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Car group tests

BMW 7 Series vs Mercedes S-Class vs Jaguar XJ

Can the new BMW 7 Series unseat the Mercedes S-Class and Jaguar XJ to take the luxury car crown?

If you’re looking for the last word in luxury, a long-wheelbase limousine should still be top of your list, despite the boom in high-end SUVs. These extended executive cars are just that bit more discreet than an upmarket 4x4, but feature lavish interiors loaded with technology – and the latest business saloon to hit the market is the new BMW 7 Series.

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The 7 Series isn’t restricted to advances in equipment, though, as this new model boasts improved safety, even more comfort and, for a business person with their eye on the bottom line, extra efficiency.

Best luxury cars on the market

However, it’s not cheap, and neither are its rivals. For years, the Mercedes S-Class has been the model to beat, combining cutting-edge equipment with incredible luxury. The same is true of the current car, so BMW’s newcomer has a tough task on its hands.

The 7 Series has always been good to drive, too, and it faces a challenge from the sharp-handling Jaguar XJ – the British brand facelifted its flagship last year, with improvements across the board. But which of these cars reigns supreme in the super luxury saloon class?

Head-to-head

Key tech

The 7 Series’ key with its colour display is like a mini smartphone. It lets you set the climate control remotely, plus check the fuel range and the security status.

A smartphone app would do the job just as well, but it reinforces the car’s hi-tech feel, with features like gesture control letting you adjust the volume with a simple swish of your finger.

Parking solution

BMW’s £1,100 advanced parking pack makes manoeuvring a breeze. Not only does it feature a 360-degree camera, it allows you to park the saloon remotely. You can climb out of the car and simply let it park itself using the key – another brilliant innovation on this sixth-generation 7 Series.

Space race

The S-Class feels slightly roomier in the rear, helped by its higher roofline, but the 7 Series is close behind. Both get options for multi-way seat adjustment and plenty of hi-tech kit. The Jaguar isn’t as spacious, although it’s cosy rather than cramped.

Verdict

First place: Mercedes S-Class

The S-Class cements its position at the top. While BMW’s new 7 Series comes close, rivalling it for technology, the Mercedes better mixes its futuristic feel with exquisite ride quality. It’s not quite as fast, but performance is more than adequate, plus it feels more special than its rivals in this test. On top of that, it’s the cheapest car here and comes with more equipment.

Second place: BMW 7 Series

Low emissions and inclusive servicing will help cut running costs, but while the 7 Series is also great to drive, it isn’t quite as special inside as the S-Class. There’s no faulting the gadgets on offer, although it feels more like an enlarged, expensive 5 Series than a bespoke flagship saloon. Still, good agility and comfort, plus lots of space, make it a brilliant business limousine.

Third place: Jaguar XJ

Despite its striking design, the XJ feels compromised in this company. There’s not as much space in the cabin or the boot, while the ride is simply too firm for a luxury saloon. It’s also the least efficient car here and falls short on cutting-edge kit. Yet the XJ is packed with old-school, upmarket charm and is great to drive.

Is it worth waiting for this model?

Audi A8L SE Executive 3.0 TDI LWB

Due: 2017  Price: £73,000 (est)Engine: 3.0 V6, 300bhp (est)

An all-new Audi A8 is due next year, with electric turbos for better response, more power and greater efficiency. It will debut the Piloted Drive autonomous tech, plus Audi’s latest design language.

Figures

 Mercedes S 350d AMG Line LBMW 730Ld M SportJaguar XJ 3.0 V6 D Portfolio LWB
On the road price/total as tested£71,955/£115,140£72,260/£101,305£72,075/£88,220
Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)£32,301/44.9%£28,499/39.4%£28,772/39.9%
Depreciation£39,654£43,761£43,303
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£3,875/£7,750£3,460/£6,919£4,630/£9,206
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,487/£2,479£1,747/£2,912£1,580/£2,633
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost46/£1,420/F/£14546/£1,153/E/£13050/£1,243/F/£185
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£41pm (3yrs)5yrs/50k (included)£229/£329/£229
    
Length/wheelbase5,246/3,165mm5,238/3,210mm5,255/3,157mm
Height/width1,496/1,899mm1,479/1,902mm1,460/1,899mm
EngineV6/2,987cc6cyl in-line/2,993ccV6/2,993cc
Peak power/revs 254/3,600 bhp/rpm261/4,000 bhp/rpm296/4,000 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs 620/1,600 Nm/rpm620/2,000 Nm/rpm700/2,000 Nm/rpm
Transmission 9-spd auto/rwd8-spd auto/rwd8-spd auto/rwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel70 litres/repair kit78 litres/run-flats80 litres/space saver
Boot capacity510 litres515 litres479 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,975/715/2,100kg1,870/695/2,100kg1,860/590kg/N/A
Turning circle/drag coefficient12.3 metres/N/A12.8 metres/N/A12.3 metres/N/A
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (unltd)/4yrs3yrs (unltd)/3yrs3yrs (unltd)/3yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers15,500 miles (1yr)/136Variable (2yrs)/15316,000 miles (1yr)/97
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.11th/21st14th/23rd2nd/3rd
NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist/starsN/AN/AN/A
    
0-60/30-70mph6.5/5.8 secs6.2/5.3 secs6.6/5.6 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th2.6/3.4 secs2.4/2.9 secs2.4/2.9 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th/7th/8th4.4/5.4/7.2/11.4 secs3.7/5.0/6.7/12.8 secs3.8/4.8/6.5 secs/N/A
Top speed/rpm at 70mph 155mph*/1,200rpm155mph*/1,350rpm155mph/1,400rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 50.9/37.5/10.0m50.6/36.3/9.5m50.3/37.1/10.7m
Noise outside/idle/30/70mph70/51/63/69dB73/52/65/72dB71/54/67/72dB 
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range37.6/8.3/579 miles32.0/7.0/549 miles35.4/7.8/623 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 42.2/57.7/52.3mpg47.9/64.2/56.5mpg39.8/54.3/48.0mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 9.3/12.7/11.5mpl10.5/14.1/12.4mpl8.8/11.9/12.4mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket201/148g/km/27%237/132g/km/24%214/155g/km/29%
    
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/cameraEight/yes/yes/yesSix/yes/yes/yesSix/yes/yes/yes
Auto box/stability/adapt cruise/AEB**Yes/yes/£2,300/yesYes/yes/£2,960/£985Y/y/y/£1,575^
Climate control/leather/heated seatsYes/yes/yesYes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes
Metallic paint/LED lights/keyless goYes/yes/£1,490Yes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/BluetoothYes/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes/yes
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