The Mercedes-Benz S-Class has always been the definition of the full-size executive sedan. However, the BMW 7-series pushes all the right buttons for that target market as well. It’s huge, it’s classy, and due to its pedigree as “The Ultimate Driving Machine”, it has some athletic characteristics too. While the S-Class is an absolute dream on long highway hauls (and of course, to be driven in), the 7-series is inarguably one of the sportiest sedans in the class. I decided to spend some time with a 2014 BMW 750i xDrive from the Individual Collection to see how it behaves on some of my favourite driving roads.
The 740i and 750i are now available with all-wheel-drive, joining the Lexus LS, the Audi A8, Hyundai Equus, Porsche Panamera, and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. While I personally have no issue with the huge sedan being rear-drive only, it was only inevitable for the automaker to eventually gravitate towards all-wheel-drive. No complaints here, the car still handles wonderfully. One important thing to note is that the alphanumeric naming scheme of the car no longer refers to engine size or displacement. The 750i is not powered by a 5.0L engine.
Under the hood of this flagship sedan is an all-new twin-turbocharged 4.4L V8. It puts out 445 horsepower and 480 lb-ft of torque. BMW claims it will take the 750i just under 4.7 seconds to hit the 100 km/h mark. The transmission of choice is the 8-speed automatic sourced from transmission giant ZF; I have made it no secret that this is my favourite automatic transmission available on today’s market. Surprisingly for a car of this size, putting the big 7 into “Sport+” unleashes an animal. Power is always on tap, and if you listen carefully, you can hear the turbos spooling. Anybody who says the 750i isn’t enough power is crazy, but the twin-turbo V12-powered 760i and fire-breathing Alpina B7 are also available.
Sport+ mode may be fun and all, but the power-hungry enthusiast would rarely opt for a 7-series. This car is made for the executive class, and its sweet spot is in the “Comfort+” setting. This is the mode where the driver can go about his or her daily business in calm, quiet serenity without interruptions. The 750i is one of those sedans that doesn’t feel as big as it is once you’re out on the open roads. Hit the highway, engage radar cruise control, and the miles seem to fly by. The engine note is lovely and all, but my test car was equipped with the optional Bang & Olufsen sound system.
Typically, the audio range in the BMW lineup goes from “BMW Professional” to an upgraded Harman-Kardon system, then the range-topper is the Bang & Olufsen setup. I had the chance to speak with a rep from this reputed audio brand (which also happens to be one of my favourites) and learn of the precision and tuning that goes into each system. Where other manufacturers may take the same sound system (with a few speakers added or removed here and there) and stuff it across their whole lineup, the partnership between BMW and Bang & Olufsen ensures that each system is specifically tuned and catered towards the car it’s put into. This ensures that the B&O system in the 2014 BMW X5 I drove this past winter is significantly different than the one in this car. It sounds the part and truly is something to be heard, but I can’t help but wonder if it’s worth the added $4,900 price tag over the Harman-Kardon system.
BMW’s Individual Collection allows the buyer to order the car catered specifically towards his or her needs (er… wants – nobody NEEDS a $135,000 sedan). My particular test car was optioned quite heavily and is particularly special. Painted a lovely Azurite Black Metallic with Opal White Merino leather, it stands out from the plethora of black-on-black 7-series’ driving around downtown Toronto on any given day. Adding to a starting price of $105,500, my tester came in at a hefty $136,150 as-tested. Toys from the Individual Collection included the unique colour scheme, BMW Individual reading lights, an alcantara roof liner, and piano black wood trim. Other options included the Executive Package (soft close doors, active seats, rear view camera, rear sunshades, automatic trunk, Sirius), the Technology & Vision Package (Night Vision with Pedestrian Detection, surround view cameras, Driving Assistant Plus, and Blind Spot Detection), and the M-Sport Package (Dynamic Drive, Ceramic Control, M Aerodynamics, bigger wheels).
My road test consisted of all city driving, so I wasn’t able to gauge how the 750i’s fuel mileage would be on a highway road trip. I’ve seen our friends at other magazines get the numbers into the 10.5L/100km mark. Driving around the city, I observed 15.5L/100km, but I will admit that it was a particularly cold day, and this included a little bit of idle time while photo and videography was being done. The one area where I think BMW has a bit of catching up to do is in the exterior styling department. The 7-series is a pretty good-looking car, but it’s nowhere near as polarizing as the gorgeous new S-Class or the current A8. If current concepts are any hint at the future though, this should be rectified in the forthcoming generation.
I have always had a spot for the 7-series. My favourite body style 7 was known by the chassis code “E38”, and I always lusted after a particular black one in long-wheelbase guise with the post-facelift (2000-2001) taillights. This new one is seriously athletic and save for the Porsche Panamera GTS/Turbo, would hold its own against its competitors quite nicely in the performance department. For buyers who prefer to be driven, a long-wheelbase 750Li is probably the better choice, but that becomes a bit too large for me. If I were buying a 7, there’s only way to have one: black-on-black, rear-drive, with the M-Sport and Executive packages. It’s the perfect luxury car for the executive, and that’s never going to change.
2014 BMW 750i xDrive Gallery