By: Ted Macauley
When buying a new car, comparisons are inevitable unless your loyalty to a specific manufacturer rules out any freshly invasive notions on what brand of motor you fancy.
And here, with no favouritsm or otherwise to either side and only balanced judgment as my guide, I would say that the fifth-generation BMW 7 Series is neck and neck with the Mercedes S-type in the luxury car class. And I never thought that I would put the Beamer on a par with the Merc.
When Trophy Wife staged a fashion show at her boutique just outside London, I parked outside the front door in an updated, uprated, brand-new BMW 7 luxo-limo. A Beamer to notice.
I was staggered by the number of hubbies funding their wives’ fancy new dresses who were impressed by my transport and wanted to know more about it.
I had to confess, indeed enthuse, that after a week of varied motoring up and down and all around the wet UK, motorways and country lanes alike, the flagship newcomer left me with a feeling that here was real value for money.
Okay, it does not revel in quite the same style as the more pricey Mercedes, but as a really big and bold and spacious alternative, whether for either you or your leggy chauffeur to drive in roomy comfort, it ticks a good few boxes.
Its eight-speed automatic transmission smoothly sorts out the best of the V8’s turbo thrust and its considerable muscle in a polished manner without any eye-widening jerkiness.
This heavier version with all-wheel drive and long wheelbase weighs in at a whopping 4,700lbs (2,130kg) and is still, I found, among the best-handling fullest-sized luxury cars thanks to variable ride-settings.
And it has a Stop-Go trick facility that automatically brings the car to a halt if your, or your chauffeur’s attention, has wandered and fails to react to a stopped traffic queue in time.
That is only one of the very many sophisticated add-ons to ensure comfort, convenience and safety.
Another one I liked, even if it is a little bizarre, was a coffee-cup display that popped up on the touch pad if an unsafe level of fatigue was detected in the driver.
If you like music on the move, there’s Bang & Olufsen 16-speaker surround sound – and double display for the passengers in the sprawling back seats (bench or single, as you prefer).
Forget the old misgivings about noisy and reluctant diesels; the gutsy BMW’s offering in the 730d is a polished performer offering high economy and low emissions.
It may not quite have the kerb-side ahem of the Mercedes S, but, overall, this vastly technologically advanced battler on the luxury car front is a winner in its own right.
A true Beamer.
SPECIFICATIONS: BMW 7 SERIES
Trim levels: Standard, SE, M Sport
Engines: Petrol 3.0. 4.4. 6.0. Diesel 3.0
Top Speed: 153mph (246kph)
Acceleration: 0-62mph in 6.2 seconds
Consumption: 50 mpg