The BMW M760i is a handsome sedan with a mammoth V12 engine. BMW introduced it this summer, with a starting price of $156,495, as a way to attract buyers who prefer being driven in an executive-style lounge, plus the ones who enjoy driving a sports car of their own.
BMW makes another big sedan you might put in this category, the Alpina B7. That one is the $138,800 V8 that BMW builds with its engineering partner, Alpina. It’s thrilling to drive. But if I had to choose between the two, I’d opt for the M760i—the big engine and athletic handling, fresh new colorways, and a back seat to die for give it the overall edge.
V12 Value Does Exist
BMW has dropped a whopping 601-hp twin-turbo throbbing heart into the front of this 7-Series, good enough for zero-to-60 mph in 3.6 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph. That engine comes from the same line as those used at sister company Rolls-Royce, and the familial relationship is abundantly clear.
I should say here that this M760i is not an M7. No such thing exists, technically speaking. Rather, “M Sport” cars such as this M760i are the highest-level trim versions of the regular, non-M series vehicles. Actual “M cars”—think M3 or M5—are engineered and produced separately by BMW’s motorsport division. Those have major differences in their chassis, performance, and components from non-M cars, and they’re considerably more expensive. M Sport vehicles such as this have cosmetic upgrades and some adjustments in such things as the suspension, splitters, and exhaust but do not command the full BMW motorsport architecture.
Even so, I might choose the M760i over the segment-dominant Mercedes-Benz S Class. I say this based on money savings alone. While the S65 AMG costs $226,900, the M760i costs $70,000 less; it’s also two inches shorter than the S65 and feels much sleeker from behind the wheel—and in the back seat—than that small distance would suggest.
And despite that impressive engine size and four additional cylinders, the M760i drives smaller than both the Alpina B7 and the S, touching the ground more lightly and skirting corners more nimbly with its eight-speed, all-wheel-drive than its specifications would indicate on paper alone. When you get behind the wheel, you feel as though you’re driving something much smaller, but the M760i is just as potent as any sport sedan.
See You in the Back
Really, though, the back of the M760i is where I’d live, should this car be mine. I drove a handful of friends in it up to Bear Mountain, out on Long Island, around some upstate lakes, and all through Brooklyn for a week recently. It was lonely. Nobody wanted to sit up front with me. They all lounged in the back playing with the entertainment screens, massaging reclining lounge chairs, 16-speaker Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound system, and interior automatic-dimming mood lights as if it were their own personal spa day. Rude.
I don’t blame them. Who would say no to a seriously panoramic sky lounge roof ($900 extra) and multicolored mood lighting adjustable at the level of an infrared sauna ? The $5,750 “Rear Executive Lounge Seating” package includes a power rear seat and footrest, an executive lounge-style center console in the rear, a removable 7-inch tablet in addition to two large TV screens, and lounge armrests and seating that are heated and cooled—yes, even in the rear. (Power-hungry drivers at the front of the car should take note: That iDrive controller in the rear controls everything in the car, too, as I found out when the music began to take an unexpected turn away from my beloved hip-hop jams one afternoon heading out to Queens.)
Everything about this car feels like a reward. If you were blindfolded, you could tell that it’s plush just by touching things inside: The nappa leather is thick and soft (get the viola merino leather option in smoke white for $4,000), the wood trim is fine-grained and solid, the aluminum is brushed to the same caliber as the bracelet of a Submariner Rolex. What especially impressed me is that the slats in the kidney grill on the M760i are actual steel, not something that feels like plastic, as many of the others in the BMW fleet do. Once you have this level of craftsmanship on your town car, everything else feels cheap.
BMW badly wants to usurp the S Class here in creating a large sedan that performs like Jason Statham in a suit. If it hasn’t done it with the M760i, it has come close, and in the meantime we all have certainly benefited from this goal. Ambition is a heck of a drug.