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So you want to be a baller? You’ll have to get the outfits, the bling, the crib, and of course — some sweet whip to haul your loot around in. Sure, you’re probably going to start with something Italian and temperamental, but what will you drive when your roaring stallion is in the shop? Might I suggest the mighty BMW M760Li xDrive, a car with almost as many acronyms after (and before) its name as are appended to the highly educated team of boffins who designed it. So what exactly is this beast that so many Doctor Professor Bimmers created? It’s a new BMW 7 Series built around a 12-cylinder petrol engine blown by Munich’s M Performance Twin Power Turbo. Yes, this is the 12-cylinder 7 Series you (maybe) have been waiting for; a boss hauler with truly boss displacement.
What’s it like to drive though? Honestly, it kind of reminded me of the Charger Hellcat, except if it went to some Swiss boarding school and wore Lagerfeld all the time. Sure, most people are going to compare the M760Li to the similarly priced AMG S 63, but my point stands; this big M is a muscle bound, high-powered boardroom on wheels. Where the Hellcat seems to have been designed for hardworking hooligans, the M760Li and its AMG rival seem designed for hardworking CEOs.
Just like Vlad Putin telling Trump what to do, the big V12 erupts in a bare chested roar, channelling 602 peak horsepower to the wheels via an eight-speed auto to apply a mighty 800Nm of torque to the tarmac. To keep weight down, the engine is wrought from aluminium and gets its tuning from M-Performance rather than M-Power, which is a separate group apparently designed to further baffle motoring journalists like myself, who clearly struggle with German nomenclature. If you ever dreamed of having the engine from the Rolls-Royce Wraith in a 7 Series, this is precisely the car for you and, by the way, hats off to your vivid imagination. The M760Li will do the 0-100kph sprint in just 3.7 seconds, topping out at 250kph top speed — with the optional M Driver’s Package it will do 305kph. About that roar, it’s enhanced by quad-exit active-flap exhaust that gets louder the harder the engine works.
Whatever you want to call it, this is every bit a “real” M car, with beefier Brembo stoppers, grabby Michelin Pilot Super Sport shoes, and an M-tuned suspension. The front apron is further differentiated from the, er, standard version and the side mirrors, rear apron, lip spoiler, and asymmetrical exhaust also set the M760Li apart. The car is decked out in a love-it-or-hate-it Cerium Gray colour that extends to the wheels, kidney grille, hockey-stick side accent, badging, and exhaust pipes. If that’s not enough to make sure the punters notice something different about this particular 7 Series, there are fairly massive ‘V12’ badges on the C-pillar, door sill and centre console panel. The car also gets its own proprietary steering wheel with requisite M badge.
The powerplant boasts BMW’s Double-Vanos variable valve timing and fuel injection, which affords the car greater compression while keeping the throttle sharp and the fuel and emissions within bounds. To that end, BMW says the big M is good for 10.5 litres per 100km and 294g CO2/km, which seems ambitious for a 12-cylinder vehicle of any stripe. The xDrive four-wheel system is set-up with a rear-bias, which is a core part of why this big saloon is so fast off the line — add to which launch control is a standard feature in this non-standard ride, begging drivers to put all that torque to test.
My own experience with launch control suggests it might become slightly addictive. For one thing, it’s quite simple to actuate: just deactivate Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), select Sport mode, mat the brake and accelerator until the launch control icon lights up like a drag strip tree and then release the brake and keep a sharp eye on the horizon, it’s going to arrive shortly. OK, the actual launch control symbol is not so much like a drag strip tree in aesthetic, it’s literally a chequered flag, which makes no sense to me. The feeling though, is the same; the car pins you to your seat and thunders up and past 100kph in less than four seconds. It’s an impressive feeling in a Porsche 911, and an even stranger sensation in a 7 Series — a bit like physics and gravity have taken a bank holiday and your brain is playing catch-up.
this is every bit a ‘real’ M car, with beefier Brembo stoppers, grabby Michelin Pilot Super Sport shoes, and an M-tuned suspension.
Out on the track we’re treated to a morning of lead-follow, alternating behind BMW Works Driver Augusto Farfus and one of the local instructors. I can’t say that the pace was the most ambitious I’ve seen on a car launch, but I also can’t say that we weren’t quick enough to get a good understanding of what the car can do.
