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Starting Price  $153,800

Engine  6.6-liter turbo V12

Horsepower  601 hp

Torque  590 lb-ft

0-60 mph  3.6 seconds

Top Speed  189 mph

Similar  Mercedes-Benz S600, Mercedes-AMG S63

Even if it isn’t technically or spiritually an extension of the legendary M3 and M5 lineage, M meets 7 for the first time on the M760i. But the most meaningful alphanumeric on board is V12.

The unique badges, design elements and suspension tuning are all noteworthy, but the literal and spiritual heart of the new 2017 BMW M760i xDrive is its big, silky V12. Officially the M Performance TwinPower Turbo 12-cylinder engine, this 6.6-liter powerplant generates 601 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque, the latter available in full force from 1,550 to 5,000 rpm. Combined with the added launch traction of BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system, that’s enough output to power the M760i to 60 mph in a mere 3.6 seconds and into the history books as the quickest BMW ever made.

That’s right, this 4,800-pound flagship luxury sedan is quicker to 60 mph than every M3 and M5 that came before it, as well as specialties like the M1, Z8 and i8.

And while top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph, buyers can level up to a 189-mph limit with the optional M Driver’s Package. But numbers have never captured all the glory of a V12 engine, and the same holds true here.

Paranormal Power

Squeezing the accelerator in the M760i feels like wielding a magic wand, as if you’re defying the laws of physics with great ease, harnessing an otherwise imperceptible energy source. The public-road portion of our first drive in this big, bad BMW included city streets, mountain roads and gloriously wide-open stretches of desert straightaways, and the V12 enhanced every leg. Whether racing across an intersection or performing triple-digit passing maneuvers, the gap between thinking of higher velocity and achieving it feels no wider or more difficult to traverse than a crack in the sidewalk. While the exceptional power output contributes all of the accelerative force, it’s the buttery smoothness of the engine that makes driving the M760i feel like sorcery.

All-wheel drive plays an important role in the experience, too, especially when moving away from a stop. Four patches of rubber provide a better foothold for all that torque, enhancing both acceleration and the sense of effortless grace. Of course, all-wheel drive has benefits beyond maximum acceleration, which the northernmost well-to-do will appreciate.

The responsive and smooth-shifting 8-speed Steptronic Sport automatic transmission ties it all together, deftly managing the V12’s output in both smooth cruising and hard driving situations.

Weight-Transfer Wizardry

While the xDrive system and 8-speed transmission help the V12 deliver on its promise of prodigious and polished power delivery, the M component brings with it an expectation of holistic performance that includes exceptional turning and stopping as well.

And while the fastest-accelerating BMW is a better car for driving to the racetrack than on it, we were impressed by how well this C-suite sedan was able to negotiate the twists and turns of the newly opened BMW Performance Center West, located about 30 miles east of Palm Springs in Thermal, California. 

Not surprisingly, the M760i felt most at home accelerating onto the straightaways on the big track. But the most enlightening aspect of our track time in the car was on the smaller, tighter, autocross-style track on the west side of the facility. It's rarely cold and rainy in Thermal, but as luck would have it those were the conditions that welcomed us on our first visit to BMW's second such performance driving center. And while we wouldn't recommend a six-figure, V12 luxury sedan as the best way to familiarize yourself with a tight track in the rain, if you find yourself in that situation, choose the M760i.

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Instead of pushing and sliding its way through the tightly wound track, the M760i confidently danced its way through the chicanes, hairpins and slaloms like a much smaller, lighter car. While the all-wheel-drive system and Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires provided much of the balance, grip and acceleration, the ace up the M760i’s sleeve was its Integral Active Steering system that includes rear-wheel steering and helps the back of the BMW keep up with the front.

A sophisticated active air suspension and active roll stabilization deserve credit as well, helping to manage the considerable side-to-side mass movement through the slalom cones in particular. The same adjustable and dynamic suspension also contributes greatly to the comfortable and controlled highway ride we experienced earlier in the day.

As for the speed suppression end of things, BMW’s engineers squeezed four giant 19-inch brake rotors inside the M760i’s exclusive 20-inch wheels, each of them squeezed by blue metallic brake calipers with M badging. Carbon ceramic brakes aren’t available, with BMW explaining that some of the drivability compromises aren’t appropriate for the spirit of the car.

And since this isn’t a track car by BMW’s admission or any rational person's expectation, all of this track talk is really just a long way of demonstrating that the M760i is indeed capable of tackling on-ramps, canyons and mountain roads in a manner befitting the target buyer's lingering need for speed.

Even in the rain.

A Touch of Cerium Grey

In addition to the M760i badge on back, this superior 7 Series is identifiable by M and V12 badges, exclusive 20-inch wheels, unique tailpipe finishers and an M aerodynamic package, all tied together by an exclusive Cerium Grey finish found on the kidney grille, the wheels, the tailpipes and elsewhere.

Interior Signage

If you can imagine a well-appointed 7 Series interior adorned with M badges, V12 badges and a 205-mph speedometer, you can picture yourself inside the 2017 BMW M760i xDrive. It’s among the finer passenger cabins on the road, combining top-notch materials, cutting-edge tech and much more style than BMW interiors of just a few years ago.

Top Tech

Looking past the performance persona, many of the elements that make the 2017 BMW M760i xDrive such an impressive automobile are the same offered on the M-less 7 Series, which was freshly reinvented just last year. Forward-looking favorites include gesture control (just wave your hand in the air to answer a phone call, for instance), remote control parking (step out of the car and have it pull into a tight space), and Active Comfort Drive with Road Preview, featuring a camera that watches the road ahead and adjusts the suspension to more elegantly soak up bumps and dips. And that's just scratching the surface. The newest 7 Series is both personal transporation and a rolling showcase demonstrating just how far humans have come in building cars. 

Price and Alternatives

The 2017 BMW M760i xDrive starts around $154,000 (lease for $2,100/month!) and will top $180,000 if you get carried away checking boxes. The 2017 Mercedes-AMG S63 starts around $145,000, but that's just a V8. The $170,000 Mercedes-Benz S600 doesn't have the same sporty persona, but it does have a V12. If you want a Mercedes with both a V12 and the air of performance, you're looking at the Mercedes-AMG S65, for which you'll have to cut a check -- or secure a home loan -- for around $227,000.

So if you're truly into it for the V12 power profile and performance-tuned driving dynamics, the 2017 BMW M760i xDrive is a relative bargain. 

Photo Gallery: 2017 M760i xDrive Inside and Out

 

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