I recently had the chance to drive the new BMW M760i, which is the name BMW is now giving to its top-end 7 Series — formerly dubbed just the 760i or maybe the 760Li. They’re calling it the M760i for the same reason they’ve put an "M" in front of the name of all top BMW models — because they’re fast. And the M760i is certainly fast.
I say this because power comes from a twin-turbocharged 6.6-liter V12, which makes 601 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque; the result is a 0-to-60 time of something like 3.6 seconds, which is about as fast as a BMW M4 — except this is a massive luxury sedan that weighs something like 4,800 pounds. It’s absolutely incredible to experience what happens when you step on the throttle and feel the power in this car.
But, of course, it’s also tremendously expensive. The one I drove came courtesy of BMW of Devon here in the Philadelphia area, and the window-sticker price was something like $180,000 — huge money for a car, huge money for a luxury sedan and especially huge money for a BMW, as it’s the most expensive new BMW in history — more expensive than even the futuristic i8 sports car, which starts around $145,000.
But if the power doesn’t justify the M760i’s cost, maybe the equipment will. Here’s an amazing feature of this car: You can move it along using the key, while standing outside the car. Previously a feature only offered by certain Tesla models, this craziness has now come to BMW: You can start the car with the key (which, by the way, has a screen inside it), then you can walk alongside the car as it moves slowly out of a parking space. You can’t turn it using this feature, but the idea is obvious: You have a tight parking space in London, or Singapore, or New York City, and you can park the car without having to sit in it, then open the door and climb out. It’s a solution for wealthy people in big cities — which is exactly who’s going to buy this car.
And the equipment goes well beyond the crazy key. Here’s something incredible: The camera system not only provides a backup camera, and a front camera, and a 360-degree camera, but it somehow creates a wraparound camera angle that seems to show the car from the outside, like a video-game view. I’ve never seen anything like this in my entire life; you can basically back up and see not only what’s behind you from the top down, but also from basically every other angle, too. If you back into something in this car, you’re just an idiot.
Naturally, it goes even further: There’s a tablet in the back seats from which you can control practically everything — including the screens in front of you (yes, you can use a tablet with a screen to control a different screen mounted directly in front of you), which include navigation system controls, lighting controls, climate controls and even controls for the car’s scent. Yes, the car’s scent: There are several different smells you can choose to have sprayed through the climate control system’s vents. There’s even a rear-seat "vitality program" designed to help you exercise on long trips by commanding you to push your shoulders and body at various points in the car’s seats, so you stay "refreshed." I’m not kidding.
Of course, technology is a big part of any expensive new car — but the M760i also justifies its price with how it drives. I mentioned it’s quick — and it is, of course. Although I wasn’t able to take it up to autobahn speeds, it’s also clear it’s tremendously stable at regular highway speeds and that it telegraphs basically no noise into the cabin from the road, from other vehicles, from the engine or from the tires. Despite being a "sort-of-M" car, this thing doesn’t have the massively loud exhaust or go-fast styling bits on the outside that some M vehicles do; it’s still a buttoned-down businessperson’s luxury vehicle — but one that happens to be massively expensive.
Can it unseat the S-Class? In general, probably not — despite the big power, and the insane technology, and the ridiculous equipment, the S-Class is still the "gold standard" of the segment, and the sales figures prove it. But at this price point, emotion is playing more of a role in your decision than logic and value — and I wouldn’t be surprised even in the slightest if you see the M760i moving with the key, and you smell the sweet scent through the climate control vents, and you use the car’s gesture-control system, which allows you to swipe you hand across the interior to adjust various functions, and you simply decide you’ve got to have it. Find a BMW 7 Series for sale
Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.