The people at BMW’s storied M division – that’s M for Motorsport – probably never imagined that one day the “M” badge would be affixed to a top-line luxury sedan.

After all, the division’s task, when it was founded in 1972 with only eight employees, was to modify engines, suspensions and aerodynamics, and build a successful racing program. Kudos to its successes, including the E30, M1 and M3, and the 3.0 CSL, which dominated European touring races for years.

So what business does the 760xi have wearing the M badge? Well, it may not be track-qualified like the M4 but, with a V-12 and 601 horses under the hood, it has the right stuff to wear the badge. The 760xi was the first 7-Series car to don it at last year’s introduction, and it returns for 2018 with some tweaks and the same growl and get-up.

Hit the accelerator and watch the front end lift up like a thoroughbred lurching forward. The 6.6-liter twin-turbo V-12, with 590 pound-feet of torque, darts to 60 mph in a mere 3.6 seconds. That’s amazing for a 5,000-pound luxury car. Regulating the speed is an ultra-smooth 8-speed transmission that whips through the gears so swiftly it becomes an afterthought.

But what about handling and agility? Surely this long-wheelbase beast can’t get out of its own way on corners. Well, the 760xi is equipped with an all-wheel-drive system BMW calls xDrive, and, surprisingly, it remains nicely poised on twisty roads and corners.

BMW kept the weight to a minimum using layered aluminum and carbon fiber in the body structure, but with a V-12 engine it’s still front-heavy with a weight distribution of 54-46.

Driving modes include Comfort, Sport, Eco-Pro and, best of all, Adaptive, which adjusts air suspension, power steering and transmission to your driving style and the road conditions. Add the Autobahn package for even more precision: Active Comfort Drive with Road Preview uses cameras to survey the road ahead and make necessary adjustments.

Around town, the big fella can park itself. And, with remote parking, you can even step out of the car, touch the mini-screen on the key fob and watch the car squeeze itself into a tight space.

Plenty of gizmos inside, too. BMW introduced the world’s first “gesture control” (five gestures can be programmed) for its infotainment system: Swirl or swipe a finger at the screen to answer a phone call or adjust radio volume.

In the rear, passengers can control the entertainment (including headrest-mounted screens), climate, navigation and seats via a removable 7-inch tablet on the center console. Wide seats recline, massage and even have a flip-down footrest.

Not surprisingly for a high-end car, the 760xi comes with tons of standard stuff, like ventilated Nappa leather seats with 20-way adjustment, navigation with 10.2-inch high-res touchscreen, panoramic sunroof, soft-close doors and power trunk lid that can be opened with the swipe of a foot. A Harman Kardon system delivers 1,400 watts of surround-sound through 16 speakers.

Advanced technology extends to safety packages, including adaptive cruise control with stop and go function, frontal collision and pedestrian warnings, lane departure warning and intervention, night vision aids, traffic-jam assist and 3D surround-view cameras.

If you expect to pay a fortune (MSRP: $153,800; as tested, $171,895) for all this technology and luxury, you’re not wrong. But the edgy performance that the M brings to the table certainly will make the deal more palatable.

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