Review The 2003 BMW 7 Series is the most divisive BMW model ever. –
This is a 2003 bmw 760 li, and it’s the most divisive car bmw has ever produced.
This car represented a huge change for bmw both in terms of design and technology, and even 20 years later, bmw fans still refer to it as the car that changed everything.
Before I get started, here’s some exciting news: this 760 li is currently for sale and being auctioned live on cars and bids, my enthusiast car auction website.
This version of the 7 series came with two powertrains, a v8 or a v12, and this is the top version, the long wheelbase model with the v12 440 horsepower.
Today I’m going to review it first, I’ll take you on a thorough tour of this 7 series and show you all of its many quirks and features, then I’ll get it out on the road and drive it, and then I’ll give it a dug score all right, let Back when this automobile was new, it was dubbed the Bengal Butt after bmw’s head designer, an American named Chris Bengal, and here is it, and boy was it a huge thing.
Let me set the scene for you.
When it came time to replace the e38, bmw’s executives knew they wanted to put in a lot of new technology that would make the car seem incredibly futuristic and they wanted a completely new design language to go along with their new technology.
With this goal in mind, bmw’s designers actually came up with a fastback look that was similar to the Porsche panamera or like tea.
While the rear end styling was a source of controversy for those who saw this car, those who actually bought one found themselves dealing with a far more radical change than the bengal butt, and that was the technology in here, which was perhaps even more controversial than the design, because this was basically the first car in the car industry to integrate most of its vehicle functions into a center screen an infotainment system.
Let me demonstrate what I mean.
You can see that the climate controls in the center control stack area have most of your typical climate controls that you can just use as buttons and switches, but let’s say you want to change where the air comes out of the vents, whether it’s on the dashboard, in the windshield, or your feet, to do that first you have to press this center controller to the left to select climate, then you have to press it down to tap and confirm that yes, you really do want climate, then you have to press it down to confirm that Changing settings in this automobile was a five-step procedure rather than just pressing a button as in the previous generation.
It was confusing and you can see why this implementation was so controversial.
In fact, this early I drive system received so many complaints from early owners of this car and from the car journalist media that other automakers who were developing similar systems went back to the drawing board and made major changes, either taking out some of the functions they were planning to incorporate or adding new ones.
The rear end styling and idrive were undoubtedly this car’s most covetable features, but this implementation left a lot to be desired and confused a lot of people who bought this car in the early 2000s.
We’ve come a long way from this to the touch screens that we have now where you just tap it and it does what you want, but this was among the very first infotainment systems and it was not among the best.
Another controversial decision in this car was the column shifter, which you can see behind the steering wheel and is actually on the steering column.
This has become more common since this car came out to free up space here in the center console, but luxury cars in the early 2000s didn’t have a column shifter, which was something that American pickups had, and so it was pretty controversial that they did this, even though it’s now widely adopted and by the way they were pretty controversial.
and speaking of buttons in this car over on the passenger side of the dashboard you can see this gray rectangle you press it and that opens the glove box not a usual handle instead that button but even stranger than that next to the glove box button you have a little panel here and an eject button that was for your cd changer you would press the eject button you can see the door opens up and then there was a little magazine that you could stick in here and then it would play your cds from this magazine this seems like an odd placement but a lot of cd changers from this era were actually in the trunk in the cargo area so sticking it here even if it was on the passenger side was a big improvement compared to having it in the trunk where you couldn’t access it at all while you were driving at least now you could reach it or your passenger could and speaking of cds in this car the center console storage area had individual cd storage slots as you can see here you would just tap this little button it would pop out a little bit and you could store your cds inside the center console in case you weren’t using them and you had other cds in your changer and by the way speaking of this center console storage area it’s a little weird too you can see when it’s closed it has two individual buttons one on each side and each button would open each portion of the armrest that way one front seat occupant could have their arm on the armrest and the other could still get into the center console now interestingly there’s a trunk lock switch in this center console as you can see and that’s because this center console was lockable you can see the keyhole for it here could actually lock the center console so you could lock your trunk with that switch and then lock your center console and then a valet couldn’t get in here to open your trunk also worth noting this was the only lockable interior storage in this car because the glove box didn’t have a normal latch and lock so if you wanted to lock stuff up inside the car you were doing it here in the center console now next up one interesting feature where this car was clearly a trailblazer to the left of the steering wheel you can see a little button for a parking brake this was the first car ever to have an electronic parking brake which at the time was just one of the many controversial things about it they got rid of a manual parking brake people were up in arms of course now an electronic parking brake pretty standard in most vehicles but it all started here this car also had a few other firsts or at least early’s it had an early voice control system you can tap this button on the steering wheel and talk to the car and get it to do things for you it also had an early adaptive cruise control system where it would slow down and speed up based