BMW calls the 2006 version of its flagship 7 Series sedan a midsize freshening rather than a redesign. Launched as a 2002 model, the current-generation rear-wheel-drive 7 Series has been available in two forms: as the 745 with a V-8 engine and as the 760 with V-12 power.
Whereas the engine in the V-8-powered 7 Series has grown for 2006, resulting in the new 750 numerical designation, the 760 sedan carries on with its 6.0-liter V-12. As before, two wheelbases are available: regular length, called the 760i; and extended length, named the 760Li.
BMW refined its iDrive control system, which has been the subject of criticism, and made it easier to use for 2006. Changes to iDrive include new menu color schemes, enhanced functionality and a reshaped controller.
Design revisions include a new power dome hood and a modified twin-kidney grille. All models now have the same enlarged grille. Rear track width is greater, and interiors get two new leather-upholstery combinations. BMW has launched its updated full-size sedans as early 2006 models.
BMW says the front-end modifications for 2006 have been "executed with the utmost reserve and subtlety." In addition to the restyled hood, the 7 Series sedans have reshaped rocker panels with pronounced ridges, fresh lighting clusters, and a reworked front bumper and spoiler. The extended-wheelbase 760Li sedan has a chrome roof molding.
The trunk lid, taillamp clusters, rear bumper and spoiler have been modified. The rear bumper's wraparound portion tucks in more noticeably than before, and the taillamps now wrap into the reshaped trunk lid. All models now have chrome trim on the bumpers. Suspension bushings have been refined.
One differentiation the 760 models have from the 750 is a high-gloss Shadowline black finish around their side windows rather than matte black and chrome. The standard Electronic Damping Control suspension has a Sport mode as its default. The 760i has 20-inch performance tires, while the extended-length 760Li sedan rolls on standard 19-inch rubber. Both models are fitted with a self-leveling rear suspension.
BMW's regular-length 760i sedan is built on a 117.7-inch wheelbase, versus a 123.2-inch version on the extended-length 760Li sedan.
Up to five occupants have ample space in the 760i sedan, and passengers in the backseat of the extended-length 760Li enjoy even more legroom. An Active Support massage feature is included in the driver's seat, and the front seats have Active Ventilation. Dark Ash wood trim decorates the interior of the 760i sedan. The 760Li, which gets more extensive leather, has Ash wood trim that comes in two tones with inlays.
Detail trim elements have a metallic appearance. A flat-tire warning and a 13-speaker Logic7 audio system that includes a six-CD changer are standard. New controls are used for AM/FM radio selection. Bluetooth connectivity is new, and BMW eliminated the cell phone. Rear climate control and a rear, cooled compartment for food and drink are optional on the 760Li sedan.
Under the Hood
The 760's 6.0-liter V-12 generates 438 horsepower and 444 pounds-feet of torque. The gear selector for the six-speed Steptronic automatic transmission is located just ahead of the steering-wheel rim. A steering-wheel button selects Drive, Sport or Manual shift mode. Buttons at the front and back of the steering wheel can be used to execute manual gear changes.
BMW's inflatable tubular Head Protection System includes side curtain-type airbags for the first and second rows. Front-seat side-impact airbags are installed, and rear side-impact airbags are optional. Active Knee Protection is standard. Active Cruise Control that uses a radar sensor is optional.