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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
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  • BMW 7 SERIES 730d xDrive M Sport 4dr Auto

    £48,000 £48,000

    Type: Used Year: 2017 Make: BMW Model: 7 SERIES Trim: 730d xDrive M Sport 4dr Auto Body: Sedan Trans: Automatic Mileage: 3000 Engine Size: 3000 Ext Color: Glacier Silver Metallic

    • Mileage: 3000 mi
    • Engine size: 3000
    For sale
    £48,000 £48,000
    Sytner Solihull BMW
    01215147396 View contact number
  • BMW 7 Series

    £15,990 £15,990

    Variant name:730LD SE ,Derivative:F02 ,Variant: 730LD SE Massive Specification Chauffeur Vehicle Here We Have A BMW 730i SE Long Wheelbase Chauffeur Vehicle Finished In Black Sapphire Metallic With Full Black Dakota Leather Interior, First Registered 11/05/2012 Having Covered 88,000 Miles From New This Vehicle Comes With Full Service History, It Has Fully Electric Memory Seats In The Front And Rear Of The Car, Satellite Navigation, Bluetooth Telephone Prep, TV In The Front And The Rear, Dual Zone Climate Control In Front And Rear, Heated Seats, Electric Blinds In The Rear Passenger Doors And Rear Screen, 20" Alloy Wheels, Xenon Headlamps, Parking Assist Front And Rear With Rear View Camera, Cruise Control, Electric Steering Column, Sport And Comfort Modes, Multi-Function Steering Wheel, Stability Control, On-Board Computer, Power Assisted Steering, ABS, Electric Windows, Electric Door Mirrors, Remote Central Locking, Factory Alarm Immobiliser, HPi Checked

    • Year: 2012
    • Mileage: 88000 mi
    • Engine size: 3
    For sale
    £15,990 £15,990
  • BMW 7 Series

    £36,993 £36,993

    Variant name:730D M SPORT ,Derivative:G11 ,Variant: 730D M SPORT, 20 Inch Double Spoke Alloys, Incredible Specification, WEB Special Incredible value. 2016 66 BMW 730 M SPORT Saloon. Huge kerb appeal offered in Mineral White with Black leather this car benefits from a huge specification including but not limited to Sport Automatic Transmission, 20 inch M Double spoke alloys, Sports Leather Steering WheelSport, Backup Camera, Bmw Display Key, Alarm System, Comfort Access System, Soft Close Automatic System For Doors, M Sport Package, Seat Heating Front And Rear, Fine Wood Trim Fineline Black, Auto air Conditioning 4-zone Control, Instrument Panel With Leather, Massage Function For Driver And Passenger, Ambient Light, Comfort Seats front, Comfort Seats rear. AdjustableAutomatic High-beam Headlights Control, Led-fog Lights, Intelligent Emergency Call, Teleservices, Connecteddrive Services,Real Time Traffic Information, Concierge Services, Remote Services, Telephony With Wireless Charging, Bmw Gesture Control, Multifunctional Instrument Display, Wifi Hotspot, Navigation System Professional, Cd Player, Dab Tuner, Connecteddrive, M Aerodynamics Package, Individual High-gloss Satin Chrome, Individual Shadow Line, Individual Roof-lining Anthracite. Huge Saving on New. One only and unrepeatable.

    • Year: 2016
    • Mileage: 12619 mi
    • Engine size: 3
    For sale
    £36,993 £36,993