What is it?

The flagship BMW 7-series, and one that you’re pretty unlikely to see prowling our streets – nearly all BMW 7-series sold in the UK come fitted with the excellent 3.0-litre diesel engine. That’s no reason not to take notice of the 760Li though; it’s effectively the pinnacle of the firm’s expertise, a showcase of just what the engineers can do given a (relatively) free rein. There’s pedigree too, BMW celebrating the 25th anniversary of its flagship model having a 12-cylinder engine under the bonnet.

And it’s what lies under that lengthy nose that defines this car: a 5.0-litre TwinPower V12 petrol unit with the kind of numbers that can make a supercar blush. The 537bhp peak power figure doesn’t arrive until 5250rpm but its 553lb ft comes in at only 1500rpm and holds for a further 3,500rpm.

Facelifted earlier in the year, the 760Li differentiates itself from other long wheelbase 7-series thanks to V12 badging on the wings and squared-off tailpipes at the rear.

What is it like?

Smooth, but also rather deceptive. With all of that torque delivered so low down in the rev-range, the 760Li’s get up and go is delivered instantaneously. People often talk of cars where the accelerator need only be brushed lightly to reach licence-losing speed; and a brief foray onto a derestricted section of autobahn proved that, in the 760Li, this hyperbole is entirely justified.

Of course it can be driven smoothly and serenely, the engine almost silent at both idle and low throttle openings. The V12 has 89mm piston bores and an 80mm stroke, giving a ratio between the two dimensions of 0.9 – considered ideal by engine specialists – and the 60-degree bank angle ensures vibration is kept to a minimum.

Keep the throttle deployed throughout the rev range though and thanks to active exhaust flaps the turbocharged 5.0-litre snarls with pedigree and class.

Fitted with Integral Active Steering, Dynamic Damper Control, Driving Experience Control and Dynamic Drive roll stabilisation, along with self-levelling rear suspension, the 760Li is without doubt one of the most involving drives in the sector. But it’s really a car to relax in and enjoy at a slower pace of life, and like every other model in the 7-series range it still suffers from a ride that remains too firm, exacerbated by the run-flat rubber thumping into potholes and other road imperfections.

Should I buy one?

Probably not. Looking at the 760Li in isolation there is little to be critical of, certainly nothing more than with the regular car, itself hampered by a firm ride and a design that, despite the recent facelift, still won’t sit too easy for some.

Performance is exemplary, the V12 engine a masterpiece of engineering and refinement and the interior modern and luxurious.

But fuel costs will likely be as astronomical as the purchase price, and nice though it is we’d find it hard to recommend the 760Li over the 730Ld; a car that covers 99 per cent of the bases the flagship does for much less cash.

BMW 760Li SE

Price £101,805; 0-62mph 4.6sec; Top speed 155mph; Economy 21.1mpg; CO2 303g/km; Engine 12 cyls, 5972cc, turbocharged petrol; Power 537bhp at 5250rpm; Torque 553lb ft at 1500rpm; Gearbox eight-speed automatic

Graeme Lambert

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Comments
11

Depreciation anyone?

1 year 50 weeks ago

It used to be that you could buy a luxo barge like this after 5-10 years and have a relatively reliable but extremely cheap form of motoring with a bit of luxury involved. As long as you weren't that bothered about the latest shape and did few enough miles that the fuel costs were okay life was pretty good behind the wheel of an old Mer, Bimmer or Jag.

Fast forward to the present and the sheer level of complexity and cost makes this impossible. Can you imagine your local spanner handler dealing with Dynamic Damper control and Active steering? In 10 years time this car will be sitting in a yard, air suspension sagging onto the bump stops, waiting to be scrapped. Funnily enough, the only bit that will be working will be the engine, that lightly stressed V12 will probably go on forever. However, the 730d engine will be completely stuffed, with broken turbos, bust injectors, digested swirl flaps etc.

Engine capacity?

1 year 50 weeks ago

Is it a 5.0 or 6.0 car? As both is mentioned... 

"a 5.0-litre TwinPower V12 petrol" and " Engine 12 cyls, 5972cc, turbocharged petrol" mentioned.

Either way can imagine it's fairly potent if it reachs 62mph in 4.6 seconds given it's going to weigh a shed load!

How things change!

1 year 50 weeks ago

Time was motoring enthusiasts, never mind car mags, would lust after big v12 engined luxury cars. Going on about not only the performance, but the smoothness and refinement of the 12 cylinder lump.

Now it's all diesel this and diesel that.......sigh!

Toooo BIG!!!

1 year 50 weeks ago

5series is big enough,unless your name begins with Premier or President, the 7 series as a daily driver is a non event,a V12?, why aren't BMW slipping in the V8 from the M5?

Peter Cavellini.

Give me an S-Class over this

1 year 50 weeks ago

Give me an S-Class over this ugly thing any day of the week.

Peter Cavellini

1 year 50 weeks ago

Peter Cavellini wrote:

5series is big enough,unless your name begins with Premier or President, the 7 series as a daily driver is a non event,a V12?, why aren't BMW slipping in the V8 from the M5?

Good point, considering that BMW are now running breathed on versions of its regular power plants for its M-cars, so no reason why the M5's more powerful couldn't be used. But then there is the kudos of the V12 in its flagship range, while having such a large engine is part and parcel of for the luxury class and for those who can afford to run one.

Barge! - Hard to port!

1 year 50 weeks ago

As is so often said about gigantic vehicles like this...why? Utterly pointless to put such a powerful engine in such a massive, ugly, barge.  Top Gear amongst others have tested these over powered leviathans before, and always come away mystified. It's like attaching your Granny's bungalow to a space rocket. It'll be worth next to nothing in just a few years time, and good luck parking it.  Also, if someone want's to impress then why choose a make as common-a-garden as BMW.

Bland

1 year 50 weeks ago

I much preferred the previous-generation model designed by Bangle. This is bland IMHO. 

Driving a Picasso empties your wallet.

SteveB wrote: As is so often

1 year 50 weeks ago

SteveB wrote:

As is so often said about gigantic vehicles like this...why? Utterly pointless to put such a powerful engine in such a massive, ugly, barge.  Top Gear amongst others have tested these over powered leviathans before, and always come away mystified. It's like attaching your Granny's bungalow to a space rocket. It'll be worth next to nothing in just a few years time, and good luck parking it.  Also, if someone want's to impress then why choose a make as common-a-garden as BMW.

 

Everytime some sometime questions the legitimacy of a cars existence by asking 'why?' I ask 'why not?'. No one is going to force you to buy one, ride in one or even look at one when it passes you in the street. Yes it will depreciate at a horrific rate, but if you don't buy one you won't lose anything. Let's celebrate V12s still existing while we can. Vive la difference! 

SunnyL wrote: Give me an

1 year 50 weeks ago

SunnyL wrote:

Give me an S-Class over this ugly thing any day of the week.

No I will take an XJL Supersport please..

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Our Verdict

Technology-laden BMW 7-series looks better than its predecessors, but is ultimately disappointing

Driven this week