The seventh-generation BMW 7 Series has arrived. In a departure from its various predecessors, it comes in long-wheelbase guise only and with a wider choice of drivetrains than ever.
These include an impressive array of plug-in hybrid and pure electric systems, among them the new BMW i7. For selected markets however, including the US where our first drive took place, there are other, more conventional drivetrains on offer that will never require a cable and a charging point, including the new M-developed mild-hybrid petrol unit that powers the 760i xDrive driven here.
Not initially planned for UK sales, this boldly styled replacement for the earlier 750Li xDrive has been re-engineered from the ground up, making it a good deal larger overall and more luxurious inside. It is a highly agreeable car in which to travel, whether behind the steering wheel or lounging in the rear, where you’ll enjoy greater space and more advanced appointments, including small touchscreen displays within the door trims for various functions, than in the sixth-generation model.
BMW’s twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 is retained, but such are the changes that it is no longer badged N63 but S68, indicating its development by M division. Power is up by 13bhp over the earlier 750i xDrive, rising to 536bhp, while torque remains the same at 553lb ft between 1800 and 5000rpm.
The key development is the addition of mild-hybrid assistance via a 48V electric motor sited within the eight-speed ZF Steptronic automatic gearbox, providing a further 18bhp and 148lb ft under acceleration. There’s also a cross-bank exhaust manifold, revised turbochargers and external engine cooling as well as a reinforced crankshaft, a new oil pump and a lighter oil sump.
The 760i xDrive is wonderfully responsive in Sport mode, with a strong step-off, loads of mid-range flexibility and urgent top-end qualities. BMW’s fast-acting four-wheel drive system ensures traction is always strong, with power and torque transferred to the road with great effectiveness. The gearbox, with steering wheelmounted shift paddles, plays a pivotal role in the performance potential, with smooth, rapid and decisive upshifts under load. It’s not an M car, but there’s an alluring exhaust note when the big V8 is stirred.