Driven: 2023 BMW 760i Is Better Without The V12

Test Drive / Comments

The top-spec combustion model is unbelievably good in almost every way.

This is the current top-spec combustion-powered BMW 7 Series, and while it wears the 760i badge, it's not powered by a V12 engine. The previous-generation BMW 7 Series M760i xDrive was powered by a 6.6-liter twin-turbocharged V12 that produced 600 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque. The new 760i (note there's no M in its name) uses BMW's tried and trusted 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8, producing just 536 hp and 553 lb-ft. What gives?

Is BMW skimping on performance? The answer is no. You'll have to go electric if you want a 7 Series with an M badge. The i7 M70 is the new straight-line king in the 7 Series range, and it will get to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds.

The 760i is no slouch, however. It will reach 60 mph in 4.1 seconds, and that's quite possibly the least exciting thing about it. We spent a week with the 760i in Denver, doing mundane things like buying groceries and taking it up to Breckenridge and Fairplay to see how it handled the freeway and some twisty roads.

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Exterior: Careful With The Colors

The new i7 and 7 Series caused quite a stir when unveiled in New York last year. From the side and rear, there's nothing wrong with the car. It's a massive slab of powerful straight lines - exactly what a BMW 7 Series should be.

The primary source of contention is the front, where slim LEDs are perched above Rolls-Royce-like headlights. Front and center is BMW's famous oversized kidney grille. I've been a fan of the design since it was unveiled, and to my eyes, the grille is proportional to the rest of the vehicle.

I like the sinister design, though the two-tone paint is too flashy for me. Luckily, many paint options are available for the 7 Series, and most are pretty tasteful. This is the kind of car where the exterior color can make or break it, so it's worth spending time on BMW's online configurator to see which color works for you. You can also save a few bucks, as the two-tone paint option costs $12,000. There are much better ways to spend that money. Take the 21-inch M Star Spoke Bi-color wheels, for example. A set costs $1,300, and when I first looked at them, I immediately thought that they would ruin the ride. Thankfully, that was not the case, as you'll soon find out.

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Powertrain: Effortless Grunt

BMW has dumped the twin-turbocharged V12 for this generation, and I don't miss it. The previous-generation M760i xDrive was the closest the German brand ever got to building an M7. It sounded good on paper, but the combination of car and engine failed to blend appropriately in the real world. The BMW 7 Series has always been the benchmark for handling in this segment, but it's still far from what you'd call nimble.

All that power from the V12 was wasted, and the result was a car that sounded a bit douchey. Allow me to explain. Pulling away elegantly from a stop sign or red light was nearly impossible. The engine produced so much torque that the wheels would chirp even when you applied minimal throttle. Instead of people admiring you for being successful and owning a 7, they looked at you the same way they'd look at a Mustang driver using launch control at a stop sign. It simply wasn't elegant.

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The new 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 with a mild-hybrid system hits the sweet spot. It feels like a Rolls-Royce Ghost in that the power isn't there for a quick 0 to 60 mph sprint but to make progress effortless. You step on the throttle lightly, and the car provides adequate torque.

The eight-speed automatic transmission also fades into the background, but it does a splendid job of dropping a cog or two when you need to tap into the full 536 hp and 553 lb-ft for an overtake. The in-gear acceleration is spectacular, and you must keep an eye on the speedometer to keep yourself out of jail.

The speed at which the 760i settles is much higher than the national speed limit, but you can get around that by using the active cruise control. You can feel this particular model was designed for the autobahn. It will happily cruise at 155 mph all day, making no more noise than a BMW 3 Series at idle.

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Driving Impression: Sporty Luxury Barge

The BMW 7 Series has always been the athlete of all the luxury barges. You can still feel that DNA, but the 2023 7 Series is more comfort-biased than ever. Perhaps BMW finally realized that shoppers in this segment aren't particularly interested in getting the back end out. In this segment, you want your back end to be cosseted and massaged.

Our test unit was equipped with BMW's Autobahn Package, which includes active Comfort Drive with Preview and dynamic roll stabilization. It costs $3,600 and is well worth the money, if only for the latter. The 'Preview' function merely tells you that there will be an imperfection in the road in a few yards. There's nothing you can do about it, but it doesn't matter.

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The 7 Series' active suspension is so good that only the gnarliest imperfections make it into the cabin. Even then, it's nothing more than a polite wobble, almost as if the car is ashamed that you had to live through a second of supposed discomfort.

