Shootout: 7 Series vs. S-Class for luxury motoring
It's true about time, but we're going Upper class today, we've got two of the worlds best luxury sedans.
On your right, the venerable and graceful Mercedes S class.
On your left, the brand new BMW seven series.
We're going to be talking tech, we're going to be talking performance, on the road, on the track, and at the end we'll crown a winner.
But of coarse, we're going to start on the track.
We're starting with the BMW 750, which is definitely the car that of these two I would expect to be more sporty.
It is the xDrive car, which means it has BMW's all wheel drive system.
Probably not the optimal configuration for Tracta and Dickson.
But given it's been raining on and off today, I don't mind the extra grip.
Plus, powered by a 445 horsepower, twin turbo V8 which gives you plenty of power for sure.
In fact, this car will do 0 to 60 Just 4.3 seconds, that's only two-tenths of a second slower than the epic BMW M5, pretty impressive for a luxury sedan.
But out here on the track it's not the power that you notice first, it's actually how light the steering is.
I feel like I could be steering this thing around with my little finger, but I suppose that's part of the.
Luxury sedan charm perhaps.
The feedback is a little bit vague.
In fact, you'll hear the tires breaking away before you feel them breaking away.
But when they do break away, it's actually done in a rather progressive, predictable way [SOUND] Yes, the understeer is the thing that you're gonna be feeling first, which you would expect that in a car like this.
But even though it does tend toward understeer, it's actually pretty good grip.
And the car is surprisingly fun to drive around the track.
You wouldn't expect many [UNKNOWN] owners to be around here hustling their 750s, or even more, around the track But ultimately if you do so, it does a pretty good job of it.
Even the brakes are capable of holding up to the kind of punishment you'll find around the track.
We've been doing lap after lap after lap here at Sonoma, and ultimately they haven't faded much.
They have started to smell a little bit though.
For them to have a variety of [UNKNOWN] through here in the center console.
Covered in Eco Pro, which I'm hoping I will not be using today.
Then we can go into a sport mode that'll distract the shifting, making the steering a little more dynamic, and also give you a little bit more power to [UNKNOWN] in a sharper, flawless spot.
That's the mode that you want here on track and when you put the car in that mode, it feels pretty good.
Again the steering is a little too light for my taste, but there's good feedback, there's good progression and it feels quite good around the track, especially for a car this size The question is how will the Mercedes compare.
We're now in the Mercedes Benz S550, and I can already feel that we're a little bit out of this car's element.
There's a lot more body roll going on, but this is a much heavier car than the BMW.
The BMW's got a carbon fiber structure to keep weight down Mercedes not so much.
It's quite a bit heavier.
And you can definitely feel it through the turns.
THere's 449 horsepower under the hood of this car.
Again from a twin turbo V8.
It's a little bit more power than the BMW but it's a half a second slower to 60.
Again because this is a heavier car.
The power delivery is significantly different here in the Mercedes than in BMW.
The torque comes in low at low RPMs to give you a nice push off the line.
Means you don't have to shift as much, which is helpful, because the transmission in here is reluctant to say the least.
Of these two cars, the Mercedes Benz is definitely the least at home on the track.
Sure neither of them are track toys as such and I wouldn't expect owners of either to be out here playing around all that much, but if that's important to you, the BMW is the one to go with.
But I gotta say, I've been getting me a pretty great back massage while I've been driving this Mercedes around Now, I know what you're probably thinking, that neither of these cars is really suited for this sort of driving, and you're right.
In addition to playing around on the track, we actually spent hours and hours driving these things on normal roads, but to be frank, as nice as these cars look, footage of us droning around on the highway or stuck in traffic doesn't really make for very compelling video, now, does it?
Suffice to say, both of these cars are incredibly polished and comfortable out there in the real world, so much so that it was hard to get out of them and back into normal cars at the end of the day.
However, of the two, the Mercedes is just that much more refined.
A touch more pliant and sophisticated on the move.
Enter a road with some twists and turns, however, then the BMW comes to the fore.
Bt, of course, that's not the only part of this equation.
There's a lot more to these cars, so let's see how Brian's doing with the interior technology for both of these two luxury sedans.
Now getting in to the new seven your appreciating this, to be honest, almost Danish design [UNKNOWN] inside the BMW.
A little more baroque in the Mercedes.
You've got a 12.3 inch LCD instrument panel, no gauges anymore.
Just like the Mercedes, same size.
The difference comes in the center screen where this one is smaller and, kind of, a toaster pop up model.
Where as the Mercedes has an identical Siamese to the IP over here in the middle.
So, arguably, a little more real estate on the Mercedes.
Now on the center displays some big differences.
First of all, this one is now touch.
That's a big break through.
It takes a lot for a German company to go there.
And not only is it touch, it's really responsive.
Mercedes doesn't yet allow you to touch that main screen for interface.
Now, both vehicles have large, dedicated control knobs that are turn, click, and kick as well as a set of home run buttons around them.
BMW now has touch and handwriting recognition on theirs.
Here's what's very different though in that same category, gesture control.
For the first time in a production car, here's how you can change the volume, for example.
You can also make a swishing motion like this, to dismiss an incoming phone call, for example.
Or clear certain confirmation screen.
Here's the downside, there's no point to it.
If you're doing this to turn the volume up and down, just go two inches Further and get the knob, which has no lag.
Now, night vision technology's available on both these cars.
