Words: Don Cheng
Photography: Don Cheng
Published: August 10, 2018
As of writing, the 7 Series is one of the last models in the BMW portfolio to not feature a full-blown M variant, which traditionally made sense. See, the 7 Series has been a demonstration of the Ultimate Driving Machine’s comfort and luxury prowess. M Division’s touch would have been at odds with the purpose and overall ethos of this sedan. Yet, with the release of the X5 M in 2009, BMW ushered in a new era of possibilities and suddenly, the idea of an M7 didn’t seem like such nonsense after all.
It’s not a novel idea either: the Mercedes S 63 and S 65 AMG models have proven to the bean counters upstairs that the formula sells. While we clamour for the arrival of the ultimate luxury driving machine, BMW has satiated our want, for the moment, with the M760Li - a sneak peek of what could be waiting in the pipeline and I’ll waste no time and cut straight to the chase. This thing is quite the bargain, and here’s why:
Starting with the sheetmetal, the M760Li differs from other 7 Series models with exclusive 20-inch wheels shod with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires and a quad-tipped exhaust. But it’s the pair of seemingly innocent V12 badges on both C-pillars that conveys to the uninitiated that you’re in something special.
Under the hood of this luxobarge sits a mighty 6.6L twin-turbocharged V12 that is capable of stopping the earth’s rotation. If that force fed V12 sounds familiar to you, that’s because it’s shared with a British vehicle under the BMW corporate umbrella - the John Cooper Works Mini. Kidding! That other British brand they own - Rolls Royce. Indeed, splitting the same power plant with the Ghost and Wraith, this BMW is already shaping up to be quite a deal. Being a BMW and not a Rolls Royce, power output then, is obviously limited but not in the way you’d think. With 600 hp on tap, the M760i slots between the Ghost’s 592 hp and the Wraith’s 624 hp. But who is counting, right?
Mated to the monstrous motor is a ZF 8-speed automatic. The dual-clutch M transmissions were out of the question as the 590 lb-ft of torque from the colossal V12 easily surpassed the upper ceiling of what the clutches could handle. During my week with the car, I was astounded at the Dr. Jekyll & Hyde duality. Under normal conditions, it flips through gears with silky smooth transitions barely perceptible to occupants. Drop the hammer however, and the transmission responds in kind, banging through the gears with unrelinquishing ferocity, letting out a sharp blaaaart between gears.
Of course, that duality is further enhanced by the sublime twelve cylinders firing out front. Despite the M monikers littered all over and with 600 hp on tap, the M760Li demonstrates tremendous tranquility in day to day operation. Call it the magic of the V12 if you will, it effortlessly thrums along as you glide the sedan through throngs of traffic. There’s a serenity to driving it, leaving you cocooned from the rest of the world as it gobbles up the highway miles.
For something with such clear intentions of sport, it bathes you in comfort as the air suspension soaks up harsh divots and expansion joints on the road surface. The amenity doesn’t sacrifice handling either, as even in optimum comfort settings, the entire vehicle quashes body roll quickly and settles into a corner, all the while xDrive AWD shuffles power between the four corners keeping driver confidence up, and champagne glasses placid.
BMW’s rear wheel steering assists in the bends too, wrangling the long wheelbase around efficiently. In Sport Mode, the extra steering axle effectively diminishes the percepted length of the sedan. Dampers are stiffened, but not adequate enough to completely erase the plush ride, somewhat detrimental to performance in spirited driving. That said, it never was the intention for a vehicle of this stature to be thrashed around a track, though I’m sure you could if you really wanted to. Besides, the target market here would probably have a dedicated toy for those days.
Inside the cabin, it lives up to the 7 Series lineage as a true luxury sedan, marrying technology with craftsmanship everywhere it can. Fine Nappa leather covers every millimetre of the dashboard, accented only by glossy gray poplar wood panels. Massaging seats soothe passengers and of course, you can expect them to be heated and ventilated. A Skylounge Panoramic Glass sunroof means there are over 15,000 individual lighting elements installed in the glass, adding to the nighttime ambient lighting effects. Rolls Royce has done something similar with its Starry Night LED headliner, but that’s a tradeoff for an actual sunroof during the day. Let’s not forget the full suite of dedicated cameras constantly watching the surroundings of the vehicle, making parking the long and wide sedan a breeze.
With the addition of the V12, BMW takes an already superb full-size sedan to new heights. And oddly enough, it also makes it one heck of a bargain. At an as-tested price of $182,700 this represents the top of the range for the German automaker. Yet, as far as luxury V12s go, the M760Li is the cheapest by a significant margin. For perspective, this M Performance model is $72,100 cheaper than the S 65 AMG, and $62,040 less than the Aston Martin Rapide. It’s true, V12s are a rarity these days, reserved only for the elite and people who can swallow its massive running cost, but if you’re in the market for a 7 Series, this is the one to get. You’ll be hard pressed to find more value for your money.
Model: 2018 BMW M760Li xDrive
Paint Type: Frozen Dark Brown
Base Price: $162,200
Price as Tested: $182,700
Length/Width/Height (mm): 5,248 / 1,902 / 1,479
Curb weight (kg): 2,326
Engine: 6.6-litre twin-turbocharged V12
Horsepower: 600 hp @ 5,500 - 6,000 rpm
Torque: 590 lb-ft @ 1,550 - 5,000 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed ZF automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 17.6
Tires: Michelin Pilot Super Sports; Front 245/40R20; Rear 275/35R20