High performance or high luxury.
Usually you get one or the other, performance or pampering, but not both.
Except in the BMW 760Li -- providing pockets or purse are very deep.
The 760Li is a poster child for what a car can do if you are ready, willing and able to spend some money.
One of the fabulous frills is night vision. Whether late at night or traveling in rain, snow or fog, you can feel a little safer by being able to see vehicles in the road or animals or people wandering alongside the road up to 1,000 feet.
The system employs heat-detecting sensors to spot the objects, which it shows on the navigation system screen. If it gives off heat -- human or animal, car or motorcycle, it will glow on the screen.
As an added benefit, if someone is lurking in the bushes near the house when you arrive home at night, the heat detection sensors in your night vision give you an early warning. And don't tell the teens, but the night vision also will tattle on them if they sneak out for a cruise. When Mom and Dad return home, the night vision screen will show the warm glow coming from the hood of the teen's recently driven car.
Night vision runs $2,200, however, a seriously high price to spot deer in the road, people in the bushes or wayward teens. It was first offered in the 760 in 2006 and for 2008 will be offered in 5- and 6-Series cars for the first time.
Another pricey option is the "coolbox" a mini fridge behind the rear-seat armrest. The tab is $1,800. At that price it better be really good water or really flavorful pop that you are cooling to 40 degrees. Have to remember, however, to press the button on the door to activate the cooling mechanism -- and to drink the pop or water in a reasonable time span because when the engine is off, the fridge shuts off and your cool drink quickly warms. And $1,800 is a stiff price to pay for warm water or pop.
Another problem with the fridge is that its compressor behind the rear seat robs a hefty portion of trunk space. Given a choice between holding a couple cold bottles of pop in the back seat or four sets of golf clubs in the trunk, BMW says the golf clubs usually win. Other high priced goodies on the 760 Li include adaptive cruise control at $2,200 to reduce engine power and/or apply the brakes to slow the car if it gets too close to the vehicle ahead when cruise control is engaged; and a DVD entertainment system at another $2,200 to watch movies in the back seat. A flip-over video screen sits atop the center console.
The DVD system uses an iDrive control just like the one the driver has upfront to control everything from radio station of choice to when the doors should automatically lock or unlock.
Be advised that iDrive isn't as bad as some people insist it is. Yes, it is overly complex, but it takes no more than two, three model years tops to learn how to program all the electrical sensors to customize all the control settings to your liking. If you're not a computer geek, however, it's the system from Hell created by Lucifer himself.
Can't understand BMW's belief that folks enjoy spending their hard earned inheritance on a vehicle that turns the simplist of tasks into a monumental chore. There's no disgrace in using buttons like all other cars do.
Another extra-cost goodie is the comfort access system, which sounds as if you push a button to regulate seat softness. Nope. This is the keyless ignition system. Press a button in the dash to start or stop the engine -- as long as you are carrying the fob with the magic. Though it eliminates having to put a key in the ignition slot, what do you really gain?
Rather than a long gearshift lever, you get a mini lever behind the wheel to engage drive, reverse or park. Cute, but why not put it closer to the driver for easier use?
Highest priced option of all is the Individual Composition. No, you don't have to write a term paper to get a 760; for $10,000, you get leather upholstery and headliner, illuminated doorsills, storage net in the passenger footwall and 20-inch performance radials. But you also have to purchase ruby black metallic paint for $3,000.
Expensive list of options on a car with an impressive list of standard features, which should be no surprise considering it starts at $121,400.
Dynamic stability control and traction control are standard to rivet the sedan to the pavement whether the road follows a straight line, twists and turns, is wet or dry.
There's also roll stabilization to keep wheels side down, electronic damping control to ensure the suspension doesn't fidget over uneven pavement, self-leveling suspension so a cabin full of people or a trunk full of luggage doesn't affect handling or braking and four-wheel anti-lock brakes for sure-footed stops whenever and whereever.
And there are the little things -- rain-sensing wipers, headlamp washers, side-curtain air bags, front-seat knee protection to keep from submarining under the dash and headlights that move in the direction of the turn.
Other niceties include heated and cooled front and rear seats so you can cool your butt as well as your beverage; power rear seats that not only motor forward, but also recline; and a button that allows the rear-seat passenger to motor the front passenger seat forward to increase rear seat leg room, best done when the front seat is empty, of course.
Like any BMW, the car is aimed at those who pay attention to a vehicle's performance, its ability to leap into action from the stop sign, accelerate into and out of twists in the road, and stop on the proverbial dime and leaving change.
The 760 is powered by a 6-liter, 438-horsepower, 48-valve V-12 engine with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Lots of energy to move the mini limo. But that comes at a cost -- a 14 m.p.g. city/22 m.p.g. highway rating and a $1,700 gas guzzler tax.
Ironic that people frown at a sport-utility but fawn over a BMW, which similarly gulps gas.
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2007 BMW 760Li
Price as tested: $144,780*
Wheelbase: 123.2 inches
Length: 203.9 inches
Engine: 6-liter, 438-h.p., 48-valve V-12
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Fuel economy: 14 m.p.g. city/22 m.p.g. highway
* Add $1,700 for gas-guzzler tax and $695 for freight.
$10,000 Individual composition with 20-inch performance tires, leather upholstery and headliner, illuminated door sills and storage net in passenger footwall
$3,000 Ruby black metallic paint
$2,200 Rear seat DVD entertainment system with iDrive controller
$2,200 Active cruise control
$2,200 Night vision
$1,800 Rear-seat climate-control coolbox (fridge)
$1,000 Comfort access system (keyless ignition)
$595 Satellite radio
$385 Rear-seat side-impact air bags
Scads of power from the V-12.
Handles like built for the track.