2009 BMW 750Li - The Subtle Seven

Daniel Byrne

2009 BMW 750Li

Base price $85,000 (750Li, est.)

engine DOHC 32-valve twin-turbo V-8
displacement 4.4 liters (268 cu in)
horsepower 400 hp @ 5500 rpm
torque 450 lb-ft @ 1800 rpm
transmission Type 6-speed automatic
drive Rear-wheel

steering Power-assisted rack-and-pinion
suspension, front Control arms, coil springs
suspension, rear Multilink, coil springs
brakes Vented discs, ABS
tires Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT DSST
tire size f, r 245/45YR-19, 275/40YR-19

L x W x H 205.3 x 74.9 x 58.3 in
wheelbase 126.4 in
track f/r 63.4/65.0 in
weight 4640 lb (per manufacturer)
fuel MILEAGE 15/23 mpg (est.)

Helping You Know Your (Speed) Limits
By Lawrence Ulrich

Ignoring the speed limit may be par for the European course, but drivers of the latest BMW 7-series will at least get a friendly electronic nudge to avoid a run-in with the Polizei. The optional camera-based system can actually "read" speed limit signs and flash the results onto the 7-series' head-up display or instrument cluster. Developed by BMW and Continental, the system combines three complex functions-speed limit monitoring, lane departure warning, and an automatic high-beam dimming feature-on a single digital camera (housed near the rearview mirror) and a single system-on-chip processor.

The unit can read both signposts and the changeable displays typically used on overpasses. It compares speed limit information on the car's navigation database against what it sees on the road to alert the driver to impending changes and the current limit-the latter might be a boon when roadway signs are sparse, or when a police car looms behind and you have no clue whether you're going 5 mph under or 10 mph over. The speed limit can be shown alongside the head-up speedometer reading, and the speed monitoring also can be shut off.

For now, Americans are out of the loop, as the system won't be offered on the U.S.-spec 7-series. A lack of standardized road signs from state to state-including signs with separate limits for cars and trucks-creates technical hurdles that BMW is working to overcome. BMW does expect the technology to trickle down to other models in its lineup.

If the system does arrive on our shores, one thing must change. Asked for the gizmo's official title, a BMW spokesman struggled before replying "speed limit warning." Yankee marketing ingenuity clearly calls for a catchier name; we suggest "iSpeed."

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