Mountain Wheels: BMW’s elegant 750ix offers executive-class motoring
It was exciting, back in the old free-wheeling days of interactive society, to be able to share an auto experience with other people. You know, go for a joyride, show off, cruise Main Street — all that kind of stuff.
So I harken back to a kinder, gentler time when I had a very beautiful BMW 750ix, the all-wheel drive, 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 powered version of the German executive-class cruiser, and I was able to load it up with people I knew and even load a bike-carrying rack on the rear to ferry them home. That seems like a million years ago.
As I remember, my friends who normally drive Subarus were very, very impressed with what $126,145 of automotive technology and Nappa leather looks, feels and even smells like as we cruised in an expensive, elegant vehicle that offers a curious contradiction.
The newest 7 Series, the sixth generation of BMW’s successful full-sized luxury sedan, debuted in the middle of last year, loaded to the gills with electronic entertainment and safety technology that’s gradually appeared in the more pedestrian members of the family.
While pricey, the model I drove was still right in the middle of the range, with simper six-cylinder and old-school, robber baron-styled 600-horsepower V-12 engines on either ends of the spectrum, plus a plug-in hybrid version.
Mine still provided an impressive 523 horsepower, a jump in 80 horsepower from the previous V-8, with 553 pound-feet of pass-charging torque. Combine that with an effortlessly smooth eight-speed automatic and the optional xDrive all-wheel drive system, and it’s a VIP machine that can also handle winter’s worst.
At this end of the automotive food chain, things get a bit uncertain: Is this a car that’s designed to be driven like a champ, or more created for shuttling executives between executive jets and executive housing?
The answer there would be “yes,” it does both duties, in fantastic style. The 7 Series carries with it real grandeur, absolutely overwhelming levels of onboard entertainment and luxury — found in the Rear Executive Lounge’s ultra-quilted seating and pillowy headrests of the rear seat, complete with recline and massage functions that make it like a spa treatment. Your rear control screen gives you control over the whole vehicle’s entertainment system, and there’s even a detachable Samsung tablet back there for more nuanced control.
Up front, while the seating thankfully does not put the driver into nap-at-the-wheel mode like Tesla products seem to offer, it’s a whole lot of wowee-zowie, with simplified but comprehensive infotainment inputs and displays.
And despite a mass and presence that makes it feel like it carries the gravitas of an ultra-modernized 1970s sedan, the V-8-powered 7 Series really, really moves. It’s so big that the chromed window trim looks like it could encircle a hockey rink. The 20-inch alloy wheels are huge.
That bigness becomes quickly evident on curves. I rolled up to Keystone Resort over Loveland Pass and noticed the tonnage in the corners, elegant but evident, so remember that as you and your real or implied passengers cruise in style (and also beware of a very, very invasive robotic lane-correction system). Underneath, a mixture of lightweight materials and even a carbon-fiber safety cage helps minimize the car’s scale, but it still certainly feels big.
Do not come looking for fuel economy, though the six-cylinder or plug-in hybrid versions might help; I got just under 21 mpg during my rampages.
For its 2020 and beyond models, 7 Series visual changes include a taller front end, a very long hood, and an enhanced and chromed-out version of the trademark kidney-shaped grille, with smaller headlamps and ultra-high-output LaserLight lamps as an option. In the rear, a redesign brings a tail-width light strip.
The rear seat is definitely the showcase here, with tall, almost theater-styled seating and even quilted armrests in the doors, beautiful German-styled ashtrays/Bowers and Wilkins speaker combinations and glossy hardwood highlights. It’s all quite delightfully overwhelming and accessed through super-wide-opening rear doors.
In terms of seasonal utility, the trunk was not that huge, so I employed a ski pass-through gate in the rear center console for that duty; as mentioned, we also temporarily attached a bike rack to the tail, which I think will pretty much be the only time that ever happens in history.
Feeling overwhelmed? Try out the iDrive system’s Wellbeing Mode, which blends lights and air conditioning effects to whisk you away.
Andy Stonehouse’s column “Mountain Wheels” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Stonehouse has worked as an editor and writer in Colorado since 1998, focusing on automotive coverage since 2004. He lives in Greeley. Contact him at email@example.com.
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