REVIEW | Why the 2019 BMW M760Li never gets boring
Munich's V12-powered luxobarge is an iron fist wearing a velvet glove, writes Brenwin Naidu
In 2017 I interviewed BMW Group design director Adrian van Hooydonk. The slender, avuncular man with grey hair was happy to spill the beans on a few matters. But the tone of our conversation seemed to go frosty when I asked why the kidney grilles on the high-end offerings were getting so damn big.
Still, he proffered a reasonable answer: the mandate was to create even greater distinction between flagships such as the 7-Series and X7 (then still in concept form), and lesser stablemates. Well, he seems to have succeeded. Tell me you are not going to move over to the left when you see either of those imposing snouts approaching in the rear-view mirror? We recently spent time with the refreshed version of the G11 7-Series, first launched to the SA market in 2016. Fittingly, our test unit of the flagship sedan was the full-cream M760Li xDrive derivative. A fast, furious and ultra-luxurious barge for the captains of industry out there.
What has changed since the first introduction three years ago? Both the regular and long-wheelbase models have gained even more length, 22mm to be exact. Width and height remain unchanged. “A more powerful visual presence” is how the company describes the frontal area of the vehicle. Tough to disagree, really: the prow is a further 50mm taller than before.
Then, of course, there is that prominent pair of breathers, whose surface area has grown by 40%, according to BMW. Which is a lot! The changes are subtler at the rear, where the lights are purportedly 35mm slimmer than before. A sliver of an illuminated bar now runs across the width of the tailgate.
Its interior quarters remain as sumptuous as before, particularly in the case of this CEO-specification M760Li. Buttery-soft Nappa leather with quilted patterns, authentic wooden inlays that may or may not have been derived from the talking tree in Pocahontas and more intensive acoustic insulation measures make it a sanctuary from the hubbub of the world.
Some lofty saloons leave a person scratching their head, with the notion that they are merely piloting a stretched version of a more modest stablemate. Not so with the 7-Series: it is demonstrably more refined, more cosseting than a 5-Series, for example.
Our car was replete with the optional rear entertainment system, comprising individual screens for passengers. Privacy blinds and the extended seating package, with adjustable pews that are ventilated and heated, ensured it was fit for all manner of important limousine duties. But at the helm is where you want to be, in this case ... The sensations provided by the 6.6-litre, turbocharged V12 underfoot could never grow boring.
Stupendous straight-line thrust in such a lengthy machine borders on comical: a sprint time of 3.8 seconds is claimed, with 430kW and 850Nm transmitted to all four corners via an eight-speed automatic. When we sampled the pre-facelift M760Li at Aldo Scribante circuit in Port Elizabeth two years back, its makers proudly extolled that it was the fastest acceleration production BMW that could be had at the time. That changed when the F90 M5 hit the market a few months later.
Great thing about the M760Li is that it is surprisingly manoeuvrable, with the addition of four-wheel steering. The feature also made parallel parking in the Johannesburg CBD a much easier task. The least expensive way into a 7-Series is with the 730d, with a starting price of R1,528,500. Slide to the extreme end of the scale, as represented by the M760Li, and you will pay upwards of R2,806,400. Throw in a few extra bucks for a fully electric i3 to offset your carbon emissions, will you?
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