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If You Have The Means, Then By All Means...

2010 BMW 760Li - Click above for high-res image gallery

$66,350 is a significant sum. In the automotive world, it can buy you a variety of delicious drivables, including the BMW M3, Cadillac CTS-V or Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG. It can buy you exactly 4.67 Mazda2 hatchbacks, if that's more your style, but no matter how you look at it, $66K isn't chump change.

So when you consider that the 2010 BMW 760Li commands a wallet-gouging $66,350 over an entry-level 7 Series, which itself starts at at a lofty $70,650, you'd be right to expect the standard BMW flagship treatment with a heaping helping of sport sedan prowess thrown in for good measure. And that, folks, is exactly what you get.

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2010 BMW 760Li
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Photos copyright ©2010 Steven J. Ewing / AOL

The F01 7 Series is looking quite sharp these days, not only within the BMW portfolio, but against newly tweaked competitors like the Audi A8 and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. But while the 7 looks decidedly German and stately, we feel its design has been immediately trumped by that of the stunning 2011 Jaguar XJ.

The 12-cylinder 760 model is only available in the long-wheelbase body style, which adds 5.5 inches of length between the front and rear wheels – 98 percent of which is enjoyed by backseat passengers, as the Li designation signifies an added 5.4 inches of rear legroom. Other model-specific changes include V12 badging between the front doors and wheel wells, quad exhaust tips out back and larger 19-inch wheels as standard equipment. It's a looker, combining luxurious understatement with a commanding road presence.

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Our test car came equipped with a handful of BMW's Individual Composition options – a sort of leather-bound wine list of color and wheel choices available exclusively to the 7 Series. They aren't cheap, and our tester's Moonstone Metallic paint, AmaroBrown full leather interior with Alcantara headliner, 20-inch wheels, Shadowline exterior trim and "BMW Individual" rear badging added $8,300 to the $137,000 starting MSRP. Add in a rear seat entertainment package ($2,200), active cruise control ($2,400), night vision ($2,600), destination ($875) and the gas guzzler tax ($2,100), and you wind up with a final, out-the-door price of $155,475 – more than double the price of a base 740i.

Sure, spending that sort of coin will ensure you have the finest of 7 Series models, complete with nearly every option you could ever want in a luxury sedan, but what you're really paying for is the absolute sweetheart of an engine that lies underhood. Of course we're talking about BMW's new 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged V12.

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All 7 Series models are available with turbocharged engines these days, and while we have nary a complaint about the 4.4-liter V8 found in the 750i, the 12-cylinder powerplant is just so much more special. It makes 535 horsepower and 550 pound-feet of torque – 135 hp and 100 lb-ft more than the twin-turbo V8 – and while the 760Li is 385 pounds heavier than a similarly equipped 750Li, it sprints to 60 miles per hour a full seven-tenths of a second quicker (4.5 versus 5.2).

What's most impressive, though, is the 6.0-liter's difference in power delivery over the 4.4. The all-important low-down thrust comes on strong at just 1,500 rpm – 250 rpm sooner than with the V8 – and when you consider there are 100 more foot-pounds being sent to the rear wheels, the acceleration is more akin to that of a muscular sportscar than a luxury barge. There is the slightest hint of turbo lag right off the line, but you'll soon forget about it once your right foot is marshaling the 760's full onslaught of power. It's seriously fast, but the whole forward thrust experience is silky smooth.

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At speed, the 760Li's eight-speed automatic transmission does a fine job of keeping the engine running in the lower end of the torque band, mostly in an effort to maximize fuel efficiency. During full highway cruising, the 760 can muster up a relatively impressive 19 miles per gallon (there are 12 hungry cylinders to feed, after all), and during our test, we averaged a respectable 16.4 mpg during a fairly even mix of city and highway driving.

BMW's Driving Dynamics Control and Dynamic Damping Control work with both the transmission and chassis to offer four different levels of driver engagement out on the road, with Sport being our obvious favorite. While we do enjoy occasionally selecting Comfort mode for the most plush 7 Series experience possible, we preferred tweaking the Sport mode's chassis settings and leaving the transmission alone. Although the eight-speed 'box handles shifts with aplomb, the sportier transmission settings tend to hold gears a bit longer than we'd like in everyday driving. Normal mode is a nice blend of Comfort and Sport, and the intense Sport + setting is something we'd reserve only for serious canyon carving. Not exactly normal 7 Series territory, but with the 760, we'd be up for the challenge.

