There are few cars that say “you’ve arrived”. Make no mistake, I’m not referring to the physical being of arriving. I’m referring to your financial success. And nothing probably says this better than BMW’s 7-series.
BMW’s 7-series is offered in a variety of variants, which include an ActiveHybrid 7, the V12 760i, the V8 750i, the 740i, and lastly, the Alpina B7. The entire line is available in BMW’s “L”, or limousine version, which extends the car’s wheel base and provides ample leg room in the back seat.
I drove the 750Li to and from Vegas a few weeks ago and racked up over 500 miles in a matter of a few days. Like the ActiveHybrid 5 I wasn’t ready to return the vehicle. But alas, I’m stricken to a 7-day review, which as I’ve lamented many times before is an underwhelming amount of time to review a car of this breadth and class.
Much like the ActiveHyrbid 5, and really any car under the BMW moniker, this is a best in class cabin. Sitting in the cockpit of the 750Li is akin to relaxing in your favorite chair in your living room. While massaging front seats are neither here nor there, the heating pads are a phenomenal, as is the support and adjustment options.
As always, there is a sort of timelessness to BMW’s interiors, and the 750Li’s is nothing short of delivering on that notion. Words don’t do it justice (hence the pics), but the 750Li’s interior is a perfect intersection of style and comfort. The dash contains a multidisc DVD player that is accessible behind a wood facade that sweeps up a bit like a garage door, along with all the necessary zone controls for heating and cooling.
The car’s climate controls, along with heated seat options and defrost buttons are all instantly accessible within an arms reach. Two of the most pertinent of buttons, the power door lock button and the hazard button, are intelligently segregated from the other controls in the event that haste is required.
Cabin size, or should I say depth, is unparalleled in the 750Li. Looking through the back window, or turning around to speak to someone in the backseat takes acclimation thanks to the excessive amount of leg room. So think twice if you’re going to physically impose yourself on your misbehaving children – odds are they’ll be able to “run” away from you.
But with this kind of a back seat, it’s likely that the kids won’t fall victim to their feuding ways as they’ll be pacified by the car’s spacious , fully adjustable, heated, and massaging seats. Complementing that are dual 9-inch screens, and although they share the same iDrive control unit, as found in the front of the car, perhaps they’ll learn how to share. Which in turns means they’ll excel in school for demonstrating exceptional diplomacy at such a young age.
The 2013 7-series, while not a new body style for this year, recently under went some slight exterior changes that are probably best described as a facelift. The front grill has less slats, stands more upright, and is complemented by what I’m told are lower air in takes. The back has also received a few tweaks, though honestly, I’d be hard pressed to spot them at a quick glance.
That all being said, the 7-series, and the limo version no less, is still an elegantly large vehicle. While it measures an exceptionally long length of 205.2″ – 5.5″ longer than the 750i – the 750Li’s exterior doesn’t look representative of its interior size, which is a good thing.
The version I drove included BMW’s M package, which added the company’s 5-spoke 20-inch sport wheels, M badging to the door jams, sport steering wheel, and some body effects that I could either take or leave. All together it’s a $3,300 option (that doesn’t include the 20-inch wheel, which are another $1,300), and since these enhancements are really aesthetic upgrades to the exterior and interior, I see it as money wasted, especially in a vehicle that isn’t destined for aggressive driving.
Nevertheless, my Imperial Blue Metallic 750Li could easily be mistaken for black in the correct lighting conditions, and no matter it’s model, 740 or 760, it’s sure to impress.
While some BMWs models have more features than others, there is one feature that sustains throughout the entire series, provided of course a nav system is selected in the purchasing process. And that my friends is the iDrive system. As I stated in my ActiveHyrbid 5 review, it’s a best in class system that has yet to be rivaled in speed, cleanliness and aesthetics.
And in this year’s 7-series it just got better thanks to a processor upgrade to 1.4Ghz and version 4.2. Normally that kind of referenced spec on a car would be a moot issue to me. But despite not being aware of this upgrade during my testing period, I could immediately tell, by the naked eye alone that the system’s speed had increased over the 5a I reviewed weeks prior. Screen transitions are fluid and easy on the eyes. There is virtually no lag between selecting an option and watching it emerge on the car’s display.
