From £63,2409
Our 700-mile drive from France to the UK proves the new BMW 760Li xDrive is supremely comfortable and entertaining in equal measure

Our Verdict

BMW 7 Series

New-generation luxury saloon is a technological tour de force

  • First Drive

    BMW 7 Series M760Li xDrive 2017 UK review

    Our 700-mile drive from France to the UK proves the new BMW 760Li xDrive is supremely comfortable and entertaining in equal measure
  • First Drive

    2017 BMW M760Li xDrive

    The M760Li isn't just the fastest 7 Series, it's the fastest production BMW. We find out it's also a pretty convincing package for those who can
10 March 2017

What is it?

This is the very first UK drive of the all-new, all-powerful BMW 7 Series M760Li xDrive, but it didn’t start out that way. You see, we’ve driven this car as it should be driven, and as one would assume many prospective buyers might: a full international tour from Megève in the French Alps over 700 miles back to Blighty. It’s a tough job, but when you’re as dedicated as we are at Autocar, sometimes you simply have to put in the hours behind the wheel.

We’ll let you know what it’s like to drive in a moment, but first let’s touch upon the M760Li’s modus operandi. As you may be aware, it’s no M7, but it is the closest we’ll get to one; think of it as a 7 Series with a patina of ‘M-ness’ daubed over it, rather than woven intrinsically into its DNA. 

The previous range-topping 7 Series was the 750i, but for some, eight cylinders simply doesn’t cut it. So, the M760Li borrows the 6.6-litre twin-turbo V12 of the Rolls-Royce Wraith, and which may yet end up in the next Phantom. It’s been detuned for this car, but still, 601bhp wouldn’t look out of place in a supercar. And I’ve just checked: the 590lb ft of torque all but matches a John Deere 6175R tractor, although the BMW V12's twist peaks earlier, at just 1500rpm.

This car has everything thrown at it, so you get four-wheel steering, active anti-roll bars, an active exhaust, air springs tuned by M Division and an xDrive four-wheel drive system set up to push more power rewards than regular xDrive 7 Series models. Oh, and huge M Sport brake discs front and rear, gripped by distinctive blue callipers.

What's it like?

I absolutely adore V12s; even starting them is a cause for celebration. It’s the consitent whirr as those twelve compression points provide an almost turbine-like evenness when cranking, as opposed to the raggedy ‘whar-whar-whar’ of lesser-cylindered engines. 

Once rotating under its own steam, the M760Li's N74 engine settles into a silent and utterly smooth idle that would pass the time-honoured 50-pence-piece balancing trick with ease. And that’s the way it remains during normal driving: relaxed and barely entering your consciousness. Switching to Sport mode enhances its timbre. And, with a little added intensity as well, just the right amount of howl percolates into the cabin without it ever sounding unbecoming. Purists won’t appreciate that some of this noise is synthesised sound that's drip-fed through the car's speakers, but I promise, it still comes across more classic V12 than classic Kraftwerk.

Of course, the performance is epic. Not just the outright accelerative force that tries to wrench your face off, but also the wonderfully progressive nature by which this colossus delivers its surge. Unlike the Alpina B7, which has a noticeable moment of lag, the M760Li is more responsive low down, then builds with controlled aggression all the way to its near-7000rpm limiter. Be careful lurking around this zone, though, because whatever gear you're in, you’ll already be going quickly, and in the blink of an eye yet more pace will be added as the eight-speed torque converter automatic gearbox discretely glides up a gear, carrying you on to ever-dicier speeds.

However, it’s only losing your licence you need to worry about, because the M760Li is totally infallible whether you’re climbing a snowy Alpine pass or circumnavigating a drenched M25. It’s this ability to transmit that tractor-like torque so effectively that separates the big 7 Series from its twitchier, rear-wheel-driven Mercedes-AMG S 65 rival.

Don’t think for a moment it’s boring, though. Switch off the traction control and suddenly you can start hanging the tail out on this two-tonne-plus car with ease. It’s quite bizarre how quickly it shrink-wraps around you, feeling barely any bigger than a 5 Series as you scythe left and right through the countryside. 

