A 2005 facelift toned the looks, and toned down and improved the engines and suspension. Styling aside, it’s a real driver’s car, with a range of refined powerplants and pleasing handling. An overhaul of BMW’s controversial i-Drive system made it more user friendly, too.
Driving and performance
A 6.0-litre V12 is the flagship with three further petrols (two V8s of 3.6- and 4.4-litres, and the entry level 3.0-litre) as well as a smooth 3.0-litre diesel. All have an automatic gearbox with standard and sport settings and steering wheel-mounted controls.
From 2005 most engines were revised: the 735i and 745i were replaced by 740i and 750i, each have more power and improved economy. The 730i and 730d models also have significantly more powerful engines, which are also lighter and more frugal.
Suspension specification depends upon the model and options selected. A Sport pack adds lower, stiffer springing, while Adaptive Ride features self-adjusting dampers and counter-corrects body roll when cornering.
The 7-series offers a generous amount of legroom and there’s the long wheelbase version to add extra inches if needed. There’s minimal noise from the engine or road to intrude the cabin. i-Drive was revolutionary when launched, but is not such a unique feature these days. Facelifted models benefit from a much needed ‘back’ button.
No Euro NCAP crash test rating, but well protected with a host of electronic systems, airbags and a stiffened bodyshell with bonded seams. To complement this, the security system is watertight and comes as standard.
A bullet-proof security model is available featuring more than a tonne of armour plating for those with more enemies than friends.
On the forecourt
Trade 0303-0606: £21,000-36,000. Retail 0303-0606: £27,300-48,700 BMW 730i
Trade 0303-0606: £18,400-33,800. Retail 0303-0606: £23,800-43,900
Ones to avoid
BMW 760 Li: Even at £50,000 it’s not cheap enough to justify V12 running costs.
In the workshop
Owners report problems with engine and electronics. Recalls for faults causing engine cut out (2002); fluid leak from power steering (2002); fault in dsc yaw rate sensor (2002); loss of engine power (2004); passenger airbag protection (2003); front seat backrest heater overheating (2005); failure of fuel injection pump bearings (2005); failure of rear shock absorber mounting (2005).