BMW is a brand that fully embraces electrification, and that’s never been clearer than with the latest flagship 7 Series sedan. This time around, the German luxury sedan is only offered in hybrid form. plug-in or fully electric in the UK, with the zero-emission BMW i7 being the first version to arrive.
The i7 is the German brand’s answer to the Mercedes EQS, Lucid Air and Tesla Model S, not to mention a rival for the Polestar 5 flagship GT which will arrive in 2024. The BMW i7 xDrive60 – the only variant available from the launch – gets a dual-powertrain producing 536 hp and a range of 388 miles.
The visual differences between the i7 and the regular 7 Series are very subtle, namely the use of BMW’s familiar ‘i blue’ accent trim to help distinguish the electric version. Up front, the i7 still features a huge pair of illuminated “kidney” grilles and the ultra-thin split-LED headlight design of the newly facelifted X7 SUV.
Autonomy, charge and performance
As of this writing, BMW has only revealed details of one i7 variant: the i7 xDrive60, which we recently got to drive in prototype form. It uses a twin-motor setup – one motor on the front axle and one on the rear – which produces a combined torque of 536hp and 745Nm. Thanks to this amount of power, 0-100km/h takes 4 .7 seconds, while the top speed is 230 km/h. If that’s not powerful enough for you, an i7 M70 variant will join the lineup in 2023, potentially with over 650hp at your disposal.
Beneath the i7’s floor you’ll find the electric saloon’s 101.7kWh battery, which is extremely thin at just 110mm. BMW has also incorporated heat pump technology into the car’s heating and cooling systems for the cabin and powertrain to increase efficiency. As a result, the i7 has a range of up to 388 miles, but that’s significantly less than the Mercedes EQS or Lucid Air can go on a charge.
The BMW i7 can also hit charging speeds of 195kW, to which you can add 106 miles of range in just 10 minutes – as long as you’re plugged into a fast enough fast charger. The i7 allows AC charging up to 11kW, although fully recharging the 101.7kWh battery from a standard 7.4kW wall box should take nearly 17 hours.
Both plug-in hybrid versions of the new 7 Series feature a six-cylinder engine mated to an electric motor and an eight-speed automatic transmission, as well as all-wheel drive. In the 750e xDrive, this combination produces 486 hp and 700 Nm of torque, while the M760e xDrive produces 563 hp and 800 Nm of torque.
Performance figures for both are yet to be confirmed, but thanks to an 18.7kWh battery they boast a purely electric driving range of 50 miles. The entry-level 750e xDrive returns 282.5mpg on the WLTP combined cycle, with CO2 emissions as low as 22g/km. The more powerful M760e xDrive, meanwhile, gets a maximum fuel economy of 256.8 mpg and emits 25g/km of CO2.
Recharging the flat-pluggable 7 Series battery will take less than three hours from a wall box charger, or about nine hours from a three-prong outlet, according to BMW.
Interior and technology
The BMW i7 and new 7 Series get the same curved, dual-screen infotainment setup as the iX and X7 luxury SUVs and the i4 sedan. Behind the steering wheel, which is a new design for this model, is a 12.3-inch driver display paired with a 14.9-inch center touchscreen.
A new feature for the i7 and 7 series is the “BMW interaction bar” which spans the dashboard and door cards. The surface is capable of displaying different themes, as well as providing visual feedback for things like security warnings and incoming calls.
But the biggest news is the rear entertainment setup. Unlike a regular pair of touchscreens mounted on the front seatbacks, the new 7 Series is available with a 31.3-inch 8K touchscreen that BMW calls the Cinema Screen. The system incorporates Amazon Fire TV and includes a Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system, touchscreen remote controls in the door panels and a rear blind that closes automatically when the BMW cinema screen is turned on.
The screen spans almost the full width of the 7 Series cab and the screen itself folds into the ceiling when not in use. To make the huge 31.3-inch panel easier to use, its distance from rear passengers can be adjusted to put it within easy reach or find the best viewing angle. You can also connect Bluetooth headphones to the system if you wish. Another optional extra offered in the new 7 Series is a Bowers & Wilkins “Diamond Surround Sound System” consisting of 36 speakers with a total output of nearly 2,000 watts.
As standard, the i7 gets adaptive air suspension with automatic leveling functionality, and BMW says this gives it the ability to maintain the optimum ride height at all speeds. For example, if you select Sport mode or drive over 75mph in the i7, the ride height is automatically lowered by 10mm. For rougher roads or steep driveways, the car can raise 20mm. Rear-wheel steering is another available option, which not only helps reduce the turning radius of the 7 Series, but can also improve stability at higher speeds.
Although it doesn’t have any underhood storage like rivals Lucid or Tesla, the i7 still has 500 liters of boot space, the same amount as the BMW iX SUV. It’s also just 25 liters less than the 7 Series plug-in hybrid; itself more than 100 liters more than the previous generation car offered.
Rates and equipment
The BMW i7 xDrive60 starts from £108,305, which is on par with its main rivals the Mercedes EQS and Tesla Model S.
Like the regular 7 Series, the BMW i7 will be offered in long-wheelbase form and with a choice of two trim levels: Excellence and M Sport. The £112,805 M Sport version comes with more aggressively styled front and rear bumpers, plus an upgrade to 19-21-inch alloy wheels. Among the long list of extra options are the 31.3-inch cinema screen setup (£4,000), crystal headlights (£1,800) and plenty of option packs up to £10,000.
It’s also possible to spec an M Sport Pro package, which includes 21-inch wheels, gloss black trim, M-themed seatbelt stitching and upgraded brakes. The next M70 model is expected to use a different set of 21-inch wheels, modified bumpers and aerodynamic mirrors, similar to those found on the M760e plug-in hybrid.
There is a range of five different colors for the standard leather interior, or it can be replaced with ‘Veganza’ leatherette at no extra cost. Another option is to replace the interior trim with BMW Individual Merino Leather with Cashmere.