First Drive

Not an M7 | 2017 BMW M760i xDrive First Drive

  • Image Credit: BMW
  • Engine
    Turbo 6.6L V12
  • Power
    601 HP / 590 LB-FT
  • Transmission
    8-Speed Automatic
  • 0-60 Time
    3.6 Seconds
  • Top Speed
    250 MPH
  • Drivetrain
    All-Wheel Drive
  • Engine Placement
  • Curb Weight
    5,128 LBS
  • Seating
    4 or 5
  • Base Price
This is not an M7. Such a BMW would have carbon fiber festooning the dash, roof, and racier seats. It would make glorious noises. It would be hunkered down around corners, tenaciously resist the urge to roll, and elicit reactions from the back seat that things are too damn bumpy. You could get it in electric Long Beach Blue metallic paint with Mugello Red leather. The absurdity meter would be pinging off its redline.

So nope, the 2017 BMW M760i xDrive is not an M7. The BMW folks were quite adamant about that and they're right. Like other "M Performance" variants like the M240i and M340i, this range-topping 7 Series is more than just the biggest possible engine applied to an otherwise equal model, but considerably less than the track-going killer limo imagined above. It also, perhaps most importantly, gets the coveted M badge onto the 7 Series for the first time officially, allowing for a clearer visual cue that owners have purchased the fanciest and priciest version. Simply having the highest number on the back wasn't enough.

And what that number represents, though not literally given that engine displacement and model number are no longer aligned, is a 6.6-liter V12 with a pair of single-scroll turbochargers clinging to the outside of its 60-degree V. It's good for 601 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque, a surely plentiful amount, but well short of the range-topping Mercedes turbo V12, which sails well past the 700-lb-ft marker (and, admittedly, costs $60,000 more).

2017 BMW M760i xDrive 2017 BMW M760i xDrive 2017 BMW M760i xDrive 2017 BMW M760i xDrive

Like that engine, though, the BMW's V12 rumbles like distant thunder as you slowly pull away from a stop. The M760i is still remarkably quiet, yet this tell-tale 12-cylinder attribute remains. It's a subtle and constant reminder that you bought the special one, something ultimately far superior than a bunch of badges. And since this engine doesn't possess the typical turbocharged tendency for an over-exuberance of torque (take the 750i's 4.4-liter V8, for instance), it accelerates in a smoother, more linear and, yes, more civilized manner.

However, it also ultimately allows the M760i to accelerate faster than any series BMW ever (meaning something other than an actual M car). Zero to 60 mph is achieved in 3.6 seconds courtesy the V12 and M-tuned eight-speed automatic, plus the aided traction of standard xDrive all-wheel drive and launch control. It feels as remarkably quick as that number would indicate, which is all the more impressive given its 5,128-pound curb weight – still hefty despite sharing the same carbon-fiber-intensive structure as every other new 7 Series.

It's all too quiet, though. The exhaust, despite being a unique M adaptive unit featuring straighter routing and the largest possible pipe diameter, never ventures into an audible range that would be deemed exciting. It's not even that loud from the outside, so it's not like the car's abundant sound deadening is simply keeping you isolated from all the exuberance. The M760i doesn't have to raunchily crackle and snort – even an M7 would likely leave that to AMG – but some extra spice on occasion would still seem appropriate for a BMW.

2017 BMW M760i xDrive 2017 BMW M760i xDrive 2017 BMW M760i xDrive

Actually, a similar conclusion can be made about the rest of the driving experience. BMW used the M760i's launch to showcase its new western Performance Center in Thermal, California, with its own dedicated course of tight corners plus a separate larger track that's part of the adjacent Thermal Club (essentially a country club devoted to racing rather than golf). It gave us the opportunity to see just how well the baddest 7 Series is able to defy the laws of physics. And really, it did a pretty amazing job of it despite both tracks being better suited to smaller, more agile cars.

With its standard Integral Active Steering, aka the rear-wheel steering optional on other 7 Series, the M760i was capable of sharply bringing itself around the countless hairpin turns of both tracks as if it were a smaller, more agile car. You really can feel the sensation and results of the rear wheels turning in the opposite direction of the fronts, which by themselves turn in with a pleasing immediacy.

