FIRST DRIVE: 2017 BMW M760Li xDrive – Torque, Torque and More Torque

Test Drives | February 4th, 2017 by 27
BMW M760Li xDrive race track 03 750x500

One does not usually associate a luxury limousine with racetracks and drifts, but BMW’s M division decided to flex its muscles and bring to the …

One does not usually associate a luxury limousine with racetracks and drifts, but BMW’s M division decided to flex its muscles and bring to the track their latest foray into the world of high-performance luxury sedans.

Their flagship 7 Series sedan is now called the BMW M760Li xDrive (or simply M760i for those in the United States) and 30 years after putting a V12 engine in its range-topping 7 Series, it is now back with oomph than ever and desire to please.

2017 BMW M760Li xDrive Palm Springs 106 750x500

Before we jump into our driving experience behind the M760Li xDrive, let’s talk through that new naming convention: M because this model is part of the M Performance Automobile family – the very same ones that build monsters like the M550i, 760 which denotes the 6.6 liter V12 engine, L for long-wheelbase – which is standard on all U.S. models, i for a gasoline engine and of course, BMW’s famous xDrive system which helps the car run all its four wheels. 

BMW M760Li xDrive race track 38 750x500

It’s a mouth full to say the full name – pun intended – but once you get behind the wheel, you can just call it “The Torque Monster.”

THE ENGINE

“The Torque Monster” delivers 602 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque, and it can run to 62 mph in just 3.7 seconds, which makes it the fastest accelerating BMW in the current lineup. That’s 0.2sec faster than the F10 M5 Competition and also half a second faster than its key rival, the more powerful Mercedes-AMG S65. Top speed is equally impressive, a whopping 189 mph.

The V12 engine is well-known to BMW customers from its previous iteration available in the 760i, but this one comes with a twist. It features modified turbochargers and a new fuel injection system that operates at up to 200bar of pressure, a new intakes and exhaust system. An air-to-water intercooler perches on top of the intake manifold where it cools the charge coming up from the twin mono-scroll turbos.

Working together with the smooth and powerful engine is a specially calibrated version of the well-knwon eight-speed automatic gearbox, featuring unique software developed by BMW M for altered shift points and more rapid shift times in Sport mode.

THE DESIGN

The 7 Series is already a great looking luxury car and in the M760Li guise, you can have it two ways – with lots of M bits and special 20-inch alloys, or with the Excellence package and more chrome that’s aimed mainly at the ever growing Chinese market.

Setting the M760Li apart visually from the regular 7 Series models is a standard M aerodynamic package with redesigned bumpers, a matte grey finish for the grille and other exterior elements, bespoke 20-inch wheels and a distinctive V12 badge. Features like the M Sport brakes with blue calipers and an M Sport exhaust with four trapezoidal shaped chromed exhaust pipes remind us that this is a special 7 Series.

Naturally, the 2017 BMW M760Li xDrive comes with every single tech, safety and connectivity system BMW is offering in their flagship cars. Things like a high-tech Head-up display, iDrive 5.0 with touchscreen and Gesture Control, and a driving assistance systems driver are all standard in this package. And as a respected limousine, the “The Torque Monster” gives its passengers an Executive Lounge package for that maximum comfort and luxury that one can experience in a car.

THE DRIVE

After a quick show-and-tell at the Thermal Club in Palm Springs, California, BMW introduced us again to DTM Champion Bruno Spengler. We spent some time with Spengler at several car launches, so having him as our driving instructor for the day, it’s a treat that not many can brag about.

The morning session kicks off with a driving session on a tight, little test track which aims to show us the nimbleness of the large 7er in sharp corners and also allowing us to experience the different driving modes. Just like all the modern BMWs, the M760Li xDrive can be configured with different driving modes, in this case, Adaptive, Eco Pro, Comfort Plus, Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus.

A couple of laps following Spengler in the Comfort Mode and the conclusion is what we’ve expected. The M760Li offers that comfortable ride when needed, with the expected slight body roll and smooth ride. The steering input is accurate and responsive to quick changes, certainly rewarding the smoother driver.

