BMW has long resisted calls to add the big 7-Series to its line-up of high-performance M models. It made an end-run by turning to partner Alpina which only last week announced the latest version of its souped-up B7 model.
But is BMW finally bowing to pressure and delivering the long-awaited BMW M7? The answer is a definitive, “sort of.” The Bavarian maker is adding the new BMW M760i xDrive for 2017. But the TwinPower 12-cylinder model falls into that halfway line known as M Performance, rather than being dubbed a true BMW M.
Will that matter? It’s hard to say, but as Mercedes-Benz has shown with its rival S-Class AMG offerings, there’s no doubt there’s plenty of demand for more and more performance whatever the size and shape of the sheet metal.
Set to reach showrooms early next year, the BMW M760i will be powered by a TwinPower Turbo 12-cylinder gasoline engine displacing 6.6 liters and making – at least in preliminary testing — 600 horsepower and peak torque of 590 pound-feet.
If those figures hold, BMW expects the big sled will rocket from 0 to 60 in just 3.9 seconds – the sort of figure an M3 owner might have been proud of not long ago – and hit an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.
To put that into perspective, the 2017 BMW Alpina B7 starts out with the same 4.4-liter biturbo V-8 found in the stock BMW 750i. But Alpina engineers have made a number of modifications to the air intake system, the intercooler, the twin turbos and the new stainless steel exhaust, punching up engine output to 600 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. That model is expected to hit 60 in just 3.6 seconds.
(For more on the new BMW Alpina B7, Click Here.)
BMW engineers claim to have focused on both reducing mass while also increasing the rigidity of the M760i’s V-12. Features such as the TwinPower Turbo system and precision fuel injectors are said to maximize responsiveness to a driver’s throttle input. Twin air-to-water intercoolers maximize potential engine boost.
The BMW M760i also gets its own soundtrack with a custom-tuned exhaust system – which features both silencers and a flap activation system. Under normal driving conditions, it delivers the tame purr that V-12s are known for. But, foot to the throttle, the pussycat starts roaring like a lion. The straight design and large diameter of the exhaust pipes, meanwhile, reduce power-robbing back pressure.
One of the challenges of developing a full-size performance model is striking a balance between the ride comfort expected most of the time, while ensuring a sedan like the 7-Series is ready to rock-and-roll on demand.
That’s required a deft engineering touch everywhere from body design to tires – the latter being mixed-size Michelin Pilot Super Sports on the BMW M760i. It’s shod with 245/40 R20 tires up front, and 275/35 R20 rubber in the rear.
(Click Here for a review of the new 2016 BMW 750i.)
The M760i’s suspension system is also designed to deliver best-of-both-worlds behavior, BMW explaining: “Active Comfort Drive with Road Preview is an active suspension control system, which links up with two-axle air suspension and the Dynamic Damper Control system to deliver exceptional spring and damper comfort, not to mention extremely low vibration levels. It includes the updated version of the Dynamic Drive system, which reduces roll at the front and rear axles.”
Other features include Integral Active Steering, a system that can turn the rear wheels ever so slightly – the direction depending largely on vehicle speed.
And the stock 7-Series Dynamic Driving Control system now gets an Active Adaptive Mode meant to anticipate chassis control settings.
Even the xDrive system has been revised for the M760i, the all-wheel-drive system capable of shifting torque entirely to the front or the rear wheels, as needed to deliver maximum power to the pavement and maintain control under adverse conditions.
As for the 7-Series body, BMW has made a number of changes to enhance aerodynamics, with an emphasis on performance enhancement. Features include active grille shutters to reduce drag, and a revised front fascia with larger air intakes.
The sedan gets an upgraded ConnectedDrive package, and the head-up display system of the “base” 7-Series delivers improved graphics and a larger projection area.
BMW says it will announce pricing for the 2017 M760i xDrive closer to its launch next year.
(Is the new Cadillac CT6 ready to challenge BMW’s best? Click Here for a review.)