic converter, the urea to be injected into the exhaust gas stream, which converts the nitrogen oxides into nitrogen and water.
BMW engineers have turned the 730d into an automobile that enables driving pleasure with consumption that 20 years ago still belonged to the realm of fantasy. The sound of the engine: pleasantly sonorous, unobtrusive and very quiet thanks to diverse insulation. The engine, the automatic and the entire vehicle harmonize in a way that makes us wonder: does it really have to be more? There is no question that the BMW 7 Series will delight its owners above all with its driving characteristics. Our conclusion without question: This is the best seventh ever - not counting the future.
Technical data BMW 730 d xDrive: Length: 5,10 meters, width (including mirrors): 2,17 meters, height: 1,47 meters, wheelbase: 3,07 meters, empty weight: 1.900 kilograms, tank capacity: 78 liters, engine: six-cylinder diesel with TwinPower Turbo, displacement 2.993 cc, power: 265 hp at 4.000 rpm, max. Torque: 620 Newton meters at 2.000 to 2.500 rpm, 0 - 100 km / h: 5,9 seconds, maximum speed: 250 km / h, average consumption of commercial vehicles 5,2 liters of diesel per 100 km, combined CO2 emissions: 127 g / km, Euro 6, efficiency class A +, price from: 82.600 Euro.