Does the US really need 9 variants of BMWs magnificent 7 series?

The 7-series model lineup is starting to look a little busy. BMW will be debuting two six-cylinder variants of its luxury sedan flagship at next month’s Detroit auto show, bringing the total number of 7-series variants to a shocking nine options!

740i; ; Short wheelbase;

6-cyl; ; ;rwd; ;315 hp, 330 lb-ft

740Li; ; ;Long wheelbase;

6-cyl; ; ;rwd; ;315 hp, 330 lb-ft

750i; ; ;Short wheelbase ;

V-8; ; ;rwd; ;400 hp, 450 lb-ft

750Li; ; ;Long wheelbase;

V-8 ; ; ;rwd; ;400 hp, 450 lb-ft

750i xDrive; ;Short wheelbase;

V-8; ; ;awd; ;400 hp, 450 lb-ft

750Li xDrive; ;Long wheelbase;

V-8; ; ;awd; ;400 hp, 450 lb-ft

ActiveHybrid7; ;Short Wheelbase;

V-8 hybrid; ;rwd; ;455 hp, 516 lb-ft

ActiveHybrid7; ;Long Wheelbase;

V-8 hybrid; ;rwd; ;455 hp, 516 lb-ft

760Li; ; ;Long wheelbase;

V-12; ; ;awd; ;535 hp, 550 lb-ft

Every 7-series sold in North America will have two turbochargers strapped to its engine, and every one-even the new base six-cylinder-will produce more horsepower than the first German post-war V-12 engine, which made its first appearance for the 1988 model year.

Which begs the question: which one would you buy?

Though BMW hasn’t shown final U.S.-spec numbers for the six-cylinder cars yet, I suspect the 740i (in both short and long-wheelbase forms) will be able to hit 60 mph in 6 seconds. That means it’s more than powerful enough for most buyers.

If you need all-wheel drive, you’ll have to stick with V-8 power and get a 750i xDrive. Unless BMW chooses to make the six-cylinder available with all-wheel drive.

And here’s the big, huge shocker: the speed freaks should go for the ActiveHybrid 7. And not the V-12.

Why? First of all, you can get the ActiveHybrid 7 in short-wheelbase form. The 760Li is available only in with the long wheelbase, which, in my opinion, is necessary only if you’re regularly transporting 8-foot-tall NBA players on 5-hour trips in the back seat.

Secondly, the ActiveHybrid 7 is considerably faster than the 750Li, and almost as fast as the 760Li. In fact, even though the numbers indicate that the V-12 has a 0.3-second edge on the sprint to 60 mph, the Hybrid feels just as fast. And it can put all of its power down-the V-12’s rear tires scramble for traction the whole way to highway speeds. The Hybrid also drives just as well as any regular 7-series.

Thirdly, the EPA numbers. The 760Li is amazingly efficient given its engine size, configuration, and output. But 13 and 19-mpg (city and highway) EPA ratings aren’t going to please Greenpeace. BMW has hinted that the Hybrid’s fuel economy might be closer to 18 mpg in the city and 23 on the highway. That’s almost a third less fuel.

And lastly, the ActiveHybrid 7 costs some $30,000 less than the V-12. You could easily buy fake “V-12” badges for your 7-series with that money. And have enough left over to buy a Toyota Prius to park outside. You know, to show the neighbors that you really care about the environment.