The active roll stabilization works beautifully if you feel like pushing through a few corners. If you live in a state like Colorado, where there are multiple beautiful roads to explore, it's well worth the price. The 7 Series shrinks around the driver, and the car firms up nicely. We kept up with a few locals out for a joyride on the 285 down from Fairplay to Denver, and the 760i did a good job - but it's the comfort that one remembers most fondly.

Now more than ever, the 7 Series is a Rolls-Royce Ghost at around half of the price, even with a few optional extras added. Praise doesn't get much higher than that.

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Interior: BMW Kept It Classy

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class and the 7 Series have been rivals for as long as both cars existed, and for the most part, the two cars have always used the same recipe for a luxurious interior. The new cars are a little more different these days.

Mercedes relies on acres of screen real estate in its latest models, and although the S-Class misses out on the Hyperscreen, it's still tech-forward with a large central display that isn't quite as well integrated as the screens in the Bimmer are. While we agree that technology plays a role in luxury, it's only one element of a successful interior. The 7 Series also has a lot of display space - a large dual display in the front and touchscreens in each rear door.

Our unit was also equipped with the Rear Executive Lounge Seating option, which includes an executive lounge rear console, a reclining right rear seat with a footrest, and BMW's impressive theater screen. If you want to be driven around, or you have kids that need to be entertained, this $7,250 is a must. It's pretty damn lovely sitting back there and watching a movie, but in our experience from watching reality TV, wealthy people spend their time on the phone, either making business deals or checking up on share prices. Whichever way you want to spend your time back there, it's going to be sublime.

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The rest of the 7 Series interior feels special because BMW is generous with its pleasing, high-end finishes. Our unit had the full Merino leather interior, some carbon fiber trim, and Climate Comfort Laminated Glass. Adding to all this is the dashboard-inlaid Interaction Bar, which is a beautiful piece of crystalline decoration that you can illuminate in several colors as part of the ambient lighting system. Harsh colors like green and purple are a bit much, but the lighter pink and blue tones work like a charm. It fits right in with the standard glass controls.

In addition to the high-end trim, the 760i is packed with valuable features that make the driving experience easier. You get live traffic updates, parking assistance, a graphic overlay over the navigation to show you exactly where to turn, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which have become the standard operating systems for entertainment.

The latest iDrive is one of the best operating systems we've come across, and we spent an entire week operating the car via voice control - a first for us - and proof that BMW is currently the leader in this segment as far as we're concerned. The kind lady who lives in the dashboard didn't miss a beat. You simply say, "Hey, BMW," followed by whatever you need, and she does it.

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Practicality: Loads Of Room For Everyone

BMW will not build a longer-wheelbase version of the new 7 Series since this one is already considered to be just that. All 7s are spacious enough for four people to stretch out comfortably. As mentioned earlier, you can equip it for chauffeur duties, but it's an epic family car, too. There are several storage spaces inside and enough cupholders for each family member to take two oversized drinks for the trip.

Thanks to the light materials and sunroof, the interior of our 7 Series felt even more commodious than it is. An overall feeling of light and space plays a vital role in luxury, and BMW nailed it with the 7 Series.

The trunk is sizeable and has enough room for everyone's luggage, even for a week-long trip to a ski resort. But being a sedan, it's not quite as practical as the X7, which comes with three rows and a much larger trunk when the third row is stowed.

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Pricing And Verdict: Segment Best

The MSRP for a 2023 760i is $113,600, which is much cheaper than BMW charged for the previous-gen model with the V12 engine. You don't get the performance, but you do get a much more complete vehicle.

Our test 760i was equipped with a host of optional extras, taking the price up to over $162,000. It's often the case with test cars, as BMW wants to showcase what you can do with a car like this. We've already mentioned the optional extras we'd include, apart from the $4,800 Bowers & Wilkens sound system. We didn't have enough time to explore it properly as there was company in the car the whole time, but any sound system that picks up the church organ in Blink 182's "What's My Age Again" is worth having.

For the first time in our experience, we'd have the 7 Series over the S-Class. Mercedes lost the plot by not balancing tech and luxury as well as the Bimmer does. We feel Merc is a little too focused on massive screens; in the BMW, you can put the infotainment screen off. As in, black it out entirely and only use the digital instrument cluster. You can take a break from the tech and sit back and enjoy fine German engineering.

Research used to show that one's heart beats a little slower in an S-Class as you simply relax, but we're willing to bet that if that study were to be done again, the 7 Series would claim victory.

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