There are reasons why we buy a luxury car. We want the sensual experiences that such a car provides; an authoritative exhaust note, the glint off the real-wood accents, the feel of the hand-wrapped steering wheel. We want to be seen in a car that indicates our station in life; and, since we didn't get and keep the wealth we have by wasting it on items that don't deliver, we want a car that shows we've paid for what we've gotten and not a penny more. There are two cars on the road today that produce all of the things we want for a price that shows good value.
The BMW 7 Series is the top of the line from BMW. It looks, feels, sounds and smells like real luxury. A true luxury car should remind you of an expensive suit. It's absolutely appropriate for the occasion and fits perfectly without broadcasting it. The Series 7 looks exactly right. It's the proper size at just under 200 inches front to back. It has sweeping curves that hint at elegance. There are no extraneous design elements; nothing that detracts from the basic shape of the hood and roof.
The 7 Series in Australia comes in three trim levels with three engines. The 730d has a lovely 3 litre, six cylinder diesel engine producing 258 horsepower and 560Nm in torque. The 740i uses a six cylinder gas engine that delivers 320 horsepower and 450 Nm of torque. Best of all, BMW installed an eight cylinder, 4.3 litre gas engine in the 750i with an impressive 449 horsepower and 650 Nm or torque. All engines are turbocharged. The 750i has two turbochargers. Power is delivered to the rear wheels through an eight speed automatic transmission.
The interior of the 7 Series features the best in full leather upholstery, wood accents and special features such as front and rear seat massagers, four way lumbar adjustments for the front seats, self levelling rear shocks, power trunk lid, heated steering wheel, side and top view parking cameras and power soft-closing doors.
BMW's do something else that few other cars can do in the luxury class. They involve the driver in the drive. The 750i weighs nearly 5000 pounds but accelerates, handles and brakes like every other BMW. It's the car for the executive who, occasionally, likes to drop the subordinates off at the office and take the car for a spin on a twisty mountain road.
Pricing for the 7 Series in Australia is $219,600 for the 730d, $226,500 for the 740i and $299,500 for the 750i.
Mercedes Benz has kept the S Class as it's flagship for fifty years through five generations. Currently the S Class is the world's best selling luxury sedan.
The best way to describe the S Class is a quote from the Edmunds.com website review. They listed the best features of the car as an expansive lineup of engines, world class craftsmanship, proper ride and handling, an impressive showcase of technology and a car that is quiet as a whisper. The only thing they could criticise was the long list of interior features which they said could be overwhelming.
Mercedes produces 12 different models, each with a different engine. Rather than go through them each, let's concentrate on the biggest, best and most startling. The S 65 AMG is a special kind of S Class. AMG, MB's in-house enhancement team, had their way with the common S Class and came up with a car that sports a 6.0 litre, twin-turbo V-12, producing 621 horsepower and 1000 NM of torque, weighs 5097 pounds, moves from zero to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds and through the quarter mile in 12.6 seconds. The S65 will turn in .87 g's on the skidpad and will stop in 111 feet from 60 mph. Mercedes includes active wheel load distribution and crosswind stabilisation which helps this big car move with alacrity. The sounds of the S65 engine have been described as "rowdy" and "raucous" which among luxury cars is like a butler telling a mildly risque joke.
Inside the S65, the interior has all of the design features expected of the best of the best. Everything is perfect; perfectly selected materials, perfectly matched and made and more of everything from a massager in every seat but one (the middle rear seat. Make the junior executive sit in that one. Teach him humility) to Passion Leather appointments with a special diamond pattern stitching.
Prices in Australia for the various S Class models start at $228,400 for the S 350 BlueTEC through the S 500 BlueEFFICIENCY at $315,200 to the S 65 AMG at $527,900.
BMW images courtesy of Klosters used cars.