2011 ActiveHybrid 750 New Car Test Drive
The BMW 7 Series cars are some of the most dynamic and exhilarating large luxury sedans in the world. Completely redesigned for 2009, the fifth-generation 7 Series line expands considerably for 2011.
The 2011 BMW 740i and 740Li are the first six-cylinder powered 7 Series cars since 1992. Also new for 2011 are the ActiveHybrid 750i and 750Li models, which combine power with fuel economy. For those who want more performance, BMW teams up with tuner Alpina to offer a new 2011 Alpina B7.
The 2011 BMW 7 Series sedans comes in standard and long versions, the latter designated by an L in the numeric nomenclature. The BMW 740Li, 750Li and 760Li have a wheelbase that's 5.5 inches longer than that of the 740i and 750i. They're a little harder to parallel park, but they offer a ride that's even more luxurious and have considerably more rear-seat legroom. The long-wheelbase cars have their own roofline, and the silhouette is sleek. The body has no transparently gratuitous scoops or scallops, and the car's size and lines clearly say first class.
The BMW 750i and 750Li feature a new-generation V8 engine, with direct fuel injection and twin turbocharging. This 4.4-liter V8 makes 400 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque, awesome numbers for an engine its size, while using less fuel than its predecessor to get occupants around town. It's matched to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The BMW 760Li ups the ante with a 535-hp V12 and an 8-speed automatic.
All-wheel drive adds all-weather capability to the 750xi and 750Lxi and, in our opinion, does so without ruining the sporty handling characteristics found in the rear-wheel-drive models.
The ActiveHybrid 750i and 750Li employ a mild hybrid powertrain with the same twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 from the 750i, an electric motor, a lithium-ion battery, and an 8-speed automatic transmission. Total output is 455 horsepower and 515 pound-feet of torque. Zero to 60 mph arrives in just 4.7 seconds and fuel economy is improved by 15 percent. Fuel economy is good but not great at an EPA-rated 17 mpg City/24 Highway. That's close but not quite as good as the new six-cylinder engine.
The 7 Series interior is classy and luxurious, as buyers should expect. It's like a roomy, still, richly appointed cocoon, protecting occupants from an ornery world, though some of the controls and features can be overly complicated. Just about every safety, comfort or convenience feature invented to date for the automobile is available on the 7 Series.
Yet what really distinguishes these cars is their dynamic verve: a combination of response, acceleration, smooth ride and sharp handling that few large sedans can match.
Weight-efficient construction and innovative chassis technology contribute to the lively driving dynamics that many expect from a BMW, especially high-end models like the 7 Series. All 7 Series cars come with BMW's Brake Energy Regeneration system, which captures energy lost as the car slows to charge the battery.
The 2011 BMW 740i ($70,650) and 740Li ($75,050) use BMW's turbocharged 315-horsepower 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine. The Li wheelbase is nearly five inches longer, translating to an equal increase in rear-seat legroom. All 7 Series models come loaded with standard equipment.
The 740i starts with leather upholstery; power tilt/telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls; cruise control; four-zone automatic climate control; interior air filter; hard-drive-based navigation system with voice recognition, real-time traffic information and space for and music storage; BMW Assist telematics service; power front seats; power windows and locks; power retractable auto-dimming side mirrors with tilt-down backup aid; remote keyless entry; sunroof; 10-speaker AM/FM/CD/HD stereo; auxiliary input jack; Bluetooth cell phone link; auto-dimming rearview mirror; universal garage door opener; rain-sensing wipers; automatic adaptive Xenon headlights; fog lights; theft-deterrent system; adjustable suspension; and P245/50R18 run-flat tires on alloy wheels. The 740Li adds to that heated front seats, illuminated rear visor mirrors, and a load-leveling suspension.
The BMW 750i ($82,500), 750Li ($86,400), 750i xDrive ($85,500) and 750Li xDrive ($89,400) are powered by a 400-horsepower, 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8, matched with a 6-speed automatic transmission. To the above, they add heated Multi-Contour 16-way power adjustable front bucket seats; memory for the driver's seat, mirrors and steering wheel; keyless access and starting; and power closing doors and trunklid. The xDrive models come with BMW's xDrive all-wheel drive.
The BMW 760Li ($137,000) gets V12 power and an 8-speed automatic with manual shift capability, plus Blind Spot Alert, Lane Departure Warning, heated steering wheel; rear-, top- and side-view camera; massaging and ventilated front seats; power adjustable heated and ventilated rear seats; trunk pass-through with ski sack; 6CD changer; 16-speaker, 600-watt DSP audio; Sirius Satellite Radio; Head-Up Display; self-dimming headlights; Active Roll Stabilization suspension; load-leveling rear air suspension; and P245/45R19 front and P275/40R19 rear tires.
The ActiveHybrid 750i and 750Li use the 4.4-liter mated the twin-turbocharged engine from the 750i with an electric motor and the 8-speed automatic transmission. To the 750i it adds a rearview camera; massaging and ventilated front seats; trunk pass-through with ski sack; Alcantara headliner; Head-Up Display; 16-speaker, 600-watt DSP audio system; and P245/45R19 front and P275/40R19 rear tires.
The Alpina B7 is offered in short- or long-wheelbase versions with rear-wheel- or all-wheel drive. Prices range from $122,000 to $128,900. Prepared by tuner Alpina, the B7 is essentially an M version of the 7. For performance, it adds a 500-horsepower version of the 4.4-liter turbocharged V8, Active Roll Stabilization, and P245/35R21 front and P285/30R11 rear tires. It also gets luxury amenities, including a massaging driver's seat, ventilated front seats, ski sack, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, Sirius Satellite Radio, USB port, and the Head-Up Display. The long-wheelbase version also gets a power rear sunshade, manual side sunshades, illuminated rear visor mirrors, and the load-leveling suspension.
Options for the 7 Series include a massaging rear seat ($200), power rear and side sunshades ($1,000), Integral Active Steering ($1,750), 20-inch tires ($1,300), dual-screen rear DVD entertainment ($2,200-$2,800), and infrared Night Vision with Pedestrian Detection ($2,600). An M Sport Package ($6,500) adds a sport steering wheel, black headliner, lift-reducing aerodynamic kit, Active Roll Stabilization, Shadowline trim, and 19-inch wheels with high-performance tires; the 760Li M Sport Package ($3,900) gets 20-inch wheels. A Luxury Rear Seating Package ($3,700) adds power heated, ventilated and massaging rear seats.
BMW's Advanced Safety System comes on all 7 Series models, including multi-stage front airbags with occupant sensors, front knee airbags, front passenger side-impact airbags and front and rear side curtain head-protection airbags. Active safety features include Dynamic Stability Control and Dynamic Brake Control, featuring Brake Fade Compensation, Start-off Assistant, Brake Drying, Brake Stand-by, Brake Assist, and Active Brake Lights. Also standard are front and rear park assist, a tire-pressure monitor, and active front head restraints. All-wheel drive is optional.