“Bloody hell, where did that come from?” I thought, mere moments after putting my foot down in the refreshed 750i for the first time. So distracted was I by that face (and no, I’m not sure those gigantic buck teeth-like kidney grilles look any better in the gloss-coated plastic), that I neglected to check the stats of this thing before getting behind the wheel. Turns out it’s rather pokey.
It shares its 4.4-litre, twin-turbo V8 with the wonderful M850i, developing a thumping 523bhp and 553lb ft of torque. It’s considerably more potent than the engine in the old 750i, with BMW having unleashed an extra 79bhp.
The big daddy of the 7er range, the M760Li, has been neutered by WLTP and weighs some 200kg more, so it’s barely faster, hitting the benchmark 62mph mark only two tenths quicker than this one. The 750i will do it in four seconds dead.
That’s comfortably quicker than the old M5, and - amusingly - a bit brisker than the M2 Competition. It sounds great, too, even if the V8 is more hushed here than it is in the M850i.
It’s not the eye-widening mid-range surge that’s the real story, though. Well, not on its own. The 750i is all about the combination of that thumping V8 and a relatively soft chassis. It’s still a luxury waft-mobile, and that makes it perversely fun to throw around.
That’s not to say it isn’t dynamically talented, of course. The damping may be far from firm, but whatever mode you’re in, the body control is fantastically tidy. Dramatic changes in camber, bad road surfaces - whatever is thrown at it, the 750i shrugs off. The steering’s good too - not necessarily in terms of feedback, but it’s quick, well-weighted and predictable enough to place the 7’s unfortunate-looking new front end where you want.
The V8 feeds its power via an eight-speed ZF-sourced gearbox (slick here as it is in most BMWs, save for the occasional annoying delay when you’re trying to get off the line quickly) to all four wheels. There is a relatively obvious rear-bias to the system, although you do have to be pressing on quite a bit for that to come into play.
For the most part, it’s a neutral car and one that’ll allow you to carry quite a bit of speed, up until the point the 750i reminds you that it’s a two-tonne luxury car and not a 911 with much squealing coming from the tyres.
But that’s half the fun. I love the new M5 dearly, but it’s just a bit too serious now, isn’t it? While that very super saloon now does its best to make you think it actually is a sports car (or maybe even a supercar, given its ridiculous turn of pace), the 750i is a reminder of what these cars used to be like. And that’s a posh, comfortable, four-door car that just happens to have an unreasonably powerful engine under the bonnet.
As a pure luxury vehicle, the 7-series is less successful. It’s still third best out of three main players: the air-sprung Mercedes S-Class and Audi A8 both ride better, and the latter has more in the way of showy, feel-good toys. BMW has, particularly with this M Sport-trimmed 750i, focused a little too much on making the car up for being thrown around in a manner that a luxobarge probably shouldn’t.
For normal people, that counts against the 7-series, and the 750i in particular. The 750i inevitably only make up a tiny percentage of overall 7er sales. But if you’re just a bit weird and like the idea of an old-school super saloon which is more fun than an M5, step right this way.