2016 BMW 750i xDrive
Take that, S-Class.
BMW wants to bring the fight to the S-Class, huh?
In the full size luxury segment where the Big 3 Germans play, BMW has uncomfortably held the role of overlooked middle child- Mercedes Benz rules the roost with the S-Class, and the Audi A8 has always been a distant third when you look at how many Canadians elected to put one in their driveway over the last few years. The folks in Munich finally decided enough is enough and when it came time to replace the 7 series for 2016; they pulled out all the stops in an attempt to dethrone the venerable S-Class.
Have they succeeded?
We’d have to say that the 7-sereies is destined to be a hit, and judged within the metrics of sales they’re clearly on the right track- the 7 has enjoyed a whopping 165% increase in vehicles sold compared to this time last year. If it’s going to truly unseat the stalwart Benz it will take more than just a few good months in the dealership space to mount a challenge to the S-Class who’s been at the top of this heap ever since it was introduced in the mid-fifteis.
What have they done to arm the 7 series for battle?
First, BMW mandated a serious diet for the 7 series. Already proficient in making their own carbon fibre, BMW has liberally applied the stuff throughout the structure which not only sheds unwanted kilos but adds a good amount of rigidity as well. Known as Carbon Core construction in BMW speak, it’s combined with aluminium which is also used extensively throughout. It all adds up to a loss of almost 90 kg which in turn meant that they were able to lavish the flagship with a bristling amount of technology.
What kind of stuff are we talking about?
Your first introduction of BMW’s dedication to arming the 7 series to the gunwales with tech goodies starts even before you get in the car. The 750i can be equipped with a Display Key- think of an iPad mating with a conventional BMW key fob and you’re not far off. You can do the usual tasks like lock and unlock the doors, lower the windows and open the sunroof too. But you can also see how much range you have left before your trip begins to plan your fuel stop if necessary. It is useful, but it’s better suited at garnering curious glances when you place your keys down on a counter. That’s only the beginning- feel like adjusting the volume of the stereo but don’t want to use the volume knob or steering wheel mounted controls? Simply twirl your finger in front of the infotainment stack and the car obediently responds. That stereo happens to be an astonishing Bowers and Wilkins unit with 16 partially illuminated speakers and 1,400 watts of output. Impressive, that, but what’s really cool are the intricately cut steel grilles that cover those speakers that are almost irresistible to touch. To those that find themselves complaining of cold elbows are forearms when their hands are gripping a toasty warm steering wheel, the 750i will see that they aren’t left out in the cold with its heated armrests on both sides. There is so much stuff packed into this luxo-sled that we could devote an entire review in order to take a proper deep dive into what this stuff can do. Maybe that’s why BMW has a product specialist at each dealership to teach 7 series customers how to use the bewildering amount of kit on their cars. One of BMW’s key engineers who worked on the revamped 7 series perfectly summed up all the modern luxuries available as “offering the customer what they want before they know they want it.”
Whew. Is that all?
All that, but they couldn’t leave the engine and tranny alone could they? Both have been upgraded for this vintage of 7 serous as well. The engine still makes the same horsepower and torque figures as before, but it’s more efficient throughout its operating range. We were able to achieve a remarkable 10.9L/100km in fuel economy throughout our Road Test. Frankly, this gem of a powerplant didn’t need any massaging at all- it still delivers a smooth-as-glass torrent of indulgent thrust when prodded. The 8-speed transmission still shuffles rations as transparently seamless as it did in the previous generation, but now it has something called Active Comfort Drive with Road Preview which allows it to read the upcoming terrain via the navigation system’s data to be ready to drop down a gear or two if the terrain warrants. If this tech sounds familiar, it should- BMW pilfered the lines of code from Rolls Royce’s bag of tricks.
They haven’t forgotten that it’s a BMW, have they?
With the exhaustive amount of bells and whistles on the menu, we feared that BMW might have forgotten its old ethos of The Ultimate Driving Machine. Thankfully, our concerns were misguided. Select Sport mode from the Driving Dynamics Control switch on the console and the suspension hunkers down 10mm, the side bolters in the lusciously trimmed leather thrones grip you a little firmer and the steering, throttle and shift points all become more heightened to your inputs. If you elect to shift on your own via the steering wheel paddles, you’ll marvel at how responsive and snappy the system is. The whole car seems to tighten up like a clenched fist and become sinewy and reactive, but not too much. BMW wisely resisted the urge to make Sport mode too intense- if you want a hard-core sports sedan, buy an M5. At the other end of the spectrum is Comfort Plus, and in some ways it was more impressive than Sport mode. The reason for that is when ask for this setup, it imbues the 7 series with a ride that is nothing short of sublime. We can’t remember the last time we had something in the Carpages Garage that coddled its occupants so lovingly and seemed to neutralize even the most gnarly roads we’re familiar with. We took the 7 series up north and after a few hours behind the wheel, it was almost unbelievable how fresh it left everyone feeling, leading us to unanimous consensus that this might be the most comfortable and opulent road trip car that we’ve been in by a considerable margin- yes, more than the S-Class. Even enthusiasts who normally prefer their suspension bushings to have the durometer of granite have to experience this kind of comfort. So many cars today have the ability to run the sport/comfort gamut through their electronics, but the Driving Dynamics Control in the 750i has to be one of the more effectively transformative systems going.
What might go wrong?
Not much. In case you didn’t glean it from our review, this will be the most effective threat to the S-Class in BMW’s history- what they’ve conceived is a seriously impressive automobile. The only things we took issue with was Gesture Control still having some kinks to work out- while photographing the console the stereo thought we’d asked for a huge increase in volume. We did not. Other than that, the styling, while nice, looks too much like a larger 5 series and isn’t nearly as beguiling as the sumptuous interior.
Will it all be enough to unseat the S-Class?
Only time will tell if this current vintage of 7 series will mount a challenge for the class benchmark. No matter what happens where the sales charts are concerned, BMW has introduced a serious threat to the establishment and has built what just might be the best full size luxury car that money can buy right now.
2016 BMW 750i xDrive– Specifications
- Price as tested: $132,600
- Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger sedan
- Powertrain Layout: Front engine/All-Wheel Drive
- Engine: 4.4-litre turbocharged V8, DOHC, 32 valves
- Horsepower: 445 @ 6,000 rpm
- Torque (lb-ft): 480 @ 1,800 rpm
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Curb weight: 2,215 kg (4,883 lbs.)
- Fuel consumption: 10.9L/100km (22 mpg)