BMW 750iL
The driver's view

The BMW 750iL weighs two tons, and is not a car to be taken lightly. You can jump into most cars and at least work out how to make them go and stop. Not this one. For a start, no one jumps into a 750iL; you enter slowly, then settle into the driver's armchair for a couple of hours' reading. The briefing comes in four volumes, plus two supplements. I will not bore you with Electronic Damping Control, Digital Sound Processor and more; but Park Distance Control, a bleeper which tells you that you are about to hit something, is worth a mention for the line in the handbook stating that "despite PDC, it rmains the driver's responsibility to detect obstructions and ensure that the car keeps clear of them". With all the kit, including manuals, it is amazing that this car weighs only two tons. What is it like to drive? Sensationally fast, smooth and quiet. But that's irrelevant. No one who buys a car like this sits in the front. The bloke with the peaked cap does the driving, and watches Neighbours on the dashboard TV while you are having lunch.

Stephen Wood

The expert's view

Should the bloke with the peaked cap be unavailable, you will just have to do the driving yourself. It will be a pleasant experience, for BMW has done a remarkable job in making this monster feel half its size. Huge cars are tricky beasts for a suspension system to control, but this one endows its charge with a fluidity not far removed from those of the little 3-series. Trouble is, the 750iL looks rather like a 3-series, too. Family resemblance is all very well, but a car this expensive should look more special. The five-speed automatic gearbox shifts smoothly, speeds the engine up automatically during downchange, and learns its driver's style as it goes (which dictates how often it changes gear); the V12 engine slurps fuel but is a paragon of frugality compared with a Bentley Turbo R. When driving this car, you are in awe of its competence and capabilities and intrigued by its technological toys, but not for long. Once the novelty has worn off and the BMW's ability is taken for granted, it comes across as a bit characterless.

John Simister

Bentley Turbo RL, pounds 150,672

By comparison, the BMW looks a bargain and handles rather better.

Daimler Double Six LWB, pounds 65,950

Newly lengthened, this loses some grace but remains delightfully homey, with similar pace to the BMW and a welcome lack of gimmicks.

Mercedes-Benz pounds 97,900

Another V12-engined car with a huge rear passenger space. Solidly built, but looks it, too. High price is hard to justify against the BMW and Daimler.

BMW 750iL pounds 69,450

Engine: 5379cc V12, 326bhp at 5000rpm.

Five-speed automatic gearbox, rear-wheel drive.

Top speed 155mph, 0-60 in 6.6 seconds.

Fuel consumption 12-22mpg.

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