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BMW 750li delivers a stunning combination of luxury and performance (at a price)


The BMW 750li measures out at an amazing 205.3 inches, which is longer than
a Cadillac Escalade, but it drives like a much smaller vehicle.
  Photo © BMW

Class envy is not a good thing but it’s something seeping into my pores recently because I have been blessed to review such as great cars as the Jaguar XFR, Mercedes E350 and the Mercedes S550, all of which require pay grades much higher than mine (and that seems to imply I have a pay grade).
Add to that list the BMW 750li. When it comes to big, comfortable sedans that really want to run fast, nobody can beat the German manufacturers (pending the arrival of the Hyundai Equus that might be a possible competitor).

Class envy largely comes into play because I almost wish I could have been driven in this car instead of driving it. A 7 series with the “L” in its name refers to a model with an additional 5.5 inches rear legroom for a total length of 205.3 inches, which is longer than a Cadillac Escalade. That’s going to make you feel like a high-power European finance minister. Unfortunately, no friends were willing to don a chauffeur’s cap for me.

The oomph of this sedan when pushed is fairly impressive. Power comes from a twin-turbocharged, 4.4-liter V-8 with 400 horsepower that is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. According to BMW, the 750i, will accelerate from 0-60mph in 5.1 seconds and the 750i xDrive reaches 60mph in 5.0 seconds flat. The 750li, according to published reports, will hit 0-60 in 5.7 seconds. That’s quick for a vehicle with a curb weight of more than 4861 lbs. The engine develops 400 hp over a range from 5500 to 6400 rpm, and 450 lb-ft. of torque over the even broader range of 1750-4500 rpm.

Of course, there is a price to be paid for a sedan that leaps off the line with seemingly no acceleration lag. Your fuel economy is going to be less than sparkling. The EPA has the BMW 750li rated at 14-mpg city and 20-mpg highway. My overall figures were about 15.9. Those highway numbers will be tough to match because this Beemer simply wants to run all day at 80 mph.

The steering on the 750li makes it feel as if you are piloting a much smaller car. Lest I mix up the explanation, I’ll cede to BMW’s explanation of its optional Integral Active Steering. “It encompasses variable-ratio front steering, but also rear-wheel steering. Acting as an overall system, the two capabilities deliver a new combination of handling ease, maneuverability and unrivaled stability in dynamic driving conditions.”

The 7 series models from BMW feature brake energy regeneration. Typically, regeneration is associated with hybrid vehicles (where the brakes charge the hybrid batteries when slowing down. The 2010 7 Series models are amongst the first US BMW models to be equipped with Brake Energy Regeneration as part of the expansion of BMW EfficientDynamics technologies into the U.S. market.

BMW says, “To save energy and reduce the vehicle’s fuel consumption, this system controls the times at which the alternator charges the battery. Conventionally, a car’s alternator runs continuously and thus charging is always available to the battery; in the 7 Series, it charges only when the vehicle is decelerating or braking; otherwise, it freewheels, drawing virtually no power from the engine. An electronically controlled clutch, somewhat similar to that used with the air-conditioning compressor, is added to engage and disengage the alternator.”

Another aspect of the BMW 750li (and other large luxury sedans) is the ability to shift your ride for the conditions. Driving Dynamics Control allows the driver to select from four driving programs. The system works with the Electronic Damping Control (which has three-mode shock-absorber control) with transmission shift characteristics, engine response to the accelerator pedal, and steering assist and traction control level.

As mentioned at the top of this column, the BMW 750li is solely for the more affluent among us. Its starting price is $89,775 for the xDrive model loaned to me by BMW. Start to add on the extras and things get really expensive. Things like a power rear shade will cost you $1000 (but it does come with manual rear passenger shades). Active cruise control (the first step to cars that drive themselves) is $2400. All told, with delivery, the price is just north of $100,000. That’s some serious coin.

Is it worth it? Yes, if one has the means for such a luxurious purchase because the BMW 750li is a great deal when compared to more expensive luxury sedans. However, there are plenty of great $50,000 cars on the road that are going to please you probably just as much. Unfortunately, those are above my pay grade. I do, however, have my eye on a 1990 Yugo that I might be able to make the payments on.

(Questions and comments about this review and other automotive concerns can be e-mailed to usedcars.guide@about.com. All queries are answered.)

VITAL STATISTICS

  • Wheelbase: 126.9 inches
  • Length: 205.3 inches
  • Width: 74.9 inches
  • Height: 58.3 inches
  • Curb weight: 4861 lbs.
  • Engine: 4.4-liter, twin-turbo V8
  • Horsepower: 400 hp
  • Torque: 458 lb. ft.
  • EPA estimated mpg city/highway: 16/20
  • Base price: $89,775
  • As-tested price: $101,495
  • Also consider: (a comparative vehicle) Mercedes S Class, Audi A8, Lexus 460

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