Andrew Chesterton road tests and reviews the top-of-the-range BMW's M760Li xDrive, with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at its international launch in the USA.
Luxury limousines are usually best enjoyed from the cosseting comfort of their luxurious rear seats, which are inevitably cocoon-like in their insulation and a place where captains of industry and despots alike can plot their moves free of distraction.
But not this one. This is the BMW M760Li xDrive. And it's unlike any 7 Series that has gone before it. And any BMW, for that matter. Faster, more powerful and more expensive than anything to have ever emerged from Munich, the new flagship 7 Series represents a lot of things to the German marque.
But first, what it's not. And that's definitely an M7. Despite focussing more on performance than any 7 Series in history, BMW simply doesn't think there's a market for a full-bore M car in its lux-limo range. Instead, the M760Li xDrive treads a fine line between power and posh, just in case its owners still want to ride in the back.
Still, it's plenty potent enough. Under that bonnet lives a twin-turbo V12 that will send you hurtling to 100km/h in just 3.7 seconds. That's ludicrously quick, and even more so in a car that weighs near enough 2.2 tonnes. It sits not just at the top of the 7 Series family (towering over existing flagship the 750Li), but at the top of the BMW brand more generally.
It arrives in Australia on a per-order basis, joining a 7 Series rage that was launched way back in 2015. So has BMW saved the best 'til last?
Price and features
Predictably, BMW's ultimate flagship carries with it the ultimate price tag. So, the number? The M760Li xDrive carries a sticker price of $419,000. And that's a lot, sitting a clean $100,000 above its nearest sibling, the comparatively bargain-basement 750Li. To be fair, more than $100k of that final price tag is luxury car tax and other duties, but that'll still put a helluva hole in all but the fattest of wallets.
BMW won't talk projected sales other than to say the M760Li xDrive will be "exclusive", but we wouldn't be expecting too many end-of-month drive-away deals. In fact, it arrives in Australia on a per-order basis, owing in part to the price and in part to the fact any potential buyer is likely to comprehensively personalise the car to their tastes.
As with the equally well-appointed 750Li, the new M760Li wants for little in the options department, with BMW throwing its most exclusive materials, technology and safety equipment at its flagship model. Inside, you'll find merino leather covering just about every surface, while each touchpoint feels exquisitely handcrafted. All seats are heated, cooled and, in the backseat, include a massage function designed to "promote vitality", too.
There is too much technology to detail in full here, but even the highlight reel is extensive.
The M760Li also arrives with BMW's "laser" headlight system, along with the gimmicky-but-fun gesture control system (a camera in the interior roof lining allows you to perform some function s - like turning the volume up and down - with a flick of the hand rather than the push of a button) and a 16-speaker Bowers & Wilkins stereo. There's an abundance of display screens, too, including a 12.3-inch digital display in the driver's binnacle, a 10.25-inch centre display controlled by the latest iteration of BMW's very good iDrive system, a 10-inch screen attached to the back of both front seats and a removable seven-inch Samsung tablet housed between the two rear seats that controls everything from the sunroof to the massage functions.
There is too much technology to detail in full here, but even the highlight reel is extensive. The sunroof, for example, is what BMW calls a "Sky Lounge", with 15,000 illuminated surfaces embedded in the glass that turn a bright blue hue as the sun sets. But the highlight act is the BMW's Executive Lounge seating, which allows a backseat rider to send the passenger seat forward, where it collapses in on itself before a footrest emerges, transforming the rear seat to a business class-style, almost-flat-bed at the push of a button.
But most of the above also appears on the significantly cheaper 750Li, so what you're really paying for is that glorious engine, along with the important bits that ensure you can get the most from it. It's why the xDrive all-wheel-drive system is standard, helping force all that power into the road, along with a unique gearbox calibration, an active all-wheel steering system and - perhaps most importantly - the appropriate M-stamped brakes to ensure you can pull the 2.2-tonne M760Li xDrive to a stop when you want to.
Like a regular 7 Series that's been lightly painted with an M Division brush, the M760Li xDrive looks both sleek and powerful, and is available in a pretty special set of colours hand-picked from the BMW Individual personalisation catalogue. At each corner, separated by what feels like an eternity of metal, sits a lightweight, M-stamped 20-inch alloy wheel, while the long flanks are punctuated by grey-framed vents.
Even though BMW thinks this car is one that needs to be driven, it hasn't forgotten it's owners that want to ride in the back.
Inside, the digital instrument cluster sits above a leather-wrapped M steering wheel (heated, for your pleasure). The climate and stereo controls are framed in a brushed silver panel, while the gear stick and I-drive console is wrapped in piano black, which contrasts beautifully against the other woodgrain highlights.
Even though BMW thinks this car is one that needs to be driven, it hasn't forgotten it's owners that want to ride in the back. A huge amount of thought has gone into exactly who will be buying this car, and where they will be sitting, and the controls are aligned accordingly. Especially if you're riding in the backseat, from where you can control just about every key element.
The M760Li xDrive is available in two different styles, the first is the M performance-tweaked car we're testing today, and the other is the "V12 Excellence" version that ditches the loud exhaust and some of the M-stuff for a quieter drive and more subdued design.
