2009 BMW 750Li - The Subtle Seven

Daniel Byrne

None of them will likely guess the speed at which the 7-series is traveling, either. The 750Li is deceptively fast-despite the howl of wind noise entering the cabin around the A-pillars, the 155-mph speed governor interrupts as unexpectedly as an alarm clock mistakenly set for 4 a.m. After all, the V-8 is virtually inaudible, turning only 4600 rpm in sixth gear at that speed. With seats that are more comfortable than most easy chairs, the 7-especially in long-wheelbase form-is obviously made to cross continents at unholy speeds.

When those cross-continental roads become twisty, its driver will be reminded of the 750Li's 205-inch length only when he looks in the rearview mirror. The 7's agility belies its size, thanks in part to Integral Active Steering, an option available with the sport package. IAS combines BMW's Active Steering, which varies the steering ratio and assist level based primarily on vehicle speed, with a new rear-wheel-steering system. Using an electric motor, the rear wheels can be steered up to three degrees in either direction, eliminating some of the yaw that long cars experience in corners. Steering the rear wheels at parking-lot speeds also helps shave more than two feet from the big sedan's turning radius.

Integral Active Steer functions as part of BMW's driver-adjustable system called Dynamic Driving Control. DDC boils down what would be a dizzying array of customizable chassis settings into five predetermined modes. The more sport-oriented modes sharpen throttle response, select a more aggressive transmission shift map, firm up the dampers, stiffen the antiroll bars, quicken the steering ratio, reduce the power-steering assistance, and raise the stability control's intervention threshold. DDC makes such significant alterations to so many systems that it creates tangible changes in the way the 7-series responds to inputs-and does so without confronting the driver with three million possible combinations of settings.

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