BMW has given the flagship 7-series a significant facelift for the 2020 model year.
The 7 last saw a full redesign for model year 2016 that brought it to the top of the segment of full-size luxury sedans. Before this mid-cycle refresh, we came to the conclusion that the current S-Class (reviewed here) had a bit of an edge over the 7-series, in overall upscale feel. We set out with a 2020 BMW 750Li xDrive, fully decked out with nearly all of the available options, to see just where it fits into the landscape of executive saloons.
The most noticeable thing about the 750Li’s update is the sheer size of the grille. BMW’s new corporate fascia consists of giant kidney grilles, which have surprisingly grown on me. The 7 looks handsome from most angles, and downright menacing from others. The generous 126.4” wheelbase on the long-wheelbase model contributes to an overall length of 207.1”. The refresh also includes new wheel designs, a general tidying up, and a redesigned rear end that incorporates a stunning light bar that puts on a real show when locking/unlocking the car at night.
Three powertrains are available on the new 7-series, starting with the “base” 745Le plug-in hybrid that uses a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder. The range topper is the excellent M760Li (reviewed here) with its thundering V12, but our tester is the sweet spot in the lineup. This 750Li uses an updated version of BMW’s infamous N63 motor, a twin-turbocharged 4.4L V8. Output is 523 horsepower at 6,000RPM and 553 lb-ft. at 1,800RPM. This thing is quick, hustling to 100km/h in just over four seconds.
Canadian 750Li models only come in an all-wheel-drive configuration, and the transmission is ZF’s eight-speed automatic, a very popular choice in the majority of the BMW lineup. Enough cannot be said about how buttery smooth and thoroughly superb this powertrain is. The 750Li not only gets up to speed quickly, but smoothly drives down the highway with the utmost confidence while keeping the driver and all occupants coddled while it does it.
The chassis is one of the best out there, though it’s definitely a departure from what differentiated 7-series models of the past. Typically, we know the 7 to be an executive sedan that’s more athletic than its Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Lexus rivals. This current one is a luxury car first and foremost, and the adjustable dampers can be configured to stiffen things up should you desire. Unfortunately, this often translates to an unnecessarily choppy ride rather than a sporty, well-sorted one. Our recommendation is to leave it in “Comfort” or “Comfort Plus” and enjoy the luxury.
In terms of handling, the 750Li with all of the M-Sport goodies feels sharper around corners than the comparable S-Class, and far more sorted than the current Lexus LS 500 (reviewed here). While ride quality in the sportier settings is definitely compromised, the steering has decent on-center feel and turns in sharply on command. The car goes where it’s pointed, and the right application of the throttle will induce some oversteer and make this barge dance gracefully.
While the 2020 750Li is too new to have fuel ratings, we observed a handy 10.9L/100km on longer highway driving. Our road test consisted of roughly 1,400km of combined driving and returned a relatively frugal 11.9L/100km. For a boosted V8, that’s not half bad. The tank holds 78L and requires 91-octane premium fuel, just like everything else in the segment.
Comfort is where any flagship luxury sedan excels, and the cabin of the updated 7-series is nothing short of breathtaking. Our test vehicle was upholstered in a gorgeous Fiona Red leather as part of the BMW Individual palate, and the diamond pattern stitching extends over the door and center armrests, which are now heated. Fit and finish is stunning, with lovely patterned wood throughout the cabin and satin metallic finishes around. The ambient lighting is very nice, with lighting accents in the glass for the front and rear sunroofs, making for a great place to spend time.
The front and rear seats (outboard) are heated and ventilated, with a massage function. Even in its most vigorous setting, the massage isn’t quite as aggressive as Mercedes-Benz or Audi’s applications; this is typical for BMW. That said, the seats themselves are very comfortable, and in long-wheelbase form the 750Li has ample space for rear seat passengers. In fact, one cool touch is the ability to adjust the front passenger seat from the driver’s seat controls. This would be handy if the driver needs to make additional space for the rear right passenger.
BMW has also stepped up connectivity in the new 7-series, including the new BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant, which can be summoned like Siri using the “Hey BMW” command. BMW remains the only automaker to offer wireless Apple CarPlay connectivity, but we observed significant glitches using this system, resorting to regular Bluetooth audio streaming to listen to music rather than CarPlay.
The piece of tech that we found most useful and seamless is BMW’s Driving Assistance program. Along with adaptive cruise control with stop and go, lane departure warning, and the rest of the collision prevention systems, the new 750Li can actually drive itself down the highway with minimal intervention. This system incorporates the cruise control and lane keep assist systems to maintain the course, and semi-autonomously drive the vehicle. For safety purposes, this system uses a camera to watch the driver and make sure they’re attentive.
Pricing starts at $126,400 for the 750Li xDrive, a $6,500 premium over the short-wheelbase model. Our test vehicle included a $4,900 Individual Package, $2,000 Advanced Driver Assistance Package, $5,250 Executive Lounge Package, and $7,500 Executive Package. Standalone options include BMW LaserLight headlights, a Sky Lounge panoramic sunroof, Ambient Air scents, M Sport brakes, and rear-wheel steering. The $4,900 Bowers and Wilkins Diamond sound system is an industry leader, and brings the total to just under $160,000.
Long story short, the 2020 BMW 750Li xDrive is a technology-filled luxury sedan that has set a new benchmark for the full-size executive saloon. Its driving dynamics are absolutely Mercedes-like with the ability to out-handle just about any other big cushy sedan out there. Don’t get me wrong – the current S 560 is still an outstanding choice and there’s a reason it still sells so well. But while the S-Class may be the perennial favourite in the segment, the 7 has caught up and for now, sits right at the top of that podium.