2009 BMW 7-Series Performance
This performance review was written when the 2009 BMW 7-Series was new.
The BMW 7-Series is one of the top performers in a class made up of the world's finest cars. Its V8 is a touch smaller than those offered by some competitors, but with twin turbochargers and direct-injection, it can outperform many larger engines. Its handling is unparalleled in the large car class. And its Driving Dynamics Control system allows the driver to choose levels of performance - Comfort, Normal, Sport and Sport Plus - each with its own suspension and steering settings.
- "A new driver-adjustable system called "driving dynamics control" attempts to simplify things with four chassis settings: comfort, normal, sport, and sport plus. Heading from comfort toward sport plus causes the suspension and the steering effort to firm up, the transmission to shift later and more aggressively, and the stability control to back off. A fifth mode is simply switching off the stability control altogether. The various settings do provide tangible differences, with comfort yielding a softer ride than is BMW-typical, and sport and sport plus tailored toward aggressive drivers." -- Car and Driver
- "Pricier sedans like the Bentley Flying Spur and Mercedes S-Class AMG, pushed near their limits, still betray some 2.5-ton insecurity, a sense that it's time to back off and drive as if you're in a normal car. The BMW is nothing like that. In normal or comfort mode, the car is cushy, yet seriously sporty. Move up to sport or sport-plus mode, and the BMW hustles with almost indescribable brio. The only big sedan that feels this athletic is the Maserati Quattroporte, which also costs significantly more." - New York Times
- "Click the shifter to Drive, select Comfort mode, and the 7 is smooth, quiet and sedate. Select the most aggressive mode, Sport Plus, and the chassis (20 percent more torsional rigid than the outgoing model) shrinks the car's perceived size." -- Popular Mechanics
Acceleration and Power
For 2009, the 7-Series is offered in the U.S. with just one engine. Reviewers, however, say no other choice is needed. The direct-injection, 400-horsepower, 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 carried under the hood of every 7-Series is a triumphant piece of engineering. It pulls the car along faster and with less fuek than the 12-cylinder engine it replaces. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode. The EPA has not yet published a fuel mileage estimate for the 2009 7-Series. BMW reports the car should earn a 15/22 mpg rating.
- "Floor it, and there's no turbo lag; 0-100 km/h (-62 mph) is estimated at 5.2 seconds according to BMW. Nor is there really any perceptible turbo spooling noise (this is a sound that I happen to be particularly fond of)." - Road and Track
- "On open stretches of road, the turbocharged V8 provided long, smooth bursts of acceleration. On one unrestricted section of the autobahn, we hit an indicated speed of 150 mph, and as one might imagine from the latest top class BMW, the new 7-Series felt planted and stable. Unlike many luxury cars in this class, this BMW offers an involving driving experience." -- Popular Mechanics
- "Drop the hammer and the 750i blows from 0 to 60 in 5.1 seconds. Yes, this four-wheel McMansion is faster than the much smaller 335i, and quicker than the previous 12-cylinder 760Li, too. Alas, the mileage is estimated at 15 m.p.g. in town, 22 on the highway, for the 750i." - New York Times
- "It will be sold in the United States with only one engine, the twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 that debuted this summer in the X6. With 400 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque, the blown V-8 renders the old 6.0-liter V-12 obsolete. The V-12 made only marginally more power -- 438 hp - and about the same torque, at 444 lb-ft." - Automobile Magazine
- "Of course, the primary component of any BMW is the engine, and here Munich's engineers have outdone themselves with the 4.4L twin-turbo V-8." -- Motor Trend
Handling and Braking
For a large luxury sedan, the 2009 BMW 7-Series handles with surprising athleticism. It seems that every review of the car praises its cornering prowess, which reviewers say is remarkable for a 4,500-pound full-size car. Near-perfect 50/50 weight distribution - normally an attribute of sports cars - is part of its DNA. Another part is BMW's "driving dynamics control," a driver-adjustable chassis tuning system with comfort, normal, sport and sport plus modes, each of which has its own steering and suspension settings. The final ingredient in the car's magic is its speed-sensitive four-wheel steering. Four-wheel antilock disc brakes with brake assist and a unique brake drying system to preserve stopping power in wet conditions give the car one of the shortest stopping distances ever available in such a large car.
- "From behind the wheel, the 7-series feels much smaller than it is. The electronic systems help in this regard, but pushing a long-wheelbase 750Li around the dry handling track, we were very impressed with its neutral balance, prodigious cornering grip, and strong brakes." -- Automobile Magazine
- "At speeds up to 37 mph, the rear wheels turn by as many as three degrees in the opposite direction from the fronts, which reduces the turning circle by more than two feet. At higher speeds, the rears turn in the same direction as the fronts to improve responsiveness." -- Car and Driver
- "We could not feel the system in action except that the 750iL would go everywhere we pointed it without the need for extraneous adjustments to the steering wheel. It was especially effective when we managed a few flat-out romps on the autobahn. "On rails" may be hackneyed, but no better term describes the sensation." -- Motor Trend
- "During a four-hour jaunt through the Hudson River Valley, I thought of all those digital zeroes and ones whirring around to increase the 7's uncanny capability. Yet the car still feels communicative and natural, not an automaton." - New York Times
- "On the twisting country roads outside of Dresden, it was easy to forget that we were in fact driving a very large sedan. With the Sport package, steering is nearly too sharp at slower speeds (largely because of the variable ratios and the four-wheel steer effect), but the sensation begins to feel more conventional as the miles pass. Though it certainly doesn't have the steering feedback perfection of a 3 Series, the 7's handling traits are remarkably deft considering its bulk." - Popular Mechanics