Mountain Wheels: BMW’s superb, $130k 7-Series serves it up for the one-percenters
2016 BMW 750i xDrive
MSRP: $97,400; As tested, $129,245
Powertrain: 445-HP 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine; eight-speed automatic transmission
EPA figures: 19 MPG combined (16 city, 25 highway)
All Trump, no Bernie. It’s as simple as that: If you want the ideal vehicle for toting around American royalty, the $130K (as tested) high-performance limo of the future is probably more geared to Manhattan dealmakers than Vermonty greensters.
But should you be in the Captains of Industry category yourself and you’ve made it your mission to find the cushiest, most well-appointed cabin in which you can park yourself while being ferried between secret midwinter shareholders’ retreats in Telluride and Beaver Creek, let us say that the new BMW 750i pretty much takes the cake.
From the shock-and-awe effect of bits such as the LED-spangled sunroof panels (for those who find natural sky patterns too gauche) to tablet-controlled, Barcolounger-worthy rear seating or the majesty of gesture control (wave your hand in the air to control the stereo, climate control and more), the new 7-Series has very rightfully earned its equally Trumpish title as World Luxury Car.
We simple folk may not know it, but there’s still ample competition for hyperluxurious automobiles which blend largesse and chauffeured comfort with dynamic agility — loaded down with import-export executives and hauling along some unpopulated part of the German Autobahn at high triple-digit speeds — and so the new 7-Series has packed technology, power and ample creature comfort into one imposing package.
I had to make do with the 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 version, with its 445 horsepower still putting the car into orbit at a second’s notice. But the recently announced 760i with its 6.6-liter V-12 makes a more satisfactory 610 horsepower, and can hit highway speed from a standing start in 3.7 seconds. So, yes, these Lincoln Town Car-sized machines are no slouches.
And as a small concession to those who like their bombast with more ecological responsibility, there are also 3.0-liter six-cylinder or plug-in hybrid versions of the vehicle as well, though my xDrive AWD-equipped V-8 was rated for a not unreasonable 25 highway mpg. BMW’s AWD system provides you or, more likely, your driver, with additional handling stability in year-round circumstances.
The ride, just like something out of a Prince song, is otherworldly, especially with the optional Active Comfort Drive system which, amazingly, electronically scans the approaching road surface and adapts the suspension to soften (or stiffen) the response — allowing the car to corner eerily flat in even the tightest of turns. Whoever is driving has the ability to magically stick deep, deep into corners and then gallop away with an orchestra of V-8 exhaust noise.
That’s going to be a rare occurrence, one presumes, if the 7-Series is fitted with the Executive Lounge Seating package, which anoints the rear passenger-side occupant with perforated leather seating, deep pile carpets, fluffy headrests and even a power-activated footrest. A fold-out tray table of futuristic, private jet-worthy design is an additionally pleasant touch. And there are ashtrays aplenty.
The aforementioned Samsung tablet helps control the power shades, a set of seatback video screens and provides access to climate and entertainment options, as well as the ability to remotely monitor the speed and vivaciousness of your driver’s progress, before poking he or she with your cane or placing a call to ask he or she to slow down a bit. You can also dial up the BMW Vitality Program for a seat massage or manage the two-scent aromatherapy/ionization system to enhance or lighten the mood. Yes, the car really does that.
Like the sleekly updated exterior, the 7-Series cabin sparkles with touches such as a full suede headliner – even the sunroof shades are suede, for the love of Pete – plus real aluminum and Chestnut trim, and a remarkable LED lighting setup that wraps around the entire front and back cabin and can be customized to your passenger’s delight.
The poor and neglected character who actually has to drive the 7-Series gets to experience with the gesture control system and also contend with a simple but awfully data-heavy digital instrument display (one that gets red and pared down in Sport driving mode). First-of-their-kind bits include digitized, color climate controls and even touchscreen sliders for vent output.
Among a million other technological systems, the lane-keep assist here gets very handsy when you put it in automatic mode, quite actively yanking the wheel to keep you in line, plus parking and navigational aids that create a synthetic image of the vehicle itself to allow easier moorage.
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