2010 BMW 750Li xDrive
2010 BMW 750Li xDrive. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Chris Chase

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2010 BMW 7 Series

Ottawa, Ontario – During my week in this BMW 750Li, a friend of mine asked me a great question. He wanted to know if I thought uber-luxury cars like the 7 Series represented a diminishing return of sorts, as far as value for the transportation dollar is concerned. It was a good question because it made me wonder how many buyers in this segment even give value for dollar a second thought.

Ninety-nine-point-nine per cent of the time, a $15,000 car will get you where you’re going just as well as one with this big Bimmer’s $136,000 tab. There’s no way anyone needs a car like this, but suggesting that everyone only drive as much car as they need is akin to going all communist on automotive enthusiasm, and we all know that communism only looks good in theory. In practice, if you can afford a car like this, why shouldn’t you have it?

2010 BMW 750Li xDrive
2010 BMW 750Li xDrive
2010 BMW 750Li xDrive
2010 BMW 750Li xDrive. Click image to enlarge

The 7 Series is in its fifth generation now, having been redesigned in 2009; new for 2010 is the availability of BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system. The 7 Series’ starting price is $105,200 for the 750i, while the long-wheelbase 750Li opens at $113,600, and choosing xDrive adds a significant $3,400 to each. And don’t forget the V12-powered 760Li and gas-electric motivated ActiveHybrid 7, both of which are set to join the 7 Series line-up later this year.

As such, my 750Li xDrive tester was worth $116,600 to start. To that number, BMW added nearly $20,000 in options, for a $136,600 7 Series.

A better question than “why not” might be who gets more out of a car like this: the driver, or the rear seat passenger? Those in coach get more luxury here than those riding up front in most vehicles, including near-limousine legroom, three-step heated seats and automatic climate control, not to mention the power sunshades and lighted vanity mirrors.

So, if you’ve bought one of these to be driven around in, is there anything for the chauffeur to be excited about?

Of course there is. This is a BMW, after all. For all of this car’s size – the 750Li is nearly 76 cm longer and 7.6 cm wider than a 3 Series sedan – it’s just as entertaining to drive as any of the company’s cars.

The 7 Series comes standard with BMW’s Dynamic Driving Control. Cycle through its four settings – Comfort, Normal, Sports and Sports+ – and you can adjust the car’s Dynamic Damping Control suspension and Dynamic Stability control as well as the automatic transmission’s manual shift control, throttle response and steering assist.

2010 BMW 750Li xDrive
2010 BMW 750Li xDrive. Click image to enlarge

The system’s effect is most obvious on the suspension. Normal feels like it, while Comfort might be the preferred setting for when royalty (or your mother-in-law) is riding in back. The Sport modes firm the ride up. It’s the last and stiffest setup, Sport+, that most effectively makes this big sedan drive like a much smaller car. It also increases the effective ratio of the Active Steering System and reduces the amount of steering assist. Whether you like this sort of electronic driver “aid” (for lack of a better term), Dynamic Driving Control really works to improve the car’s responsiveness in spirited driving, without taking away from steering feel, which is what I find most impressive.

My tester had the $6,500 M Sport Package, which includes BMW’s Dynamic Drive active roll stabilization system, which BMW says helps the 7 Series corner flatter and reduces under- and over-steer. To put it in more tangible terms, I found myself hustling the 750Li through gaps in highway traffic like a car half its size.

The brakes are as aggressive as they look, filling up my test car’s M Double Spoke 20-inch wheels. Pedal feel is terrific, and the brakes are never grabby, despite being able to haul this heavy car to a stop in what seems like no time.

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