The BMW 7 Series cost big money when new, but savage depreciation makes it far more accessible as a used buy. However, while purchase costs can be relatively low, running costs tend to be huge. Despite this, the BMW 7 Series is a wonderful thing to own with its endless equipment list, sparkling dynamics and superb engines, including a wonderfully profligate V12 petrol option. By far the most common powerplant is the 3.0-litre diesel in the 730d and 740d and frankly, they’re all you need. But the massive complexity of the 7 Series means reliability can be an issue – so don’t expect to run one of these luxury limos on a shoestring.
1/09: The fifth-generation 7 Series arrives, in 740i, 740Li, 750i, 750Li and 730d forms.
3/09: There’s now a 730Ld option.
8/09: The 740d goes on sale. The 730d and 730Ld get a more efficient engine and an M Sport trim option. The 760i and 760Li also appear, with a 6.0-litre V12.
11/11: A Luxury Edition trim joins the range.
06/12: A facelift brings more efficient engines, an LED headlight option, interior upgrades and revised suspension. An eight-speed automatic gearbox is also now standard across the range.
- The 7-Series is packed with electrics and electronics, which can be very unreliable. So check that everything works – if you can find everything.
- Rear tyres tend to wear out quickly and replacements are costly, so see how much tread is left.
- The LED rear lights should last forever, but they can fail.
- Oil pumps can wear on the 750i, leading to annoying whining noises from under the bonnet.
- All 7-Series come with an automatic transmission, which can sometimes shift abruptly.
- The iDrive multi-media system can crash, but software updates can help minimise the chances of this.
- Some early cars have suffered from problems with the electronic parking brake refusing to release.
- Check the three recalls have been actioned; two for electrical short circuits and one for potential failure of the brake servo.
- Build quality
- Driving experience
- Standard equipment
- Excellent engines
We don’t like
- High running costs
- Some reliability issues
- Too much road noise