BMW 7-Series Performance
One of the more nimble members of the super luxury car class, the BMW 7-Series offers more engine options than many of its rivals. New for 2011 are the 740i and 740Li, which feature a twin-turbo six-cylinder engine. While these cars compete in a class that’s filled with V8s, reviewers say that the new six-cylinder mill provides competitive acceleration. Still, if you’re looking for more power the 750i and Li, or the 760Li, offer even more thrust thanks to powerful turbocharged V8 and V12 engines.
Along with choices in power, BMW allows users to adjust their suspension and steering settings with their Driving Dynamics Control system, which offers Comfort, Normal, Sport and Sport + settings. Most reviewers like the system and the variety that it offers, though a few comment that the 7-Series is still a driver’s car, meaning that it lacks the smooth ride quality of competitors like the Lexus LS and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
- "During a test-drive of a 740Li in rural New Jersey, we were particularly impressed by the fact that the six-cylinder car, which is about 220 pounds lighter, exhibits less turbo lag off the line and therefore smoother, more linear acceleration---V-8 variants, which have an 85-hp advantage, hesitate off the line before exploding forward." -- Automobile Magazine
- "Generally serene, but the 7 exhibits a bit of wind rush at highway speeds and suffers some bump noise around town. The twin-turbo engine emits a soft, turbine-like whine under full-throttle acceleration." -- Consumer Guide
- "The return to six-cylinder power is a good move for BMW, which will be able to offer higher efficiency and reasonable power for customers who do not know, or care, how many cylinders their car has." -- Jalopnik
Acceleration and Power
Three engines are available in the BMW 7-Series for 2011, and the newest one to the model line is in the least expensive 740i and its extended wheelbase sibling, the 740Li. A 3.0-liter, twin-turbo inline six-cylinder engine puts 315 horsepower to the rear wheels, and power is routed through a six-speed automatic transmission that features a manual shift mode. The 740i is a six-cylinder car in a class packed full of V8s, but reviewers still like the power, noting that it’s just as quick in a zero to 60 sprint as the V8-powered Lexus LS.
However, if you need some additional power, BMW’s got some options for you. The 750i, and extended wheelbase 750Li, feature a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 that puts out 400 horsepower through the same six-speed automatic transmission. The 750i and Li are also available with xDrive, BMW’s all-wheel drive system. Reviewers like this engine as well, though one comments that the 750Li xDrive that he tested felt less enjoyable to drive than the lighter 750i.
These powertrains are normally powerful enough for most shoppers, but if you truly want a big engine in a big sedan BMW also offers the 760Li – a rear-wheel drive 7-Series with a 535-horsepower, twin-turbo V12 engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The EPA estimates that 740i and 740Li sedans get 17 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, while 750i and 750Li models get 15/22 and 14/22 mpg city/highway, respectively. BMW 750i xDrive and 750Li xDrive sedans both get 14 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway and the 760Li averages 13/19 mpg city/highway.
- "Like the V-8 version, the 740Li uses a six-speed automatic transmission that provides smooth upshifts and very responsive downshifts as well as a Sport mode." -- Automobile Magazine
- "Full-throttle takeoffs start with a somewhat timid launch followed by a strong surge as the turbos get cooking. This somewhat non-linear throttle response makes for unwanted lurching in around-town driving." -- Consumer Guide
- "Joining the previous V8, V12 and hybrid engine choices are the new six-cylinders in the 740i and 740Li. At first glance, it's easy to dismiss it as the pokey model meant for dealership advertising fodder. However, the 740i with its 315-horsepower twin-turbo inline-6 is just as quick from zero to 60 mph (5.8 seconds) as the V8-powered Lexus LS 460 and more powerful than the V8-powered 7 Series from 10 years ago. It also gets the best fuel economy of the bunch, too." -- Edmunds
- "While the 400-horsepower, turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 engine is relatively sprightly in the 750i, I thought it was a bit of a laggard while towing all the additional weight that comes with the 750Li's longer wheelbase and xDrive all-wheel-drive system hardware." -- Cars.com
Handling and Braking
The BMW 7-Series is a large, super luxury car, but most reviews say that it’s light on its feet despite its size and comfortable accommodations. The 7-Series has near-perfect 50/50 weight distribution: a trait found on quality sports cars, but not necessarily on large sedans. BMW’s Driving Dynamics Control allows the driver to choose from a variety of suspension settings to alter the car’s handling characteristics. A few test drivers comment that even when in “Comfort” mode, the 7-Series suspension is stiffer than rivals like the Lexus LS. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; it just means that the 7-Series puts more of an emphasis on being fun to drive. If you’re looking for a luxury sedan with an ultra-posh ride, the LS, or the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, focus more on comfort.
- "While handling is impressive even in Comfort or Normal modes, it sharpens somewhat in Sport and Sport+. Steering is nicely weighted and the brakes confidence-inspiring. Without the Sport Package, the 7-Series feels much looser, with noticeable body lean and not enough steering feedback. " -- Consumer Guide
- "Compared to other luxury sedans like the Lexus LS 460, the 2011 BMW 7 Series is more athletic but also has a stiffer ride quality -- even in Comfort mode. That's not to say the ride is harsh, though. Instead, this stiffer ride results in a more engaging driving experience, making the 7 Series a luxury sedan that can also be fun to drive." -- Edmunds
- "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