There's also the rear-biased xDrive, a continuously active all-wheel-drive system that can send 100 percent of its torque rearward and as much as 50 percent frontward should you run into a monsoon – as we did during the road drive south of Palm Springs. Even when driving through pooling water and wind gusts, the big 7 stayed defiantly planted and secure.

Back in the dry, though, it nevertheless retains that rear-drive feel and impeccable balance expected of its brand. It's not tail-happy and it doesn't plow either. On the higher-speed portions of the Thermal Club track, the M760i maintained impressive composure and demonstrated exceptional grip, in no small part due to the Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires wrapped around the bronze-like Cerium Grey light-alloy 20-inch wheels that are wider at the rear.

Then there's the active air suspension, standard on every 7 Series, but altered for the M760i to increase handling capability. Along with active roll stabilization (adjustable anti-roll bars), it does manage to keep body motions decently in check, especially when the car's Sport mode is engaged.

The trouble is, the car's various enhancements don't go far enough. There is still plenty of body roll, and the car even noticeably squats when you lay into that big V12. It may be incredibly capable for an extended-length limo, but it doesn't come close to matching the body control or overall dynamic feel of a Porsche Panamera or Jaguar XJR. The steering is a letdown, as there's just not enough feedback even in the heftier-weighted Sport mode, and the brake pedal feel is too soft and not reassuring enough despite the M760i's bigger, 19-inch brakes.

2017 BMW M760i xDrive 2017 BMW M760i xDrive 2017 BMW M760i xDrive 2017 BMW M760i xDrive

Even the M-tuned eight-speed transmission and its improved response times could be sharper. When slotted into Sport mode, it would downshift while powering out of a turn, rather than anticipating such a need during the preceding heavy braking, as the best competitor sport settings do. Perhaps this would improve in the real world where the car's Adaptive mode uses the navigation system to alert the transmission to such future shifting requirements.

Ultimately, the M760i showcases increased capability, but no added driving pleasure or involvement. Really, it's a car to be driven by your henchman. Yes, it'll get you away with immense speed, but you won't be driving, so who cares if Igor isn't enjoying a saucy exhaust or tactile sensations through the steering wheel. You'll just be happy to luxuriate in the back seat while he outruns whoever Tom Cruise is playing these days.

And luxuriate you most certainly will, because this is still a range-topping 7 Series, and oh boy is it a special place to sit back, watch a movie, and ignore the three black Suburbans tailing you. Apart from its M steering wheel, a few special trim pieces, and a couple V12 logos tastefully spread about, you get the same exquisite 7 Series interior. Igor will even be enjoying the same sublime front seats with adjustable bolsters and umpteen adjustments – no lightweight M sport buckets here – that can heat, ventilate, and massage him.

Of infinitely greater importance, however, is that you can enjoy the same seating features in the back with the Rear Executive Lounge Seating package. You can check out all the other bells and whistles it includes in the video below, including the standard touchscreen tablet that allows you to suavely control the various electronic minions at your disposal.

We'd also mention that the M760i even looks the super villain part with its more aggressive lower fascia and matte Cesium Grey trim replacing everything that would normally be chrome or silver alloy. The brownish black matte paint covering all of the assembled test cars really sealed the sinister deal, which is a tad ironic given that this car's great grandfather was driven by James Bond in "Tomorrow Never Dies." From the back seat, no less.

But that classic V12-powered 7 Series was the driver's car of its segment and we're not sure the same can be said of the M760i. It retains too much of its comfort, isolation, and unapologetic opulence, but let's be honest here, that's exactly what most buyers (super villains or not) are expecting when they plunk down upwards of $171,000 for this car. They want the fastest, fanciest, and most special 7 Series – and that's ultimately exactly what the M760i is. No M7 needed.


Autoblog accepts vehicle loans from auto manufacturers with a tank of gas and sometimes insurance for the purpose of evaluation and editorial content. Like most of the auto news industry, we also sometimes accept travel, lodging and event access for vehicle drive and news coverage opportunities. Our opinions and criticism remain our own — we do not accept sponsored editorial.

Share This Photo X