BMW i7 review

Taking a different approach to its Mercedes arch rival, BMW hits the nail on the head with the first electric 7 Series

Overall rating

4.5 out of 5

£113,970 - £147,870
Fuel Type:


  • Spacious rear cabin
  • Interior technology
  • Long range


  • Some gimmicky tech
  • Polarising looks
  • Expensive options
Car typeRangeWallbox charge timeRapid charge time
Electric367-388 miles16hrs 15mins (0-100%, 7.4kW)34 mins (10-80%, 195kW)

There are some absolute non-negotiables when it comes to luxury cars: they must be comfortable, spacious, filled with the latest technology and trimmed in the finest premium materials money can buy. They should also be powerful and good to drive, whilst remaining quiet and refined. Nowhere does it say they need to be pretty though; enter the latest BMW i7.

Whatever you think of the way the first electric 7 Series looks it certainly stands out. Plus, by sticking to the conventional three-box luxury limo body shape, the i7 retains the imperious rear cabin comfort that potential buyers would expect – something we found was severely lacking in the i7’s main rival, the Mercedes EQS.

There is loads of head and leg room for even the tallest adults, and the front passenger seat can even be pushed right forward for when you really want to stretch out. There is a rather chunky transmission tunnel running through the middle though, but that’s a consequence of the i7 sharing its underpinnings with the latest petrol and plug-in hybrid 7 Series.

As well as being spacious, the i7’s cabin is filled with the most cutting-edge tech in BMW’s arsenal, for those up front and in the rear. Using the latest iDrive 8 operating system, the i7 comes loaded with live features, plus all the usual smartphone connectivity. There’s automatic-opening and closing doors (more on those later), electrically-operated seats, a dual-screen infotainment setup for those up front and touch-sensitive controllers mounted to the rear doors. These can be used to operate everything from the window blinds to the four-zone climate control, as well as changing the radio station or media input. 

They also grant you access to the optional 8K Theatre Screen. The 31-inch display folding down from the roof is quite the spectacle, while the rear blinds automatically close to give you a more cinema-like experience. You can get content from most of the popular streaming services including Amazon Prime, Netflix and YouTube.

This is the i7’s party piece, without a doubt. But in reality there isn’t much in the way of adjustment, and it always feels like it’s set a little close for comfort. The graphics and the functionality is great, and the Bowers & Wilkins Diamond surround sound system is fantastic. But we’d prefer it if you could recline the seats further or position the screen more toward the driver or front-seat passenger – if only to create some distance between your eyes and the crystal-clear display. We’d liken it to sitting on the front row at a concert and craning your neck to get the best view.

Another issue is beyond BMW’s own demo videos, no content exists to fill the whole screen, so you have to watch most TV series and films with massive black bars on either side and both rear-seat passengers will need to turn their heads quite a bit to see the content properly.

Ultimately, a pair of smaller screens would have been a lot more usable, though admittedly a lot less impressive. But while the Theatre Screen is perhaps a bit of a gimmick, comfort levels in general aren’t to be sniffed at. The seats are plush, and quality – whether you’re sat in the front or the back – feels worthy of the £100,000–plus price tag.

The automatic doors on the other hand were a little hit and miss for us. You have to be standing in just the right place for them to work, and at one point our test car displayed an error message for the driver’s door saying the function was unavailable because of a sensor, which we suspect may have needed cleaning. We simply ended up using the conventional door handle; the suggestion of technology for technology’s sake comes to mind.

On the road, the i7 is quiet and it rides beautifully, even in M Sport trim like the one we drove, which sits on larger wheels to go with the sporty styling tweaks inside and out. The i7 isn’t totally exempt from wind and road noise – especially around the A-pillars – but electric power suits the car’s character well. Overall, an EQS is probably quieter, but the BMW beats it if you’re the kind of high-flying entrepreneur that prefers to drive than be driven.

There’s some pretty trick tech on board designed to ‘improve’ the driving experience, too. There’s active roll stabilisation, and if you select the Executive Drive Suspension option the car can combat body lean during fast cornering by bolstering the dampers on the outside edge – thus keeping the car level. It’s impressive, and works well with the four-wheel steering system. However, we can’t help but feel it’s of more use to those in the back than the front; it can feel quite unnatural at times. The softness of the damping and the air suspension deals with serious imperfections in the tarmac with minimal fuss.

None of this can take away from how inherently agile the i7 feels for a car that measures more than five metres long and weighs the best part of 2.7 tonnes. It’s very quick, too, with an ability to pick up speed in an instant, no matter how fast you’re already going. The 0-62mph sprint is dealt with in 4.7 seconds, and it’ll almost match its V8-engined 7 Series’ top speed; the i7 is pegged at 149mph.

We’ll also see a more potent i7 M70 variant join the line-up in 2023 that’s expected to produce over 650bhp, but this xDrive60 will be quick enough for most. You can also choose from a variety of sci-fi-like noises courtesy of film composer Hans Zimmer to accompany your bursts of acceleration, which suit the situation surprisingly well.

When it comes to range, BMW claims the i7 will do between 367 and 388 miles on a single charge of its 101.7kWh battery. That corresponds to efficiency of 3.6 and 3.8 miles per kWh, whereas we were seeing the i7 return a less-than-stellar 2.6mi/kWh across a mixture of UK roads although it probably didn’t help that we were testing it in the middle of a January cold snap. In warmer climates the i7 returned a more respectable 3.0mi/kWh, but in either case, a range of around 300 miles will probably be more achievable in normal driving.

BMW hasn’t opted for an 800-volt charging system like you’ll find on a Porsche Taycan. The engineers say the i7’s 400v set-up allows for a more consistent charge speed, meaning the saloon car can maintain its 195kW peak for longer. A 10-80% top-up is achievable in as little as 34 minutes, while charging at home from a standard home wallbox will take over 16 hours.

At launch there is just one i7 powertrain option on offer: the dual-motor xDrive60, with prices starting from over £110,000 – about £5k more than its EQS rival. Excellence trim comes with that curved infotainment display and four-zone climate control, a panoramic glass roof and LED lights all round. Customers can step up to M Sport spec for £4,500, adding a more dynamic look, plus M Sport brakes and an M Sport steering wheel.

As you’d expect there are plenty of option packs, including Excellence Pro and M Sport Pro kits, which bring everything you could possibly want including the 31-inch Theatre Screen setup. Prices are steep, however, adding between £19-22k depending on spec. 

But the Ultimate Pack takes the biscuit, priced at £28,000. Select this, and for more than the price of a new MG4 EV, your i7 comes fully loaded with the Theatre Screen, 21-inch alloy wheels, crystal headlights, reclining rear Lounge seating, a Bowers & Wilkins sound system, rear window blinds, rear-wheel steering, the Sky Lounge glass roof, numerous driver assistance systems, automatic doors and much more besides. 

The BMW i7 is the best luxury EV currently on sale, and some gimmicky tech aside, it’s among the best luxury cars money can buy. It moves the game on from BMW’s already excellent iX SUV, and trounces the sleek Mercedes EQS for rear-seat comfort. Its exceptionally comfortable ride, power and refinement help justify the high price tag, too. Just be grateful you can’t see that polarising front end from the driver’s seat.

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