BMW never made on M7. It’s made M Performance versions of the 7 Series before, such as the M760i, but it’s never made a true M7, something that’s every bit as fast and as capable as it is luxurious. However, if that’s something you’ve always wanted, the new BMW 760i is the closest thing to an M7 there’s ever been.
The BMW 760i is the only V8-powered 7 Series in the world and it’s only coming to the North American market. Not only that but its V8 engine is one of the things that makes it so close to a genuine M7 and there are a few reasons why.
Powered by M
For starters, the BMW 760i uses BMW’s new S68 engine, which is a new 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 that replaced the outgoing N63 in V8-powered core BMWs. What’s most interesting about the S68 engine is that it’s a genuine M Division engine. When BMW decided to replace its N63, it didn’t want to invest money in making an N68 for normal BMWs and an S68 for M cars. So it just made one, the M version. And that makes the BMW 760i the first-ever 7 Series to be truly powered by an M engine.
It’s not as powerful as M cars will be with that engine, though. In the 760i, the S68 engine makes 536 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque. That’s only a handful more ponies than the X7 M60i LCI with the same engine but it’s plenty. No customer is every going to want more power, as it has enough shove to pin drivers, and cozy rear passengers back in their seats.
If there’s a complaint with the engine, it’s that it doesn’t’ sound great in the 760i. It’s plenty loud in sport mode, which is likely amplified by some speaker trickery, but the noise isn’t exactly pleasant. But it’s cool that it’s loud enough to be heard, even in the isolated 7s.
Ride/Handling Balance Act
The first thing I noticed when pulling away in the new 7 Series was just how comfy it is. You expect a 7 Series to be comfortable but this new 7 Series has a suppleness only rivaled by the best of luxury cars. BMW always struggled to give the 7 Series a ride that could rival the Mercedes S-Class for comfort but I think it’s finally done it. This new 7er has the most comfortable ride I’ve ever felt in a BMW. It flattens out bumps like the best luxury cars in the world, but it never feels floaty. It has a pillowy quality but it always feels hunkered down and stable. It’s quite the magic trick BMW pulled off, especially when you consider how heavy it is and the massive 21-inch wheels my test car had.
On the twisty canyon road, though, that soft suspension never felt out of sorts. Switching it to sport mode firmed it up a bit but never to the point of feeling harsh and yet somehow it never really suffered from much body roll, nor did it feel sloppy. Even through some really tricky turns, it never lost its composure and was a genuinely worthy dance partner. In fact, it might be the best handling luxury car I’ve ever driven. It was actually almost… fun.
Switching to Sport mode also adds some weight to the steering, which just helped it feel a bit more precise. The front end had plenty of grip and always felt responsive, allowing me to place the car exactly where I wanted. Obviously, a smaller sports car would be more fun but I couldn’t believe just how capable the 7 Series is for a big old bus. It has a nearly perfect ride-handling balance for such a car and it’s what impressed me most about the 760i.
Private jet for the road
By now, you’ve probably seen the cabin of the 760i. If not, you’re in for a real treat when you do. It’s nothing short of fabulous. The front features the best interior design of any BMW on the market. It’s sleek, high-tech, packed with interesting features, and incredibly premium but it never feels overdone or obnoxious. The illuminated light bar trim looks great, the actual trim (be it wood or carbon fiber) is lovely, and the seats are the best BMW makes.
I have a couple of minor complaints. For instance, the 9 and 3 o’clock positions on the steering wheel are so obnoxiously thick, it’s laughable. I don’t know why BMW did that but it’s annoying. Admittedly, the steering wheel looks great, so it gets a pass. The other interior complaint is the lack of physical buttons. Almost everything is touch-controlled, whether it be through the iDrive screen or touch-sensitive buttons on the dash. And while it all looks great, it can be frustrating to use while driving. Though, it gets a pass because the 7 Series is supposed to be the most high-tech of all BMWs, so I get why it’s like that. I don’t like it but I get it.
Move into the back seat, though, and you’re treated to what might be the best back seat in the segment. Not only are the seats lovely but the tech is outrageous. There are small screens built into each door’s armrest and rear passengers can use them to control everything about the rear cabin.They can control the lighting, climate controls, sunshades, and music. They can change the interior moods, too.
All of the 7 Series’ we had on test were equipped with the now-famous rear theater package. That provides a massive 31-inch, 8k touchscreen that drops down from the ceiling to give rear passengers a theater screen. If you use the door screens to select Theater Mode, all the car’s sunshades close as the theater screen drops down, create a moody, theater like environment. It’s awesome.
The Theater Screen is Amazon Fire TV capable, so you can stream all of your entertainment apps through it, as long as you connect it to your 5G data plan. The car actually connects to whichever mobile provider you have and essentially becomes just another device on your plan and that’s how it gets the data to stream content. Unfortunately, our test cars lacked the 5G connection, so we couldn’t test it out. However, customers will be able to stream whatever content they want and they can either use bluetooth headphones or the car’s speakers to listen to it. It’s seriously cool stuff.
I tried a few different interiors and my favorite was the cashmere option. There’s something very cool about the leather and cashmere interior combo, which is vegan and more sustainable than leather. Not only is it comfy but it just has a unique, interesting feel to it. Plus, it holds you better than leather during spirited driving.
Elephant in the Room
Okay, so I’m just gonna be blunt—the 7 Series isn’t good looking. It’s not the worse looking BMW in recent memory but it’s certainly not the best. Its split headlight design is fine and its grille isn’t too big but there’s a chunky bulbousness to the entire car’s exterior that just looks awkward. The front end is too upright, giving off SUV vibes, its rear end is too boring, with so much empty space, and its profile is pretty uninteresting. However, the rest of the car is so good, I only really cared for a few moments. Once you’re inside, the exterior is forgotten.
Better than an S63 AMG?
BMW has been chasing Mercedes’ S-Class for decades and, aside from the E38-generation 7 Series, it’s never really gotten close. However, this new car should give the S-Class a real fright. More specifically, the BMW 760i is genuine competition for the Mercedes-AMG S63. Just like that car, the 760i is shockingly quick, handles far better than a big ole bus should, and still packs tons of tech and luxury.
Without testing them back-to-back, there’s no way of knowing if the 7 Series is better or worse than the Benz. However, I think this new generation 7 Series is the closest it’s gotten in ages, thanks to its wild technology, its fantastic ride/handling balance, and superb interior.