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First Drive: 2010 BMW 760Li

Twelve ways to say Wow!

by on Jul.27, 2009

The 2010 BMW 7i introduces a fourth-generation V-12 to the new 7-Series line-up.

The 2010 model BMW 760Li introduces a fourth-generation V-12 engine to the new 7-Series line-up.

A new V-12 engine is something that gets my attention right away. Not just because I like big engines, but because the guys in Bavaria know perfectly well how to develop and build them.

On my way to Munich, for my first drive in the all-new, 2010 BMW 760Li, I wondered if, in this era of downsizing, there would still be buyers for the 7-Series with such a powerful engine. Isn’t a V-8 good enough?

BMW never reveals its internal sales forecasts, but during a media briefing, the board member, Dr. Klaus Draeger, was very upbeat about the chances for the flagship sedan’s most expensive variant, despite the seeming realities of a market in recession atop growing emphasis on fuel efficiency.

The 750i and 750Li, the twelve-cylinder versions of the former generation did well: between 2002 and 2008 nearly 12,000 units were sold worldwide.  In both the U.S. and China, in fact, the 12-cylinder models accounted for 23% of total 7-Series sales, while in other key markets that ran anywhere from 6% to 15%.  But, in fact, company officials admit demand is likely to slip with the 760, if for no other reason changing regulations.  In China, for example, new taxes on products with engines larger than 4-liters will add about $45,000 to the price of the big Bimmer.

Pulse-pounding performance!

Pulse-pounding performance!

Still, there are those who say life isn’t complete without owning a 12, and, one might assume, having the cash to buy one.  BMW has been ready to provide that life-sustaining technology since 1987, when it launched the 750i, its first 12-cylinder model since World War II.  It delivered a then-stunning 300 horsepower and accelerated the big 7-er from 0-100 KmH (0 – 60 mph) in just 7.4 seconds, with fuel economy of about 17 mpg combined.