2009 BMW 750i

2009 BMW 750i and 750iL Driving Impressions

So how does it drive? Well, brilliantly. Of course, we had the opportunity to drive the new 7-series only on BMW's proving grounds-and only for a very limited time. The twin-turbo V-8 exhibits some very noticeable lag off the line, but this is a seriously fast sedan-one that will likely outrun (or at least match the performance of) last year's V-12 760Li.

From behind the wheel, the 7-series feels much smaller than it is. The electronic systems help in this regard, but pushing a long-wheelbase 750Li around the dry handling track, we were very impressed with its neutral balance, prodigious cornering grip, and strong brakes. Put DDC in the higher modes (like Sport Plus) and the steering ratio is quick, effort is high, and the big 7 turns in sharply and with no noticeable body control. It's no exaggeration to think you're driving something the size of a 5-series-or even a 3-series-when the road turns curvy.

That sentiment was no less apparent on the wet handling course in a short-wheelbase 750i. A perfectly neutral chassis setup combined with the thrust of 450 lb-ft of torque makes it very easy to be sideways in the 7-series (with the stability control disabled, of course). Noticeable turbo lag and jumpy accelerator pedal response in the sportier DDC modes made holding drifts a bit difficult. This 7-series dances so well, you'll be tempted to drift it.

Thanks to extensive use of aluminum (in the roof, front fenders, doors, and front spring towers) the 7-series gains only a few pounds over its predecessor.

The ride quality seemed fantastic (especially in the softer modes), soft but always well controlled. This is the first non-crossover BMW to use a multi-link front suspension (all previous sedans used a strut-type front suspension). As we said in the introduction, there's little doubt that the new 7-series will remain at the top of its class, dynamically.

Whether 100-mph drifts are what its target audience cares about, however, is another story. We suspect not - but if the last 7-series was BMW's best-selling 7-series ever, there's little doubt that this one will do even better. After all, it's vastly better looking and infinitely easier to use. All I kept thinking was "this new 7-series is going to make a hell of a platform for the car that BMW's going to build off the Concept CS show car." With this car's dance moves and improved interface and the CS's good looks, that will be the luxury car to beat. Until then, we can heave a sigh of relief that BMW has finally admitted-without admitting anything at all-that the old 7-series was deeply flawed. And fixed the new one.

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