First Drive: 2010 BMW ActiveHybrid 7

The Active Hybrid 7 is identified by chrome badges on the trunk lid, on both C pillars, and by specific 19-inch wheels carrying 245/45 front tires on 8 inch rims and 275/40 rears on rims a half-inch wider. This means that each lightweight low-rolling-resistance tire on the car is specific to its place. There is special instrumentation to let the driver know how the various systems are interacting, but none of it is of "Tokyo by Night" quality. Like the rest of the interior, it is restrained and slightly understated. Many differences cannot be seen, as for example the use of the 760i's larger differential to cope with the higher torque levels of the hybrid.

Obviously there are substantial costs involved in attaining higher performance and lower emissions, but an owner can reasonably expect to gain much of that cost back at the pump. BMW expects 45% of the hybrid 7s to be sold in the US, 20 % in Germany, 7% in China, with the other third of production dispersed in the rest of the world.

It all works so well, so transparently, to such good effect that we think BMW will spread this mild hybrid approach to almost all its ever-widening range of models - maybe even into its motorcycles. It's that good.

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