Test Drive: 2016 BMW 750i xDrive

I’m not sure if I feel more like a dork by talking to my car or using hand gestures to communicate with it. The latest generation of BMW’s flagship encourages both, and frankly I liked using both, even if it placed a metaphorical cap and propeller on my head.

Essentially all-new for 2016, the BMW 750i is quite literally a tour de force of cutting edge technology. Of course, with an “as tested” MSRP of $132,600, it should be that and more. So is it?

The short answer is a resounding “yes,” but not without foibles, but first, let’s get some specs out of the way.

All 750i sedans sold in Canada feature BMW’s sophisticated xDrive all-wheel-drive technology. The vehicle is powered by a twin-turbocharged 4.4L V8 engine producing a wealth of 445 horsepower and 480 lb-ft of torque. An 8-speed automatic transmission backs-up the forced-induction powerhouse.

With its tenacious grip converting every pound of torque into crushing propulsion, the 750i can jump from naught to 100 km/h in a remarkably brief 4.4 seconds. And for those with a conscience about such things, the aggressive Bavarian is rated at 13.9 L/100km in town and 9.1 L/100km on the open road.

Despite my heavy-footed tactics, I consumed an average 14.7 L/100km in the city, which actually exceeded what I had expected given the magnitude of what I was piloting. Extensive use of carbon-fibre in the construction of the 750i helps shed some 180 kilos from its bulk while its start/stop technology helps preserve fuel when at a standstill.

With the eco-conscience among us fractionally assuaged, let’s enter the commodious cabin and sink into one of the most welcoming seats in all of autodom. The finest hides cover a set of perches that include multiple massage programs, along with heating and cooling functions.

Pushing the start button discreetly fires-up the dictator from Deutschland, giving life to an audacious abundance of programs and digital technology. It’s at this point that a techie’s head is likely to explode from overload.

To list out all of the gizmos and gadgets at hand, and buried within layers of programming, would have readers growing old and me shuttled off to a remote farm. Some of the cool stuff though deserves a mention.

My tester was equipped with BMW’s Rear Entertainment Package. Yes, in the back seat were no fewer than three screens; two affixed to the backside of the front seats for video watching and internet surfing, and a Samsung tablet neatly fitted into the centre armrest enabling well-pampered rear guests to fully control their environment, including ambient lighting, window shades, audio, and more.

As mentioned at the start of this vicariousmag.com review, the luxo-laden 750i features gesture control, which enables the driver to accept a phone call, or not, with simple hand motions. In addition, the volume level of the impressive Bowers Wilkins audio system can be raised or lowered with the twirl of a finger, though I’m not sure what wiggling a nose will do.

BMW has refined their voice-command technology, enabling it to understand typical phrasing rather than specific commands. This increases the user-friendliness of the system, however, it’s not quite like chatting with an old pal, but better than most voice-activation setups I’ve sampled of late.

With the tech side of the Bimmer flagship done, let’s drop the 750i into gear.

With Sport, Standard, and Comfort Plus settings, the 750i can be tuned to match one’s daily drive-psyche. Me? I’m a Comfort Plus guy in town. With its softer underbelly engaged, the 750i delivers a smooth, compliant ride that is seldom ruffled.

Despite the work of BMW engineers to make the cabin vault-quiet, I detected more road noise from the optional 21-inch Pirelli P-Zero run-flats than optimal in a car of this prominence. On smooth pavement, road noise is essentially non-existent but on more textured surfaces, the typical hollow thrum of run-flat tires is evident. A small, but for me, annoying foible in an otherwise exceptionally well-executed environment.

Fortunately, tire noise is quickly forgotten when the road opens up and Bowers Wilkins imparts a concert hall on wheels.

The 750i is capable of remarkably ferocious acceleration. Whether launching from a standstill or taking down a semi on the highway, the 8-speed autobox quickly slots the optimal cog, followed by a series of lightning-quick near-imperceptible gear changes. In fact, the entire full-tilt process is delivered with outstanding operational refinement accompanied by a rapturous growl.

Tossing the aristocratic “ultimate driving machine” into a series of turns is equally as rewarding as dropping the right foot. While the 750i is a somewhat mammoth sled by today’s standards, it’s no loafer by any measure. Returning it to its corporate home next week won’t be easy due to its addictive combination of lively driving dynamics, divine opulence, and class-leading technology.

2016 BMW 750i xDrive

Price as tested (before taxes): $132,600
Freight: $2,145
Configuration: front engine, all-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 4.4L 8-cylinder / 8-speed automatic
Power/torque: 445 hp / 480 lb-ft
Fuel-economy ratings (L/100km): city 13.9, highway 9.1
Observed fuel-economy (L/100km): 14.7
Warranty (basic): 4 years / 80,000 km
Competitors: Audi A8, Jaguar XJ, Lexus LS460, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Porsche Panamera

Related links:

BMW Canada
Car and Driver

Translate »