That’s down to remarkably good body control, which in Sport mode limits roll while still keeping enough elasticity to retain stability over peaks and troughs. The rear-wheel steering plays its part as well, making the M760Li far nimbler than its enormous bulk would suggest it should be. And even though the steering is weighted lightly and lacking any real sensitivity, it’s quick, accurate and feelsome enough to let you guide the car's nose with confidence.

But what about the M760Li's other role, as a luxobarge? Well, in Comfort or Comfort Plus mode, it does that pretty well, too. Blasting through France it eats up kilometres with the detached serenity of a Eurostar train, gently floating along with barely any tyre noise and just the merest flurry of wind noise from its wingmirrors to let you know you’re making headway.

Then we hit the M20 this side of the channel, and began to wonder if it is the same car: suddenly there is more fidget, a little more roar from those fat 20in tyres and dull thuds through the cabin over sharp-edged intrusions. But these aren’t the M760Li’s failings; they’re created by our failing roads, and in any rival with similarly skinny rubber, the results would be similar.

The interior might not look as fanciful as an S 65’s, but it’s still a wonderful place to sit for a twelve-hour drive, either in the front or the rear. We’ve tried the array of gadgets before in other 7 Series models: some work well, some don’t. The iDrive infotainment system is as intuitive as ever, the clarity of its 10.25in display flawless - as is the fidelity of the Bowers & Wilkins stereo, for that matter. Then there are the massage seats, which support you admirably, while giving you an invigorating, full-body pummeling. 

Yet the point of iDrive's gesture control is still confounding, other than for trialling technology that if developed heavily might prove useful down the line. And the ionising air freshener? Perhaps I need to blow my nose more.

Should I buy one?

No one needs a BMW M760Li in their life, but then we could erase many a car working on that principle. So, accepting that it’s a little unnecessary and that a 730d would be the far more sensible choice, if you can afford one, should you want one? 

Hell yes. As a car for crossing large distances in total comfort, it’s a gem. And when you arrive at your destination, if the roads are treacherous it’ll cope, and if the roads are a treat, it will delight. Next to the S 65 it’s a bargain, too, and while it might not quite match the Mercedes-AMG for comfort or kerb appeal, it’s easily a more engaging driver’s car.

And because you can't buy the xDrive version of the Alpina B7 in the UK (only the rear-wheel-drive model), you’d have to say the M760Li is a more appealing choice than that, too. We even matched the official claimed average fuel economy of 22.0mpg without trying - not that that will matter to most buyers, of course. 

BMW 7 Series M760Li xDrive

Location Megève to London; On sale Now; Price £132,310; Engine V12, 6592cc, petrol; Power 601bhp at 5250-6000rpm; Torque 590lb at 1500-5000rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic; Kerb weight 2180kg; 0-62mph 3.7sec; Top speed 155mph; Economy 22.0mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 294g/km/ 37% Rivals Mercedes-AMG S 65, Alpina B7 Biturbo

Join the debate

Comments
12

10 March 2017
Over £130k and you could easily feel like you're sitting inside a run of the mill 1 Series. As is the case with the new E Class Coupe, which I've mentioned on that review, this 7 Series sums up the problem with German interiors and why they just can't do luxury properly or design an interior that looks inviting or exquisite. As with the Merc, we have a two tone dashboard using hideous colours, separated by a bit of gloss black trim. The top part of the centre console is silver (looking more like spray painted plastic) while the bottom part between the two front seats is again glossy black mixed with more plastic looking silver trim, all looking completely at odds with the rest of the colour schemes. And as with the Merc, the screen, as it the case with all current BMWs, just looks like an afterthought and again is not what you'd call integrated. An dthat steering wheel would look out of place on a £30 Jaguar XE, never mind a luxury car costing well over £100k. All this is not a problem that just affects BMW, the same can be said for any Audi, Merc, Porsche or VW interior, they just can't do luxury or style, and it's just not the materials and colours, but the basic archirecture and use of screens, buttons and their designs. Compare this interior to that of the Velar or new XC60 for example and it's no contest, the Range Rover and Volvo shows how taste, luxury and style should be done. And those two cars are a fraction of the price of this particular 7 Series too.

