Luxury car bargain hunters take note: next year’s all-new BMW 7 Series is sure to have a depressing effect on prices of the outgoing model, launched in 2015. Pre-reg and nearly new cars will suffer most, but the shockwaves will surely be felt among older examples. Even today, four-year-old Sevens, in particular, look cheap. How about £21,000 for a 2017-reg 730d with 36,000 miles? New, it cost £64,000.
Powered by a 3.0-litre straight-six diesel producing 261bhp, the 730d is the most plentiful. With 315bhp from the same 3.0-litre diesel engine, the 740d xDrive is quicker but less economical, returning a claimed 39.8mpg compared with the 730d’s 43.5mpg. Both are smooth and whisper quiet. In 2017, they were joined by a third diesel engine in the 725d. The 2.0-litre six-cylinder motor makes just 228bhp. It didn’t sell in any numbers and was axed in 2019.
In view of the high running costs associated with cars such as the 7 Series, you’d have to be brave to take on one of the petrol models. The range opens with the 740i, powered by a 321bhp 3.0-litre straightsix engine, followed by the 750i with a 444bhp 4.4-litre V8 and the M760Li xDrive with a 602bhp 6.6-litre V12. They are less common than the diesels but their mileages tend to be much lower. A 2017-reg 740Li with 23,000 miles is £23,500.
If you don’t like diesel but the running costs of a luxury petrol car give you nightmares, check out the rare plug-in hybrid 740e. Its 2.0-litre petrol engine and 111bhp electric motor together produce 322bhp and it has four-wheel drive. It returns a claimed 117mpg, although 55mpg in mixed conditions with some pure EV running is more likely. It’s no bargain. The cheapest we found was a 2017-reg 740e Exclusive with a solid 102,000 miles for £21,250.
Even in standard trim, a 7 Series is richly appointed, highlights being an automatic gearbox, powered bootlid opening, soft-close doors, memory seats and BMW’s top infotainment system. Options to look out for include the Executive and Rear Seat Comfort packages. Regarding trims, M Sport looks the best and Exclusive is the most luxurious. All versions are available in long- (badged L) and standard-wheelbase form. Four-wheel drive (called xDrive) is standard on the more powerful cars but an unnecessary option on a 730d.
The facelift came in 2019. (Spot the huge grille.) The 730d and 740d gained mild-hybrid technology and the 740e was replaced by the 745e, this time with a six-cylinder 3.0-litre engine for a combined 389bhp and an improved electric range of 36 miles. Reliable, handsome, good to drive, spacious and comfortable, a used 7 Series is hard to resist, but given the wide array of options and specs out there, choose carefully.
Engine If it’s a hybrid, make sure the charging cable is present. Check the condition of the coolant expansion tank which can crack, potentially causing the auxiliary coolant pump to fail, too. After a hard drive, check the fans continue to run, to keep the turbos cool. Also, make sure the active grille operates.
Suspension Check the air suspension system isn’t leaking or giving trouble. The rear air compressor is occasionally to blame and might trigger the message, Continue Drive Possible: Chassis.
Exterior Check the extremities for parking damage and poorly executed repairs. Ditto the alloy wheels.
Interior Check the iDrive system works because just one failed module takes down everything. They have improved but can still fail. Also make sure every last feature works because the owner forums report some niggling faults.
Need to know
Since 2019, a proximity disabling system prevents the key’s signal from being boosted by thieves.
Until their sixth birthdays, 7 Series registered after 2017 attract a hefty (currently £335) road tax premium.
Check a car’s extremities for parking scrapes and that all the electrical features work.
Automatic gearbox is standard.
iPerformance cars (badged eDrive) have a charging socket on the nearside front wing and can travel for up to 36 miles on electric power alone.
Check the year-old 7 Series you’re considering isn’t available new for the same price.
BMW 730d: Quiet, smooth, flexible and powerful, this diesel engine is all the more amazing for being the entry-level unit. There’s no need to waste your money on the more expensive 740d.
M760Li xDrive: At launch and with 602bhp from its 6.6-litre V12, this was BMW’s most powerful production model. Air suspension and active steering are standard. The new price is £135,000 but 2018-reg cars can be had from £45,000.
Ones we found
2015 730d xDrive M Sport, 50,000 miles, £21,995
2017 740d xDrive Exclusive, 51,000 miles, £25,400
2019 740Ld xDrive M Sport, 33,000 miles, £32,500
2020 740i M Sport, 11,000 miles, £44,000