More than just a pretty interior and fancy materials, it’s also a full blown performance machine.
Once you’ve made it in life, there’s a good chance that you’ll need to arrange transportation to go with your keys to success. There are a few natural choices in this area, and the BMW 7-series is most definitely one of them. Available in a multitude configurations and equipment levels, the 7 has long been among the kings of luxury sedans, thanks to its unparalleled performance and comfort levels. For nearly forty years, drivers have enjoyed the 7 Series through its six generations. With the latest model being all new for 2016, BMW Canada sent over a Carbon Black Metallic 2016 BMW 750i M-Sport xDrive for a week of evaluation.
With a starting price of $113,900, the 750i xDrive commands a decent amount of cash. As is the case with most upscale German vehicles, there’s an infinite amount of configuration and customization that can be done. For $6,500, the Executive Package adds soft close doors, side sunshades, cooled seats, a leather instrument panel, front driver and passenger massage seats, as well as an Alcantara roof liner. $4,200 gives you the Driver Assistance Package, which includes headlight washers, park assistance, and night vision. Among other equipment, standalone options include a $500 Ambient Air Package that gives passengers a full blown air freshener and purification system, and $4,900 added a Bowers and Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System. In total, the as-tested price came out to a cool $132,600.
The interior of the 2016 BMW 750i xDrive was finished in a beautiful Cognac Extended Nappa Leather, and seat comfort was second to none. The massage function worked well, with both back and bottom cushion massage options that can be configured in a multitude of ways and intensity levels. Glossy wood trim contrasts the brown leather very well, and the overall design gives off the appearance of great attention to detail. The brushed aluminum Bowers and Wilkins speaker grilles were an especially nice touch, with small holes precisely punched to draw attention to the some of the best audio quality ever seen in a vehicle.
BMW’s iDrive forms the basis of the multimedia system of the 750i. It took quite a bit of time and was a bit frustrating to get used to the sheer level of configuration. The navigation map was crystal sharp, with both voice and handwriting inputs for destinations – the top surface of the iDrive control wheel can be used as a touch pad for handwriting. There’s also a built-in Internet browser, and it was possible to bring up the whole DoubleClutch.ca Magazine with relative ease. For parking, a set of cameras are able to provide a 360-degree view of all obstacles. Even better, it’s possible to have an out of body experience while parking, thanks to a third person view in which the driver can rotate the camera around to assess what’s around the car.
For those germophobes who would rather not touch anything during their drive, BMW has included gesture control for a variety of multimedia functions. Pointing near the screen and rotating your finger clockwise increases the audio volume, and vice versa for lowering it. Making a horizontal “peace” sign calls up the navigation function, and there’s also another gesture available for moving the 360-degree third person view around while parking. Initially, it was a bit difficult to make smooth gesture inputs, but as the week progressed, minute volume or camera adjustments became much easier.
Rear seat passengers aren’t forgotten, and the 750i features two large (non-touch) screens and full remote and climate control by way of an Android-based tablet. Those in back can fully control the audio and front passenger seat adjustments, and the comfort levels are just as good as the front seats, with the exception of the massage function. While the 750i is a great vehicle to be driven around in, it’s likely better suited for drivers who like luxury on top of comfort. For those who get driven around, the 750Li with Executive Lounge Package (reviewed here) is probably the one to consider, as it has even more goodies for the passengers on top of an absurd amount of legroom.
Outside, the 750i receives a relatively understated design compared to the Bangle era of BMW products of the early 2000s. While not a significant departure from the past, it’s a very natural evolution of the controversial older designs and fits in well for 2016. LED headlights improve the looks up front, and the Carbon Black Metallic paint had a slight tint of blue that gave the 750i some pop when under the sun. While the test vehicle was originally equipped with $3,000 optional 21-inch alloy M-Sport wheels, it was delivered with more plain 19-inchers wrapped in 245/45R19 all-season rubber. Wheels can have a significant impact on a vehicle’s appearance, and unfortunately, the regular 19-inch wheels made the 750i look more like a base 528i, and therefore looked completely anonymous in traffic.
