The "affordable" 12-cylinder sedan
“I don’t like big cars,” I told fellow associate online editor Collin Woodard. “If I am going to review or own a big vehicle, it better be one of the biggest and most comfortable in the segment. Small, fun-to-drive cars are my thing.” Well, it’s like they say—you get what you ask for. When I learned that the very large and very powerful BMW M760i was coming my way, my love for huge cars feverishly returned, and for good reason. This is BMW’s largest, most powerful, and quickest vehicle (at least, until the M5 arrives), not to mention the automaker’s most powerful production car ever. Additionally, with a starting price of $159,395 USD, this is the most affordable V-12 on the market and one of very few V-12-powered sedans available. This is not an M7 (we hope BMW creates one soon), but it almost feels and sounds like one would.
Absolutely and without a doubt, the V-12 is the centerpiece of the M760i. The N74B66 V-12 engine is the same one used by Rolls-Royce for its Ghost, Wraith, and Dawn models but tuned to different power outputs. In the M760i, the 6.6-liter twin-turbocharged V-12 churns out an impressive 601 hp at 5,500 rpm and 590 lb-ft of torque at just 1,550 rpm and is backed by a smooth-shifting ZF eight-speed automatic. That just tops the Alpina B7’s 600 hp made from its 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8. The V-12 features iron-coated aluminum pistons, forged connecting rods assembled using the cracking process, and a forged crankshaft. The two mono-scroll turbochargers are tucked in on the outside of the two rows of six cylinders, and the air-to-water heat exchangers use an additional water pump. The M sport exhaust system was designed to be as straight as possible in order to reduce backpressure and is equipped with rear silencers and exhaust flaps for quiet cruising or for acceleration runs that wake up the neighborhood. At low rpms, the engine emits a nice but menacing burble; press hard on the right pedal, and the twin-turbocharged V-12 roars out a unique and well-tuned exhaust note.
This BMW has so much power it could climb a wall. You are never in need of more power, even in Eco Pro mode. With the slightest touch of the throttle, the sedan shoots forward with authority. Considering the 5,036-pound (2,284-kg) curb weight, hitting 60 mph in a Motor Trend–tested 3.4 seconds and the quarter mile in 11.7 seconds at 120.1 mph (193 km/h) is a feat that any automaker would be proud of. Let’s put these figures into some perspective. The outrageous 650-hp 2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE equipped with the six-speed manual matches the M760i’s quarter-mile time but is down 0.2 second on the 0–60 run. AMG’s flagship, the 577-hp AMG GT R, matches the BMW’s 0–60 time but hits the quarter mile 0.3 second faster. The 645-hp 2016 Dodge Viper ACR also hit 60 mph in 3.4 seconds and beats the M760i to the quarter mile by only 0.2 second. What about electric? The Tesla Model X P90D crossover (532 hp, 713 lb-ft of torque) equals the 0–60 run but manages a quarter mile just 0.2 second faster. With the exception of the Model X, all the above sports cars weigh less than 4,000 pounds (1,814 kg). For more perspective, the following vehicles are slower than the BMW M760i in both 0–60 and quarter-mile times in Motor Trend testing: the 600-hp Aston Martin DB11, the 577-hp Mercedes-AMG SL63, the 626-hp Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible, the 493-hp BMW M4 GTS, the 640-hp Cadillac CTS-V, the 621-hp Mercedes-AMG S65 coupe, and both the Charger and Challenger Hellcats (the Challenger Hellcat tied the 11.7-second quarter-mile run).
The large M sport brakes are strong and stopped the premium German sedan from 60 mph in just 111 feet. The M760i is built for the autobahn, but we flogged it around our figure-eight course anyway and recorded a respectable time of 24.7 seconds with an average 0.82 g. “A powerful car, for sure, and remarkably quick for its scale,” testing director Kim Reynolds said. “However, I had an awkward time trying to maintain a cornering pose around the skidpad’s arcs. It would understeer—I’d force it to oversteer—then it would relapse to understeer.” Regardless, the behemoth of a sedan handles its large size and heavy weight very well when pushed hard on the streets.
Frozen Dark Brown Metallic is the official name of the exterior color, and it is striking—one of the best features of the sedan. Heads will turn, not because it’s a BMW 7 Series but because of the frozen metallic paintwork. The paint almost looks like a professionally done and well-chosen full vehicle wrap—not to degrade it in any way. Double takes are common, even from my fellow automotive journalists, and I even caught a passerby in a parking lot touching the paint and gazing at it with his eyeballs just inches from it. The paint feels slightly textured and has a matte sheen that is rarely seen on vehicles. Without a doubt, the $5,200 USD paint job makes the M760i stand out even more from a crowded parking lot. According to BMW, the paint incorporates a base layer for grip and corrosion protection, a color layer, and a clear lacquer finish with added silicates to create the matted look and a velvet effect that can be felt. This type of paint is just as durable as traditional paint, but there are strict BMW guidelines for washing and caring for the paint.
The Back Seat
For individuals who like to get driven around, the front passenger seat is not where you should be. Instead, the back seat—more specifically behind the front passenger—is the most comfortable and entertaining place to be in the car. The Gentleman Function feature highlights that fact. It’s a button located by the driver and by the rear passenger-side seat. Pressing the button will allow you to adjust the front passenger seat with your seat controls, giving the rear passenger as much legroom as desired. If someone is sitting in that front passenger seat, this can make for a very enjoyable time for you and a lot of annoyance for them.
