2003 All-Star Luxury Car Over $40,000: BMW 7-series
Admittedly, it's a controversial choice. The 7-series is not classically handsome, and it does not deliver the effortless, medicated luxury of its competitors. The new 7 makes you work a bit harder to love it. You have to learn its computerized kinks and quirks, its faults, and its revelations, but once those are mastered, the 7-series makes all other fat-cat sedans look dumb. It drives with more verve than its rivals. The dynamic similarities between the 7- and 3-series are stupefying. Both are strong, agile, and composed, and both drive small. But only the 7 has iDrive, which takes the car out of the mainstream and into the realm of the personal. The iDrive system is not easy, but beneath its intimidating experimentalism lie pathways known only to its owner. It repatches emotional links between man and machine that have all but evaporated with the commodification of the luxury car. If this magazine's All-Stars exist to award the risk-taking spirit of the auto business at its best, then the 7 is this year's definitive All-Star. It's not perfect, but perfection in cars, as in people, is boring. In fact, the 7-series is the opposite of boring; it's challenging, demanding, even addictive. This is the automotive equivalent of first class: Once you go up, you can't go back.