BMW M760Li

Twin-turbo V12 mon­ster nails its brief, but less than the sum of its parts

Motor (Australia) - - FIRST FANG -

This is the quick­est and most pow­er­ful BMW road car ever – un­til the M5 ar­rives, at least

THE snap­pily-ti­tled BMW M760Li xDrive is the quick­est, most pow­er­ful and most ex­pen­sive BMW ever built.

We’d for­give your scep­ti­cism, for lit­tle about this plain white limo sug­gests a par­tic­u­larly fear­some per­for­mance ma­chine. It would be like be­ing told that Kerry

Packer was Aus­tralia’s great­est sports­man; he was def­i­nitely a phys­i­cally im­pos­ing pres­ence but noth­ing sug­gested an elite ath­lete.

The M760Li has an equally im­pos­ing pres­ence. In long­wheel­base guise it mea­sures an im­mense 5238mm end-to-end with a 3210mm wheel­base (an en­tire Kia Pi­canto is 3595mm long), which pro­vides suf­fi­cient space for the rear-pas­sen­ger-side oc­cu­pant to en­joy busi­ness class-style ex­ec­u­tive seat­ing.

It’s not dif­fi­cult to imag­ine own­ers spend­ing the vast ma­jor­ity of their time in the rear pews and in many ways it’s the place to be. The plush seats will heat, cool, mas­sage or even ex­er­cise you, there are screens and head­phones for au­dio-vis­ual en­ter­tain­ment and a fridge for sus­te­nance.

Help­ing keep the cham­pagne in the glass are air springs and ac­tive anti-roll bars that of­fer an in­cred­i­bly serene ride in al­most all cir­cum­stances; Sport mode im­proves body con­trol at the ex­pense of some bump ab­sorp­tion but even so it’s ex­tremely com­fort­able.

The driver is equally well­catered for with seats that do ev­ery­thing bar your tax re­turn and more toys than Le­goland – ad­just­ing the vol­ume with a twirl of your hand us­ing ges­ture con­trol might be a gim­mick, but you’re guar­an­teed to use it more than the but­tons on the steer­ing wheel.

As an M Per­for­mance model, BMW has at­tempted to cater for the driver’s en­thu­si­ast ten­den­cies as well, with the afore­men­tioned trick sus­pen­sion, big­ger brakes, all-wheel steer­ing and, of course, the 448kW/800Nm 6.6-litre twin­turbo V12 un­der the bon­net.

With such an out­ra­geous level of grunt, it’s just as well that the M760Li is the first BMW sedan on-sale in Aus­tralia to fea­ture all­wheel drive. With all four tyres grip­ping, BMW claims the 2180kg M760Li fires to 100km/h in 3.7sec, mak­ing it the quick­est BMW ever (un­til the new M5 ar­rives), while the top speed is elec­tron­i­cal­lylim­ited to 305km/h with the M Driver’s Pack­age.

In truth, it doesn’t feel as quick as claimed; this isn’t to say it’s not lu­di­crously fast, pos­sess­ing seem­ingly in­ex­haustible ac­cel­er­a­tion, but it feels more RS3 than 911 Turbo. That mas­sive en­gine is a cu­ri­ous beast: it’s very

smooth with an in­cred­i­bly lin­ear power curve, but is an acous­tic dis­ap­point­ment.

We’re not ex­pect­ing it to sound like a 1990s F1 car, but aside from a hint of V8-like bur­ble down low it sounds lit­tle dif­fer­ent to BMW’s 3.0-litre turbo six.

In cor­ners the M760Li is com­posed but heavy; the Bridge­stone RE001 tyres (245/40 front; 275/35 rear) sim­ply aren’t wide or sticky enough to con­trol this amount of car mov­ing this quickly. You’re able to cover ground at a stag­ger­ing rate, but nudge up against the limit and while you can move the rear slightly by trail­ing the brake, even­tu­ally it will fall into un­der­steer.

Un­less, that is, you’re on a slip­pery sur­face with the DSC de­ac­ti­vated, as then a con­trolled en­try speed and hefty help­ing of throt­tle will send the rear into a beau­ti­ful arc. Yes, this 2.2tonne, 5.2-me­tre-long limo power over­steers like a cham­pion – ut­terly ir­rel­e­vant, but a lot of fun.

This un­usual, slightly con­fused mash-up of abil­i­ties neatly sums up the M760Li. It’s built to ap­peal to a very spe­cific buyer and we sus­pect those buy­ers will ab­so­lutely love it; it’s very fast, very com­fort­able and very ex­clu­sive.

How­ever, it’s no bet­ter at be­ing a limou­sine than a $200,000-cheaper 740Li nor, bar its sear­ing speed, is it any bet­ter to drive – the brakes are soft, the steer­ing life­less and it car­ries an ex­tra 410kg in the cor­ners. And the con­stant in­ter­ven­tion by the var­i­ous as­sis­tance sys­tems is an­noy­ing enough to have them switched off in short or­der.

Cru­cially, for a car cost­ing $425,000, it lacks any sense of oc­ca­sion. A Porsche Panam­era Turbo mur­ders it for driver ap­peal, while the Mercedes-May­bach S600 of­fers an even grander rearseat ex­pe­ri­ence.

Or, if you re­ally want a fast 7 Se­ries, there’s the 447kW/880Nm Alpina B7, which is cheaper, more ex­clu­sive, every bit as quick and comes com­plete with a V8 sound­track.

The en­gine is a cu­ri­ous beast: very smooth with an in­cred­i­bly lin­ear curve

Those who like to oc­ca­sion­ally kick the chauf­feur out of the driver's seat will find more sat­is­fy­ing driver's limos else­where

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