► Closest BMW has ever come to building an M7
► 6.6-litre TT V12 good for 592bhp, 590lb ft
► 0-62mph in 3.9sec, 189mph limited top speed
It’s unlike BMW to feel demur, but for reasons best known to Munich, it’s never felt the need to challenge the Mercedes-AMG S-class range with a fire-breathing 7-series. Until now: meet the new M760Li xDrive – it’s got a 592bhp 6.6-litre twin-turbo V12 under the bonnet.
Snappy name, M Division – what was wrong with M7?
Seems the boys and girls from Bavaria still don’t think the luxury limo sector is ready for a full-on M-car, complete with the hardcore chassis and bodywork tuning that would entail. So the M760Li is one of those increasingly common M Performance models instead.
BMW design chief Adrian van Hooydonk told CAR that the V12 luxury saloon market was much more conservative. 'People don't want to shout about it - that's why we offer them the car with or without the bodykit.'
Spec your M760Li correctly, then, and you can have a genuine Q-car on your hands.
The specs of that V12
To decode the moniker a little further, the L means it's only available as a long-wheelbase version of the 7-series, while the xDrive – as you’re probably aware by now – means it’s fitted with four-wheel drive. Which is handy when the 12-banger under the bonnet produces 590lb ft at just 1500rpm.
So has M Division actually done anything except stick a badge on it?
Oh, yes. The V12 is a fully paid up member of the M Division club, reaching peak power at 5500rpm and gunning this plutocratic rocket sled 0-62mph in just 3.9sec – which is 0.4sec faster than even the mighty Mercedes-AMG S65 and its 621bhp biturbo V12 can manage. Special M calibration for the eight-speed automatic gearbox helps with this process, as does the 7er’s weight-reducing Carbon Core structure.
Top speed is limited to the usual 155mph ceiling – but only if you don’t spec the optional M Driver’s Package, which extends the M760Li’s reach to a governed 189mph. Which just about brings it into line with the recently introduced Audi S8 Plus. Want four doors and a big boot? Then you’ll need a Bentley or a Rolls in order to go faster.
'We wanted to build the best high-performance car in the segment,' M division chief Frank van Meel told CAR at the Geneva show. 'We did look at doing an M7, but the number of people who want that type of car is very small indeed. So we elected to do an M Performance badge. There are a lot of customers in the 12-cylinder market who want the performance, but they don't want to show it on the outside.'
What about the chassis?
M Division isn’t claiming anything too drastic here, except to say the xDrive has been given a greater rear bias. Just what that running-late-for-the-boardroom exec needs. There’s also a set of 20-inch lightweight wheels finished in Cerium Grey metallic, but otherwise it’s the regular Executive Drive Pro suspension setup (complete with active anti-roll tech) and Integral Active (four-wheel) Steering, both fitted as standard.
However, rival powerbrokers/CEOs/street gangs ought to hear you coming, thanks to the new M sports exhaust with active V12 assault flaps. Visual identifiers include the blue calipers for the new 19-inch M Sport brakes, and a (commendably subtle) M aerodynamics makeover. If this last is still too gauche you can actually order the M760Li without it as part of the no-cost-optional ‘Excellence’ specification.
Anything else unique about the M760Li?
There’s more Cerium Grey accenting in various places (much of which is replaced by chrome on the Excellence version), plus a smattering of all-important, 'downsizing who?' V12 badges – including on the illuminated door sill finishers. For the record, the M760Li emits 294g/km and claims 22.4mpg; oil company directors will be falling over themselves.
The interior gets a bunch of M logoed trinkets, as you’d expect, while UK cars include an upgrade to Merino Leather included in the cost; elsewhere in the world customers will make do with Nappa as standard. As per every new 7-series, there’s a huge selection of technological whizz-bangery at your disposal income’s disposal – from gesture control infotainment to semi-autonomous driving assistance.
How much does the M760Li cost and when does it go on sale?
Both of those are tbc right now, but the M760Li will reach dealers this year. We’re told pricing will be more in line with the £122k Mercedes-AMG S63 than the £183k S65, despite the closer parity of performance and status with the latter.
Read more of CAR’s 2016 Geneva motor show coverage here
Click here for CAR’s A-Z guide to the 2016 Geneva motor show