Impressive handling and impeccable room in this luxury German sedan

BMW 750Li
Engine: 4.0 liter, V-8, 400 horsepower
Acceleration: 0-60: 5.2 seconds; top speed 150 mph
Braking: Four-wheel disc brakes
Sound system: High-fidelity sound system, 10 speakers with two subwoofers; 205 watts of power
Price: $84,200; as equipped $101,320

With last year’s edition of the 1 Series, the smallest BMW, this German manufacturer has attempted to cover the entire automotive spectrum. This year, its the top-of-the-line sedan, the 7 Series, which has been given a major overhaul.

With this redo, all the typical BMW design signals are still accounted for. The dual kidney-shaped grills remain, the flanks have been cleaned up, and the infamous kicked-up trunk lid (named the “Bangle Butt” after its designer) has been leveled off.

Our test model was the 750 Li – a “limo” with speed. With the letter L added to the formula, the wheelbase is stretched more than 5 inches, resulting in additional leg room in the already roomy rear seats.

However, there is one more 7 model that really is at the top of the heap: a V-12 monster called the 760Li. Certainly not lacking in power, its turbocharged 6 liter engine produces 537 horsepower and the torque of a locomotive.

Oh, but do not feel sorry for the poor 750i or Li owner. This four-door sedan has a twin turbo V-8 with all the technical parts that develop 400 horsepower, and it is tied to a smooth-operating six-speed automatic. In ordinary use, the V-8 is a paragon of silent power with a transmission that feels totally “shiftless.” Even when hammered, that model of silent power does not change much. At full song, 0 to 60 time is just over five seconds.

Besides its distinctive look, BMW is known for its clean, comfortable combination of handling and control. Even with this, the largest of Bimmers, that reputation remains. No matter how poor the road conditions, no matter how off-kilter a corner, no matter how big that pothole may be, this large sedan handles it in stride.

As an additional bonus, there are four different ride and speed settings. If absolute comfort is your choice, then the shocks, transmission shift pattern, engine response and steering input all are adjusted accordingly. Next up are the “normal,” then “speed” and finally “speed plus” settings – the driver truly can tell the difference between these various levels.

Also, gone are the days of BMW’s black hole interiors. With just the right mix of fine-grade leather, wood and metal, the interior is well-laid out, bright and airy.

All of the latest computerized functions and high-tech items are either standard or available. In the front cockpit, the focus of activity is on the 10-inch screen in the center of the dash and the iDrive system. Thankfully, the iDrive has been largely modified so the wheel mouse is not the entire begin-all and end-all. Various buttons can send the driver or passenger to the functions available.

Hold your breath, because a ton of options can come up on the screen: a picture of what is behind the car when reversing, a 3D navigation map of Honolulu, an infrared picture of what is far in front of the car at night, the telephone numbers from your Blue-tooth phone, settings and information about the CD, iPod or AM/FM sound systems, and even all the engine information you could ever want. The heads-up display right in front of the driver, which shows speed and other data, looks like the information is suspended in the air above the hood.

Not that your rear passengers are left out. They have separate controls for air conditioning and can turn on or off separate reading lights. In case the paparazzi are about, window shades for the back and side windows can be raised or lowered, depending on whether you do or do not want to be seen. In case of those airport jet-setter runs, the trunk is huge and equipped with a power trunk lid.

This BMW leaves the potential owner of a large luxury sedan with a tough dilemma: “Do I want to drive a powerful, high-tech and great-handling machine? Or do I want to be pampered in the back seat and avoid being seen by my many fans?”

Life’s choices are tough sometimes.