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2018 BMW 750i RWD

Car and Driver logo Car and Driver 6/25/2018 Steve Siler

Each daytime running lamp on the BMW 750i has the quality of laser-cut glass shaped like a question mark laid on its side, replete with tiny, pinstripe-like decorative etchings on their outer surfaces. These etchings are almost invisible with the lights off, but with the lights on at night, they gleam like diamond cufflinks. Those pinstripe etchings would probably convey more than enough sophistication by themselves to help the 7-series fulfill its flagship responsibilities within the BMW sedan family, but designers went one small step further with a tasteful band of angled hashmarks striking through those pinstripes, adding an extra dash of formality.

For even deeper coverage of the 7-series, see our Buyer’s Guide in-depth review.

This may seem like the definition of minutiae, but cars like the 7-series trade on such details, and precision craftsmanship-especially in places people don’t usually expect-is what we look for when evaluating luxury cars. Other areas where the 7-series shows its flagship status: the beautifully quilted stitch patterns on the upper seats, the wood trim that wraps over the sides of the center console instead of covering only the top, and the optional Sky Lounge sunroof with details that illuminate at night in a color coordinating to the chosen ambient-lighting selection. Speaking of lights, the 7’s “LED Light Carpet” cast from below the doors to illuminate one’s path when approaching the car may seem like “Puddle Lamps Gone Wild” to the proletariat but is more like “Project Runway, Autos” to the glitterati.

a car parked in a parking lot: 2018 BMW 750i RWD Tested: Big Bad Bimmer© Chris Doane Automotive - Car and Driver 2018 BMW 750i RWD Tested: Big Bad Bimmer

Where’s the Sport, M Sport?

For all that finery, what we didn’t find in this BMW is sportiness. That ship sailed long ago for the 7-series and, to a great extent, its 5-series sibling; we keep hoping that it’ll turn around and come back to port soon. The two models are closely related, sharing various underpinnings and most of their luxury amenities and styling motifs-yes, including pinstripe-etched, sideways-question-mark DRLs, only sans the crucial hashmarks in the 5-series.

The 750i has a 450-hp twin-turbo V-8 churning up 480 lb-ft of torque under its long, elegantly contoured hood, but in this case, power is not there for fun-it is there for escaping the paparazzi. The illuminated M badge on the doorsills of our test car indicated the presence of the $3000 M Sport package that adds a thick-rimmed steering wheel, blacked-out window trim, tweaked bumpers, and an Anthracite headliner, while limiting one’s wheel and color choices to ostensibly sporty looks. It also includes an M Sport exhaust system that at times allows the engine to actually be heard, but neither it nor any of the M Performance package’s other items boost performance in any measurable way.

a car engine: 2018 BMW 750i RWD Tested: Big Bad Bimmer© Chris Doane Automotive - Car and Driver 2018 BMW 750i RWD Tested: Big Bad Bimmer

The 750i is quick, however. Wonderfully, effortlessly quick-as every proper luxury sedan ought to be. This moderately optioned, rear-wheel-drive example weighed 4605 pounds, nearly 300 pounds less than a loaded 750i xDrive we tested in late 2015, which could explain why this car was able to match the all-wheel-drive model’s 4.4-second zero-to-60-mph sprint despite having just two driven wheels instead of all four. It even gained a tick by the time it reached the quarter-mile mark, passing in 12.7 seconds at 113 mph versus 12.8 seconds at 112 mph for the xDrive car.

The big sedan can turn and stop, too. The staggered-size Pirelli run-flats (245/45R-19 front, 275/40R-19 rear) gripped the tarmac to the tune of 0.88 g, and the brakes halt the car from 70 mph in a scant 158 feet, both remarkable numbers not only for a sedan of this size but one with its propensity for pronounced body motions in response to steering and braking inputs. Those body motions occur despite this 750i being equipped with Active Roll Stabilization, part of the $4100 Autobahn package that also includes active steering, rear-wheel steering, and a camera-based system to tune the air springs to pavement conditions. We weren’t so surprised by the 7’s ponderous side-to-side listing when the suspension was set to the Comfort or Comfort+ modes, but even Sport mode allowed a fair bit of untoward roll, something we didn’t notice in the xDrive model. Stir in some weirdness from a rear-wheel-steering system that was surprisingly palpable in operation-such systems usually are utterly discreet-and this BMW’s handling might be more aptly likened to vessels with hulls rather than wheels.

