No one could argue that the BMW 7 Series has not lived in the shadow of the Mercedes Benz S-Class for the last few decades—at least in terms of sales figures and reputation. In the U.S. in 2021, the S-Class sold over 14,200, effectively doubling the 7 Series’ 7,700 sales. Even in Malaysia, Mercedes remained the biggest-selling maker in the premium segment with over 10,000 sales in 2019. With the all-new, ultra hi-tech 7 Series, BMW expects to come out from under that shadow.
Last month, the new BMW 7 Series was finally launched into the Malaysian market, and with those somewhat polarizing looks, it is sure to turn heads. But before we discuss that design, be ready for a lengthy car because it’s only available in a long-wheelbase body, making it nearly 5.4 meters long.
That new front end either has people raving about the car or complaining about it. The combination of a huge kidney grille and split headlights raise the 7 Series to the top of the controversial exteriors list as it looks a little disjointed. At the rear, it is classic 7 Series with a modern twist that’s surprisingly square but gets thin lights giving the saloon a futuristic look.
Inside, you’ll find one of the snazziest cabins on the market. The cockpit gets a huge curved widescreen display panel containing two screens, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 14.9-inch infotainment touchscreen controlled by the iDrive dial. The cabin also employs crystal detailing seen in the BMW iX SUV, including a whole panel that lights up depending on different functions, such as climate control.
The car’s highlight is the huge 31.3-inch Theatre Screen
But the undisputed highlight of the 7 Series must be the rear seats—and that humungous 31.3-inch 8K Theatre Screen with integrated Amazon Fire TV that sits snugly in the ceiling, just underneath the sunroof when not in use. By accessing the 5.5-inch touchscreens housed in each rear door, you will deploy the screen as a startup sound created by renowned Hollywood composer Hans Zimmer, hums in the background. As the sounds echo through the cabin, the blinds for the sunroof, side windows and rear windscreen deploy in unison to darken the rear seat environment. Enhancing the automotive world’s most exhilarating rear seat viewing experience is an 18-speaker, 655-watt Bowers & Wilkins sound system which comes as standard. An optional 35-speaker 1965-watt system is also available.
As you sit in those extremely luxurious rear seats, you quickly realize that the cabin materials are top-notch, and the fit and finish are impeccable. The seats are comfortable and supportive, and the climate control system is excellent. However, while the massive theatre screen provides unprecedented viewing pleasure, its positioning also essentially creates a wall between the front seats and back seats and makes it impossible for the driver to use the rearview mirror. Strangely, a digital rearview camera was not fitted to the 7 Series to alleviate this problem although we hear that one is on the way.
BMW’s flagship comes with several powertrains including the new electric i7. The 740i just launched though, is fitted with a 380ps 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six, while a 544ps twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8 powered 760i xDrive will also be available. All engine variations are paired with a new 8-speed automatic gearbox with an integrated electric motor that turns them into mild hybrids. This system delivers 14 PS and 200 Nm of additional power, boosting overall torque figures by up to 20 Nm under full acceleration. Two plug-in hybrid models will also be offered worldwide next year – the 750e xDrive and M760e xDrive,
With its standard air springs and adaptive dampers, the new 7 Series handles well for its size, although it can ‘wallow’ a little on certain uneven surfaces at low speeds. The 740i engine is powerful and responsive, and the car is extremely quiet, even when driven at high speeds. When cornering in tight carparks and narrow streets, the 5.3m long 7 Series is helped immeasurably by the car’s effective rear-wheel steering, which makes the car surprisingly maneuverable. As you might expect with a saloon boasting so much hi-tech, Level 3 functionality is built into the car’s architecture and will arrive later on.
Some of the car’s downsides, apart from that controversial front end, include its relatively high price and its very average fuel economy. However, if you are looking for a luxury sedan that offers the best of everything, the new BMW 7 Series is the car for you.
While we don’t have the full price range yet, we do know that the 750e xDrive will start from RM649,800 while the 750e xDrive M Sport will begin at around RM700,000. Expect slightly lesser amounts for the 740i. If you can ignore that front end, then overall, the new 7 Series is one of the best luxury sedans of the market. It offers a lot of features, comfort and technology, and it performs well. However, the price is high, and the fuel economy is debatable. And we’d suggest you try that huge rear screen before you buy one.