Unlike most vehicles I review, I spent a lot of time in the back seat. After opening the long and heavy rear door, I sat on the optional and luxurious full Merino perforated leather upholstery. I immediately hit the button that lounges out the seat as much as possible and rolled up the power rear and side window sun shades. I then turned on the heated seats (also ventilated), chose the “full body” massaging function, adjusted the ambient lighting, and chose my favorite radio station, all through the removable 7.0-inch tablet located in the huge center armrest, which also houses the seat controls, cupholders, a storage compartment, and charging ports. I rested my head on the soft headrest pillow and enjoyed the comfortable ride and premium Harman Kardon audio system. I could have also opted to entertain myself on one of two screens perched on the backs of the front seats or check myself in the large and lighted rear vanity mirrors. The rear seat is truly the place to be—unless, of course, you like driving a V-12 BMW.
The Daily Life
With a sticker price of $171,895 USD and that very special but easily damaged paint, this car should be parked in a garage. Because of the size, street parking wouldn’t be sensible anyway. Living in a humble Los Angeles apartment, I only had street parking, but I wasn’t about to do that. So I called my neighbor and asked if I could use his garage for a few days. Unfortunately, the BMW didn’t fit, thanks to L.A.’s abundance of old buildings with small garages. This sedan is 206.6 inches long, a little over 17 feet. I then called my other neighbor, Aaron, who has a small private parking lot behind his house. Once I explained what vehicle it was, he happily obliged.
My initial drive in the third-most expensive car I have ever driven was quite white-knuckled in traffic, but I quickly adjusted to the dimensions of the sedan. I knew that I had a suite of driver-assist systems on my side. There was something else I noticed on my maiden drive and for the next few days: Heads were turning. It’s not the quick, break-your-neck kind of turns that exotic sports cars attract but instead an initial glance followed by a long, gleaming stare, as if I were driving a moving stereogram. The combination of the mysterious paint, the V-12 badge, the M badge, and the sheer size of the 7 Series were probably the culprits for the long looks. Also, this powerful sedan will quickly, comfortably, and quietly hit triple-digit speed on the highway before you realize it, so it requires your full attention. I also avoided small parking lots and tight alleys, not wanting to risk any kind of damage to the body and especially to the paint.
The BMW 760i comes standard with a long list of features, including 20-inch double-spoke light alloy wheels (245/40 font, 275/35 rear tires), Icon adaptive full LED headlights, 20-way power multicontour heated and ventilated front seats, rear comfort seats, Nappa leather upholstery, illuminated doorsills with a V-12 logo, a 16-speaker Harman Kardon surround sound audio system, a display key with an LCD touchscreen, navigation with a 10.2-inch center display, a 12.3-inch instrument cluster, a full-color head-up display, a self-parking system, gesture control, Active Comfort Drive with Road Preview, front and rear air suspension with dynamic damper control, and a surround-view camera system with 3-D view. Our tester came equipped with the Frozen Dark Brown Metallic paint, the $4,000 USD Cashmere Beige and Black Full Merino leather interior combination, the $1,700 USD Driver Assistance Plus II package, the $1,800 USD Luxury Rear Seating package, and the $2,700 USD rear-seat entertainment system. There’s also a $1,700 USD gas guzzler tax (13/20 mpg (18.1/11.8 L/100km) city/highway). With a sub-$175K USD price tag, that’s not too shabby, especially when you include the 601-hp 12-cylinder engine.
It’s hard to complain about this vehicle, but there are a few issues. I was not that impressed with the Active Assistant Driving Plus and Active Lane Keeping Assistant features. The systems had a hard time staying in the lane at the end of a highway curve, and I soon got tired of fighting it and turned it off. At this price level, driver-assist safety features such as blind-spot warning should be standard. The sedan does not comes with a traditional rear cross-traffic warning system. Instead, the car will reverse brake for you but will not warn you ahead of time like traditional systems in less expensive cars do. The interior is of very high quality, but the design is slightly boring when compared to rivals. Ashtrays! I counted three of them. Not sure why those are still around taking up usable space. Who would want to stink up that full Merino leather anyway?
There are many luxuriously powerful cars out there with loads of features and technology, even more so with the BMW’s high price tag. Models such as the Mercedes-AMG S63 sedan, Audi S8, and the new Jaguar XJR 575 all have similar power outputs and very similar performance numbers but cost a bit less. So why buy the M760i? Besides the myriad standard features and the astonishing paint job, it’s really all about that V-12 engine. As silly as that sounds, V-12s are prestigious in the automotive world, and people are willing to pay for them, partly for the rarity and for the panache that accompanies any 12-cylinder engine. Mercedes-AMG charges a cool $70K USD premium to upgrade from its V-8-powered AMG S63 to the V-12-powered AMG S65 in the S-Class Coupe, and it’s not even quicker. When you have a V-12 under your hood, it means something. A V-8 is nice, but a V-12 is truly something special.
|2017 BMW M760i|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$171,895|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan|
|ENGINE||6.6L/601-hp/590-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 48-valve V-12|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||5,036 lb (54/46%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||206.6 x 74.9 x 58.2 in|
|0-60 MPH||3.4 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||11.7 sec @ 120.1 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||111 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.94 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||24.7 sec @ 0.82 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||13/20/16 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||259/169 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||1.26 lb/mile|