BMW aims to solidify its reputation as a builder of high-performance luxury cars in 2018 with the addition of the first-ever M performance-badge version of the full-size 7 Series.
Dubbed the M760Li xDrive, this new ne-plus-ultra sedan becomes the sole BMW-branded model to use a new 6.6L turbocharged V12 that makes 600 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. It gives the 7 Series power to better compete with the big high-po sedans from Audi and Mercedes-Benz that have long dominated the top of the European luxury sedan market.
Those power figures put the latest 7 Series variant on an even footing with the Audi S8 Plus, but Benz still owns this segment with the S 65 AMG whose own V12 pounds out 621 hp and 738 lb-ft.
Returning unchanged from last year are the 750i xDrive and 750Li xDrive models, powered by a 4.4L turbocharged V8 good for 445 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque. There's also the 740Le plug-in hybrid model that pairs a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder with an electric motor for a combined 326 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque and an electric-only range of 45 km on a full charge.
There's also the Alpina B7, an extra-special version of the 7 Series customized by tuning house Alpina that was previously the only variant to use a V12 engine.
The M760Li uses the same eight-speed automatic transmission as other 7 Series models, but in a special tuning that includes a launch control function, and a manual mode that holds the selected ratio even if the engine runs up against the rev limiter.
Suiting the M model's performance purpose is an exhaust system with active silencers and flaps that respond automatically to throttle position to amplify the V12's sound in enthusiastic acceleration. And 20-inch wheels bolt to the same air suspension system, called active comfort drive with road preview, used in other 7 Series models, which includes active roll control to cancel out body roll when taking corners at speed.
And an adaptive mode added to the driving dynamics control system activates an anticipatory setting that automatically selects the best drive mode for the situation at hand.
Tech features include a nifty display key fob that'll tell you things like how much fuel is left in the tank or if the windows are down or the doors unlocked. In certain trims, it also has a remote park function that will let you move the car in or out of a tight parking spot with a button.
Through the use of semi-autonomous features, the 7 Series can drive itself for short periods, hit the brakes it it senses you're not paying attention and can park itself (with some input from the driver). And at its last redesign, for 2016, the 7 Series was the first BMW to use the brand's gesture control system that allows adjustment of things like stereo volume with a wave of a hand.
Certain models get four-zone climate control, the road-reading suspension comes bundled with a four-wheel steering system and other available tricks include a surround-view camera, ventilated front seats with massage and soft-close doors.
At the time of this writing, only the M760Li xDrive had been priced for 2018, at an MSRP of $159,900.