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BMW 7 Series (E65): Buying guide and review (2002-2008)

BMW 7 Series (E65): Buying guide and review (2002-2008) Classic and Performance Car
BMW 7 Series (E65) BMW 7 Series (E65) BMW 7 Series (E65) BMW 7 Series (E65) BMW 7 Series (E65) BMW 7 Series (E65) BMW 7 Series (E65)
It’s not unfair to say that the droopy headlights and awkward rear end treatment of the 2002-2008 BMW 7 Series tended to elicit a strong reaction. And generally not a complimentary one. When viewed next to the previous generation model, there was no doubt that the new car was a challenging visual phenomenon. Look at the design today however and it’s clear to see that the Chris Bangle design has aged exceptionally well, like many truly cutting-edge designs. 
Moving on from its divisive looks, under the skin the new Seven was a technological tour-de-force, debuting a number of BMW’s latest innovations. It offered a number of firsts in its class, from the i-Drive infotainment system to infinitely variable intake manifolds and active anti-roll bars.
In a world where the latest is greatest, nothing depreciates quite like a previous generation luxury car. Once the CEO’s and high-end hotels are done with them they tend to free fall in value, offering fantastic value on the used market. This is potentially great news, but big bills can be lurking around the corner if you’re not careful, so to bag that luxury bargain read through our guide to avoid the usual pitfalls.  

Which BMW 7 Series to buy?

The increase in demand for top level executive cars at the turn of the century meant that there were a lot more variants of the 7 series to choose from than ever before – from the efficient 730d right up to the range-topping V12 760i, a hydrogen powered model and even a supercharged 493bhp Alpina B7. Standard specification was extensive, and the options list included a number of segment firsts, some of the more desirable ones were keyless go, remote heater activation and multi adjustable ventilated seats front and rear. LWB models offered even more space for rear seat passengers.

The 2005 facelift saw a much improved exterior with revised lights and colour options. The interior received higher quality finishes and an updated iDrive controller. High beam assist and night vision were also offered from 2006. That iDrive controller may be ubiquitous today with a number of manufacturers employing similar systems but it was initially heavily criticised for its clunkiness and received a number of updates to improve usability. Post ‘05 versions are best. 

In general, owners have either had no issues or a great number of them. Early cars had the most teething problems so in a used car context it is best to stick with newer more developed cars, mechanically they tend to be strong and the majority of niggles were ironed out over the years.

For our money, we would stick to the face-lifted post-2005 cars. While the diesels are potentially cheaper to run, it’s the silky smooth V8 petrol variants that we would aim for. A nice 740i or 750i in long wheelbase form on sensible rims could be the ultimate budget friendly luxury limo.

Performance and specs

BMW 745i (E65)
Engine 4398cc 32 valve DOHC V8 
Power 328bhp @ 6100rpm 
Torque 332lb ft @ 3600rpm
Top speed 155 mph (limited)
0-60mph 6.7 seconds 
Fuel consumption 25.9mpg 
Gearbox Six-speed automatic

Dimensions and weight

Wheelbase 2990mm
Length 5029mm
Width 1902mm
Height 1492mm
Weight 1945kg

Common problems

• The condition based servicing system that BMW introduced with the new 7 tended to extend oil change intervals way beyond what would normally be recommended. This could cause issues down the line requiring replacement valve guide seals. Sluggish performance and blue exhaust smoke are the early indicators.
• The same applies to the gearboxes which are ‘sealed for life’ units, but will have a greatly increased lifespan with regular oil changes carried out every 60,000 miles.
• Diesel engines can suffer damage from inlet manifold swirl flap deterioration. An early sign is a lumpy idle, getting a specialist to give your car a once over could save you a lot down the road. 
• Parts are widely available but can be pricey, so walk away from cheap cars with running gear issues. There are a number of specialists who can maintain your car for far less than what the dealer will charge.
• Cars with large diameter rims suffer from a harsh ride, non-sports models still handle well and are less prone to cracked wheels.
• A number of recalls were carried out, mostly in the first few years of production. Check if your car was affected and whether the work was carried out or not.
• It is quite likely that some of the extensive electronic motors and relays powering the seats and other systems will not be functioning correctly after all these years, as repairs can be prohibitive it is best to factor these into your offering price and learn to live with minor niggles. 

Model history

2002: New E65 7-series launched, initially available in 268bhp 735i and 333bhp 745i flavours. 760i, 740d, 730d and 730i phased in shortly afterwards.
2004: 750i and 745d (not for UK market) introduced
2005: Mid-life face-lift carried out on all models. Much improved exterior looks and upgraded iDrive.
2008: Final year of production for E65 7 Series. Over 343 000 units sold globally making it the most successful 7 series to date.

Owners clubs, forums and websites

• www.bimmerforums.co.uk – BMW forum 
• www.bmwcarclubgb.uk – BMW UK car club
• www.the7seriesregister.co.uk – 7 Series register

Summary and prices

Last-of-the-line 2008 model year cars are still upwards of £13,000, but real value is to be found much lower down the price range. Early cars start as low as £2500, this gets you a high mileage 2002 745i, which could either be a massive bargain or a money pit. 
Our preferred choice would be a face-lifted 750Li; £7000 is where good ones start, and while huge mileages are common, the thing to look for is a comprehensive service history. For the bargain hunters, there are many more diesels out there to choose from, and at £5000 a 2006 730d could also make for a great long distance cruiser. The ‘Bangle butt’ 7 Series is a car that improved greatly with age, and a good one can offer many years of cosseting luxury for very little outlay.