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The stiffer suspension settings and more responsive steering feel at home in the Big 7, and the Sport mode's slight reduction in traction control allows you to let the back end play around a bit more during hard cornering. It's rather remarkable how nimble the 760Li is at speed – it's not nearly as portly as an S-Class – which is what tends to separate the Bimmers from the rest of the boys.

We know that only a very small fraction of 7 Series sales will be made up of the 760Li, and while that is indeed a shame, it's perfectly understandable. At $70,650, the 740i is an elegant mix of luxury and taste, and the $82,500 750i is marginally more engaging from behind the wheel. It almost makes the 760Li seem like an incredible stretch for standard luxury sedan shoppers, but this is definitely a case where if you have the means, then by all means. There is quite simply nothing sweeter than the power provided by a BMW-sourced twin-turbo V12, and when it's wrapped up in something so comfortable, so stylish and so unabashedly awesome, the 760Li provides an ultimately unique luxury sedan experience. And besides, there are certainly worse ways to spend $137,000.


2010 BMW 760Li
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Photos copyright ©2010 Steven J. Ewing / AOL


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 36 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      I can't believe active cruise control and night vision aren't standard on the 12 cylinder version. I can understand the "BMW Individual" options not being standard, but I thought the whole point of getting the top of the line versions was that everything was standard.

      I'm pretty sure stuff like that is standard on the S600.
      • 4 Years Ago
      V12 BMW and Mercedes are for suckers.
      I will never forget when I first got my S and the head mechanic at the dealership told me never ever buy a V12. He said they have constant problems and cost a fortune to fix and generally were not worth it.
      Personally I don't believe the V12 prestige factor is worth what they charge anyway.
      To be honest at that price point, you should just go for the Bentley Continental Flying Spur where your are guaranteed the prestige and your car won't look like all the other lower end models below it.

      I would be embarrassed to have the awful Individual badge tacked on and the TV screens in the back look cheap and an afterthought. At least do it like Range Rover where it looks classy and seamless.
        • 4 Years Ago
        At 155k as tested, the flying spur is not even THAT much more (when you are talking money in that range), so I can see your point.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I prefer the G8 GXP at less than half the price :)
      • 4 Years Ago
      An absolutely beautiful car and since it is a BMW it will drive well. Yes it has a lovely competitor in the new Jaguar XJ LWB but then, who do you think looks better - Scarlett Johannson or Keira Knightley? :) No one need feel bad with either of them on their arm.

      And, to my ageing eyes, the Steinway edition posted here some weeks ago, would make music in more ways than just the melodious sounding V-12 would.

      Let' stop hating those who have worked hard enough to buy and appreciate one of these and try and do as well as them instead. Positive thinking and a Happy New Year to everyone!
      • 4 Years Ago
      That "individual" badge has simply got to go.
      It makes Me think of people who buy BMW's for all the wrong reasons.To be posers.
      It's so frivolous.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The new A8 with its brown luxury interior package puts this to shame.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Looks like BMW left the model clay in the interior.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Stunning interior, fat and ugly exterior. In MY opinion, the E38 si still the best.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The car price is set to capture the people willing to pay that much. It definitely does not worth that much more.
      However, I think MB does a better job capturing this segment of people wanting to pay this much. Consider this 7 series is too similar to the base model and these people want to be seen in a more pricey model.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'd rather get a used DB9. Apples to oranges though; I recognize that. However, if you want a V12 in luxury that's the way to go.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'll take the Alpina B7 in Alpina Blue of course
      • 4 Years Ago
      This is the top of the line variant,is'nt it? Why do I then need to opt for rear seat entertainment at extra cost? Active cruise control is not standard? Why?
      Recently dropped by the BMW dealer here in Singapore and was apalled to see the equipment levels on the entry level cars! Why do you do this BM? Why??
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