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2009 BMW 750Li: After eight years, a proper looking stunner

Posted by Clifford Atiyeh  April 23, 2009 04:56 PM

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750Li-front-34.jpg(Clifford Atiyeh/Globe Photo)

Part 1

Eight years. That’s how long it’s been since I enjoyed staring at a 7 Series. Two generations ago, the squarish 740i Sport looked like the genuine flagship sedan it was in 2001: wide, hunkered-down, and imposing, what with that model’s 18-inch wheels and piercing xenon headlamps. It still looked fantastic four years earlier, when Pierce Brosnan manhandled the 12-cylinder 750iL with his cell phone – from the backseat – in the 1997 Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies.

The 2002 7 Series brought the movie theatrics to life with iDrive, the computer system that controlled radio, climate, navigation, and vehicle settings via a multi-directional console dial. Among automotive electronics, it was unprecedented in its technical sophistication. In the press, iDrive was hated for its needless complexity. Simple tasks, such as switching a radio station, became multi-step processes with steep learning curves. BMW didn’t care, and apparently, neither did its customers.

That model, which cracked the company’s conservative design language on its skull, was the best-selling 7 Series in BMW history. It was startling and unmistakable, but never handsome, even after the 2006 refresh when the bloated rear was slightly trimmed.

Save for the upright, flared kidney grills on the 2009 750Li - appropriate for the 7's big shot persona - each line on this new car kisses the next gracefully, instead of ending abruptly or getting interrupted by stray "surface flames," as the previous model's flared body creases were known. It's simple and elegant - more conservative, perhaps - yet not as staid as the Audi A8.

This is 17 feet, 4,640 pounds, and $107,320 of car. So underneath its refined exterior is a not-so-simple, tech-laden feast of excess, customization, and incredible performance. Luxury car buyers expect this treatment. Undeserving peons like myself are taken aback.

Open the vault-like driver's door, sink into the perforated, buttery-smooth leather on the 16-way massaging chair, and start searching for the door handle. It takes a few seconds to notice that bowing stretch of walnut does most of the trick. Most, that is, because electric motors seal the door shut even tighter, and should you close any of the Bimmer's four doors too softly, they'll tuck them in for you. No hip-checking required.

Check back on for more updates on our 2009 BMW 750Li.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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4 comments so far...
  1. Hey, I have an idea. Let's do an article on how the new BMW is a "delight for the eye" and have only one poorly composed and lighted photo that doesn't show any of the car's best features.
    Nice job, Cliff.

    Posted by Dan April 27, 09 08:15 AM
  1. ha ha ha! Good point Dan, more pics please! Additional pics of the 7 series through the years would be cool too....

    Posted by Tim April 27, 09 10:11 AM
  1. Touche Dan, well said.

    And the car has dirt on the lower side panel between the wheels. Did he go to his neighbors house and say "Hey, nice car, can I take a pic of it in your driveway?" Here's a though, clean the car first and put up more than 1 photo.

    Posted by JT April 27, 09 10:27 AM
  1. as to the review itself, I never thought the BMW 7 was nearly as ugly as everyone else did, even from 02-05. The hilarious part about people hating on Bangle and the designs BMW have come out with since 2000 or so, is that EVERY company from Honda to Audi mimics BMW & Benz designs. All companies borrow design elements from each other but some companies outright steal bmw & benz designs...and then they criticize the originals while lauding the copycats...just something I find laughable.

    Posted by FJ April 28, 09 03:22 PM

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Clifford Atiyeh is an automotive writer and car enthusiast . He has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own.
In the garage: 1995 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (by association)
Bill Griffith is a veteran Boston Globe reporter, having reviewed cars for more than 10 years and serving as assistant sports editor for 25 years. He was also the paper's sports media columnist.
In the garage: 2006 Subaru Baja
AAA's Car Doctor, John Paul John Paul is public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England, a certified mechanic, and a Globe columnist. He hosts a weekly radio show on WROL.
In the garage: Hyundai Sante Fe, Chrysler PT Cruiser convertible
Craig Fitzgerald has been writing about cars, motorcycles, and the automotive industry since 1999. He is the former editor of Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car.
In the garage: 1968 Buick Riviera, 1996 Buick Roadmaster, 1974 Honda CB450
Keith Griffin is president of the New England Motor Press Association and edits the used car section on He also writes for the Hartford Business Journal and various weekly newspapers in Connecticut.
In the garage: Mazda 5, Dodge Neon
George Kennedy is a senior writer for WheelsTV in Acton, which produces video reviews for Yahoo, MSN, and other auto websites.
In the garage: Lifted 1999 Jeep Cherokee
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