For a brand whose tagline is “The Ultimate Driving Machine,” BMW’s 7 Series Sedan seems an anomaly. The 7 Series is a flagship for BMW and this Sedan is simply an impeccable automobile. But it’s just — well, massive. Rather than follow the performance mantra “simplify and add lightness,” the 7 Series instead embodies the notion that more is more. Want a phone-sized key fob with a full-colour LCD screen? Done. Need a business class lounge in the rear, complete with champagne chiller? BMW will give it to you. How about a car that drives itself into and out of parking spaces? The 7 Series has got you covered.
But for those of us who live for the thrill of the drive, there’s a 7 Series loaded with a different kind of “more.” We’re talking more cylinders. More power. More performance. And a whole lot more speed. We’re talking, of course, about the M760i xDrive.
This car is so much more than just an exhaust and sticker package; it’s the first-ever 7 Series to be properly worked on by BMW’s in-house M Performance division. That means that every aspect of the standard 7 Series was considered, scrutinized, and then re-engineered before being fitted to this ultimate machine. For example, aluminum and carbon fibre were used to craft the roof, dropping the vehicle’s overall weight and lowering the centre of gravity to help optimize handling. The rear-biased, all-wheel drive xDrive system has been recallibrated, vectoring torque as needed to help this 5100-pound Sedan dance through corners, and with the added support of 4-wheel steering, you hardly feel the breadth of this car from behind the wheel. When it’s time to bring it all in, massive 19-inch brakes feature equally massive binders to help bring things to a safe, controllable stop.
So — why the big brakes? Well, probably to match the equally massive engine. Under that long hood sits a 6.6-litre V12 engine. By itself, it probably provides enough power to satisfy most drivers, but the engineers at M Performance wanted more, so they overhauled the internals to handle the boost provided by a set of turbochargers—one for each cylinder bank—upping this engine’s total power output to 600 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque. Thanks to its trick 8-speed transmission—and the aforementioned xDrive system—this powertrain rockets the M760i xDrive from 0-60 in just 3.7 seconds. In other markets, this Sedan can hit a top speed of 189 mph, but here it is electronically limited to a still-impressive 155 mph.
What’s most impressive, though, is the way that power is delivered. Mash on the gas pedal and the power feels intoxicating. It’s a strong, linear pull, and it feels like you’ve got the power to yank Jupiter from its orbit and toss it into the next galaxy. But when driven responsibly, this 7 Series gives you just what you need, right when you need it, making it easy to drive in the real world, too.
Despite the handiwork of BMW’s M division, this isn’t a “true” M vehicle, meaning it doesn’t sacrifice comfort in the name of performance. The M760i xDrive offers stately comfort for the most part; however, it most definitely will change up its personality at the touch of a button. It will roll down the road in an opulent, comfortable, and quiet manner — but when you call on its inner ferocity by activating the sport mode, a series of instant transformations occur: the engine tuning changes, the suspension stiffens, the steering ratio adjusts and tightens, and an exhaust valve opens up to let this engine show off its true voice. To help heighten the experience, that sound is also pumped into the cabin via the premium Bowers & Wilkins Audio system.
And oh, what a cabin it is. First-class features abound, from the full array of seats that heat, cool, and massage all occupants to the ambient lighting that accents the Alcantara headliner. There is executive lounge seating in the back with integrated footrest and fold–out table, double infotainment screens, and a removable touchpad in the centre console — that is your gateway to controlling most of the car’s systems. Ergonomics, as expected from a German executive sedan, are perfect, with each button, switch, and knob falling perfectly to hand, as if this 7 Series was built just for its driver. Advanced tech features keep this car on the bleeding edge and include a multi-function heads-up display, iDrive with gesture and handwriting recognition, and touchscreen controls for the rear executive seats.
Despite that M badge, BMW’s designers exhibited a fair bit of restraint when it came time to design the exterior. Sure, there are plenty of cool features like adaptive laser headlights and active aero shutters, but there’s nothing ostentatious about this 7 Series. So that means no front splitters, canards, gooseneck wings, or other accoutrements typically associated with time–attack machines. There’s still some attitude here, though, with the brightwork replaced with matte accents, aggressive 20-inch wheels, and the all-telling V12 badge resting just aft of the signature Hofmeister kink. It’s a car that’s comfortable with its own presence, and doesn’t feel the need to shout for attention. You know — a car for grown–ups.
So the BMW M760i xDrive is a car for those primarily drawn to the luxurious aspects of vehicles, not to mention a breadth of innovation and technology. It’s a car that, while it doesn’t have a dual personality, definitely wears more than one suit. It’s a vehicle that lets one be driven around in the lap of luxury and then, when the mood strikes, take the wheel themselves to encounter an impressive driving experience in true M-fashion.
Images courtesy of BMW.