Featured: Resisting Reality In The BMW M760Li

Resisting Reality In The BMW M760Li

By Alex Sobran
July 19, 2017
12 comments

Photography by Alex Sobran

I’m not really used to this caliber of transport, but like a lot of people who’ve been into cars for a while, I’ve ended up sitting shotgun in a lot of stuff, including high-end luxoliners like this one, the BMW M760Li. So when Alex Seremet of BMW Romania picked me up from the airport in the matte (“frozen” if we’re being official) black Bimmer, I was excited to shed practicality for a few days and actually spend some time driving one of these leather-wrapped imperators.

Getting in for the first time was like being at the helm of something very complex that you’re not trained to use, but after spending a few minutes getting acquainted with the mass of buttons and knobs it was easy to set the GPS and concentrate on driving this stat-junkies dream car, one with 610hp coming from a twin-turbo V12 and an assault on 62 mph that takes 3.7 seconds. From a stretched full-size sedan. Like a lot of modern BMWs though, this car’s weight is actually tilting the trajectory back downwards, with the newer cars coming in with lower numbers on the scale than previous generations thanks to liberal use of aluminum, carbon fiber, and the kinds of poly-plastics that people go to grad school to create. What was it like to live with this car for a few days then? The picture below does a perfect job of not summing up the experience.

The big V12 is not some sonorous Italian soprano, but in sport mode with the exhaust opened up it certainly turned heads of the typically uninterested livestock roaming nearby up in the mountains. And in dense traffic in the city, most faces are already looking your way long before the engine announces itself. Being someone who’s predominantly owned and driven cars from the ‘90s that the average pedestrian assumes is a hand-me-down that I never grew out of, it was a bit jarring to draw so much attention, but I suppose it just illustrates the car’s achievement in presence; though wearing the #1 mobster-approved paint job, the rest of the car is subtle yet stately, its styling offering a lot to look at, but not packaged in a way that forces you to. There are details and a lot of creases worked into the shape, but it never looks busy or overdone.

And being at the wheel of this BMW, it’s hard not to indulge in the comforts offered (at one point I had the steering wheel heater on at the same time as the air-conditioned seat, which, of course, was in full-body massage mode). On that subject, the seat mimics the car it’s in, as the big chair is equally adept at holding you when you tell the bolsters to snuggle up as it is at coddling you in traffic.

In cars like these you expect the rear doors to open up to the focal point of the interior, and while the old school yet not in a stilted way foldaway tray table and air-conditioned fridge and massive screens and footrests and pliable leather make for a truly comfortable place to be, most of the time this capacity to impress CEOs was used as a place to store things like the backpack I used to hide beers in in my freshman dorm. It swallowed camera gear, travel luggage, and, appropriately, suits with room to spare. I’m sure it would be a great little nest to spend a few hours in whooshing along some highway on a rainy day, but it’d be hard to ever leave the driver’s seat once you’ve tried it.

Pressing the sport button uncloaks the car’s potential, trading the sensor-obedient suspension mode and the economical throttle settings for a general tautness that makes an already very fast car even more fun to drive around as if it were half as big as it is. The four wheel steering helps this feeling of belied size continue when you leave open space for city congestion too; while I had a considerably difficult time finding the size of parking space required to fit the longest production BMW ever built, making increasingly frustrated laps around the block in the hunt for one was surprisingly easy.

For instance, in one four-lane roundabout packed with little hatchbacks paying no mind to any of them, I was certain insurance companies would be called soon after my exit, but even playing “can you drive like a Mongolian taxicab” along with everyone else was no issue. It wasn’t my first time driving a big car in small spaces, but it was a uniquely simple one. Also, I’d always thought lane assist warnings and other safety aids were only going to make people pay even less attention to doing a not-bad job of driving their cars, but there are times when it’s nice to know about the child moped driver seemingly holding on to your quarter panel before you try switching lanes amid horns and low light and attempts to cross check the GPS with street signs almost wholly unpronounceable to you.

After handing back the key, the overall impression left with me was a mixture of yearning and bemusement; a longing to be able to daily drive a car like this, and a lingering feeling that it operates under different physical laws than the rest of the world’s objects. Is that overly praiseworthy? I don’t care if so, there is something special about any car that performs and pampers like this one can. It will never compete with the sensations of driving something vintage and analog, but as far as contemporary cars go, what more do you want? It’s half cruise ship, half cruise missile.

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Satch Carlson
Satch Carlson
4 years ago

Jesus, don’t you people have a copy editor? I hate having a pleasurable reading experienced interrupted by tiny errors of grammar, usage, and punctuation. It’s bad enough in the comments (bread for breed?!), but inexcusable in a professional publication, even in these days of online sloppiness.

But there’s some good stuff here, Alex. Just make sure you check it out carefully before you hit send. And learn the difference between its and it’s.