The BMW's is excellently executed.
I just have a problem with it in concept.
I find these night vision cameras and screens take my eyes off the road, lower them below the axis of the cowl, get me in a different focal distance.
Does do a lot of disorientation for the rather limited payload they deliver.
And here's something that Mercedes did first and now BMWs followed.
You've got this perfume icon here that will spray aromatics in the cabin.
I can have one that supposedly reminds me of the dusk of the shimmering desert.
Or if that doesn't seem to suit my mood, how about the authenticity of deep wood notes, how about some fresh air?
Finally, on a large car I guess you expect the large key, but this large?
This is an amazing key though because it has the industry's first interactive touch screen LCD panel built-in to the fob.
Now in other countries the US, one of the feature you can access here is to have the car self park at your command while you're outside of it.
U.S. law doesn't allow that, so you've got some more pedestrian features here instead.
Once you get into the S class, you sometimes aren't sure you're in a car.
It almost looks like a Pullman car form the days of yore THis is an extremely ornate, some would almost say Baroque Style of cabin, but boy, is it comfortable and nice.
And now, of course, upholstered in LCD.
Two huge side-by-side 12.3 inch, ultra wide screen displays and framed up and Placed in a way that screams, I'm a big display, I mean look at those things.
Holding onto old epics though, no touch on that screen, keep your hands off, and get down to the controller, where it's just the classic command set of turn, click, and kick knob, home run buttons around it, as is common, and now this flying bridge, that is both a handwriting and touchpad, as well as a clickable space.
I find that a little often though, I wanna rest my hand there and it clicks.
Even though I don't want to.
Now, where BMW's got touch screen now on their center LCD, Mercedes does something else.
They have split view, a different feature.
It allows me the driver and you the passenger to look at the exact same screen at the same time and see different video.
It's a clever trick, it's unique to them, and it uses some LCD display technology.
It's pretty slick.
Those may be a small thing but consoles are key you live with them every day.
The BMW has one button in the middle and both sides open up to kind of be in the way of things.
The Mercedes are different.
Whichever button you press opens it on a different magic hinge.
Both these cars have a head up display.
The one here in the Mercedes I find always looks blurry.
And as I move my head, it kinda swirls and changes shape.
It's optically not as satisfying as the BMW.
On the other hand, I'm always amazed.
Nothing is smoother on this Earth than the top of this wheel.
It's a small thing, but you notice it every time you drive.
Okay, here we are.
Two rich guys for the day.
Pretending to be able to afford cars like this, yes.
But now we need to actually pick a winner, which could be a little tricky.
Where would you start in terms of on-road prowess and handling?
Well if I'm looking to drive sporty it's definitely the car that you're in.
But if I'm looking to get somewhere comfortably, if I'm stuck in traffic or just cruising down the highway, I mean this is a beautiful, lovely, comfortable place to be.
The suspension's got a little bit more refinement I think and that kind of thing.
But if you're looking to have a little bit more fun and particularly on the track, the light weight seven series is the one.
The carbon fiber construction, the configurability of the suspension, everything else.
That's absolutely the driver's car.
Yeah, this car really does seem to have some real taut precision under it.
I think the similar sort of ethic carries over to the cabin technology.
There's something fresher and more modern about this.
It feels more like the cutting-edge, state-of-the-art electronics that we carry these days.
And I think the interface, while both of these are over-larded with so many layers and so many choices This one's a little clearer to me, and it also has fewer different looks.
Mercedes has a lot of looks from it's earliest days of command interface to it's latest, and it's getting awfully busy in there.
Couple of other interesting things is that car has one huge panoramic roof that has their magic sky control, electro chromic dimming.
This kinda has an old-school pair of two smaller sunroofs with no clever dimming in them.
When you buy a car like this, that might be one of the nice things that wows your neighbors.
It does have little stars etched into the glass though.
[LAUGH] That's right, [CROSSTALK] we have the skylight technology.
We should talk price as well though, because neither of these are cheap cars.
But it's actually pretty interesting how close they come together on that front.
If you're looking to get the Mercedes, you're looking at about a starting price of $96,000 You wanna get the seven series with all wheel drive, $98,000 to start, so they're right there.
But of course, these are all about the options.
We could spend all day talking about options packages, standard configuration, optional configuration, and well, they can go way up from there.
I think either one done up CNET style, you're pushing 130.
I mean, once you get the executive rear seat packages, and you can bump up the audio system in some cases, from amazing to incredible, what's interesting about these two cars, I think bottom line is, if I'm going to be taking an interesting drive The road up to Saint Maurice, I wanna be in this guy.
If I'm going to be on a long, straight line road, or I'm gonna hit something, I wanna be in the Mercedes.
Do you know they have airbags under your thighs in the executive rear seat?
So when you're reclined and the car has a collision, You don't submarine under the front seat.
That was one thing I did not get to test out.
[LAUGH] That's much to their pleasure.
So this is a car that still really excels on passenger protection, to a way that no other car does.
But we've gotta bottom line here.
Which is the one you wanna take home at the end of the day?
I'm going with my car.
It's a BMW?
Yeah, I gotta say, I gotta go the same way.
Any chance you wanna trade keys there?
Before we wrap things up.
Well, I think there's a lot of traffic over the Bay Bridge anyway, so maybe-
You be the comfortable one.
Maybe I'll be [UNKNOWN].
That's it, BMW 7 series winner of our shoot out.