Four decades is a long time for any car to linger in the shadow of its nearest rival, let alone a car so closely linked with its maker’s latest technologies and engineering efforts as the BMW 7 Series.
But that, we’d argue, is what has happened. Originally launched in 1977, five years after the first limo that rival Mercedes-Benz officially called an S-Class, the 7 Series has been through five full model generations and yet has never quite managed to move out of the wake of its Stuttgart rival and leave its mark in the way of its smaller siblings.
Last year Mercedes sold two S-Classes for every 7 Series that rolled off the production line. While Daimler’s luxury icon has become a sub-brand in its own right, BMW’s has seen its flagship status impinged upon by hybrid supercars and 600bhp M6 four-door super-coupés.
Without the 7 Series, you wonder if BMW’s custodianship of Rolls-Royce would have been half as successful – and yet where’s the recognition?
Right here. The car you’re looking at represents BMW’s most committed attempt yet to finally crack the tough nut that is the global luxury saloon market.