BMW’s imposing M760Li limo, including a few other segment alternatives, reply to anyone questioning the very idea of a sports limo. It’s pretty basic. It’s about merging royal luxury with power on demand. It’s an age-old recipe but now brimming with high-end safety, astonishing power and mind-boggling digital features. There are plenty of trim lines offered but this particular unit had a curious combination of colours: white on the outside and brown on the inside, the lushness of the M760Li above say a 750i version also seen with Alcantara even on pillars and wonderfully quilted seats. It’s only small interventions on the inside, such as the V12 also embossed on the central flying console between the seats.
All is very discrete in here, a hint of the underlying menace also accessed by thumbing in the Sport button where the bi-modial exhaust opens its butterflies with immediacy and a deeper growl filters through the car.
Exterior styling changes above the last 7 Series (750Li) fitted with M-Sport kit we reviewed are subtle yet not OTT. There’s a set of suspiciously larger wheels; a different rear valance with a combo of rectangular and hexagonal exhaust exit ports, and there is a discreet but prominent boot-lid spoiler now. Other distinguishing factors include a matte grey trim around the front valance, surrounding the more pronounced radiator vents while both C-pillars proudly bear V12 inscription. It seems odd though – the idea of go-faster attachments in this ultra-luxurious limo.
Either way if the company’s perennial competitors have been at it for decades, perhaps it was high-time BMW added an M to the 7 Series – a famous decry from the brand’s fanatics who’ve always wished for a reply to AMG’s dragster limos. But the M760Li isn’t an M car in the traditional sense of the recipe. It’s breathed upon by M Performance – the sub-brand that should generally be fixated with warming up BMW ranges but seemingly also churns out insanely fast iterations like this large yacht which until the appearance of the current BMW M5, held the title of fastest accelerating series BMW of all time with 0-100km/h dash of 3.7 seconds thanks firstly, to a 448kW and 800Nm producing 6.6-litre twelve-cylinder engine
Strong low-down torque is a V12’s characteristic and this motor which isn’t in any way anachronistic, throughout the M760Li’s 5500rpm rev range in unison BMW’s rear-wheel biased xDrive AWD system, and an eight-speed Steptronic transmission that’s tuned specifically by M Performance reflects sportier, instantaneous shift-changes. It just thrusts with mind-bending force.
3.7 seconds to the ton is quite an achievement. That’s just 0.4 seconds slower than the new M5 and about 0.5 second faster than a BMW M4. Factor in its 2.2 ton weight and you should be impressed.
Actually it shouldn’t surprise. The BMW 7 Series’ innovative, lightweight body and a chassis infused with carbon-fibre bits thus, this becomes the ‘core’ of its astounding take-off and general driving supremacy. With the astonishing figures attached it’s somewhat of an anti-climax when BMW says it’ll run out of steam at a mere 250km/h. The M760Li remains a supremely luxurious drive. Away from the savagery and pyrotechnics it can be driven in a docile, elegant manner where the range’s clever air-suspension adds to the air of cream and honey cosseting. The texture of the drive remains one of the car’s defining features, including the digital wizardry that’s hooked up to the 7 Series as a range.
In a nutshell it’s BMW engineers at the very best at different things. BMW SA has already done the unthinkable and allowed us to unleash this limo under race track conditions back in 2017 where I witnessed first-hand, the remarkable grip from all four-corners. Due to its sheer size it could never be the ideal car to pitch at the Crocodiles at Kyalami but what BMW has achieved with its dynamic handling properties can certainly assist a lot on twisty roads where it changes direction remarkably well for something so big and lengthy.
Other cars (read Mercedes-AMG S63/65) might sound mightier, faster too (Porsche Panamera Turbo S) but the BMW feels the more rounded package for an agile Limo despite the still alien idea of a sporting Limo.
Everything works properly and sumptuously. The only mild complaint is with the terrifying potential of 21l/100km fuel blazing cycle. However, drive it civilly and deploy the car’s prudent mode – ECO PRO – and the figure can dropped as far down as 12.5l/100km. It’s a truly magnificent limo that successfully juggles as driver’s car or a chauffeured yatch.
PERFORMANCE – It was always a good feel moment whenever I was stationary, with the lingering prospects of launching it when the lights turned green without worry of traction. Thanks to xDrive it just hunkers down in any condition, wet or dry, locks in and disappears out of sight in alarming yet impressive fashion.
DESIGN – BMW has ensured that M760Li looks the part of a halo model. The bits which they added separate it from lesser iterations but next to say an AMG peer with their oceans of chrome, it looks quite regular, unsporting even. But it has a highly notable presence.
ENGINE/TRANSMISSION: This V12 is about the most sophisticated we’ve experienced. It’s smooth when in CEO mode, responsive and eye-wateringly strong in devil mode. It justifies its existence above the truly sensational 50i V8 and even the sensible 40i and 40d motors. The transmission is a wonder of technical virtuosity.
CABIN/SPACE – This is one aspect that any current 7 Series has never lacked in. Because it’s only available standard in LWB (Long Wheel Base) guise the rear is the real party venue.
MODELS/PRICING: There is no hiding the staggering price of R3 Million, with BMW SA giving us an even more realistic outlook of the payment plans available – our specific car commanding a R50k monthly repayment. Without wasting anyone’s time, it’s only for those who can afford it.