Monday, July 7, 2014

Used Car Review - BMW 7 Series (2002-2009)

This July 7th, Myk Belmonte reviews a namesake car just for the heck of it.

2002-2009 BMW 7 Series

Whenever a car reaches a controversial point, it can mean a make or break status. Even before the car reaches production thanks to some photos that are leaked online, people would even rush to the dealers to buy the last examples of that beautifully styled predecessor. But, styling is just one part of the car.

BMW's E65 designation for the 7 Series had a fair share of drawbacks related to its exterior design and its fussy iDrive interface that some folks bought the old model to spare them from the two problems. It was first developed in 1996 and finalized in 2001, with a launch for the European market in November 2001. Unlike its predecessors, it had specific codes for each version which were: E65 for short wheelbase models, E66 for long wheelbase models, E67 for bulletproof versions, and E68 for the hydrogen propelled models. There is no M7 version, but it was consoled by the Alpina B7 sold between 2007 and 2008. It was replaced by the F01 7 Series in 2008.

Locally, the E65/E66 7 Series arrived in late 2002 to replace the overdue E38. It was the most expensive Bimmer that you can buy locally, with the top end model costing P15M back in 2008. A myriad of engines and models (which will be discussed further) were made available throughout the years.

Value and Costs
What was once prohibitively can be now yours for the price of a brand new car. Old but less engine displacement models linger in the P850,000-950,000 range while later ones are on the upper scale. There are numerous variants sold so further research is needed to determine the variant right for you. Short wheelbase models are only available between 2002 to 2003, which means majority of them are long wheelbase ones.

For the cheapskates in you, this is definitely not the car to buy if you have limited funds to begin with. Since this is has the iDrive, a trip to a BMW dealer to check things out before you buy is the most prudent option. Testing out each function such as the air suspension, air-conditioning, boot release mechanisms, and other electronic doodads is preferable.

Exterior and Interior
While some criticize the exterior design because of its boldness (which is prevalent in its early years), some praise its bold move to shed BMW's conservative image. Our beloved Chris Bangle gave his artistry when he was designing this, with some bits that had caused the controversy include the two-level rear styling with separate rear fenders and "bustle-back" boot lid that led to the term "Bangle Butt". A 2005 update made this vehicle more subtle and pleasing to the eyes.

Space, space, and more space, this is what the 7 Series in long wheelbase trim obliges you that plus the interior has tons of equipment that will please both driver and passenger. The iDrive system controls most of the vehicle's gadgets by rotating and clicking a silver button between the front seats and following the menus on the dash, which isn't user friendly to begin with. Apart from that, there are LCD monitors with TV and DVD function so that you can catch your favorite telenovela or flick while stuck in traffic.

A wide range of engines from the basic 3.0 inline six gasoline to a monstrous V12 engine. In total, there is one inline six, four V8s, one V12, and one diesel so it better pays to choose your engine well. They are willing to be revved but for all day usage, we suggest to stick with the 3.0 in either gas or diesel flavors. The V8s will make sense if you have the money while the V12 is best left behind.

Driving Impressions
Still, the driving joy of a BMW remains despite the hefty body. Steering is accurate and body lean is controlled without compromising comfort. As always, road imperfections do spoil the fun.

As they say, beauty lies on the eyes of the beholder. What may be put down for its styling makes up for its balance of power and luxury.

The Good:
  • Well composed
  • Full of gadgets
  • Big inside
The Bad:
  • Clumsy iDrive
  • Styling not for everyone
  • Very very expensive maintenance costs
The Pick: 730d (if you can find one)

Engines: 2,996cc N52B30 I6 gasoline (2002-2008), 3,300cc N62 (2002-2005), 4,000cc N62B40 (2005-2007, 2008-2009), 4,398cc N62B44 (2002-2005), and 4,799cc N62B48 (2007-2009) V8 gasoline, 5,972cc N73B60 (2005-2009) V12 gasoline, 2,993cc M57TUD30 (2002-2003) and M57TU2D30 (2007-2008) I6 diesel
Power: 255hp @ 6,000rpm (3.0 gasoline), 272hp @ 6,000rpm (3.3), 306hp @ 6,300rpm (4.0), 333hp @ 6,100rpm (4.4), 367hp @ 6,300rpm (4.8), 445hp @ 6,000rpm (6.0), 215hp @ 4,000rpm (2002-2003 diesel), 231hp @ 4,000rpm (2007-2008 diesel)
Torque: 300Nm @ 2,500-4,000rpm (3.0 gasoline), 360Nm @ 370rpm (3.3), 390Nm @ 3,400rpm (4.0), 450Nm @ 3,600rpm (4.4), 490Nm @ 3,400rpm (4.8), 600Nm @ 3,950rpm (6.0), 500Nm @ 2,000-2,750rpm (2002-2003 diesel), 520Nm @ 2,000rpm (2007-2008 diesel)
Fuel Consumption: 3-7km/L (city), 5-9km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies, considered among wide range of variants)
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Suspension: Front independent McPherson strut, rear independent multi-link (air lift became standard in 2008 update)

Price (New): P7,200,000-P15,500,000
Price (Now): P850,000-P1,800,000
Rivals: Audi A8, Jaguar XK, Mercedes Benz S Class
On Sale: 2002-2009

Prestige Cars BMW - (02) 892-8127
Autohaus BMW - (02) 638-0734

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