There are cars that are luxurious, and then there are luxury cars.
One type has a smattering of options making it more comfortable to drive, and the other is completely opulent through and through. An example of the latter? The 2016 BMW 750Li.
The L stands for long wheelbase, meaning this 7 Series measures a serious 5,250 millimetres in length, the roomiest sedan the manufacturer has ever built. To offset its significant size, the 740Li is built with BMW’s Efficient Lightweight Carbon Core concept – borrowed from the i vehicle lineup – featuring a passenger cell constructed out of carbon fibre reinforced plastic, high-strength steel, and aluminum.
Not only does this design increase rigidity and as a result safety, 86 kilograms have been shaved off compared to the previous model. Besides Carbon Core, for the first time the doors and trunk lid are made entirely out of aluminum. Using lighter and stronger materials also extend to the wheels and brake and suspension components, reducing upsprung weight by up to 15 per cent.
Much of the luxuriousness of the 750Li shines through in the form of technology. A touch-sensitive monitor has been incorporated into the BMW iDrive operating system so users no longer have to rely on only a rotary knob for inputting navigation commands or changing onboard settings, making most processes much faster.
A new standard addition to the 7 Series is Gesture Control, which enables the driver to execute a series of pre-programmed shortcuts with a flick of his or her wrist. A number of 3-D sensors pick up hand motions and correspondingly adjusts the stereo volume, answer or reject phone calls, change radio stations or turn off the screen.
In all honesty, the functionality is more of a gimmick at this point and it’s often just as easy and perhaps faster to simply press a button. There is potential though, and gesturing will no doubt become more useful when the hardware and software improves.
Aside from the cavernous legroom people sitting in the back enjoy, the rear center armrest includes a removable Samsung tablet remote control allowing passengers to perform a range of tasks such as adjust the intensity of the built-in massage seats, browse the web, and choose something to play on the dual headrest-mounted entertainment screens.
A few more high-end features: customizable interior LED lighting (even the huge panoramic moonroof glass itself emits a soft colourful glow), head-up display, wireless cellphone charging, and an available digital Display Key fob where owners can monitor certain vehicle information in addition to locking, unlocking and starting their 750Li.
The powertrain consists of the 4.4-litre BMW TwinPower Turbo V8 engine, mated to an eight-speed Sport Automatic Steptronic transmission and fed to all four wheels via xDrive all-wheel drive. Most eight-cylinder luxury cars feel smooth during acceleration, but driving this range-topping 7 Series is like rolling down the street in a fine leather sofa.
The suspension soaks up the abuse of every bump, transmitting little unpleasant feedback to the occupants, and due to 50:50 weight distribution the 750Li handles way better than it should given its size and mass.
Highlights (as tested):
Motor: 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8
Horsepower: 445 @ 5,500 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 480 @ 1,800 rpm
Gearbox: Eight-speed automatic
Layout: Front engine, all-wheel drive
Fuel economy: 16.6 L/100 km mixed city/highway (observed)