Let's be honest, you're unlikely to be purchasing the M760Li xDrive for a trip to Bunnings (you'll likely have people who do those kinds of things for you), but a by-product of that endless expanse of metal is that there's plenty or space in both the cabin and the boot. This is a flagship in every sense of the word, especially the ship part, and its long-wheelbase-only, 5.2m-long design ensures a hugely airy interior.
The backseat is a masterpiece.
Up front, it's largely a familiar BMW space, with twin cupholders separating the two passenger seats, and room in the lovingly crafted doors to store bottles.
But the backseat is a masterpiece. Within reach, are the 10 inch seat-back screens, as well as the pop out tablet that controls everything from the sunroof to the window shades. In four-seat configuration, the two rear seats are separated by a built-in control centre that houses the tablet, seat controls and two cup holders hidden behind a slide cover, as well as a pull-out table on which to rest your glass of champagne. And you can keep the latter cold courtesy of the chilled compartment hidden between the two seats. Heck, even the two unsightly ISOFIX attachment points are hidden beneath zippers.
Engine and transmission
Shifting 2.2-tonnes of metal requires some significant force, and in the BMW M760Li that force arrives courtesy of a monstrous twin-turbocharged 6.6-litre V12 engine that will generate 448 kW at 5,500 rpm and 800Nm at 1,500 rpm.
It's paired with a ZF eight-speed automatic that's been "heavily adapted" for the M Performance 7 Series, and sends its power to all four wheels (a first for a passenger BMW in Australia) via an xDrive all-wheel-drive system.
It will push the big Beemer to 100km/h in just 3.7 seconds, and on to a limited top sped of 250km/h, but that can be increased to 305km/h in some markets, provided the owner's willing to undergo BMW driver training.
The M760Li xDrive will sip a claimed/combined 12.6 litres per hundred kilometres, and generate 294g/km of C02.
There are plenty of things you might expect to find in a luxury limousine in this price bracket. But equally, there are a few things you're probably not expecting to uncover. Namely launch control. And flappy-paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. And an M stamp on the chunky leather-wrapped wheel.
All of which point to the stunning performance of BMW's new flagship. And while the brand doesn't really think that any owners of this monstrous sedan are likely to venture off the highway and onto a racetrack, the mere fact it was willing to unleash the world's motoring media onto a series of private circuits in California says something about the level of engineering that's gone into this car.
The power is genuinely immense and straight-line acceleration is endlessly impressive.
It begins with that engine, a rich and thumping monster of a thing that dishes up an endless stream of torque to all four tyres, launching the 2.2-tonne beast forward with startling efficiency. Select Sport mode, engage launch control and stand on the accelerator and the M760LI xDrive lunges forward, climbing to and beyond 100km/h with absolutely no fuss.
We've no reason to doubt BMW's official 3.7sec number, but there's something about the calm, quiet and entirely fanfare-free way the M760Li accumulates speed that means it never quite feels that fast. That's likely a good thing for its owners, but we would have liked to experience more theatrics in the sprint to 100km/h.
Still, the power is genuinely immense and straight-line acceleration is endlessly impressive. But what's even more so is the way the M760Li xDrive conducted itself both on tight and twisting back roads and the high-speed bends of the racetrack. It can't hide its bulk completely, of course, but it's far more nimble than we were expecting and it can more than hold its own on the twisty stuff, thanks mostly to a combination of BMW's Executive Drive Pro suspension set up which helps control the inevitable body roll.
Despite the combination of immense power and immense bulk, it always feels predictable, with a lean toward understeer at the edge of its grip. The bespoke gearbox is crisp and sharp in its changes, whether you're hard-charging down as you approach a bend or you're cruising at city speeds.
It feels light and nimble on twisting country roads and while the steering feels a little dull at freeway speeds, it feels sharp and direct when biting into corners at pace. While it can feel slightly delayed in finding its power when cruising at freeway speeds, there's no such problem when you're driving enthusiastically. Especially when in manual mode, where huge chunks of torque appear every time you stab the accelerator.
The transformation back from performance weapon to supremely quiet and cosseting executive cruiser is hugely impressive.
It hangs on to a cornering line with endless grip, allowing you to feed more and more of that power to the wheels as you exit a bend before teleporting you into the next one, the cabin filled with a glorious blend of engine thrum, exhaust bass and a light fizzing and popping from the rear end.
Still, its core duty is to be a luxurious limousine, and BMW tells us the gap between Comfort and Sport modes is the furthest ever engineered into a BMW. Sure enough, the transformation back from performance weapon to supremely quiet and cosseting executive cruiser is hugely impressive. But it does raise the question, if you're buying this to ride in the backseat, why not buy a cheaper version?
But if you're looking for something that demands to be driven, few do it quite like the M760Li xDrive.
As you might expect, the M760Li xDrive gets the best of BMW's safety kit, which starts with nine airbags (two front, two front side, head airbags for both front and back passengers and a driver's knee bag), which join AEB, a surround view camera and BMW's night vision system that identifies pedestrians or animals in low light.
You'll also find a head-up display, an auto-parking system (that can be controlled from he key fob) and BMW's Driver Assistant Plus that includes Lane Departure Warning, Lane Control Assist and Active Cruise Control.
The BMW M760Li xDrive is covered by BMW's three-year, unlimited-kilometre, and is included in the brand's condition-based servicing program, which will alert you when a trip to the service centre is required. Service costs covering the first three years of ownership are included in the ticket price.