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2010 BMW 760Li Review: Luxury Meets Big Power in a Big Sedan - VIDEO ENHANCED

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By Marty Bernstein

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Marty Berstein

Second in a series of three reviews of new BMW vehicles. The others can be accessed by clicking BMW 5 Series GT and BMW X6M.

In the fall of 2008, I had the pleasure of driving the then new 7 Series V8 and its diesel version through the rolling country outside Dresden, Germany. It was a national holiday weekend celebrating the reunification of Germany and the roads and Autobahn were made for powerful, high speed driving. And it was a great drive, as I reported then.

But as it turned out a few weeks ago, that was a car-tease. The 7 Series V8 experience has been surpassed by … another, new and bigger, more powerful BMW’s -- the 760i and 760Li!

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The ancient Greek god or strength, might, power and sovereign rule was Cratus (the older sibling of Nike, the god of speed, a name most readers will know) and is a perfect name I’ll use to describe and symbolize the specially made new all-aluminum, V12, 554 horsepower, twin-power-turbo with 553 lb-ft torque at 1,500 rpm powerhouse, er .. powerplant under the hood of both 760’s. On arrival in Munich, Germany and prior to driving the 760Li, BMW arranged for a guided tour of the factory that makes the Cratus. It was fascinating watching the hands-on process at 20 something work stations as the shaping, refining and fitting of the 600+ parts and components used in the engine was completed. While not a gearhead or techy, I knew this was a masterpiece of modern of engineering technology, even for BMW. What would it deliver, we’d soon find out.

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The next morning at the Welt, the European delivery center for BMW, a group of gleaming white 760’s both the L and Li was lined-up waiting for journalists to begin the arduous task of driving through the German countryside or the onerous chore of directing the vehicle to the Autobahn, which as most know, literally has no speed limits. Or for some a double-dip-drive. The latter was the obvious choice.

Driving out of the Welt on a circular, spiraling road surface to enter traffic was something I’d done before, but not with so much potential power available. It was just a hint of what was to come. Following the excellent navigation system (with great visuals of the area) to the Autobahn was quick and easy, entering the famous motorway was exhilarating.

Barely, gently depressing the accelerator on the down ramp to merge with the speeding traffic directly ahead was memorable as the new 8 speed automatic transmission responded with alacrity. There wasn’t a jump of speed knocking you back in the seat; there was a dynamic, quiet surge of consequential proportions as this long wheelbase 760 devoured the road surface with incredible ease and speed. It jumped from 60 mph to over 110 mph faster than it took me to type this sentence. Honest. And it set the tone for the balance of drive as well.

Leaving the Autobahn after several kilometers of high speed driving to more moderate (semi-legal) speed on rolling, winding, curvaceous country over rather narrow two lane roads was a test of both car and driver. Handling and suspension were simply unequaled in any powerful sedan I’d ever driven including the 7 Series V8 which is damn good.

The sudden thrust of acceleration needed to propel around very wide lorries or slow moving VW’s before a curve, was not the least daunting or intimidating. It was actually reassuring and confidence building. When speed was needed it was there with an abundance of power. Conversely when sudden stopping and breaking was needed, the 760 simply stopped without a screeching sound either. It just stopped or quickly dropped speed as needed.

This is Germany, home of big powerful vehicles, but driving through the hamlets and villages, even the local denizens’ looked carefully or heads turned as the car passed through. This is a good looking vehicle that’s combined implied elegance with sportiness, a unique combination.

Click PLAY to watch video featurette of the new BMW 760 Li

The 760Li, the long wheelbase model, will be the one sold in the U.S., is 5.5” longer than the standard 760i, yet when parked side by side it is difficult to distinguish between the two. Both versions have the longest wheelbases in their respective categories.

There’s a sleek and elongated hood to sets styling mood that is accented with a low roofline that accents the side lines of the car that rides on 19” wheels. This vehicle does not shout its presence or elegance, but one glance communicates it all from any angle – side, front or rear – it is distinctive, it is the BMW 760. Even the V12 badges are subtle.

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Inside there’s a new world of comfort, luxury and fine appointments accented with quality materials befitting the inherent quality of the 760. Opening the door reveals a stainless steel cutout trim with an illuminated V12 logo. The instrument panel is finished in soft and supple Nappa leather accented with stitching. Burr walnut trim is used for special emphasis. Even the knobs and control buttons have been meticulously designed and crafted.

The driver’s area is designed to make driving a pleasure with absolute control. The center console is curved slightly to the driver; the instrument cluster uses Black Panel technology which is legible and distinct. The iDrive controller and other controls for heating, air conditioning and the infotainment system are within easy reach, have a nice tactile feel and clearly identified.

Creating a personalized interior, given the wide range of materials, colors and creature comfort options could set a new design trend in the industry. There’s a choice of 12 colors, including four which were developed just for the 760s. At the suggested price of $137,425 this is spectacular value when contrasted to other V12s on the market from Audi, and Mercedes.