There are five different drivetrains offered in the 2014 BMW 7-Series--740i, 750i, 760i, Active Hybrid 7, and Alpina B7. All have rear-wheel drive, but can be fitted with all-wheel drive.
The 740i/740Li sport BMW's latest twin-turbo inline-6. Rated at 315 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque, these models deliver ample acceleration that's smooth and linear. BMW quotes a 0-60 mph time of about 6 seconds, all we think you need in an executive-class sedan. The bonus: this 7er feels lighter at the controls, taking midrange passes in stride, or rocketing along back roads at the top of the rev range. The 6-cylinder puts 200 pounds less on the road, so steering and ride benefit, strongly.
The 750i/750iL cars stock twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8s with 445 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque. BMW drops a 4.7-second time for 0-60 mph runs. Go even heavier, even more powerful, and the 760Li uses its 537-hp twin-turbo V-12 to lurch to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds. It's not much quicker than the V-8s, since BMW really ladles on the luxury gear, tipping the scales at 4,800 pounds.
The most athletic 7er is the Alpina B7. Its V-8 gets a twin-turbo boost to 540 hp and 538 lb-ft; it also gets a stiffer suspension and bigger brakes, and BMW quotes its 0-60 mph time at 4.5 seconds.
On most models BMW sells an M Sport package. It has 19- or 20-inch wheels; Active Roll Stabilization; its own distinctive body add-ons; and a sport steering wheel. All-wheel drive can be fitted to most 6- and 8-cylinder cars. It deadens the already artificial steering but puts 20 percent of the torque to the front wheels, for improved traction.
The ActiveHybrid 7 joins the lineup this year. It pairs the 6-cylinder with electric motors and a lithium-ion battery. In other BMWs, this execution hasn't been much more efficient or quick, but we'll reserve impressions for a full drive.
Every 7er has an air suspension. BMW also grafts on Driving Dynamics Control, a drive-mode selector that tweaks steering weight, shift patterns, damper damping, all in the name of giving drivers a say in the car's setup. There's also an active-steering system that helps low-speed maneuvers, and disables at higher speeds to maintain excellent tracking. Ride quality isn't pillowy abd soft, not at all bouncy. It's well controlled, as firm as possible without cutting into comfort.
That said, electronics can overwhelm the 7-Series at times. Without them, it's impossible to conceive of how it would respond-as it does-like a smaller car. With them, the inevitable sacrifice is direct connection with the car's steering rack, its throttle, a fixed suspension setup. It's at the brink of turning the car's responses purely into algorithms.