BMW M760Li Review – Twelve Gauge, not a bore.

In firearms terms, Gauge is a fraction measurement. It originated way back when you would buy lead by the ‘pound’ to make your own ammo, therefore ‘gauge’ tells you how many rounds (bullets) you can make from one pound of lead. So, ‘12 gauge’ is twelve equal sized lead balls (totaling one pound) that will fit into the bore (the interior of the gun barrel) – yeah it took me a while to work that out too. ‘Shot’ from a 12 Gauge leaves the barrel at around 12-15,000 feet per second, that equates to a kph speed that exceeds the 1,300 mark. On average it can travel roughly 275 meters with much of it to a devastating effect. This is all well and good (impressive even) but BMW have something to more than equal it.

The 12 cylinders that make up a V12 engine are (like shot) of equal size, however, unlike shot, they are not restricted by a mere pound of lead, in fact barely even restricted by the size of the engine bay! For although there is a lot of room under the bonnet of a 7 series BMW, the M760Li filled it to its capacity. This N74 monster is 6.6 litres of TwinPower turbocharged mightiness, that boasts of 448kW and; get this, 800Nm of torque. Ably connected to their 8-speed automatic box and the xDrive system, it brags of taking this M-Performance luxury sedan from zero to 100kph in 3.7seconds – pah; as if. To appease my untrusting mind, our friends at Hampton Downs loaned us the home straight on their members track to test it out – all lock stock and (two smoking) barrels worth.

The BMW 760Li xDrive M Performance brings a luxury sedan back to the pinnacle of an automotive brand and the version I had the smart key-fob to, came dripping in luxurious opulence. In Azurite black and matt (rather than shiny) finishes; the exterior tends to play down its place at the top of the BMW tree. There are subtle V12 and M badges and 20” alloys (in 760M style) but nothing really overplayed – well on the outside at least.

Inside, things start to get more interesting. The furniture is bathed in a smoke white Merino leather, soft to touch and even softer to sit in. The executive lounge gives the two rear passengers run of the house with entertainment screens, comfort seats (that are actively ventilated), a cool box located behind the armrest housing and a panoramic glass roof. But those driving (or riding shotgun) needn’t feel left out either. With multi function massage seats, gesture control and a Bowers and Wilkins sound system to keep them more than occupied. Oh, and TV plays through the infotainment screen when parked up too. Digital dials make up the instrument cluster that is badged with an electronic M760Li logo and this model came with night vision too.

As with all the new BMW 7 Series range, the ride is more of a floating experience than hard out rawkus rage. The V12 gives a hint of an appearance on start up (more of a cameo really) then remains only as a comforting and warm contrabass or basso profundo tone while driving. In many ways this came as almost a disappointment until I realised that it was very much in keeping with the theme of the model itself – it’s not a shouty vehicle.

The glide to the Hamptons was as relaxed as to be expected. With the adaptive cruise control on and massage seats working hard, I eased down the highway with the holiday traffic being virtually irrelevant – things changed when I got on to the track though.

Having a stretch of motorsport grade tarmac at your exclusive disposal is an experience that you really should try at some point in your driving career, especially when you have a V12 engine to test. The anticipation of staring down a long straight with the Sports mode selected, just you and the car; fills you a sense of unrestricted freedom – it’s a breath of fresh air.

Time to offload – I stamped on the gas.

Zero to 100 times in close to the ground, rowdy sports cars are an all involved tyre squealing affair and in some electric vehicles they are near ‘vomit inducing’ experiences – for me, the 760Li offered up neither of these. With my foot hard to the floor, the xDrive was connected without drama and the luxury sedan made its way up to treble figures with sublime ease, and at a rate that made the speedo count virtually impossible – the ton and a half was achieved long before I reached the trackside camera too – we had to reset and do it again, shame!

From a driver’s point of view, the off the mark speed is hard to quantify, it’s fast and you know it’s fast (all indications point towards it hitting the BMW reported numbers – well; as near as dammit is to swearing) but the lavish surroundings and mere size of the 760Li allows the mind to process the event without stress. However, you’ll hear a different story from your passengers – the world passes by in a blur and in a way not befitting a premium luxury liner – job done. Racing up and down the straight never got tiresome. One other thing I noted during this ‘experiment’, was that the rear wheels turn in too, (they are meant to thankfully). This makes the tail end come around quickly and the cornering sharper – I say this only in passing of course.

I spent several hours at the track and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. The BMW 760Li travels at speeds that it shouldn’t but with the grace and ease that it should. Now I’m not saying that it’s faster than a speeding bullet, but from my point of view (and reviewing the tape) the reported 3.7 seconds 0-100 is well within cooee on the track (I’d love to take her up to the top speed though) and its poise on the regular roads is delightful.

On a final note, according to gun laws and restrictions (16/11/103), it is illegal to discharge a firearm within 50 yards of the centre of a highway, another reason that the BMW 760Li’s 12 gauge is a much better option (should you need another excuse).

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