2012 BMW 7-Series Hybrid Performance

$18,295 - $19,024

2012 BMW 7-Series Hybrid Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 BMW 7-Series Hybrid was new.


Performance: 8.2

Like the gas-only 7-Series, the 2012 BMW ActiveHybrid 750i is nimble by super luxury car standards. And while test drivers love its cornering ability, they also like the progressive, natural feel of the 7-Series Hybrid’s brakes. Additionally, the 7-Series Hybrid is also quicker and more fuel-efficient than most other 7-Series models.

While the 7-Series Hybrid delivers with power and handling, there are better options if you’re looking for a fuel-efficient luxury car. Refinement is also an issue, as some test drivers disliked the 7-Series Hybrid’s finicky start-stop function.

  • "The herky-jerkiness of the hybrid system is disconcerting. Like the Lexus LS hybrid, applying the brake seems to make the car actually pick up speed for a second before the car starts to slow down--the brakes are inconsistent at best. Then, press the gas after sitting at a light, and there's a definite hesitation." -- AutoWeek 
  • "Hybrid operation in this electrified 7-series is mostly unobtrusive. Road-blurring acceleration-this ain't your father's hybrid-leads to high-speed serenity, although wind noise is a bit high." -- Car and Driver 
  • "The hybrid 7 is a nicer drive than the V-12. Its lighter front end improves agility and it comes to a halt in near-silence -- the engine stops, and the continuing whirr of cooling and A/C systems is almost drowned by surrounding traffic. The throttle response is sharp too. And who'd say no to the additional fuel range?" -- Motor Trend 
  • "This car is economical when you think of it as compared to the conventional BMW 750i." -- Edmunds 
  • "This idle stop system requires some getting used to, and is not preferable in some situations. It works great in places with particularly long traffic lights, as the car can sit there not burning gas or pumping out pollutants and carbon dioxide. But in traffic jams, with stop-and-go traffic, shutting down the engine for 5 seconds at a time is not as efficient, and is slightly annoying for the driver." -- CNET 

Acceleration and Power

Hybrids don’t usually put an emphasis on performance, but the 7-Series Hybrid manages better fuel economy and acceleration than the gas-only 750i. A 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 coupled to a small electric motor lives under the hood of the 7-Series Hybrid. Combined, the powertrain is good for 455 horsepower. That’s 55 more than the V8-powered 7-Series. Reviewers like the power, but dislike the hybrid powertrain’s start-stop function, which abruptly shuts the engine down when the car is stopped to save fuel. However, test drivers say shifting the 7-Series Hybrid into Sport mode will turn this function off.

In addition to its electric motor, the Active Hybrid 750i also uses a different transmission to improve fuel economy. Reviewers like its eight-speed automatic, which gives the hybrid two additional gears over the gas-only 7-Series. According to the EPA, both regular- and extended-wheelbase 7-Series Hybrids get 17/24 mpg city/highway. If you’re looking for a better combination of performance and fuel economy, consider the Porsche Panamera S Hybrid. It’s not as powerful, but the Panamera Hybrid gets 22/30 mpg city/highway.

  • "The jerkiness of the start/stop system is incongruous with the otherwise smooth operation of the gasoline powertrain." -- AutoWeek
  • "The best hybrid for burnouts." -- Car and Driver 
  • "The … BMW ActiveHybrid 7's fuel economy gains are not insignificant, but this super-luxury sedan is most impressive when your foot's on the floor. Of course, the conventional 750 is already very quick, but the ActiveHybrid 7's additional power is noticeable, particularly when the electric motor comes online with an extra surge." -- Edmunds  
  • "In other words, hybrid BMW-style uses the efficiency advantage of hybridization to improve performance of its twin-turbo engine as much as to eke fuel economy. And boy it flies." -- Motor Trend 
  • "The ActiveHybrid 7's transmission plays a big part in the car's fuel economy. It has eight gears, two more than in other 7-series models. The … greater choice of gears lets the engine run more efficiently through its range of speeds." -- CNET  

Handling and Braking

The BMW 7-Series Hybrid weighs a little more than the regular 7-Series, but reviewers say it handles just as well as its gas-only siblings. For a large, super luxury car, the 7-Series Hybrid is quite nimble. Another plus is this hybrid’s regenerative braking system. Reviewers dislike these systems in many hybrids, saying that they lack pedal feel. But the automotive press is pleased with the 7-Series Hybrid’s brakes, saying they feel firm and linear. On the downside, not all critics like the steering system. The 7-Series Hybrid has a start-stop function, which shuts the engine off when the car comes to a stop to save fuel. Unfortunately, this also turns off the power-assist on the steering wheel, making it difficult to change direction when the car is operating on electric power alone.

A variety of suspension settings alter the car’s handling through BMW’s Driving Dynamics Control. A few reviewers say that even when it’s in Comfort mode, the suspension is stiffer than rivals like the Lexus LS Hybrid. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; it just means that the 7-Series puts more of an emphasis on being fun to drive.

  • "And on the road it's nimble and light on its feet for such a big luxury boat." -- AutoWeek 
  • "Although the mere mention of regenerative braking usually erodes the feel of the stop pedal in question, the ActiveHybrid 7’s brakes remain firm and linear." -- Car and Driver 
  • "Compared to other luxury hybrid sedans like the LS 600h and S400 Hybrid, the ActiveHybrid 7 has a firmer ride quality, even in Comfort mode. However, this yields a more engaging driving experience, making the 7 Series a hybrid sedan that's actually fun to drive on a winding road." -- Edmunds 
  • "The power steering still relies on the engine to pump its hydraulics, resulting in an immovable wheel when the engine is shut down. BMW really should have looked into an electric power steering unit for the ActiveHybrid 7." -- CNET

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