10 March 2017
[quote=Saucerer]Over £130k and you could easily feel like you're sitting inside a run of the mill 1 Series. As is the case with the new E Class Coupe, which I've mentioned on that review, this 7 Series sums up the problem with German interiors and why they just can't do luxury properly or design an interior that looks inviting or exquisite. As with the Merc, we have a two tone dashboard using hideous colours, separated by a bit of gloss black trim. The top part of the centre console is silver (looking more like spray painted plastic) while the bottom part between the two front seats is again glossy black mixed with more plastic looking silver trim, all looking completely at odds with the rest of the colour schemes. And as with the Merc, the screen, as it the case with all current BMWs, just looks like an afterthought and again is not what you'd call integrated. An dthat steering wheel would look out of place on a £30 Jaguar XE, never mind a luxury car costing well over £100k. All this is not a problem that just affects BMW, the same can be said for any Audi, Merc, Porsche or VW interior, they just can't do luxury or style, and it's just not the materials and colours, but the basic archirecture and use of screens, buttons and their designs. Compare this interior to that of the Velar or new XC60 for example and it's no contest, the Range Rover and Volvo shows how taste, luxury and style should be done. And those two cars are a fraction of the price of this particular 7 Series too.[/quote] I disagree.

11 March 2017
[quote=Saucerer]Over £130k and you could easily feel like you're sitting inside a run of the mill 1 Series. As is the case with the new E Class Coupe, which I've mentioned on that review, this 7 Series sums up the problem with German interiors and why they just can't do luxury properly or design an interior that looks inviting or exquisite. As with the Merc, we have a two tone dashboard using hideous colours, separated by a bit of gloss black trim. The top part of the centre console is silver (looking more like spray painted plastic) while the bottom part between the two front seats is again glossy black mixed with more plastic looking silver trim, all looking completely at odds with the rest of the colour schemes. And as with the Merc, the screen, as it the case with all current BMWs, just looks like an afterthought and again is not what you'd call integrated. An dthat steering wheel would look out of place on a £30 Jaguar XE, never mind a luxury car costing well over £100k. All this is not a problem that just affects BMW, the same can be said for any Audi, Merc, Porsche or VW interior, they just can't do luxury or style, and it's just not the materials and colours, but the basic archirecture and use of screens, buttons and their designs. Compare this interior to that of the Velar or new XC60 for example and it's no contest, the Range Rover and Volvo shows how taste, luxury and style should be done. And those two cars are a fraction of the price of this particular 7 Series too.[/quote] shame they don't have any understanding of build quality or reliability isn't it... and all that old tech mechanical and badly coded technological junk they come with

10 March 2017
The engine is well arranged and the front view is just perfect, I'll go for this.
Posted Via Tecno L9 Plus

10 March 2017
How narrow is that boot? The bootlid hinges (and rear suspension?) seem to rob it of a great deal of width. I'm sure the car is a technical tour de force but, both inside and out, it looks very dull, just like a supersized 3-Series.

10 March 2017
You can't get it in SWB.

10 March 2017
I drive an F10 5 series and have had an E60 5 series too, an older 3 series, driven many 1, 3 and 4 series both new and older generations, an X6 and been in many other BMWs including the new 7 and while the "style" may not appeal - it is personal taste after all - the quality at the top of the line is superb and the way everything feels and works is superb. Having said that, the 5 series, particularly the new one just coming out now is VERY close to the 7 but I accept there is a disappointingly large gap between the 5 and those below it. I'm very disappointed with the 3 and the 4 (and 1 below of course) and feel there is a big step up required to compete with the equivalent Audi or Merc. Once I got this 5 I could not go back to a 3 or below. Just to dull and plasticky by comparison. Having said that, while I also love the funky quirkiness in the XFs and F Pace, I couldn't live with one for how difficult it is to use compared with the BMWs and how the standard of fit and finish is way below. I think the point made in the article about the road quality really shows where the 760 belongs, on the continent. Just too exotic for our shocking narrow and rutted roads. I'd love one, but not over here. 5's big enough.

11 March 2017
The price tag £130,000 is too cumbersome comparing it with the engines, Not too strong I think.
Posted Via Naij MP3

11 March 2017
Here's a good idea, fit a luxury car with a superbly refined V12 engine. Here's a stupid idea, pipe fake engine noise through the speakers thereby undoing the engineering excellence.

 

12 March 2017
So what exactly is the point of this car?

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