BMW 7-Series

Image is everything when it comes to luxury saloons - and there is no more distinctive car in this class than BMW's 7-Series. It showcased a new design theme which divided opinion, while inside it premiered the iDrive control system.

The revisions answer the key criticisms of the 7-Series. Buyers have a choice of cutting-edge petrol and diesel units, and the BMW is great to drive. With an improved cabin and less challenging looks, the 7 is a superb luxury saloon.

Image is everything when it comes to luxury saloons - and there is no more distinctive car in this class than BMW's 7-Series. It showcased a new design theme which divided opinion, while inside it premiered the iDrive control system.

A revised version for 2005 will help the car close in on rivals from Mercedes and Jaguar. At the front, a bigger grille, reshaped lights and revised bumper give a more elegant look. Meanwhile, the bootlid carries a chrome strip and bigger lamps with a slimmer bumper. While tidy, the tail now appears ordinary compared to the previous 7.

The changes are more subtle inside, with a reshaped steering wheel and chrome-effect switches adding to the high standard of luxury and comfort. The iDrive controller now has a menu button to make operation simpler, but still is not as easy to use as rival set-ups such as Audi's MMI system.

Mechanically, the 7-Series benefits from suspension tweaks, including an increased rear track. But the superb balance between a comfortable ride and impressive handling remains.

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