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We drive BMW's extra-length 760Li

2010-01-29 07:30
Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer BMW
Model 760Li
Engine 6.0-litre 12-cylinder with four valves per cylinder
Power 400 kW @ 5 250 r/min
Torque 750 Nm from 1 500 to 5 000 r/min
Transmission eight-speed automatic Steptronic
Zero To Hundred 4.6 seconds
Top Speed 250 km/h
Fuel Consumption 13 l/100 km
Weight 2 250 kg
Steering Rack-and-pinion hydraulic steering with speed-related power assistance (Servotronic)
Tyres front: 8.5Jx19-inch 245/45, rear: 9.5Jx19-inch 275/40
Front Suspension Double track control arm axle with separated lower track levers, aluminium; small steering roll radius; anti-dive
Rear Suspension Integral-Vmulti-arm axle, aluminium, separate steering, with anti-squat and anti-dive, dual accoustic separation (air suspension with self-levelling f
Price from R1 632 500

Hailey Philander

There are a few things I could very easily become accustomed to, I have found. I could definitely do with four-day weekends. Maybe even an extra salary or three each month. And now, after spending some time in the company of BMW's flagship, I could do with one of those, too.

The 760Li was introduced to South Africa this week with a dizzying price tag of R1 632 500. Its market introduction follows nearly a year after the 7 Series was first released here in 730d, 740i, 750i and Li guises and those who had been waiting for the added comfort the long wheelbase Li affords are in for a treat.

Compared with the standard Seven, this long wheelbase-version is 14 cm longer and luckily, for a change with this model introduction, journalists were not required to do all the driving. We also had the opportunity to experience the car's limousine-like comfort and ride quality from the rear seats.

Oh joy!

Here, bumps and dips in the road are hardly felt and it is quiet inside the cabin, too, with barely any noise creeping into its cosseting confines. Engine and exhaust noise rarely penetrate the cabin, and when it does, it is politely muted.

Sadly, one of the greatest joys of this car is that it needs to be driven to be truly appreciated - and those present were all too eager to oblige. This car's handling, poise and general demeanour deserve mention. How a car with a 3.2-metre long wheelbase can feel so compact and agile is astounding.

On the move you’d be forgiven for thinking you were negotiating crazy bends at crazier speeds in a compact sports hatch rather than a behemoth weighing more than two tonnes. Apart from the amazingly supple ride that would be completely out of place in a sports hatch, the 760Li's stability, its total absence of body roll or any kind of wafting behaviour, is almost surreal. The ride quality, considering 760Li runs on low profile 19-inch run flats, is impeccable and the levels of grip equally outstanding.

Steering through this 760's hydraulically operated rack-and-pinion system with Servotronic speed-related assistance is, in a word, sublime. Completely tactile and with plenty of feel, you are always able to perfectly place the car on long, sweeping bends and on tighter corners.

BMW would like its prospective owners to think they would be spending most of their time in one of the rear seats, but the manufacturer may be mistaken. I'd be inclined to stick Jeeves in the back seat and do the driving myself.

New engine, gearbox

To say that performance is brisk is a slight understatement. It is monumental. After all, 400 kW and 750 Nm from a twin-turbo V12 is not child's play. This is an all-new engine, delivering its peak power at 5 250 r/min, while the maximum torque is on song from just 1 500 r/min.

An all-aluminium 12-cylinder 6.0-litre engine using TwinPower turbo technology, fuel injection and double vanos camshaft adjustment are some of the more efficient measures employed to limit this car's impact on the environment. It does, after all, boast BMW's Efficient Dynamics label (the manufacturer claims fuel consumption is down 5% while the power is notably up by 20%)

However, it doesn't mean you'll have an easy time at the pumps. BMW claims fuel consumption of 13 l/100 km. And the environment probably won't thank you either, since this twin turbo dynamo discharges about 303 g/km of CO2. However, BMW reckons these machines don’t sell in large enough numbers to cause any real alarm…

Back to the driving experience, shifts through a new eight-speed automatic gearbox - a first for a production BMW - are silky smooth. Yes, it has a "manual" function, but really, in a car of this magnitude it is hardly necessary, is it really necessary?  

With its seemingly limitless power reserves, it also stands to reason that this is one ridiculously fast vehicle. It does, after all, notwithstanding its considerable weight still manage to cover the 0 - 100 km/h sprint in a supercar-like 4.6 seconds. Absolutely insane, but really not unexpected. Top speed is limited to 250 km/h, which is more than you'll ever need. 

No hooligans, please

Think this BMW, like so many others, is reserved for hooligans who've just come into money and your thought would be misplaced. This car oozes class, refinement and distinguished luxury. But that doesn't mean it’s not hugely entertaining though - particularly when you are the one being flung into the bosom of a welcoming passenger seat.

And for all its rear-wheel drive hooligan-coaxing capacities, this 760 feels completely safe, allowing you to convincingly carry ambitious speeds into corners and feeling totally in control the entire time.

Of course, being the BMW flagship that it is, the safety arsenal on board is astounding.

Other standard safety equipment includes Dynamic drive control, Dynamic Dynamic driving control and Dynamic drive safety. Further additions include air suspension with automatic self-leveling, a lane change warning, night vision with pedestrian detection and active cruise control.

The very clever integral active steering system sees the wheels acting almost like a set of casters and  allows you to accurately place the car on even the most delicate of hairpins.

For those that need reassurance, the brakes work a charm,

Understated elegance

In keeping with the intended market, styling additions are kept discreet and to the minimum. From the outside, look out for the V12 signet when viewing in profile, the wider kidney grille and the liberal use of chrome for the nose treatment.

Open the door and a V12 side sill greets you, before you are swallowed by a farm's worth of leather hide and trim that never once whisper anything other than quiet sophistication.

Understandably, hardly anything is amiss within this cabin and the list of options on this car will never be a talking point. You choose: M Sport Pack (which is essentially a body kit) and Individual (for a bigger colour palette and more supple leather finishes). That's basically it.

BMW isn't aiming for Joe Average with this model and the expectations are very clear. This is the car for the busy executive who enjoys the benefits of both worlds - a quick and nimble family sedan for those "off days" and a mobile office environment for the week. And for the price, there are several super sedans, sports cars and other luxury cars worth considering, although this long-wheelbase Seven should make an awfully compelling statement.

The BMW 760Li is available on an order-only basis immediately.

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