a car parked in a parking lot: 2018 BMW 750i RWD Tested: Big Bad Bimmer© Car and Driver 2018 BMW 750i RWD Tested: Big Bad Bimmer

But boy, does it ride beautifully, smoothing our neighborhood bumps and potholes so well that we wondered if the roads had been repaved. At highway speeds, it feels more like a low-flying missile than a ground-bound automobile. And it’s dead stable, too-one gets the impression that even an F5 tornado couldn’t knock the 750i off its line. It wasn’t exactly fun on the twisty sections of road we attempted, lacking much feedback through the wheel or the chassis, but it did obediently follow our line, its steering demonstrating none of the unpredictability of BMW’s earlier active-steering systems.

Back Talk

But fun isn’t what the 7-series is about-not anymore. To best experience this car, one must get out of the front row and fall into the back seat. It is huge back there. With the driver’s seat adjusted for your 5-foot-10-inch author, there was more than a foot of space between the front seatback and the leading edge of the rear seat cushion. That’s not cross-your-legs roominess, it’s Rockettes kick-line-practice roominess. And our 750i lacked the most decadent rear-seat option packages, which include a dual-screen entertainment system, ventilated and massaging rear seats, power-reclining seatbacks, sunshades for the side and rear windows, and a rear center console. The topper is the $5750 Executive Lounge package that allows the right-side rear-seat occupant to scoot the front passenger seat forward to deploy a power-extending footrest. But even without all that, we were surrounded in truly exquisite materials, including buttery Cognac nappa leather and gleaming poplar wood trim. A bigger opening for the cavernous trunk would be appreciated, however.

a close up of a car: 2018 BMW 750i RWD Tested: Big Bad Bimmer© Chris Doane Automotive - Car and Driver 2018 BMW 750i RWD Tested: Big Bad Bimmer

Even at its $97,945 base price, the 750i comes standard with a great many features, including comfortable 20-way-adjustable front seats with heating; blind-spot monitoring; lane-departure warning; wireless device charging; soft-close doors; high-resolution screen-based instrumentation; a full-color head-up display; and a 10.2-inch touchscreen that can also be operated by way of voice, steering-wheel, or gimmicky gesture controls, or by way of the familiar iDrive rotary knob, which now feels quite intuitive.

Our test car also came with the $1700 Driving Assistance Plus package (active lane-keeping assist with side-collision avoidance, active cruise control with stop/go functionality and traffic-jam assist), the $700 Parking Assistance package (surround-view cameras and parking assist), the $400 Cold Weather package (heated steering wheel and heated rear seats), a $350 fragrance ionizer, and the aforementioned $900 Sky Lounge sunroof, bringing the total to $109,245, roughly $20K less than the 2016 750i xDrive we tested and feeling not a whit shoddier for it.

In context with the rest of the 7-series range, the 750i seems to be in the sweet spot. It has plenty of power and a high luxe-per-dollar quotient. It is much stronger than the base 740i, neither as heavy nor as inelegant to the ear as the 740e plug-in hybrid, and nowhere near as traumatic to one’s bank account as are the most fun and over-the-top 7-series models-the $140,395 Alpina B7 and the V-12–powered $157,695 M760i xDrive. We will probably continue voicing our grievances about the loss of driver engagement in BMW’s big sedans until such time as BMW rediscovers that mojo, but this is a limousine now, and as limousines go, the 750i drives pretty damn well. Compared with the limousines of tomorrow, the fact that it requires a driver at all is probably something we should cherish today.

2018 BMW 750i RWD Tested: Big Bad Bimmer: The rear-wheel-drive 750i stands at the sweet spot in the 7-series lineup. Read our review of the BMW 750i and see pictures at Car and Driver.© Provided by Hearst Communications, Inc The rear-wheel-drive 750i stands at the sweet spot in the 7-series lineup. Read our review of the BMW 750i and see pictures at Car and Driver.
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