Setting up out of turn 1, it’s not much more than twice that time, 7.0 seconds, before I have the M750Li up to around 160kph. The braking zone, delineated by a series of orange cones, comes flying at me as I prepare to apply the brakes. What happens next is unreal, applying the stoppers at that speed is a visceral experience rivalled only by that car’s raw acceleration. It feels wrong, and oh-so-right at the same time. Everything is outsized in this car, and shaving off all that speed is best accomplished in a very straight line, although the big M seems unfazed either way — the car is very difficult to unsettle. It’s exhilarating, and humbling at the same time. This is a full-on M badge saloon that you can push around like a sportscar, at least up to a point that I’m not bold enough to find. It still feels its size, but in a nimble, manageable, and wonderfully athletic way.
The big M only comes in one transmission flavour, namely automatic, so there’s no fretting over whether or not to ‘kick it old school’. If you are a greasy Luddite, this may not be the car for you and considering all the real money is in technology now, you, like myself, probably can’t afford it. Regardless, in full-on Sport Plus mode the shift points are effortlessly placed for maximum performance, you don’t particularly need to think about anything more than steering, braking, and throttle — the transmission just keeps up with whatever you ask of those other inputs.
The paddles are handy of course, and some drivers will like the feeling of control, but for me their main application was in engine braking the car, as I never felt the need to downshift for more power. The car’s copious torque helps eliminate the need, as it enjoys an extremely wide rev band throughout all eight gears. When the tranny does shift, it does so very quickly, ensuring smooth delivery of all that power. It’s faster and more efficient than I could ever be, and I’m more than OK with that fact.
The steering and brakes help make sure the M760Li xDrive is up for anything, whether on the track or cruising Beach Road. In order to separate yourself from the rabble cruising the strip, the big Bimmer boasts Integral Active Steering system, which works symbiotically with the more direct steering ratio at the front axle by adjusting the steering angle of the rear wheels depending on the situation at hand. According to BMW this reduces steering effort at low speeds and more importantly, does the same when you’re caning it across the track; in either event it makes this big saloon that much more manageable. Since this is a car that you’re likely to run on the edge of traction during (very) spirited driving, that sharp feel and compliant steering set-up helps immeasurably.
Alongside that all-important M badged steering wheel, the interior of the M760Li xDrive is suitably M-worthy, with all the luxury touches you’d expect in a car costing more than Dh700,000. The wheel is decked out with Pearl Gloss Chrome multifunction buttons on its spokes and shift paddles. The door sill plates sport an illuminated V12 logo, lest you forget the power you are about to unleash when you take the helm, and the instrument cluster boasts an exclusive speedometer featuring the model designation and a dial that extends all the way up to 330kph, which might actually be annoying if you don’t spring for the M Driver’s Package. M pedals and an M driver’s footrest help remind you what you’re driving, and the iDrive controller is adorned with a BMW Individual decorative inlay in Piano Finish Black and with V12 badging, while the optional Touch Command Panel in the rear compartment’s centre armrest also hosts a similar V12 identifier. Like I said, ballers need bling and this car is full of extremely tasteful German bling.
And whether you’re flinging the car around the track or just doing another Hyperpanda run, the electrically adjustable front comfort seats will help you quickly retain your preferred settings with their handy memory function — I found them quite comfortable. The panoply of fine wood interior trim strips, high-quality deep-pile floor mats, and Alcantara headliner all combine to ensure that this high-powered boardroom on wheels is suitably opulent. There’s lovely Nappa leather everywhere you look, and wherever you touch it the big Seven feels as good as it looks.
You might be wondering, what’s not to like? Well, nothing. Except in all that German efficiency the one thing the M760Li xDrive kind of lacks is anything amounting to a personality. This is the jeopardy of such broad competency — because this car is good at everything, it doesn’t have one particular highlight to seize upon. On the track, or amid the many switchbacks of the San Jacinto Mountains where we drove the car, there was always plenty of power, stability, and comfort on tap. Where many sportscars might goad you into a punishing day behind the wheel, the big M pampers you, even at high speed. It’s a wondrous trick, but just keep in mind that this car is, after all is said and done, a hyper-limousine, not a hypercar — it will do more than its share of er, hyper-wafting, but it’s not a fully stocked garage in and of itself, nor is any car, really.