BMW M760Li xDrive V12 (2017) review

Published: 05 February 2017

The new BMW 760Li xDrive V12
  • At a glance
  • 5 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5

By Keith Jones

Contributor and continuity editor on our sister website Parkers.co.uk

By Keith Jones

Contributor and continuity editor on our sister website Parkers.co.uk

► BMW unleashes an M7… almost
► 602bhp bi-turbo V12, 3.7sec 0-62mph
► Wickedly fast, yet pampers too

There’s something of Dr Bruce Banner about the new 7-series flagship, the BMW M760Li. 

Impeccably well-mannered, bristling with intelligence and reassuringly easy to live with, yet when provoked, it’s a visceral and snarlingly potent performance car. 

This is the first 7er prefixed with an M, but it’s no full-fat Motorsport division M5 writ large. Consider it a BMW toe in the sports limo water, the pinnacle of the M Performance sub-brand-within-a-sub-brand. One not short of mechanical might, though, as the liberal smattering of V12 logos confirm.

Three decades of BMW V12s

Shoehorned into the BMW’s engine bay is its latest-generation 12-cylinder powerplant, 30 years on since the debut of the E32 750iL. 

Now boasting a 6.6-litre capacity, its induction forced by a pair of turbochargers, there’s a 602bhp glut at your disposal, enough for a 189mph top speed when you opt for the M Driver’s Package – otherwise you’re electronically governed to a sedate 155mph.

BMW M760Li xDrive V12 (2017) review

Metering out 590lb ft of torque through a familiar eight-speed automatic ’box is the xDrive all-wheel drive system – albeit with a high jinks-enabling rear axle bias. The resultant 3.7-second 0-62mph time feels comfortably attainable, especially with the easy-to-engage launch control system.

Launch control in a 7-series? Whatever next!

It does seem incongruous having such boy racer gizmos in a limousine. But here’s the thing: restrict yourself to Comfort mode and the V12’s demeanour is joyfully docile. Think Rolls Royce Ghost-light and you’re about there: it’s effortless to drive smoothly and without drama.

So hushed are the dozen pistons, so cossetingly comfortable the air-suspended ride, so anaesthetised the steering, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact you’re in a XXL sports saloon at all. 

But as impressive as that disconnect with the outside world is, the BMW is still out-limoed by the ubiquitous S-class, the Mercedes proving even more luxurious, refined and spacious.

So when does the M760 begin to make sense?

Engaging Sport mode – and switching off DSC – dramatically alters the character of the M760Li xDrive V12 (that full name is a mouthful, isn't it?).

Delivering that Hulk Smash pummelling is a raft of electronica, controlling every aspect of the way the BMW drives, but it’s done in a way that amplifies the 7’s capabilities, rather than interfering with them; your confidence builds as you press on. And then you press on some more.

We test the nearest thing you can get to a BMW M7

Executive Drive Pro suspension sounds teeth-itchingly naff for such a sophisticated system that proactively reduces body roll of the hunkered down saloon, making it feel remarkably nimble for something so gargantuan. 

Rapid directional changes are made possible not only by the proactive electronic anti-rollbars and intelligent all-wheel drive system, but also by a trick steering system: its rack’s quicker than lesser 7s, with manoeuvrability improved further by rear-wheel steering, negating the likelihood of mid-corner understeer. Just a pity the feedback through to your fingertips isn’t quite as communicative as we’d like.

I thought you said it wasn’t interfering…

It sounds like it could nanny rather than sate enthusiastic drivers, but BMW’s M division has created the M760Li with engagement firmly in mind.

Sure, the Michelin Pilot Super Sports – 245/40s up front and 275/35s at the rear – grip tenaciously in humdrum conditions, but they also allow for a degree of playfulness when the opportunity arises. The rear-biased xDrive arrangement is well-judged; no drift mode heroics here, just natural steering angle/throttle balance.

Forget the 7’s size, you can rewardingly hustle it along.

Yet while all the lairy antics are going on, the ride – now necessarily firmer – is still adept enough to smooth out poorly-surfaced asphalt.

Does the engine overwhelm that nimbleness?

All that performance can be clinical if the soundtrack’s lacking gravitas, but there’re no worries on that musical score. Straightened, big of bore and active valve-equipped to increase the resonance, the M760Li sounds suitably racy in Sport mode.

Inside the BMW M760Li cabin

If the soundtrack’s enticing, the V12’s wave of torque is addictive, its depths plumbable from 1550rpm all the way up to 5000rpm. That linearity reduces the need for a mid-corner gearchanges, further maintaining the BMW’s balance, and allowing you to indulge in the relentlessness of the acceleration as you wind off the steering post-apex.

Of course, all that go’s a bit too exciting if there’s not enough woah to rein it all in: 19-inch ventilated discs – four-piston callipers up front – ensure its never lacking in stopping power.

Looks

If you’re forking out north of £130,000 for a performance saloon you’ll want it to look the part, hence the M Aerodynamic package, with gaping grilles in the deeper front apron, a vestigial bootlid spoiler and exterior accents in matt grey. The rims are 20 inchers and specific to the M760Li, too.

And if you fancy the full-on chrome glitz of the Excellence model’s oligarch approach, then rejoice upon the news that it’s a no-cost option.

BMW M760Li xDrive in profile

Verdict

BMW expects to sell around 100 M760Lis in the UK, representing 5% of 2017’s intended volume. Its niche appeal’s undeniable but equally something worthy of celebration: evidently there are plutocrats who love nothing more than taming a snaking stretch of B-road, emerging at their destination wearing a satisfied grin.

For that select band of clientele, that it’s merely very good – rather than exceptional – in limo mode, is a small price to pay for such an accomplished sports sedan. 

Unlike Dr Banner, you would like the BMW when it’s angry.

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Specs

Price when new: £132,310
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 6592cc 48-valve twin-turbocharged V12-cyl petrol, 602bhp @ 5500rpm, 590lb ft @ 1550rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Performance: 3.7 sec 0-62mph, 155mph, 22.0mpg, 294g/km of CO2
Weight / material: 2180kg/steel, aluminium, magnesium and carbonfibre
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 5238/1902/1479

Rivals

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Photo Gallery

  • The latest in a long line of V12 BMW 7-series
  • 760Li based on long-wheelbase 7-series
  • Techfest cabin not much altered from regular Seven
  • We tested the BMW 760Li xDrive in the US
  • V12 badging denotes this BMW has the 6.6-litre bent twelve onboard
  • Waft one minute, take Porsche Boxsters apart the next...
  • Yes, a 200mph speedo!
  • V12 kick plates on way into comfy leather seats
  • Author Keith Jones tests the BMW 760Li on track
  • Not quite an M7, no. But not too far off it
  • Enough V12 badging to make a Lamborghini owner green
  • It's CAR magazine's BMW M760Li review

By Keith Jones

Contributor and continuity editor on our sister website Parkers.co.uk

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