As standard on a 7 Series you now get three-stage electronic dampers with a switchable program that also ties in with the throttle mapping and gearchange speeds. Optional are four-wheel steering and BMW's Dynamic Drive roll control.

With most BMWs you expect the emphasis to be more on handling than ride, but in this instance shouldn't it be the other way round? Correct, but that still doesn’t mean the 7 Series hits the bullseye.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
Some dynamic functions lie hidden within iDrive menus

The main problem is that the Seven doesn’t quite know what it wants to be on the road – ultra-luxurious cruiser or surprisingly sporty big saloon – and in the event it ends up being neither.

On most surfaces the ride comfort is almost very good, if oddly unresolved over lumpier town roads. But problems emerge when you drive it faster across undulating single carriageway roads, when the Seven feels too big, too heavy and not especially well controlled at the front in such circumstances.

Without the optional Dynamic Drive roll control system fitted its body simply moves around too much under even quite mild cornering loads. Its steering, too, feels peculiarly vague and lifeless, even though it is ultimately accurate to use.

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That said, the Seven is every bit as smooth and refined as you’d expect when cruising along the average UK motorway. This is its best environment, tempered by the wind noise it develops at speed. It’s not a major issue but it’s enough of a problem to irritate the occupants.

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