2012 BMW 7-Series


2012 BMW 7-Series Performance Review

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


Performance: 8.2

Reviewers say that the 2012 BMW 7-Series is agile for a super luxury car, and its numerous engine options also make it stand out from the competition. BMW offers the 7-Series as 740i and 740Li models, which feature a twin-turbo inline six-cylinder engine. While these cars compete in a class that’s filled with V8s, reviewers say that the new six-cylinder mill provides competitive acceleration. If you’re looking for more power, a turbocharged V8 comes in the 750i and Li, while the 760Li offers even more thrust thanks to a turbocharged V12 engine.

BMW also allows 7-Series owners to tailor their driving experience with the Driving Dynamics Control system, which allows users to adjust their suspension and steering with Comfort, Normal, Sport and Sport + settings. Most reviewers like the system’s versatility, although a few comment that the 7-Series is still a driver’s car, meaning that it lacks the smooth ride quality of competitors like the Lexus LS and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

  • "All 7-Series models fall short of the lofty ride-balance standard we've come to expect from BMW. We're disappointed that the softer-riding 18-inch wheels are no longer offered on the 750i and 750Li." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Although it's tempting to dismiss it as a pokey model intended as dealership traffic bait, the 740i with its 315-horsepower twin-turbo inline-6 is as quick from zero to 60 mph (5.8 seconds) as the V8-powered Lexus LS 460 and nearly matches the power of the V8 7 Series from 10 years ago." -- Edmunds
  • "During a test-drive of a 740Li in rural New Jersey, we were particularly impressed by the fact that the six-cylinder car, which is about 220 pounds lighter, exhibits less turbo lag off the line and therefore smoother, more linear acceleration - V-8 variants, which have an 85-hp advantage, hesitate off the line before exploding forward." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "The return to six-cylinder power is a good move for BMW, which will be able to offer higher efficiency and reasonable power for customers who do not know, or care, how many cylinders their car has." -- Jalopnik

Acceleration and Power

Three engines are available in the BMW 7-Series for 2012. In 740i and 740Li models, a 3.0-liter, twin-turbo inline six-cylinder engine puts 315 horsepower to the rear wheels. Power is routed through a six-speed automatic transmission that features a manual shift mode. While the 740i is a six-cylinder car in a class packed full of V8s, reviewers still appreciate its performance, noting that it’s just as quick in a zero-to-60 sprint as the V8-powered Lexus LS.

If you’re seeking even better acceleration, the 7-Series is available with more powerful engines as well. The 750i and 750Li feature a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 that produces 400 horsepower. Power is also routed to the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission, but the 750i and Li are also available with xDrive, BMW’s all-wheel drive system. Reviewers also approve of this engine, but one test driver says that the 750Li xDrive feels less enjoyable to drive than the lighter 750i.

As if these powertrains aren’t enough, BMW also offers the 760Li: a rear-wheel drive 7-Series with a 535-horsepower, twin-turbo V12 engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission with manual mode.

The EPA estimates that 740i and 740Li sedans get 17 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, while 750i and 750Li models get 15/22 and 14/22 mpg city/highway, respectively. BMW 750i xDrive and 750Li xDrive sedans both get 14 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway. Fuel economy estimates have not yet been published for the 760Li, but the identical 2011 model averages 13/19 mpg city/highway.

  • "Fine in normal driving, but full-throttle takeoffs start with a somewhat timid launch followed by a strong surge as the turbos get cooking. This somewhat non-linear throttle response makes for unwanted lurching in around-town driving." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Despite its significant curb weight, the 2012 BMW 7 Series is deceptively quick. Even though it has just six cylinders, the 740i offers a prodigious swell of midrange torque. Of course, the 750 and 760 models are that much more impressive." -- Edmunds
  • "Like the V-8 version, the 740Li uses a six-speed automatic transmission that provides smooth upshifts and very responsive downshifts as well as a Sport mode." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "While the 400-horsepower, turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 engine is relatively sprightly in the 750i, I thought it was a bit of a laggard while towing all the additional weight that comes with the 750Li's longer wheelbase and xDrive all-wheel-drive system hardware." -- Cars.com 

Handling and Braking

Most reviews say that the BMW 7-Series is light on its feet, despite its size and comfortable accommodations. The 7-Series has near-perfect 50/50 weight distribution: a trait found on many quality sports cars, but not always on large sedans, which helps the 7-Series’ remain composed when the road gets twisty. Additionally, BMW’s Driving Dynamics Control allows the driver to alter the car’s handling characteristics though a variety of suspension settings. However, a few test drivers comment that even when the 7-Series is in Comfort mode, it’s stiffer than rivals like the Lexus LS. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It just means that the 7-Series is more of a driver’s car. If you’re looking for a luxury sedan with an ultra-posh ride, the LS and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class both put a greater emphasis on comfort.

  • "While never outright harsh or uncomfortable, these BMWs are not as composed as they should be." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The 7 Series is also one of the most engaging cars in the class to drive. Equipped with optional active steering, the 7 Series impresses with its ability to sweep around tight corners. Even in standard rear-wheel-drive form, it twists sharper and surer than many midsize luxury sedans." -- Edmunds
  • "On the twisting country roads outside of Dresden, it was easy to forget that we were in fact driving a very large sedan. With the Sport package, steering is nearly too sharp at slower speeds (largely because of the variable ratios and the four-wheel steer effect), but the sensation begins to feel more conventional as the miles pass. Though it certainly doesn't have the steering feedback perfection of a 3 Series, the 7's handling traits are remarkably deft considering its bulk." -- Popular Mechanics

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