2009 BMW 7 Series Long Term Road Test


2009 BMW 750i: Steering Feel that's NOT BMW-like

March 11, 2010

BMW 750i Steering Wheel.jpg

These days I feel the need to preface all BMW 750i posts with a "No, I didn't get a flat tire" disclaimer. With that out of the way I can talk about a possibly related issue: poor steering feel/response.

I haven't been a fan of BMW's variable steering since I first experienced it on the current-generation 5 Series five years ago. The idea of trading in consistent steering response just so you don't have to turn the wheel as far at low speeds seems like a bad investment, though I suppose one could argue the average 7 Series buyer would happily make that trade.

But there's more to my issue with the 7 Series' steering than just its variable component.

Starting with my first stint behind the wheel after we acquired the 750i I felt like the steering was somehow "off." It's not easy to describe, but both the weighting and the initial turn-in didn't have the trademark BMW confidence I've come to expect. My first assumption: That's variable steering for you.

With every subsequent drive of the 7 Series the steering seemed a little more "un-BMW-like" than my previous trip. The last time I drove it there was an undeniable wobble in the wheel at high speed. This was between flat tire incidents, but it still felt like a wheel imbalance or tire bubble so I had Stokes do their best to fix it (which didn't fully eliminate the issue).

Then, when I was driving it in today, I felt an undeniable resistance just off-center as I made a right turn. At first I thought the variable steering had sent me into the curb and smashed the wheel/tire (even though I had plenty of room between the wheel and curb). But when I got out and inspected it everything looked fine. That means the resistance came from the car's steering system itself, not an outside impediment.

After some reflection it occurred to me the car might simply be low on power-steering fluid, though no warning lights have indicated such. Or maybe it's this rash of flat tires that have taken a toll on the alignment settings. That would explain the reduced feel and confidence, but not the weird resistance I felt this morning.

Regardless, if I'm looking for BMW steering feel I now grab the M3's keys.

Karl Brauer, Edmunds.com Editor in Chief at 27,340 miles

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