Quick Drive: 2013 BMW 750Li

Photo courtesy BMW Canada

Photo courtesy BMW Canada

Note: apologies for the lack of images.  When this car was driven it wasn’t done with the intentions of an eventual review.  Weird, I know right?

Pros:

  • Everything.
  • No really, it has it all.
  • Toys abound.

Cons:

  • Fuel economy, maybe.
  • Visibility, maybe.
  • It’s not an Audi A8L TDI – but it’s just about as good.

Summary

This isn’t the usual kind of car I feature here.  No, I haven’t achieved Top Gear level of fame.  Last summer during the RBC Canadian Open one of the perks to my volunteer committee was access to the BMW player cars.  After some were returned, and during my duties, I had the pleasure to take a BMW 750Li out for a romp.  The BMW was driven for a couple days on busy freeways, city driving and even some rough roads (shuttling volunteers to their unpaved lot).  This car is top of the BMW line and largest of their fleet; a wheelbase longer than the X5 SUV.  It showcases everything that BMW packs in their toolbox.  Tech toys, screens, speakers, leather and comfort abound.  Multiple car settings and driver customization features only add to the showcase.  All the features can seem overwhelming to someone with little exposure to infotainment systems in cars.  My experience with tech certainly made the transition easier but many other drivers seemed overwhelmed.  All told this car gives you A LOT and is by far and above the best I have ever driven.  At nearly (as equipped) $160,000, it should.

Performance/Ride

It’s a BMW.  Do I have to say much more about this?  The 750Li driven came with a 443hp, 480 ft/lb of torque V8 mated to an 8 speed transmission.  Ride and performance were peppy to say the least.  The car was quick to get to speed and cruised on the highway quiet and smooth.  Multiple ride settings lets you choose from 1970s Cadillac “floating” ride all the way to concrete stiff sport suspension.  I was amazed how much of a difference the mode selection actually made.  In comfort mode the car was an outright pleasure to ride both on the highway and around the city.  It was easy to keep the speed down and never felt like you were holding the car back.  Switch to sport mode and suddenly you were in a performance sedan.  Speed came quickly and handling was tight to the road.  Even staying at highway speeds was difficult, the 7 series just wanted to run away.  Shifts were smooth and natural.  Using the manual gear shifting was fun and brisk.  Changes were based on the mode you selected in the car and varied between rev-snapping fast and Sunday cruise slow.  Even on rough roads the car was exceedingly comfortable, sport mode included.  In Canada’s weather the xDrive all wheel system would be excellent in the snow.  My drive was dry and sunny the whole time, no chance to test the system.

BMW has a radar guided cruise control system in this car, as all others do at this level.  I’m sure the system is comparable to the Audi A8 and Mercedes S-Class.  It was the first time I’d had the chance to drive a vehicle with this system and, in thick Toronto/Hamilton traffic, it was AMAZING.  Set your follow distance using a wheel on the steering wheel, set your speed and the car does all the work for you.  It does an excellent job adapting to the changing driving situations and never once I felt the need to intervene.  Just keep your hands on the wheel and monitor flow, the car handles the speed.  I can’t say enough about how great this system was, probably my favourite part – mostly because I hate having to constantly adjust cruise control etc.

Comfort/Interior

There’s no denying the levels of luxury in the 7 series are unprecedented.  From length-adjusting chairs to massages the car screams luxurious comfort.  Stressful highway driving melted away in the seat.  Seats are supportive but plush.  The leather is durable yet soft to the touch.  Comfort levels are even higher in the rear.  There were times driving the car I felt it was almost better to be driven than drive.  Sure, you’d miss out the fun of driving but it was sitting on a leather couch like you’ve never felt in the back.  Automatic window shades, reclining rear seats with heat just are a few of the things you find in the passenger cabin.  As you would expect with a car at this tier, comfort and build quality are astounding.

Technology

Because this car is what it is, a top level luxury sedan, there is no shortage of technology.  BMW has this car up against innovators like the Mercedes S-Class and Audi A8.  They have to stuff every part of the best they have to offer into the car.  The resulting BMW infotainment system is astounding.  I’ve used a lot of infotainment systems in the past and, comparatively, getting it paired to my phone and going was easy.  Not only that, but the integration was as pure as it gets.  All of my phone features were available and, with a Windows Phone, that is amazing.  Navigating the system by voice was strait forward up until I tried to use the navigation system.  It took a bit of figuring but once I got it going, I was blown away.  What you can’t do by voice you can do incredibly easily from the steering wheel.  I love even being able to change the speed your cruise is set to without even using the pedals.

Reverse cameras are a standard feature in this car as are forward facing cameras.  The nose of the 750Li is so long that you would be risking the most valuable part of your $160,000 car just to peek out around blind corners.  With the push of a button you can see both directions of traffic on your center screen.  It was a bit weird at first but proved incredibly helpful in real world driving.  Reversing is almost too easy using the cameras along with old fashioned mirrors and eyes.  Slipping such a long and wide car into a spot is effortless.

I could gush on and on about the technology in this car but the review is already running long.  It eventually boils down to being something you have to experience.  Man I wish I’d taken a video.

Entertainment/Stereo

The upgraded system in this 7 series was concert like.  Playing a variety of genres like classical, rock, dance and metal didn’t matter.  In any case I could easily have been at a Massey Hall concert.  Sound reproduction was superbly balanced in any seat of the car.  It didn’t take much tweaking of the well-developed equalizer to get the car sounding spot on.  I can remember cruising to Daft Punk and the London Philharmonic Orchestra with a smile on for both.  As a music lover this was definitely one of the high features of driving this car – aside from the radar cruise control – and one I won’t soon forget.

Conclusion

You pay north of $120,000 CAD for a BMW 750Li so you would expect it to have a lot.  The average car buyer would be blown away in this car, I was blown away by the car.  Those who regularly drive these cars, however, will find a lot of what they’ve come to expect.  While it lacks some of the edge-of–the-razor-blade technology you get in an S-Class, it doesn’t leave you feeling lacking either.  A plethora of ride and comfort settings make this car versatile and able to adapt to different driving styles and preferences.  With room and comfort in the rear long trips pass by in a breeze.  There is space abundant which has been well laid out.  I had a hard time finding fault with a car like this and loved immensely having it for the short time I did.  To those who have the budget, this car gives you all the sophistication of a Merc combined with the playfulness of BMW pedigree.  The only thing it needs is a diesel, like the Audi A8 TDI.

Then it would be darn near perfect.

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