BMW 7-series Active Hybrid 7 2009, How very BMW. The new ActiveHybrid 7 – Munich's name for its petrol-electric hybrid 7-series – is very much lodged at the top of the Seven family tree. Not for BMW to launch a sackcloth and sandals 7-series hybrid; this one sports a 4.4-litre V8, not one but two turbochargers and a 0-60mph sprint claim to worry many Porsches.
We lost count of the number of times BM execs stood up at the press conference and talked about 'driving pleasure' and 'performance'. This paints a clear backdrop to the ActiveHybrid 7's intent. Yes, CO2 and economy are better by nearly a fifth over the regular 750i donor, but they're hardly going to win you honorary membership of Greenpeace at 219g/km and 30.1mpg.
So the BMW ActiveHybrid 7 is dirtier than a 730d or 740d?
Err, yes. But a diesel 7-series wouldn't see which way the hybrid Seven went in a drag race. Thanks to a compact electric motor built into the ZF eight-speed auto transmission, new ActiveHybrid 7 is relentlessly torquey and feels every second as fast as its sub-5.0 second sprint credentials suggest.
The electric motor is rated at 15kW or 19bhp – relatively small fry in the new world order of battery cars. But this is a mild hybrid, don't forget. Unlike the fully hybridised X6 ActiveHybrid, the 7-series isn't required to lug its substantial 2120kg girth on electric motion alone. It's more about tuning the drivetrain for ballistic thrust while still giving a nod to those demanding green emissions.
And why exactly is the ActiveHybrid 7 clean?
The engineers have tuned this car to shift up into top – eighth gear – at the earliest possible opportunity. You can barely hear the V8 most of the time until you acquaint pedal with bulkhead. The electronics then feed in battery power to create a tsunami of 516lb ft all the way from 2000-4500rpm.
Boy do you feel this on the road. There you are surfing along on a surfeit of torque, wafting past slower-moving traffic in refined peace. Kickdown and you're thrust back into your comfy 7-series seats in shocked awe. It's epically fast. My only gripe is that you never feel the full hybrid 'halo' effect of silent motion – a shortcoming shared by any mild hybrid.
At least the petrol engine cuts out at a standstill, saving petrol and allowing you a smug glow as you sit in saintly silence at traffic lights.