As soon as the redesigned 7-series hit the ground as a 2009 model, we knew we wanted to subject one to a 40,000-mile long-term test. But we decided to wait for BMW to introduce its xDrive all-wheel-drive system on the big sedan before starting our affair, which allowed us to take delivery of our long-term 2010 BMW 750Li xDrive right in the middle of a cold and snowy Michigan winter.
Holy Options, Klaus!
Although the 750Li with xDrive starts at $91,075, including an $875 destination charge and $1300 gas-guzzler tax, BMW went a bit nuts and sent us a nearly loaded example with $29,600 worth of luxury, performance, and technology options. The rundown: M Sport package with 20-inch wheels ($7800); Luxury Rear Seating package with massaging, cooled, and adjustable rear seats ($3700); Luxury Seating package, including heated rear seats, a ski bag, heated steering wheel, active and ventilated front seats, and power rear and rear side window sunshades ($2800); Rear Entertainment package ($2200); Premium Sound package ($2000); Convenience package with automatic opening and closing trunk, soft-close doors, and keyless ignition and locking ($1700); Driver Assistance package including blind-spot detection, lane-departure warning, and automatic high beams ($1350); and the Camera package with rear- and side-view cameras ($750). Whew!
The result of this option opulence is a breathtaking 7-series and the most expensive long-term vehicle we’ve ever had. Although some of the options have generated a few complaints, most of the extra gear only enhances the fabulousness of the already luxurious 7-series.
In addition to the 400-hp, twin-turbocharged V-8 of our 750Li, BMW also offers a 535-hp twin-turbo V-12 in the 760Li, and a 320-hp twin-turbo inline-6 in the new-for-2011 740i/Li. With our 750Li managing a 0-to-60-mph time of 5.1 seconds, we wonder why anyone would need the more powerful 760.
So far, a few logbook gripes have concentrated on the odd placement of the interior door pulls. Located just below the door glass, the pulls hide behind some wood trim and, as a result, where to grab to close the door isn’t immediately apparent. It’s an annoyance that fades as one spends more time with the car, but was anything really wrong with a traditional handle?
Problem Solved, Problem Created
Given a marked lack of winter traction with the stock rubber, we quickly swapped out the Bimmer’s 20-inch wheels and performance tires (part of the M Sport package) for snow-friendly Pirelli Winter 270 Sottozero Serie II run-flat tires on 19-inch BMW wheels.
We noticed that the new Pirelli winter tires introduced a minor but annoying vibration at highway speeds. A second and third balancing didn’t change the problem, as the vibration persisted. Wheels and tires were checked, and checked again, but there is no obvious reason as to why the tires continued to vibrate. The folks at Pirelli were as mystified as us and are sending a new set. As soon as we receive the new tires, we’ll be sending the old ones back to Pirelli for testing.
As you’d expect, our loaded-to-the-gills 750Li has every electronic-nanny technology available. Lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, collision warning, and radar-based cruise control that can slow the car down to a complete stop are all present on our tester. All of the systems can be shut off, with the exception of the radar cruise control. Like all radar-cruise systems, the radar detects objects and cars in front and adjusts speed accordingly. The option costs $2400 and the radar portion of the cruise control cannot be switched off. Set the cruise, come up on a car going about five mph slower than the 7-series, and the big BMW starts slowing down to the speed of the car in front way early, about 10 car lengths behind. The solution is to intervene by keeping the speed steady with the throttle, but what’s the point of cruise control if we’re using the pedals?
Fortunately, our test is just beginning and we have more than 30,000 miles to acclimate to the big 7’s quirks and strengths.