From Boulevard to Race Track…
This Changes Everything
By Helmut Dostal
It’s late September and BMW North America has chosen the Park Hyatt in New York City as its home base for the media launch of the much-anticipated 750i, the sixth generation of its flagship 7 Series. The message is clear: This top-of-the-line luxury model has dual citizenship. It’s as much at home gliding silently through canyons of corporate success as it is assuming the role of a greyhound on the track.
Being whisked out of NYC by helicopter to the exclusive Monticello Motor Club, just 90 minutes from Manhattan, has its own cachet, but given that we’re heading for a launch test drive of the new 2016 750i, it’s downright sweet.
Oh, what a feeling
Monticello is an automotive country club and private racetrack where members, dedicated car buffs to be sure, take to 4.1 miles of race-quality asphalt to test their mettle as well as the limits of their prized automobiles. Built into acres of gently rolling countryside, the track offers a good mix of thrilling elevation changes, fast straights, long curves and sharp corners. Twenty-two hair-raising turns in all! After a few words of advice from the on-site experts, we’re taught the rules of the house and given free rein with a fleet of gleaming 750i’s.
On the track, the 750i reveals its true BMW genes; it’s fast (4.4 sec to 100 km/hr), powerful (445 hp) and deliriously fun to drive. The 4.4L V8 engine is fed by BMW’s twin power turbo, and delivers its power through an eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission to the intelligent all-wheel drive sys-tem. (It actually turns the rear wheels, depending on the driving situation.) Gears can be shifted from paddles on the steering wheel should you want to handle the hairpins just a little more aggressively. The result: Sophisticated suspension and steering technology that makes it next to impossible to push this car out of control. Now we’re talking!
Sit back and relax
Once my heart rate had returned to normal, I took to cruising the scenic back roads around Monticello and some lovely wineries to boot. Top marks to the engineering talents who have upped the ante on smooth handling; this series demonstrates ease and agility on tight cornering, and a new level of comfort and driveability on a variety of road surfaces. Clearly a result of the improved Dynamic Drive system.
As expected, the Bowers & Wilkins surround-sound system brings listening enjoyment to yet another level. With the 10-channel amp, it blows out 1,400 watts of sound via 16 partially illuminated speakers. The 740i’s sound system can intuitively calibrate its settings to the selected music genre, so I opted for Vivaldi’s Four Seasons as I cruised down the country lanes.
New for the 2016 model is iDrive 5.0, a feature that allows the driver
to operate the entertainment system as well as navigation and other controls via a touch screen, voice command or Gesture Control (where 3D sensors recognize pre-selected hand movements). Very nice!
Staying with creature comforts, the new 750i offers both driver and passengers an impressive collection. It starts with automatic four zone climate control that regulates ventilation, seat climate, a fragrance system and even a massage function that boasts a choice of eight programs and three levels of intensity. An owner with a chauffeur might opt for the Rear Executive Lounge Seating option, where the backrest reclines and a footrest appears as the front seat moves forward. Yes, the back seat can now evolve into a luxurious lounge. Even the armrests are heated!
Smooth and stately
BMW’s development and engineering teams knew they would be expected to offer not just track-quality performance but also the ultimate in daily safety and comfort—and they have delivered. One of the many standard features on the 7 Series is an air suspension system that not only levels the car, but also raises it on rough roads. In Sport mode, it automatically lowers at higher speeds. A Driving Dynamics switch activates a number of modes, from Comfort and Comfort+ to Sport.
Redesigned from the ground up, “The 7 Series” celebrates a skillful
evolution, inside and out. The distinctive BMW profile still looks comfortably familiar, yet it’s tastefully modernized all round. Responsibly, its carbon core passenger shell cuts 86 kg from the curb weight, and the aluminum door skins and trunk drop even more extra bulk.
The interior is drop-dead luxurious, with carefully curated fine Napa leather, wood and chrome coming together to create the roomiest sedan that’s ever rolled off the assembly line in BMW’s Bavarian manufacturing headquarters in Dingolfing.