2009 BMW 7 Series Long Term Road Test

2009 BMW 750i: Pedaling to Work

September 23, 2009


The 2009 BMW 750i is a great car to drive fast, so responsive and eager even compared to its rivals from Audi and Mercedes-Benz. If you're a big car guy, this is the big car to drive.

But it's a nightmare to pedal to work through commute traffic, so unspeakably bad that it makes even the clunkiest hybrid seem like a paragon of smooth sophistication.

Just as we've said before, the throttle tip-in is a mess, a combination of heavy effort, sluggish engagement and an over-aggressive follow through. If you're in bumper-to-bumper traffic and trying to use light throttle loads, you're always surging forward erratically while the throttle and the transmission try to figure out what's going on. We've all become accustomed to the car acting as if it wants to tag whatever happens to be in front of us.

The brake pedal adds to the confusion, because BMW builds a lot of brake rise in its pad material, so braking effect increases dramatically as the pads warm up. This is what you want if you're making a stop from high speed, because the pads compensate for the inevitable fade from overheating. But it is not what you want while in the commuter-hour accordion at 19 mph (the average speed on Los Angeles freeways during peak traffic congestion).

This is what happens when you can program the way the controls work. If there's money and budget to program for all the variations that you can encounter, things are fine. But if the BMW engineers never made it to Los Angeles or Chicago or New York, then things are very, very bad, because there's no way to allow the human computer to adapt to changing conditions with its own unique control solution.

It's true that the BMW 750i is always thinking. But when you're driving to work, you just want to make it stop.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor @ 16,800 miles

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