The new BMW 7 Series is ugly, but the V8 version is a surefire future classic
I think we’re all agreed that the facelifted BMW 7 Series has a bit of an image problem. In their race to make sure their luxury cars are visible from the International Space Station, the Munich brand has encumbered the X7 and 7 Series with front grilles big enough to hoover up at least four howler monkeys without seriously compromising engine cooling.
It’s surely one of the most questionable car styling changes of the century, but you – yes you, DriveTriber – need to look beyond the giant snout because the facelifted 7 Series is actually an utterly brilliant car that will have you scouring eBay in five years' time.
No, I’ve not had too many of those high strength painkillers. Nor have I been handed a sizeable cheque by BMW.
The reason it’s secretly great is because BMW has slipped a fantastic V8 petrol engine under the bonnet and not really told anyone. And it could be the stealthy super saloon of 2019.
Here's what I'm blathering on about.
It’s called the 750i
The rear end has had a much prettier update than the front. A full-width light bar brings it bang up to date
Yup, this is the 750i and it packs the same 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 that you get in the BMW M850i – y’know, the slinky coupe that’s been stealing all the limelight lately. The V8 has the same power output in the 7 Series, which means this is a 530bhp luxury sedan. It’ll woofle the 7 Series from 0-62mph in 4.0 seconds flat, and ease into the electronic speed limiter at 155mph.
And it feels quick. Very, very quick
From behind the wheel it actually feels marginally quicker than the M850i, because the 7 Series is a deathly quiet thing inside. After all, it’s designed for chauffeurs to whisk important people around in and comfort is paramount. Therefore getting shunted in the back by the V8’s instant wallop is totally at odds with how the 7 Series otherwise makes you feel. It’ll make you laugh all the way to the Q3 KPI OKR ROI meeting with the Global Director of Guff.
Sit in the luxurious rear seats and it feels even quicker.
Wait a second. Isn’t there a V12 7 Series?
Look closely and you'll spot quad exhaust tips. It would've been nice if they sat loud and proud, rather than hidden away
Yes, the M760Li is on the way and it’ll have 585bhp from a turbocharged 6.6-litre V12. It’ll be a tiny bit faster than the 750Li (3.8 seconds to 62mph versus the 750's 4.0), but it’ll also be far more obvious, with try-hard V12 badges behind the rear doors and body trimmings that suggest you sell either narcotics or AK47s. It’ll also be about £56,000 more expensive. You could buy an army with that sort of money.
A big part of the 750i’s coolness is that it’s available in short-wheelbase form. The V12 will only come in proper chauffeur-spec, long-wheelbase form. Which just isn’t as stealthy. When the 750i has depreciated (and history shows that it will, like a stone smothered in KY jelly in a vacuum), you’ll be able to park it discreetly on your driveway. And no one will know what it is.
That, I’m sure you’ll agree, is awesome.
It doesn’t sound bad either
While the V8 version of the 8 Series can be ordered with an optional M Sport exhaust that releases a grunting V8 orgy sprinkled with a barrage of crackles befitting the Fourth of July, the 750i gets it as standard. You could argue it's too uncouth for a 7 Series, and a bit like making Pavarotti play the kazoo at an eight-year-old’s birthday party. But it adds another notch to the 750i's cool-ometer.
You’re still treated to a gentle V8 rumble inside, and an impressively loud blare out of the tailpipes. The 750i even rocks gently on its air suspension in proper muscle-car style as you blip the throttle. It’s perfect for annoying all the other chauffeurs who got the diesel version.
It handles well enough to earn its place on the big screen
If the 750i doesn’t make a big splash on the forecourt (and I daresay BMW won’t sell many), it could at least become a legend on the silver screen. It deserves a place in a Hollywood car chase simply because it can hustle. Despite weighing the same as a movie theatre it can be driven down a curvy road at a decent pace, thanks to the slightly rear-biased four-wheel drive system. It does have a ‘comfort plus’ mode for the suspension in place of a ‘sport plus’ mode, but even so you can barrel along a country road with a three-figure speed showing in the head-up display without a care in the world.
It can feel a little wayward as it lands after a big bump in the road, and it’ll squeal its fat tyres when you’re really driving like your CEO is late for his affair, but there can be little else as amusing as a giant 7 Series pulling off a four-car overtake. It’ll surprise a few dodderers, that’s for sure.
Tech heads will love it
Go for the long wheelbase version and you too can rest your knackered old Vans on a leather footrest. I'm 6'3", for reference
If you want to justify the 750i’s £84,000 list price then remember it’s BMW’s most high-tech car. Throw your wallet at the options list and you can litter it with removable tablets that control rear window blinds, there’s an air ioniser to make you feel as if you’re gambolling through an Austrian mountaintop meadow like a yoga-loving marmot and you can even activate your pelvis using the massage seats.
Whatever that means.
You can even choose which kind of scent gets wafted into the air-con pipes on your 150mph cruise home. Even though when you get home, you’ll probably find that the 7 Series is actually a nicer place to live than your house.
Remember this car
Please don’t forget the 750i exists. Add it to your eBay watch list now and wait for it to drop in value. In five year’s time this will be a bargain. It’ll give you nigh-on M5 pace for 520d money, and more rear legroom. And the best bit? No one will know what it is, which means you’ll be able to spend your many, many trips to the petrol station unmolested.
BMW, we forgive you for the grille. Because you've just made this generation's E39 540i. Cheers.
The best fast saloon for flying under the radar. options get expensive though.