Johannesburg - A car like the BMW M760Li xDrive comes with so many associated superlatives that it’s hard to know where to begin. To say that it’s luxurious enough to make an oil sheikh blush, yet practically as quick as a supercar, is perhaps a good place to start summing it up, and yet that only begins to describe its Jekkyl and Hyde tendencies.

Yet one of the first things that struck me is just how deceptively light and fleet-footed this big Beemer feels on the road. That’s in stark contrast to an M5, for instance, which impressive as it may be in so many dynamic respects, makes you feel like you’re hauling around a big, temperamental sledgehammer. It is all a cleverly engineered illusion, however, given that the M760Li is over 300kg heavier than the M5, tipping the scales at 2130kg.

With its four-wheel air suspension system, which is fitted as standard along with Active Roll Stabilisation that neutralises roll movements, the M760Li wafts along in supreme comfort. The ride quality is decadently cushy without any of that slightly nauseating floatiness that some air suspended cars impart, and the vehicle is perfectly insulated just short of allowing some of that V12 growl to penetrate the cabin, albeit with some electronic assistance from the speakers.

And yet the bite is far bigger than the bark in the case of BMW’s new 6.6-litre, twin-turbo V12, which gushes out 448kW at 5500rpm and 800Nm from just 1550rpm. Power goes to all four wheels through an eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission and rear-biased all-wheel-drive system, and the set-up works with clockwork precision to the point where speed build-up can be highly deceptive.

Strapped to our Vbox at Gerotek, the M760Li whooshed to 100km/h in just 3.85 seconds, just short of BMW’s 3.7sec claim, and it covered the quarter mile in 11.91 seconds - making it the quickest BMW we’ve ever tested.

It might be a king of straight roads, and bearing in mind that a limo like this was never designed to tear around race tracks, but its corner-carving ability is actually surprisingly good for a car of its size and weight and when you’re in that mood the damping, along with the steering and drivetrain, can all be individually dialled into Sport mode via the Drive Experience Control. The only detractor is the woolly feeling imparted by the steering.

But the million dollar question is just how much time the average owner is actually going to spend behind said wheel, given how indulgently luxurious it is in the back, and especially if they’ve ticked the Executive Lounge Package option for R54 100, which is really just pocket change at this level.

Hop in the back and you’re pampered by electrically adjustable, individual rear comfort seats, complete with a vitality programme that you can activate via the free-floating control tablet that comes standard with every 7 Series. 

And stretching out takes on a whole new meaning when you’re sitting behind an empty front passenger seat, which you can push into the dashboard at the touch of a button, before putting your feet up on the electrically extending footrest.

Life just doesn’t get much better, until you discover the beverages in the (optional) mini-fridge located behind the central armrest, although it does impede on boot space.

You don’t have to order the Lounge Pack to enjoy electrically adjustable comfort seats at the back; these are actually included in the M760Li’s R2.72-million asking price, although the standard car gives you the conventional seating for three and just one full-body massage programme function - versus the eight you get with the Lounge Pack option.

There is also a lavish array of gadgetry upfront, including the semi-autonomous Driving Assistant Plus system, which includes steering assistance at speeds of up to 210km/h . With good enough road markings the car can operate autonomously for fairly long stretches, but you really have to keep your hands on the wheel as the steering assistance can cease operating rather suddenly.

The Driving Assistant Plus is standard along with Navigation System Professional, BMW Night Vision, Laserlight LED headlights, a Bowers & Wilkins Diamond surround sound system, a panoramic glass sunroof with LED lighting display and much more.

The gizmo that will excite onlookers the most is the Remote Parking, which allows you to stand outside the car and park it by remote, via the display key, albeit in a straight line only, with just 10 degrees of deviation allowed for obstacles.

In all fairness it’s probably more of a gimmick than a genuinely useful feature, but you may just appreciate it when that fool in the Jag parks too close at the country club.

Back inside, the iDrive command centre now also has touchscreen functionality, while gesture control is enabled for certain functions, such as adjusting volume and accepting or rejecting calls.

Plush-looking Nappa leather seats and Fineline black wood trim, along with a high quality selection of interior materials and inlays, gives the cabin a classy atmosphere, even beyond what you’d expect in a modern BMW.

It just seems strange that the exterior styling is so insipid by comparison, although when you’re at this level in this day and age, something a bit closer to stealth mode may just be the wiser option.

VERDICT

Maybe one day cars will be able to shape-shift and be absolutely everything to everyone with enough money, but until then few cars will offer as much ‘more is more’ factor than BMW’s M760Li. But with all the gravy train trappings at the back, you might hardly ever get to take delight in its supercar-like performance potential.

FACTS

BMW M760Li xDrive

Engine: 6.6-litre, V12 turbopetrol
Gearbox: 8-speed automatic
Power: 448kW @ 4500-6500rpm
Torque: 800Nm @ 1550-5000rpm
0-100km/h (tested, Gauteng):3.85 seconds
1/4 mile (tested, Gauteng):11.91 seconds
Top speed (claimed):250km/h
Price: R2 719 736
Warranty: 2-year/unlimited km
Maintenance plan: 5-year/100 000km

IOL Motoring