on traffic around you not a lot of cars had that 20 years ago in the early 2000s I suspect it was also the very first car with a programmable steering wheel button this little button with a star on it you could program to do various different functions something you used frequently you could set it for your choice of function this is a very common feature in cars now especially luxury cars i’m pretty sure this was the first car to integrate a configurable favorite button and next we move on to the back seat which is almost as amazing and as interesting and as quirky as the front seat for one thing when you open the door to the back seat you can see on the door sill it says v12 now it says that in front also you can see here the door still says v12 but I especially like that they did it in back so even your rear passengers were damn sure of exactly what they were getting into now once they got inside you can see there is a ton of room in here the passenger seat is way back but I still have enough space to lie back here in beautiful comfort it is a wonderfully luxurious and it’s especially luxurious when you start looking around at some of the features that you can control from the back for one thing I like the controls on the door sill you have your power window switch here which is pretty standard but you also have this little button that controls the rear sunshade you can press that and it goes up and down to shield you from the sun if you want the other buttons back here though are even more interesting they control the window sunshade you press this one and the sun shade goes into place again shielding you even more from the sun and this button actually controls the tiny little sunshade in the tiny quarter window behind the main window you press that and it can open or close that little sunshade which is a really cool feature but probably the coolest feature here is this little switch If you toggle the switch to the other side, your controls now adjust the sunshade on the opposite side of the back, so if you want all your sunshades to be up here, you don’t have to reach across, you just switch the switch and then press your normal sunshade controls and they’ll go up or down whatever you want them to do from the comfort of your back seat, but if you really want rear seat controls in the 760 li, you just drop the center armrest You also have memory seats in the back, which you don’t often see for rear passengers, as well as heated and ventilated seats in the back, which is a very very luxurious feature for a very luxurious car now other touches here with the center console for one thing it’s a storage area you press this little button and this lid pops up and well you can stick stuff back here if you want no cup holders in this center console but there are a few other touches here with the center console for one thing it’ The cool thing about this mirror is that it can be adjusted almost like a sun visor and it stays exactly where you put it, which is a neat little trick that allows you to look at yourself from whatever angle you want without having to hold it in place.
Next up we move on to the cargo area or trunk in the 760li.
To open this trunk it is power operated and you press this little silver circle button below the bmw logo and then the corresponding arrow.
So bmw responded with its next generation 7-series v12 with 440 horsepower, which was a huge boost over mercedes-benz.
But mercedes wasn’t going to let that sit, so just a year after this car came out, mercedes added twin turbo chargers to its v12 and the s-class, bumping it up to 490 horsepower, and so within a span of just three four years, v12 luxury sedans added about horsepower in this horsepower 440 horsepower isn’t a huge number that’s not like an insanely aggressive unbelievable figure but it was enough and at the time it was a big deal and it’s still certainly enough and it feels strong now I have to say in addition to the power in the engine it feels really really strong and gives this car this muscular feel to it now 440 horsepower isn’t really a huge number that’s not like an insanely aggressive unbelievable figure but it was enough and at the time it was a big deal I recently reviewed a Mercedes-Benz S-class from this era, and that car is nowhere near as athletic as this seven series.
Overall, though, it’s an interesting thing that this car was uh vilified I mean absolutely vilified this car by bmw enthusiasts both then and now um but I don’t know it drives pretty well and you can pick them up cheap and the Bengal but it still looks ugly but you know bmw does a lot of uh bmw enthusiasts both then and now These seven series vehicles aren’t the most attractive, but considering all the hoopla over aesthetics, it’s not that awful, and it gets a four out of ten.
Acceleration zero to sixty is in the low five second zone, and it receives a five out of ten.
It earns a 4 out of 10 for handling, which is quite crisp but not overly so for a huge sedan.
The amusement element is pretty mediocre.
This automobile is more about luxury than excitement, however the massive engine does bring some delight, and it receives a 4 out of 10 rating.
The cool factor is decent, but they have a reputation for being cheap secondhand vehicles.
However, the v12 helps a little, and it gets a 4 out of 10 for an overall weekend score of 21 out of 50.
The daily categories and features come next.
The 760li was very well equipped back then, though it’s definitely showing its age now.
Comfort is excellent, not quite top level amazing like a rolls or a bentley, but very good, and it gets a seven out of ten.
Quality is okay, the interior is actually quite nice even by modern standards, but reliability has always been a problem with these.
The v8 is definitely the less reliable one, but the v12 also seems worrisome, so it gets a seven out For a vehicle of this kind, practicality is expected, therefore it receives a 5 out of 10 rating.
Finally, value comes in at a 6 out of 10 for a total daily score of 31 out of 50.
You get old tech and possibly expensive repair expenses, so it earns a 6 out of 10 for a total daily score of 31 out of 50.
When all factors are considered, the Doug score is 52 out of 100, putting it in the middle of the pack among related vehicles.
The 760 li is a decent vehicle, but it has a few serious drawbacks, including the style I’m used to and, of course, possible maintenance costs.
The earlier generation 7 series is more coveted, has higher scores, and is worth more money, but the Bengal 7 series drives better than I imagined, and it’s still an icon if only for the significant shift in bmw’s direction it brought.