If the goal for BMW is to create the Ultimate Driving Machine® with every new vehicle release, then the mission has been accomplished in the legendary 7 Series Sedan-the BMW flagship. Fortunately for drivers of this luxurious, powerful and fuel-efficient four-door, BMW delivers what may well be considered one of the best cars in the world. To some, that may sound like an exaggeration, if not for the evidence to the contrary.
For 2012, the BMW 7 Series offers a model to fit every need: 740i sedan and long-wheelbase 740Li sedan; 750i sedan/750Li sedan; 750i xDrive sedan/750Li xDrive sedan; ActiveHybrid 750i sedan/ActiveHybrid 750Li sedan; 760Li sedan and the performance-tuned BMW ALPINA B7. There are no bad choices here – only different approaches to excellence. Here is a rundown of the basics on each.
BMW 740i and 740Li
The 2012 BMW 7 Series range begins here. The 740i (MSRP $71,000) features the vaunted 3.0-liter TwinPower Turbo direct-injected six-cylinder engine, a former Ward’s “10 Best Engines” award winner, tuned in this application to deliver a muscular 315 hp. It’s matched with a six-speed automatic transmission that allows drivers to also shift manually, should they choose to do so. It’s fleet-footed, with a zero-to-60 mph time of 5.8 seconds, yet it still returns an impressive 25 mpg on the highway.
Standard equipment in the 740i includes Dakota Leather upholstery, Park Distance Control, the intuitive iDrive control system, hard drive navigation, self-leveling adaptive Xenon headlamps and a High Fidelity 10-speaker, 205-watt audio system with two subwoofers, a seven-channel amp, full iPod compatibility, a 12GB hard drive and HD Radio™. Owners can further equip their cars with amenities such as Night Vision with Pedestrian Detection, a Convenience Package (including power trunk and self-closing doors), a Cold Weather Package (which includes heated front and rear seats) and a Luxury Seating Package (which includes Active Front Seats).
The BMW 740Li features a longer wheelbase, which translates into an even more spacious backseat. The BMW 740i models are both rear-wheel drive.
BMW 750i and 750Li
The BMW 750i upgrades to the powerful 4.4-liter TwinPower Turbo V8 with 400 hp and 450 lb/ft of torque. So equipped, the 750i rockets from zero-to-60 in just 5.1 seconds. This athletic performance comes with an EPA-estimated 22 mpg in highway driving.
Inside, standard equipment includes Nappa Leather upholstery, 20-way multi-contour front seats, heated front seats and a premium 600-watt, 16-speaker audio system with two subwoofers and a nine-channel amp.
The long-wheelbase 750Li offers even more passenger comfort, and both the 750i and 750Li are available with the BMW xDrive all-wheel drive system for enhanced handling and better performance in all weather conditions.
BMW ActiveHybrid 750i and 750Li
The BMW ActiveHybrid 750i is the world’s fastest street-legal hybrid car. Its features and amenities are comparable with the aforementioned BMW 750i. Where the ActiveHybrid 750i sets itself apart from every other 7 Series is under the hood and beneath the skin. It employs the same 4.4-liter TwinPower Turbo V8 as the standard 750i, augmented with an eight-speed automatic transmission, a 20-hp electric motor and a compact lithium-ion battery pack.
Total system power is a whopping 455 hp and an incredible 515 lb/ft of torque. The hybrid BMW is a rocket ship, running from a standstill to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds. That’s sports car performance in a large luxury sedan that returns 26 mpg on the highway. The instant torque of the electric motor provides boost when called upon to work in concert with the turbo V8. It’s a remarkable example of hybrid technology being used to further enhance the sporting experience so embedded in the BMW 7 Series DNA.
The hybrid system uses Brake Energy Regeneration to harness kinetic energy that would be otherwise lost as heat to supply power back to the battery, and it includes a Hybrid Start/Stop System that allows the ActiveHybrid to shut down its engine when stopped in traffic, only to seamlessly re-fire it when the driver releases the brake.
As the flagship of the standard BMW 7 Series, the 760Li ups the ante even further. Lift the sedan’s long hood and you’ll find a 6.0-liter, 48-valve TwinPower Turbo V12 that produces 535 hp and 550 lb/ft of torque. All that muscle is channeled to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic. Zero-to-60 takes just 4.5 seconds.
The 760Li is loaded with features. Standard eqipment includes power rear seats, heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, a leather-covered instrument panel, glaze black-finished ceramic controls and a power trunk with automatic opening and closing. Among the few remaining options that can be added are Night Vision with Pedestrian Detection, massaging rear seats, Active Cruise Control and a variety of M Sport and BMW Individual features, which allow for extensive personalization.
The ALPINA B7 is the most sporting expression of everything the 7 Series has to offer. Instantly identifiable thanks to ALPINA-exclusive bodywork, badging and wheels, the ALPINA B7 has a specially-tuned 500-hp, 516 lb/ft version of the BMW TwinPower Turbo V8 that, in conjunction with the electronically adjustable suspension and Active Roll Stabilization, delivers a uniquely engaging and exhilarating experience behind the wheel.
Regardless of which 7 Series you decide on, you’ll be driving the best of what BMW has to offer.
[[make = "BMW"]] [[model = "7 Series"]] [[year = "2012"]]