Kick the driving mode to Sport and the different in ride quality is immediately felt. The character of “The Torque Monster” has immediately changed, displaying that dual personality we’ve come to see in modern BMWs. The electro-mechanical anti-roll bars tighten up, the air springs stiffen, the steering is heavier weight and the rear-wheel steering is sharper. Going through the same tight corners, the M760Li shows a racing character very seldom seen in cars of this size. 

Overall, the M760Li xDrive has achieved its goals – it has an M DNA, it’s fast, it’s luxurious and allows for bragging rights – but in the end, in this segment, the purchasing decision making comes down to personal preferences and allegiances to one brand or the other.

But can a 4800 lbs monster be easily stopped? Spengler believes so as he takes us through the next exercise – emergency braking. Taking the car to comfortable highway speeds is quick, but braking is just as effective. The M Performance brakes do their job well giving confidence to the driver, in case of a needed quick stop.

Last but not least interesting is the Launch Control exercise where we get to really test all that power coming from under the hood. In the typical BMW fashion, we concurrently hold down the brake and gas pedal until the Launch Control sign illuminates on the dashboard, and then release “The Torque Monster” into the wild. We immediately get thrown back into the seat reconfirming the great idea to have a light breakfast.

BMW M760Li xDrive On The Track

Spengler sees the smile on our faces and he promises to make this even more fun. So we follow him onto the Thermal Club’s “real” track with the beautiful mountains backdrop and its long straights and fast corners. After a reconnaissance lap, Spengler decides to push its M760Li pace car even more. Clearly, we can’t reach not even 10 percent of his driving potential, but it’s fast enough for us to determine what the M760Li is made of on the track, a place that’s not likely to end up too often. But it could, if needed.

Flying through the curbs in Sport mode, the M760Li has surprisingly little body roll and the ride is firmly planted onto the pavement. The Michelin Pilot Sport tires certainly play a role here as well. Powering through the fast corners, the xDrive system gives us an all-wheel drive car with the characteristics of a rear-wheel drive car. It’s fast and fun, while hiding well its weight. The longitudinal stability, enhanced by the active rear wheel steer system, is extremely good, giving us plenty of confidence to push the car even faster. 

And of course, it’s the long straights that allow the V12 engine to shine. Top speed on one of those? Around 130 mph, but we’re at least a few mph short of its full potential on Californian track.

Why would BMW build such a car? One. Because they can and that’s important to show since many have challenges its reputation as “The Ultimate Driving Machine.”

The fun morning session comes to an end and now it’s time for some winding mountain roads around Palm Springs where we get to experience the “The Torque Monster” in its natural habitat. Where we would naturally plow through the curves with a powerful M car, this time around we’ve taken the luxury ride approach – kicking the car back into Comfort, adjusting the seat for more cushion and playing some beautiful tunes through the Bowers & Wilkinson high-fidelity audio system. The ride is smooth, the engine is domesticated and the driver – luckily us this time around – can effortlessly enjoy the beautiful views, especially when the semi-autonomous features kick in.

CONCLUSION

Let’s get the first point out of the way. This is not an M7! But that’s likely what BMW has desired as well since a top M model doesn’t make a lot of sense at the moment, especially in a world where premium, sporty SUVs are the focus.

What they offer us instead is a car with a dual personality and a remarkable engineering achievement. The M expertise can be seen and felt immediately, combined with the luxury of a high-end limousine, justifying the high price tag – $154,795. 

Now the second point. Why would BMW build such a car? One. Because they can and that’s important to show since many have challenged its reputation as “The Ultimate Driving Machine.” And two, to compete in that niche segment at the top of the high-end limousines where the likes of Audi and Mercedes-Benz have been playing in for years.

Overall, the M760Li xDrive has achieved its goals – it has an M DNA, it’s fast, it’s luxurious and allows for bragging rights – but in the end, in this segment, the purchasing decision making comes down to personal preferences and allegiances to one brand or the other.

NEWSLETTER