Words: John Tallodi
BMW 7 Series (E65) BMW 7 Series (E65) BMW 7 Series (E65) BMW 7 Series (E65) BMW 7 Series (E65) BMW 7 Series (E65) BMW 7 Series (E65)
Last updated: 17th Oct 2016
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BMW 7 Series
2800 54995 GBP
  • BMW 7 SERIES 740Ld xDrive 4dr Auto Saloon

    £52,950 £52,950

    Type: Used Year: 2017 Make: BMW Model: 7 SERIES Trim: 740Ld xDrive 4dr Auto Saloon Body: Sedan Trans: Automatic Mileage: 7998 Engine Size: 2993 Ext Color: GREY

    • Mileage: 7998 mi
    • Engine size: 2993
    For sale
    £52,950 £52,950
    02038116084 View contact number
  • BMW 7 Series 2003

    £2,800 £2,800

    Hi here is my automatic Bmw it fully loaded and lpg comes with private plat 10 month mot with no advisories 140,000 witch is nothing for this car for more information give as a call bargain price £2800 ovno

    • Mileage: 140000 mi
    • Engine size: 2979
    For sale
    £2,800 £2,800
  • BMW 7 Series 2003

    £2,800 £2,800

    Hi here is my automatic Bmw it fully loaded and lpg comes with private plat 10 month mot with no advisories 140,000 witch is nothing for this car for more information give as a call bargain price £2800 ovno

    • Mileage: 140000 mi
    • Engine size: 2979
    For sale
    £2,800 £2,800
  • BMW 7 SERIES 760LI SE 2015

    £43,989 £43,989

    Welcome to the sale of this 2015 BMW Individual 7 Series with a 6L V12 engine. This car comes with just about every optional extra you could want from the internet and online entertainment to rear reclining seats. REMAINDER OF BMW SERVICE PACK INCLUDED.;;Upgrades - BMW Individual Metallic Paintwork, BMW Individual Lettering on Bootlid, Model Designation Deletion, Interior Trim-BMW Individual Piano Black w. Inlay, Rear-Seat Entertainment-BMW Pro. w. iDrive Control, Lane Change Warning System, Air Conditioning Rear - Extended, BMW Ind. Sport Leather Steering Wheel/Wood Inlay, BMW Individual Rear Seat Reading Lights, Seat Backrest Massage Function Rear, Surround-View, BMW Individual Alcantara Headlining Anthracite, Rain Channels in Body Colour, Door Sill Finishers w. BMW Individual Designation, Alloy Wheels - 20in Double-Spoke Style 253, Seat Ventilation - Rear, Electric Rear Sun- Blinds, Electric rear sun-blinds, Internet, Online Entertainment, Steering Wheel Gearshift Paddles, Sun Protection Glass, BMW Individual Composition, BMW Individual Full Merino Leather Upholstery, Seat Ventilation - Front, ;;Standard Features - Navigation System - BMW Professional Multimedia, Electric Glass Sunroof Tilt/Slide, Automatic Air Conditioning with Four-Zone Control, Front and Rear Park Distance Control (PDC), Auto Start-Stop, Reversing Assist Camera, Cruise Control with Brake Function and Speed Limiting Function, DAB Tuner, Voice Control, Seat Heating Rear, Electric Windows - Front and Rear, with Open/Close Fingertip Control, Anti - Trap Facility and Comfort Closing Function All Round, Alarm System (Thatcham 1) with Remote Control, On - Board Computer (OBC), 19in Light Alloy Multi-Spoke Style 235 Wheels with Run - Flat Tyres and Locking Wheel Bolts, Rain Sensor, Auto-Hold Function, Metallic Paintwork, BMW Professional Radio with Single DVD Player (with MP3 and DVD Playback Capability), USB Audio Interface, Auxiliary Input for Auxiliary Playing Devices, 20GB Hard Disc Drive (HDD) Memory and iDrive Touch Controller with Shortcut Buttons, Tyre Pressure Monitoring, Exclusive Nappa Leather Upholstery, DVD Changer, Enhanced Bluetooth Telephone Preparation. 5 seats, Blue,

    • Mileage: 39500 mi
    • Engine size: 5.972
    For sale
    £43,989 £43,989
  • BMW 7 Series

    £3,495 £3,495

    6 MONTHS WARRANTY INCLUDED, FINANCE AVAILABLE, Air Conditioning, Central Locking, Remote Central Locking, Remote Alarm, Electric Windows, Power Steering, CD Player, Colour SatNav, Cruise Control, Electric Mirrors, Metallic Paintwork, Heated Seats, Electric Seats, Alloy wheels Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the above information but errors may occur. Please check with a salesperson.

    • Mileage: 85000 mi
    • Engine size: 4398
    For sale
    £3,495 £3,495
  • BMW 7 SERIES 730D M SPORT 2011

    £15,950 £15,950

    52,000 miles from new, full service history, full ivory leather, memory seats, heated seats, rear parking camera, front and rear parking aid, soft close doors, electric boot opener, cd, climate control, auto hold, full screen satnav, rear heating, heated rear seats, tinted glass, cruise control, power folding mirrors, ebony wood trim, I drive multi function system, electric steering column, factory fitted electric glass sunroof with electric blind, head up windscreen display, rain sensor wipers, 5 spoke m sport alloy wheels, 2 keys, full spec car, hpi clear, finance arranged, ready too go.

    • Mileage: 52000 mi
    • Engine size: 2.993
    For sale
    £15,950 £15,950