BMW's 750iL is awesome, but then for $95,000 it should be. Price aside, which is hard to do, it is still a pretty amazing automobile.This is the bigger brother of the 740iL, which is V8-powered. Think of it in Rolls-Royce and Bentley terms and you get a clearer picture of this car's target market. It is for the ultra-rich, celebrities, maybe even heads of state. In other words, people who are driven (some chauffeured, some compulsive). But it is more than just a rich person's toy. It is a showcase for BMW's engineering expertise, a car as good as they can make it, price no object. It melds luxury and performance into a package that is eye-opening. It has a 12-cylinder, 326-horsepower engine and an array of creature comforts sure to coddle even the most demanding plutocrats, such as break-resistant security glass, front and side airbags, a power sunshade for the back window, heated steering wheel, adjustable rear seat and ultrasonic sensors in the bumpers that give an audible warning if you are parking too close to another car or are in danger of backing over something. The latter feature is extremely handy and would be a wonderful feature on all cars, regardless of price. The dash is typically BMW, which means simple instrumentation but overly complex audio systems with tiny buttons. Each front-seat passenger has their own controls for heating and cooling. Built on a 120.9-inch wheelbase, the same as most extended-length minivans, the 750iL has a back seat that is so spacious it feels more like a great room. Unless you play for the NBA your legs will never touch the back of the front seats. Legroom is so generous that each side has its own carpeted, wedge-shaped footrest. Keeping out prying eyes, or the sun, is done with the power sunshade that glides up in front of the back window. Retractable screens are also built into the back doors as well, for complete privacy. The back seat itself is as comfortable as a custom-made couch. It tilts and slides, plus there are four levels of lumbar adjustment, as well. The front seats adjust 16 ways, including 4-way lumbar and an articulated upper backrest. If you can't get comfortable in this car you'd better see an orthopedic surgeon. While comfort is the operative word, it does not exclude performance. The single-overhead-cam (SOHC) V12 engine is a marvel of smoothness, as they all are. Twist the key and you can hear the engine come to life but you hardly feel it. Ease out onto the highway, give it some gas, and it gathers speed like a 747 on takeoff. Sixty miles per hour comes up in 6.7 seconds, pretty remarkable for a car this big and weighing 4,553 pounds. By the time you realize the scenery is scooting past your window faster than normal you are well into triple-digit speeds, but it feels so serene that you can't believe the speedometer. In Germany, cars like this routinely cruise the autobahns at more than double our speed limit, b ut the ones that come here have their top speed electronically limited to 128 mph. In addition to anti-lock brakes, the all-season traction system also includes Dynamic Stability Control to "enhance stability under conditions when the vehicle's limit of cornering capability is being approached." The only option ($2,800) on the 750 is an on-board navigational system that keeps track of the vehicle's location with a Global Positioning Sensor. Users can program in a specific destination and be shown the way with maps on a five-inch color video monitor. It can also tell you the location of banks, hotels, restaurants and hospitals. Maps are contained on CD-ROM discs that fit into a trunk-mounted player. Map CDs are available for the continental U.S., except for some rural or sparsely populated areas. The computer that runs the navigation system also controls the cellular phone, audio system and can programmed to ventilate the interior when the car is left standing. A v eo monitor or VCR can be used in the rear passenger compartment. A nice benefit befitting a car in this price range is that all maintenance for the first four years or 50,000 miles is free. Price The base price is $93,300. Add the $1,700 gas guzzler tax and $570 destination charge and the sticker price is $95,570. Warranty The basic warranty is for four years or 50,000 miles. Vehicles for The Star's week-long test drives are supplied by the auto manufacturers. Point: The 750iL is near the pinnacle of luxury motoring. Competitors can be counted on one hand. The V12 is so smooth you can barely feel it, the back seat is as big as your family room and the list of luxury equipment is unparalleled. Counterpoint: There's not much to beef about with a car like this, except that I could never afford one. Besides that, a simpler radio would be in order, but that's about it. SPECIFICATIONS: ENGINE: 5.4-liter, V12 TRANSMISSION: Automatic WHEELBASE: 120.9 inches CURB WEIGHT: 4,553 lbs. BASE PRICE: $93,300 PRICE AS DRIVEN: $95,570 MPG RATING: 15 city, 20 hwy.
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