What is it?
The mid-life rejig of the fifth-generation BMW 7-series, the firm's initially underwhelming answer to the middling Audi A8 and downright marvelous Mercedes S-class. If the original car was notable for its strict adherence to the once-controversial styling convention laid down by Chris Bangle, the latest model should be considered a veritable chip off the block.
Aside from some LED headlight and grille confetti, nothing has really changed on the saloon’s substantial bodywork. It’s a familiar setting inside, too. BMW’s debonair architecture remains intact, with by far the most significant introduction being the addition of a new 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster that adjusts its information readout to suit the pilot’s choice of drive mode settings.
For fans of design distinction between their variants, inactivity on the design front might seem disappointing, but underneath BMW has busied itself with typical diligence. Along with the now across-the-board fitment of the eight-speed ZF auto, the entire engine lineup gets the type of comprehensive spruce that delivers more power while, conversely, extracting improved economy and emissions.
The 3.0-litre straight-six diesel engine features again in the popular 730d and 740d with 255bhp and 308bhp respectively. The former, by far the best-seller, is now at a 530d rivaling 148g/km, which, along with its 50.4mpg efficiency, make it the segment leader in the frugality stakes. BMW has also seized the opportunity to launch the second generation of the ActiveHybrid7 in the UK, equipped with a 315bhp 3.0-litre six pot and a 54bhp electric motor for an augmented 41.5mpg. On its own, that same engine props up the 7 Series range in the 740i, while at the (much) steeper end it is topped out by the brazen but rarely seen 536bhp 6.0-litre V12 in the 760i.
The 443bhp 4.4-litre V8 aboard the 750i, tested here, is the cherry pick of the petrol lineup. By mating it with the ZF ‘box and exploiting the Valvetronic system’s manipulation of the intake valve (BMW talks proudly of ‘dimming’ rather than shutting down cylinders), the engineers have extracted a 25 per cent improvement in efficiency, including a colossal 67g/km reduction in the previous model’s CO2 emissions.