Most car enthusiasts have a secret list of dream cars. They’re usually money-no-object, bugger-the-kids-and-the-dog kinda cars. My lotto list includes at least one mid-engined Italian exotic from the house of Lamborghini and Morley makes no secret that he’d kill for a Boxster S. And now my list has grown by one to include the very top-of-the-tree BMW 760Li.
This review was originally published in MOTOR’s January 2004 issue
It’s funny, because a big automatic limo is not really my style, but how can you resist a car with cream suede headlining and matching suede-trimmed sunvisors? The fact that the 760 (not to be confused with the dodgy Volvo of the same name) comes with a 6.0-litre V12 is icing on the cake.
The raw numbers are impressive in isolation – 327kW at 6000rpm and 600Nm at 3950 – but fall short of the mark set by Mercedes-Benz’s twin-turbo V12 S600L. The Benz turns the treads to the tune of 368kW and 800Nm, and Merc has also got the supercharged V8 short-wheelbase S55 AMG with a trifling 700Nm. But until the V10-engined E60 M5 lobs sometime early in 2005, the 760 is the most powerful BMW this side of Montoya’s Sunday driver.
But the numbers aren’t the end of the story. The engine’s been around the block a few times and it feels a bit old – it uses the same basic design as the SOHC 5.0-litre V12 first found in the 1988 E32 750iL, and later as a 5.4-litre in the E38 7-Series.
New vs Used: 2003 S55 AMG v 2018 86 GTS
Now packing twin cams per bank and the full complement of 48 valves, the 6.0-litre dozen- potter isn’t a low-down lugger or a top-end screamer. It lacks the creamy smoothness of the 4.4-litre V8 in the 745 or the 3.0-litre straight six found in a multitude of Bimmers.
The motor’s got a narrow, 1500-rev sweet spot from around four grand, where peak torque is swelling, up to 5500rpm. Below 4000rpm the big V12 doesn’t seem that interested in proceedings, and above five and a half she starts to sound a little strained. But keep the tacho in the zone and it’s a fine way to motivate two tons of limo.
But at the end of the day, this thing’s not really going to have the pick handles belted out of it by the captains of industry who’ll be laying down the $332,400 ask.
There’s plenty of electronic cotton wool trying to save you from yourself and diluting the driving experience. Switch off all the electrickery and there’s fun to be had. But be warned: it is a very big car and will punch a very big hole in the scenery should you disrespect physics.
The steering is very light and not that talkative, and despite the enormous three-metre wheelbase telegraphing comments from the back, the limits can be exceeded. The ride from the continuously adjustable Electronic Damper Control (EDC) suspension is firmish, especially for an avowed limo. Not intrusive, just firm. And ultimately it’s more lively and entertaining than Audi’s A8, Lexus LS430 and probably the big Mercs, too.
Inside, the 760Li is stuffed with more gear than my house. There’s a 12-speaker stereo hooked up to the DVD player with screens mounted in the headrests of the front seats. The front seat occupants don’t miss out, either, with a dash-mounted TV. There’s even a fridge in the back – just the thing to chill the Moët. And for really lazy coves, the doors close by themselves.
So put the 760Li on your list; no self-respecting rock star should be without one.
Gone but not forgotten on classic MOTOR
2004 BMW 760Li
Engine: 6.0-litre DOHC 48-valve V12