BMW’s new fully electric i7 is grabbing the limelight, so it’s easy to overlook the gasoline-powered 7-series models that share the new body, along with various upgraded features and options. But going on sale right out of the gate, alongside the i7 EV, will be the 760i xDrive, which we drove extensively, and the 740i, which we didn’t get to drive.
The first order of business is the nomenclature. Last year, the 760—or more correctly, the M760i xDrive—signified a 12-cylinder model with 600 horsepower. That engine is not available in the new model, and the 760 designation now signifies the twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 that formerly powered the 750i xDrive.
In this new incarnation of the 760i, the engine has been uprated from 523 to 536 horsepower and endowed with a 48-volt hybrid system that adds an electric motor to the eight-speed ZF transmission. This motor can provide only 18 horsepower but up to 148 pound-feet of torque. That’s enough to achieve nearly instantaneous restarts after an idle stop. The electric motor also adds torque to reduce transmission downshifts. The electrical power used is regenerated during deceleration and stored in a rear-mounted 1-kWh battery.
This hybrid operation is totally seamless and contributes to improved fuel economy. The EPA combined estimate goes from 19 mpg in last year’s 750i to 21 in this new 760i. More importantly, this car feels plenty quick, despite gaining about 100 pounds—mostly due to the hybrid system.
According to BMW, the 760i is about 0.4 second quicker to 60 than the i7—mostly due to the gas-powered model’s nearly half-ton weight advantage. You can’t really feel that difference due to the effortless low-end torque produced by the electric. But at higher speeds, the 760 feels clearly quicker due to its weight advantage, as well as its transmission that can keep the engine near its power peak.
Otherwise, the 760i shares the i7’s elegant new bodywork that is some five inches longer and two inches wider and taller than the old car. Without the EV’s underfloor battery pack, engineers were able to lower the floor in the 760i, providing fractionally more rear-seat legroom.
Despite the generous increase in dimensions, the wheelbase went up by only 0.2 inch, which is perhaps why the new car provides slightly less interior space than the old one. Not that the cabin is tight, mind you. Headroom front and rear is generous, but legroom is down a bit.
Inside the cabin, you’ll find sumptuous finishes, including optional cashmere/wool upholstery, several wood trim options, and jewel-like controls at all of the key touchpoints (shifter, seat controls, and iDrive knob). Also new is the Curved Display, which houses a 14.9-inch infotainment screen alongside a 12.3-inch screen serving as the instrument cluster. There’s much to control on this car, with some 43 icons present on the “everything” screen, though you’ll likely only access a few of them regularly—and they can be grouped into a “favorites” section.
Other key new options include Executive Lounge seating in the right-rear position. When activated, this moves the right front passenger seat fully forward while tilting the right rear seat back and raising a footrest. Every aspect of this deployment can be controlled using a 5.5-inch touchscreen in the door panel.
Another option is a 31-inch video screen that can deploy from the ceiling to provide entertainment for the rear passengers. Although the image is a non-standard format, 30 inches wide by nine inches high, movies can either be stretched or letterboxed. And if there’s only one rear passenger, the image can be shifted to either side. The small touchscreens in both rear doors control the device. By the way, these doors as well as the front ones can open and close with push-button power operation, if specified.
For all of the emphasis on luxury, this largest of BMW sedans still performs well when pushed on a twisty road. There’s plenty of power at all speeds, the brakes are strong, and while the steering isn’t the most communicative we’ve ever felt, it is accurate with a solid sense of on-center. The electric power steering varies the steering ratio with the steering angle, and the 760 gets rear-wheel steering standard. Neither function is perceptible at the steering-wheel rim.
All of the new 7-series models come with air springs and adaptive dampers, and the suspension automatically gets tauter as your speed increases. Select Sport mode, and the ride height drops 0.4 inch, and the dampers get even tauter. If equipped with the optional 48-volt active anti-roll system, body roll is also reduced. The steering also gets substantially heavier, and muddier, as if the friction had been increased. Oddly, we didn’t notice this behavior on the i7. There’s a total of seven drive modes to choose from, but several of them are focused on creating light and sound effects to match, or possibly, enhance your mood.
No bucks-up new car comes to market without some new automation features, and the 7 is no exception. The Highway Assistant, part of the Driving Assistance Professional package, allows you to drive on highways, hands-free, at up to 80 mph. The road must be fairly straight, the lanes well marked, and you must be looking out the windshield—a camera is watching—but when all conditions are met, the car will drive precisely in the center of its lane for long periods. If you flick the turn signal, the 760i will even change lanes for you, provided it’s safe to do so.
The Parking Assistant Professional function can also memorize a parking path as long as 650 feet and reproduce it at will. This means that if you have a torturous driveway or a tight underground parking garage that requires multiple forward-and-reverse maneuvers, you can teach the car once and then sit back and relax as it undertakes the laborious parking under the driver’s watchful eye.
The iDrive system now understands a wider range of voice commands in a more natural language. Thanks to more microphones and speaker integration in the 7-series, rear-seat passengers can also easily make phone calls. An interior camera can be activated to remotely check the car interior for missing items and such. And it is automatically activated when the anti-theft alarm is triggered.
Although we didn’t drive the 740i, it shares most of the new features of the 760i, including the 48-volt hybrid system, and it also gains about 2 mpg in the EPA ratings. Its 3.0-liter inline-six adds 40 horsepower to the last model’s output for a total of 375. A plug-in-hybrid 7 based on this engine but offering even more power will arrive a few months after the first two models, which will hit the showrooms before the end of the year.
All of this comes at a price: $114,595 for the 760i xDrive, $94,295 for the 740i. Those figures are up a hefty $6K-$10K over the outgoing models, but inflation headlines provide cover for raising prices, and the standard equipment has increased. Keep in mind, BMW has put many of the more desirable options into packages, no doubt carefully crafted to run the price tags much higher.
That said, these 7-series models compete in the top category of luxury sedans. You can pay much more for prestige with a Bentley or Rolls-Royce label, but you won’t necessarily get a better car. For 1 percenters not strung out on SUVs, the new 760i offers comfort, capability, and class. What more do you want in a fancy chariot?
2023 BMW 760i xDrive
Vehicle Type: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 32-valve V-8, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 268 in3, 4395 cm3
Power: 536 hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque: 553 lb-ft @ 1800 rpm
Wheelbase: 126.6 in
Length: 212.2 in
Width: 76.8 in
Height: 60.8 in
Passenger Volume: 112 ft3
Trunk Volume: 14 ft3
Curb Weight (C/D est): 5000 lb
PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
60 mph: 4.0 sec
100 mph: 9.6 sec
1/4-Mile: 12.3 sec
Top Speed: 130-155 mph
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 21/18/26 mpg