With the current generation of the 7-Series, which made its debut in 2009, BMW has found a way to satisfy its loyal followers, as well as present a design that's a standout in its class. While the previous-generation 7-Series had a tiered decklid (Bangle butt) that had trouble finding friends, along with a number of seemingly overwrought details, the current 7-Series sedans are a knockout, with a much more relaxed silhouette and more exciting proportions.
There's plenty to like about the current fifth generation of the 7-Series. There's a nice amount of wedge to the shape (always hard to achieve in a long flagship), more kick in its tail, and with the long-wheelbase version, another 5.5 inches of rear-seat legroom.
The details work, inside and out, down to the wide air intake across the 7er's front end. The shoulders fit just right; the trunk has been smoothed over, its taillights more tightly integrated. In the front, the twin-kidney grille even looks pleased, split into a wider grin atop a deeper, dipped air dam. The "Hofmeister" kink at the D-pillar and doors gives the 7er its signature sublime touch of sport. The long-wheelbase versions don't tip the shape out of balance at all, with a small stretch in glass areas in the rear doors.
Inside, the dash flows lovingly, and even details like the iDrive joystick don't stick out in the blend of formal and cutting-edge shapes. The cockpit is a win, with its chaotic mix of buttons, screens, and knobs reduced where possible, and regrouped into a more logical mien. Dash shapes have been streamlined so that the 7-Series' cabin "reads" more easily and more cleanly, and the instruments themselves can be completely blacked out when needed; otherwise they glimmer softly amid densely grained wood trim, ceramic-finished knobs, and the futuristic controllers that direct the transmission and driving dynamics, as well as the iDrive system.