It would seem that BMW spared almost no expense with my review car. In addition to rear seats that massage, heat, and cool those willing to participate, they includes dual 9-inch screens controllable by another iDrive based system in the center rear arm rest. Other added options included lane departure warning, BMW apps, and a heads up display. I’ve used a HUD in a car before, and found it useful, though I was disappointed to see that I couldn’t adjust its brightness or height in the 750Li.
Also included in my model was a Bang and Olufsen sound system, a $3,700 upgrade. Hold on to your cash, because it’s relatively unremarkable. It’s sound stage is very shallow, bass response a bit hollow and lacks the kind of response I’d expect from a brand and price of this magnitude. Nevertheless, the center speaker, which brings the total package to 16, does rise out of the center dash, which is cool, but in fact hard to detect if it has an impact on the sound quality for the better.
The adaptive headlights, as well as auto sensing high beams work effortlessly to ensure a safer drive. And although one might argue that they’re not paramount to safety, I can only argue their point after returning to my older model car, which lacks them and makes driving down a dark road a much more profound experience.
The 750Li’s ride is akin to a cloud of air, or as close as one can get to sitting on a cloud. Using a switch located next to the car’s gear selector, you can quickly and effortlessly change the car’s chassis and engine settings. I covered these relatively well in my ActiveHyrbid 5 review, though so check out that review for additional details. That said, my 750Li is gas only, so while it can’t run on electricity alone, it does have the ability to defeat the engine at stop lights. Gas savings are probably negligible, and if you’re not a fan of the rather disconcerting sensation of the start/stop you can turn it off permanently or simple press your foot down on the brake rather harshly to restart the engine.
In either Sport modes the 750Li, despite its large size, fires off like a bat out of hell. My review car included BMW’s Active Roll Stabilization system, a $2,500 up charge, and believe me, it doesn’t totally negate body roll. However, I haven’t driven a 7-series without it, so it’s hard for me to say how effective the system is and whether or not the added cost is justifiable. Nevertheless, this car can handle corners in spite of its 4,660lb curb weight.
Comfort is largely the mainstay of the 7-series, with performance coming second, so it was only fitting to test the 750Li’s suspension. Driving over a number of Californian designated “speed humps” proved that the 750Li is not only fit for the corners, but can successfully absorb the road dips, cracks, and obstacles, even with the larger, 20-inch wheels equipped.
Brake feel is always a paramount concern, and if you read my ActiveHybrid 5 review, then you know that was a major sore spot with the particular model. I’m glad to report that the 750Li’s brakes are anything but an issue, and performed commensurate to the rate at which they were pressed; passengers weren’t lurching forward or complaining. That said, their stopping power is admirable and well suited for car of this ilk.
Adding additional pleasure to my driving experience, was BMW’s automatic dual-clutch transmission. For the most part shifts were seamless. So seamless in fact, that it’s a bit analogous to driving a single gear car. Manually shifting between gears negates some of the smoothness, but all the while exemplifies the transmissions speed from one gear to the next.
Fuel consumption for the 750Li’s 4.4l 440hp V8 is spec’d at 24 highway and 16 city. Since the majority of my driving was highway, I can only speak to that. I’m happy to report I achieved on average 24.9MPG during my road trips. Not too shabby for a V8 engine that can snap your head back and then quickly soothe you into submission thanks its rear massaging seats.
Although performance isn’t the mainstay of the 750Li, it’s surprisingly adequate off the line. Curvier roads, at speeds above 35mph will show signs of some body roll, but it’s largely a moot issue since you’ll float across pot holes that would otherwise sends shock waves down your spine if you were seated in the company’s 335i coupe.
Personally, I’d never opt for the L or Limo version. It seems pointless. I’ll never be chauffeured around in my car, especially one that drives this easily and spiritedly. And if I had kids, screw ’em. They don’t need the extra leg room, and passengers, which are few and far between, can easily survive in the regular 750i.
The base price of the BMW 750Li is $90,000. As driven, my review car retails for $117,245.