With the recent release of information about the new BMW 7 Series, there have been countless comparisons to the Mercedes S-Class. It’s the easiest and most common comparison to make. Most of the feedback I’ve seen across the internet has been siding more toward the S Class, claiming it to be the more luxurious seeming of the two. And to be honest, I’ve had a hard time disagreeing with them. I want the 7er to be the better car, but as a luxury car, I have a hard time believing it. But that’s when it dawned on me, the 7 Series main competition might not be the S-Class at all.
Much like with the current 3 Series vs C-Class comparisons, the 7 Series and S-Class are two cars in the same segment, but with different objectives. The S-Class is designed to coddle, to create a luxury environment like no other. It’s meant to be serene and quiet, using chassis technology to make driving quickly less apparent to the rear passengers. The 7 Series seems to have quite a different scope.
It does have a similar desire to make the rear passengers feel like royalty, but in a less serene manner. The rear of the 7er isn’t meant to feel like gentlemen’s cigar lounge, like the S-Class. The rear of the 7 Series is meant to feel like a high-tech private jet. Also, the chassis and powertrain technology are meant to motivate the driver of the 7 Series to actually want to drive hard. Very much unlike the S-Class.
I actually think that the BMW 7 Series’ main competitor might be the Audi A8. Both are cars that have more technology than luxury, in comparison to the S-Class. Both are more about driving dynamics and power than just coddling passengers in the rear seats. Both the 7er and A8 are flagships, not only in luxury but technology, displaying the best of what each company can do. Even the Jaguar XJ, in my opinion, is a more suitable opponent for the 7 Series, as driving dynamics are its main entree. The one thing these cars seem to have in common, more so than the big ‘Benz, is that they’re more about being driven than being driven in.
So I think much of this 7 Series vs S-Class is a bit misguided. Obviously, both are the two biggest selling luxury cars of all time, so they will naturally be compared. But I think that their scope has changed recently, with Mercedes looking to plant its flag in its luxury roots and BMW looking to expand on its technological and performance prowess. Neither approach is better or worse, in my opinion, just different.
The S Class is more for people who like to get from A to B as quietly and comfortably as possible. The 7 Series is also designed to make the trip comfortable, but it wants to add some excitement along the way. The S Class makes the journey unobtrusive, so that you may arrive at your destination unperturbed. The 7 Series is designed to make the journey better than the destination.