Nick
Nick
4 years ago

Well written, Alex. Very enjoyable.

klasse02
klasse02
4 years ago

Fantastic stuff yet again Alex, really enjoy reading your stuff bud, clearly a massive Bimmer guy like myself, keep them coming!
Newer motors struggle to get my attention really, however this new bread of BMW’s really are awesome! Gagging to get my hands on an M240i!

Alex G
Alex G
4 years ago

I rented the diesel version of this car to drive from Monaco, across Italy, and then back up to St Moritz last year, before heading back to Monaco via Lake Como.

This is a car that is exceptional at what it was designed to do, handle daily commutes and highway miles as comfortably as possible, with a little spirt should either of those routes include a few twistys from time to time. The low end torque was incredible, providing an aircraft-like feeling of thrust. The car was extremely quiet, comfortable, and confident rocketing down the Autostrada, with it’s radar cruise control and autopilot like feature. It was fun in the Alps when the road started to get twisty, and was fairly easy to navigate in traffic in Milan. I can say with confidence that we used all the tech in this car and loved it (although the hand gesture infotainment controls were a bit strange! Couldn’t figure out why songs and volume kept changing until about halfway through the trip haha).

The only time the car struggled was fighting the exodus of tour buses on the one lane cliffside road into Portofino! This car was not made for small French/Italian village streets haha.

It wasn’t the most fun I’ve ever had in a car but that’s not the point of this car. Thanks Petrolicious for mixing up your reviews a bit and covering what is indisputably a cool car.

GuitarSlinger
GuitarSlinger
4 years ago
Reply to  Alex G

Exceptional ? The only thing exceptional about the new 7 is its ability to separate a man/woman from a lot of his/her money

Congratulations … you took the bait Hook , Line & Sinker falling for a pile of pretense in the guise of a contemporary BMW . Funny that none of the UK / EU journalists have . Hmmm ….

GuitarSlinger
GuitarSlinger
4 years ago

1) That sound you’re hearing coming out of the exhaust is digital enhanced / created and as fake as a three dollar bill with Frank Zappa’s face on the front

2) That matt/flat/ whatever paint job is hardly befitting of a BMW coming off the showroom floor .e.g. Shame on you BMW ..

3) What more can one ask of a contemporary car you ask ? Hows about a car that is first and foremost a C-A-R .. rather than some abject excuse for rolling infotainment on four wheels pretending to be … a car

4) And finally .. all those CF etc wonder bits you’re swooning over thinking they lower the weight of the car . The reason those bits are needed is to keep the weight from being even heavier than it is ( the new 7 series out weighs the old by several hundred pounds ) due to the ever expanding waistlines , rapidly growing foot print/size … and.. all those bells and whistles , infotainment , luxury theater garbage and the pretense of quality being stuffed under the body .

Sigh … now even BMW’s going down Alice’s Rabbit Hole of luxury /sport theater .. and guess what Mr Sobran … the rest of the automotive press in a moment of sobriety .. not addled by the name or the reputation … have been condemning this and every other new BMW for the exact reasons I’ve stated above

Too much junk … too little substance … with BMW rapidly losing its cache of being the ‘ Ultimate Driving Machine ‘ … rapidly becoming the ‘ Ultimate Pretense Machine ‘

FYI All this fiddly electronic bits may be easy for your generation to suss out .. but for those of us not inundated by technology …. as well as the ones than CAN afford a car such as this … BMW’s infotainment is amor the worst made and the most difficult to operate . Don’t believe me ? Read the reviews !

GuitarSlinger
GuitarSlinger
4 years ago
Reply to  GuitarSlinger

Whats curious nearly to the point of irony is that for all the FaceBook addled Thumbs Downs given not one solitary contradictory fact has been posted in the attempt to dispute anything I’ve said in criticism of the BMW 7 in question . Hmmm … so what does that say about those handing out those Thumbs Downs ? Gee …. I wonder . Actually … I don’t .. nor should anyone else with a modicum of intelligence and maturity …. 😉

Félix-Antoine Arseneau
Félix-Antoine Arseneau
4 years ago
Reply to  GuitarSlinger

I bet you make a lot of friends

Dimitar
Dimitar
4 years ago
Reply to  GuitarSlinger

Guess what old man – times are changing. This is called progress and whether you like it or not because of ridiculous nostalgia-related reasons doesn’t change the fact that BMW is currently experiencing the most successful years in its whole history. So instead of hating I guess you have to try it for yourself. Analog classic cars are cool and all but the automotive industry always tries to improve itself and come up with something new and that’s totally normal. If everybody followed your logic we still would’ve been going around riding horses.
On the other hand, that’s another great read, well done Alex 🙂

Nope
Nope
4 years ago
Reply to  GuitarSlinger

Wow. Thats a lot of BS coming from one person. If any of that was true, you self entitled prick then maybe you would have thumbs up rather than down. Also where the hell do you get your BS from. Its literally so stupid my brain dies every time I read one of your negative bullshit comments that are so completely eccentric and ignorant that you really should become a youtube troll and leave Petrolicious to actual car enthusiasts who actually know about cars. Guess someones just jealous they can’t afford a 7 series