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Bob Ramsay Headshot

When Is A Car No Longer A Car?

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We are not car people. Our car is 7 years old and the only route it knows is from downtown Toronto north to Georgian Bay, which it faithfully plies most every weekend. Beyond that, it's clueless, and so are we.

So when a connected colleague said we could have a new BMW 750 to use for 48 hours, we gingerly said yes to an offer any car lover would kill for. After all, the 750 is the top of the line, the 'beast' of a BMW. It costs $120,000 and goes from zero to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, the time it takes to read this sentence.

What we learned from driving the 750 for two days is that it isn't really a car. It's an office-bedroom-spa- studio-on wheels. In fact, the 750 is so many things that the User's Manual is 310 pages long, and 10 of them are the Index.

The BMW people don't refer to the the back seat as "the back seat." They call it "The Lounge." Pretentious? No, an accurate reflection of reality.

Halfway to Barrie, my wife got in the back seat while I drove. She picked up the pad that let her swipe, click and change what was just a hyper-luxurious seat (which offers four levels of massage) into a .......well, with the tap on the screen, a computer table rose up out of nowhere, the right front seat moved forward while the back right seat she was in slid silkily back, a footrest also rose up, and .....voila! In 10 seconds, it had moved from being a lush office, with built-in WiFi and Blue Tooth, to being almost a bed, the kind you find not in business class flights, but in first class ones. She's still waiting for the pajamas to pop out somewhere.

There were many features I suspect all super-luxe cars have, from a sound system that would put a smile on Mick Jagger's lips, to seat belts that tightened to fit your body type, to an onboard map so accurate it put our navigational maps of Georgian Bay to shame.

Even better, the built-in screens behind both front seats allow both your children (or aides) to watch different movies or catch up on e-mail separately. It's functions like this that makes the 750 a car of choice for diplomats or people who don't drive, but who are driven.

But the 750 had a few things that I doubt any other car offers. The futurist Arthur C. Clarke, once said that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

That might explain how the 750 has a backup video with two screens: one that shows where your car is headed in reverse, basically from the driver's point of view, and a second screen that shows the car and its surroundings from 10 feet above the roof. How do they do that? Is there a drone flying permanently above the car? A satellite?

Or, you can push a button on your key and the car will drive itself the last 30 feet into your garage -- then out again. You can also program the interior lighting system to any of a dozen colour combinations, and you can buy the "Aroma Package" that ensures the interior of your 750 smells precisely as sweet as you insist it be.

Given this assault of technology and engineering and design and power and magic on my identify as a "no-car-guy", what do I really think of the BMW 750?

I really think it should be easy to get a mortgage for $120,000 on this very rare kind of ..... home.