2010 BMW 7 Series
I had been driving the 750Li for less than 10 minutes and had already broken the law-the physics kind and civil variety. There's no way something this big and posh can be so fast and nimble. But it is.
Welcome to the new BMW 750Li, a car seemingly hell-bent on proving it's a proper sportscar, and then some.
Funny thing is, I never expected this much performance from the 7. Big cars aren't supposed to behave like their smaller siblings. I guess BMW didn't get that memo. I did expect high levels of comfort, something, an area the 7 excels. This is a car bred for long distance driving. Moreover, it's loaded with features bordering on science fiction, stuff like BMW Night Vision, heads-up display, active cruise control, adaptive headlights, lane change warning, lane departure warning. You'd think something with this much state-of-the-art technology would be happy just to roll. I guess BMW wants it to rock as well.
With its 121-inch wheelbase the 7 is quite possibly the smoothest car in der weld, the epitome of a grand touring machine. I've never driven a vehicle that instilled such confidence at speed. Throw this 4740-lb thing through a corner and it has every intention of holding the line. Or chuck the tail out as its twin-turbo V8 and its 442 lb-ft of twist are eager to break the tires loose.
There's something wonderfully decadent about the 7 Series, like being captain of an Imperial Starship.
Out of the way, rebel scum.
From The Hip
Superb performance dynamics
Excellent rear seating
2010 BMW 750Li xDrive
Longitudinal front engine, all-wheel drive
4.4-liter V8, 32-valves, dual-turbo, direct injection
Peak Power: 407 hp @ 5500 rpm
Peak Torque: 442 lb-ft @ 1750 rpm
0-60 mph: 5 sec.
Top Speed: 155 mph (limited)
Fuel Economy: 16 city/ 21 hwy
Price as tested: $94,500
2010 BMW 1 Series
There were some grumblings when the new 1 Series US pricing was first announced. Longtime ec staff, I'm looking in your direction. Less car for a price not far from a 3 Series. Why not just go for the 3, they argued. I fell in love with this car, and when I think about why, it's precisely because there is less of it. Shorter top-to-bottom and front-to-back, narrower, lighter, nimbler. Fewer cabin amenities-distractions, really. Smaller power output, yes, but that never really seemed an issue. In fact, we agreed that the 230 hp from the 3-liter, naturally aspirated inline six was more than enough power. The twin-turbo'd straight six of the 135i would seem an excess, but perversely fun nonetheless.
And the gearbox. Oh the gearbox. Such a marriage of driver to automobile is a thing of beauty, especially considering that the 1 Series is the "low rung" of the BMW ladder . Slinging through gears is beautiful, tempered only by a desire to take every gear to the highest revs possible. The 128i performed best when pushed, and in a car this sprightly, it's hard to resist.
Though I wouldn't normally opt for a convertible, the 128i's soft-top still managed to impress. Cabin noise was minimal with the top up, and cruising in the open air wasn't the onslaught of turbulence found in some open-top rides.
Word is that the 1 Series is BMW's more accessible, entry-level offering. But the drive certainly doesn't feel entry-level. It feels practiced, refined. And though the cost may not be entry-level either, it's a small price to pay for BMW distilled to its essence.
From The Hip
A bit pricey, cramped back seat
2010 BMW 128i Convertible
Longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive
3.0-liter V6, 24-valves
Peak Power: 230 hp @ 6500 rpm
Peak Torque: 200 lb-ft @ 2750 rpm
0-60 mph: 6.4 sec.
Top Speed: 131 mph (limited)
Fuel Economy: 18 city/ 28 hwy
Price as tested: $37,575