The good news, however, is that the 750i xDrive does not have an anonymous engine. A 4.4-litre twin turbocharged V8 makes 445 horsepower and a whopping 480 lb-ft of torque. Combined with the traction of the xDrive all-wheel drive system, BMW says that the sprint from zero to 100 kilometres per hour happens in a mere 4.5 seconds. With the two twin-scroll turbochargers mounted on top of the engine in a “hot V” arrangement, as well as direct fuel injection, there was just about zero turbo lag and instant throttle response. The power stayed strong throughout the rev range and the 750i pulled like a freight train no matter what was thrown at it. It also provided a very pleasant exhaust note that wasn’t too loud and was perfectly suited for a luxury car that also performs.
In the transmission department, the 750i came with an eight-speed automatic transmission that also did not miss a beat. It’s the ubiquitous ZF 8HP transmission seen in many other BMW and other automakers’ products (including Chrysler and Audi), but BMW engineers have created one of the best calibrations of the 8HP in the 750i. Even when set to full comfort mode, shifts are lighting fast yet imperceptible, creating a seamless and uninterrupted amount of acceleration. There was no gear hunting, and the 7 was always in the right ratio for the right conditions.
With manual control via the shifter or steering wheel mounted paddles, calling for a manual shift in the upper end of the rev range resulted in a satisfying pop of the exhaust as the engine’s control computer momentarily dialed back the power in order to perform the shift. Combined with the turbo V8, it’s a fantastic combination that hauls ass, yet never feels laboured or unrefined as it does so.
With that much power, one might expect the fuel economy to take a hit, and while the 750i will not be as efficient as say, a mid-size sedan, it still delivers respectable numbers. With a city fuel economy rating of 14.3 L/100km and a highway rating of 9.3 L/100km, we were able to extract 11.4 L/100km in mixed driving. Of course, the 750i takes premium fuel only, and a 78-litre fuel tank will mean that the big BMW will get a decent amount of highway range before requiring a stop for gas.
For its $132,600 price tag, the ride and handling characteristics of the 2016 BMW 750i xDrive delivered quite well. In the Comfort suspension setting, ride quality was absolutely sublime, with the optional Active Comfort Drive with Road Preview acted to absorb every single little bump on the road. This system uses variable dampers and active sway-bar control to prevent much of the dive and squat motions that are characteristic of a soft and comfortable suspension, while also serving to improve handling during more dynamic driving. It also uses information from the navigation system as part of its analysis of upcoming road conditions, further improving the ride and handling experience. There was only one drawback that cut into the 750i’s refinement, with a small rattle emanating from the rear ski pass-through.
Sport, Comfort, and Eco Pro setting options are available for engine, transmission, and suspension configuration, and for most of the week, Sport Individual mode was used in order to allow for some extra tweaks on the 750’s subsystems. Engine, transmission, and suspension each were set to full soft, and steering was set to full firm. This allowed the 750i to remain riding on a cloud, while still staying very connected to the road with the extra starch in the steering. Even in Comfort mode, the handling remained considerably better than expected for a sedan of this size and weight.
At the end of the day, the 2016 BMW 750i M-Sport provided for wonderful motoring that matches its six-figure price tag. More than just a pretty interior and fancy materials, it’s also a full blown performance machine that remains comfortable in both city and highway driving. A fire-breathing, twin-turbo V8 engine as well as an always on-point eight-speed transmission make driving fun whether going slow or fast, and the amazing Bowers and Wilkins audio keeps things entertaining. The technology level in the 7-series is also nothing to scoff at, and the automotive industry can always count on the flagship BMW sedan to be loaded with state of the art equipment. While many don’t have the opportunity to purchase a six-figure sedan in their lifetime, those who do would be wise to consider the 750i.