There’s this assumption—really more of a hope, if we’re being honest with ourselves—that at some point in our 20s we’ll discover who and what we’re meant to be. It’ll just click sooner or later, or at least, it had better. Wouldn’t want to be staring down the dreaded midlife crisis in our 40s.
Back in its 20s, the BMW 7 Series knew exactly what it was. Sleek, powerful, athletic, the 7 Series was confident. It was the Ultimate Driving Machine for the masters of the universe. James Bond drove one from the back seat, a highlight of an otherwise forgettable movie.
Now in its mid-40s, the 7 Series has lost confidence in itself, in its purpose. Significantly larger in every dimension, it’s packed on the pounds despite the carbon-fiber work it had done a few years back. Sure, it’s still a better runner than the old man from Stuttgart, but it’s not its younger self, either. The S-Class, though, knows exactly what it is: the standard against which luxury sedans are measured. But while S leads the way at Mercedes-Benz, 3 sets the course at BMW.
The 7 thus finds itself careening into a midlife crisis it never expected. Athletic and 3 Series-inspired though it may be, it’s not a sport sedan. BMW has made it abundantly clear that’s the mission of the upcoming 8 Series Gran Coupe just as it was for the preceding 6 Series Gran Coupe. It’s not the ultimate luxury sedan, either, riding too stiffly and offering a 3 Series-evoking interior to the S-Class’ tour de force. It’s not the ultimate technology showcase, either, not with the Audi A8 replacing every touch point with a touchscreen. The 7 tries to compete with both, or at least offer a middle ground, and ends up seemingly confused about what it wants to be.
Take it at its word as the ultimate driving luxury barge, and there are young upstarts still in their 20s and 30s trying to push the 7 aside. That A8 is no slouch in the corners, either, and Lexus modeled its latest LS on the 7 Series. Lexus did such a good job it doubled LS sales and outsold the 7 last year in the U.S. That’s not to mention the Lexus-following Genesis G90 or the plenty sporty Jaguar XJ.
By: Scott Evans, April 2, 2019
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