The BMW 7 Series is a range of full-size luxury sedans first available in 1977, currently in its sixth generation of design and serves as BMW’s flagship sedan, often including new features before any other models. It is the successor to the BMW E3.
BMW 7 Series Design and Introduction
The first generation BMW 7 Series (E23) was built from 1977 to 1986, only available as a 4-door full-size sedan. It was the first to bring a variety of electronic features to the BMW lineup, including an on-board computer with warning lights, service interval indicator, an electronic climate control system, and anti-lock brakes. It came with a wide selection of fuel-injected and carbureted 6-cylinder engine choices, with the 2.5L producing 150 PS at the lowest end 725, 2.8L with 184 PS in mid-range trim levels like the 728i, and eventually a 3.4L with 252 PS in the European version of the 745i. The engine was paired to a 4 or 5-speed manual or 3 or 4-speed automatic transmission.
Second Generation Updates
In 1986, the second generation 7 Series (E32) was released and continued production until 1994. Once again, this model brought many BMW firsts to the market, including active suspension, dual-zone climate control, and traction control system. The engine choices were incredibly varied, with straight-6, V8, and V12 options used in the second-ten 7 Series. The straight-6 produced around 217 max horsepower in the 735i, the V8 maxed out at 282 horsepower in the 740i, and the massive 5.5L V12 produced 296 horsepower with 332 lb ft of torque, with a 0 to 62 mph (0 to 100 km/h) time of 7.4 seconds. The top speed was the first BMW vehicle adhering to the so-called “gentlemen’s agreement” between German auto manufacturers, limiting the top speed to 155 mph (250 km/h) in the name of safety. The exterior featured L-shaped taillights, the BMW-characteristic Hofmeister kink in the C-pillar, and a smaller kidney shaped grille up front.
Third and Forth Generation Changes
The third generation BMW 7 Series (E38) came to market in 1994 as a 1995 model year, and lasted through 2001. It was the first BMW to offer side curtain airbags and a television, plus it was the first European vehicle with satellite navigation. The engine selection still offered straight-6, V8, and V12 options. The lowest spec 728i used a 2.8L straight-6 with just 190 PS, mid-range 735i used a 3.5L V8 with 247 horsepower, and the top trim level 750i used a 5.4L V12 engine with 322 horsepower and 361 lb ft of torque. Diesel straight-6 and V8 options were available too.
In 2001, the fourth generation 7 Series (E65) was released, lasting until 2008. It remained a 4-door sedan with rear-wheel drive. Most notably, the design marked a major change in BMW style under Chris Bangle’s leadership, a controversial decision loved by some and lamented by others. It was the first generation to use the BMW iDrive infotainment system, active anti-roll bars, and an electronic Smart Key. As expected, the engine choices still ranged from the 3.0L straight-6 with 255 horsepower in the 730i, a 4.4L V8 with 329 horsepower in the 7454i, and an even bigger 6.0L V12 in the 760i that produced 439 horsepower and 443 lb ft of torque. This was the world’s first V12 production engine to use direct injection. The Alpina B7 was the top performance vehicle in the lineup, using the H1 V8 engine, which produced a whopping 493 horsepower and 516 lb ft of torque and went 0 to 62 mph in just 4.9 seconds.
Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Generation Updates
From 2008 to 2015, the fifth generation 7 Series (F01) was produced, with a first-time all-wheel drive, hybrid drivetrain, and a turbocharged V12 engine. The usual engine choices from straight-6 to V8 to V12 with still offered, this time adding forced induction to most in the lineup. The Alpina B7 had a 4.4L twin-turbocharged V8 engine with 532 horsepower, 538 lb ft of torque, and a top speed of 194 mph.
The sixth generation 7 Series lasted from 2015 to 2022, and was the first to utilize the CLAR modular platform with carbon-fiber reinforced polymer included as part of the chassis. It increased the engine selection down to a turbocharged inline-4, straight-6, V8, and V12 options, with the top performing Alpina B7 pushing out 599 horsepower and 590 lb ft of torque.
The current, seventh generation 7 Series (G70) has been in production since 2022 for 2023 model year. It is now offered in inline-6 and twin-turbo V8 options, plus an all-electric dual-motor i7. Mild hybrid systems are also used in the internal combustion engines.