BMW i7: electric limousine flagship makes its world debut
The fully electric i7 will be the first version of the seventh-generation 7 Series coming to the UK, with BMW’s answer to the Mercedes EQS offering 388 miles of range at a starting price of £107,400
BMW is a brand fully embracing electrification, and never has that been more clear than with the latest 7 Series flagship saloon. This time around, the luxury German saloon is only being offered in plug-in hybrid or fully electric form in the UK, with the zero-emissions BMW i7 the first version to arrive.
The i7 is the German marque’s response to the Mercedes EQS, Lucid Air and Tesla Model S, not to mention a rival for the Polestar 5 flagship GT that’s arriving in 2024. The BMW i7 xDrive60 – the only variant available from launch – gets a dual-motor powertrain producing 536bhp, and a range of 388 miles.
The visual differences between the i7 and the regular 7 Series are very subtle, namly the use of the BMW’s familiar ‘i blue’ accent trim to help distinguish the electric version. At the front, the i7 still features an enormous, illuminated pair of ‘kidney’ grilles and the ultra-slim split LED headlight design from the recently facelifted X7 SUV.
Range, charging and performance
At the time of 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 dual-motor setup – one motor on the front axle, and one on the rear – that produces a combined 536bhp and 745Nm of torque. Thanks to that amount of power, 0-62mph takes 4.7 seconds, while top speed stands at 149mph. If that’s not potent enough for you, an i7 M70 variant will join the range in 2023, potentially with over 650bhp on tap.
Under the i7’s floor you’ll find the electric saloon’s 101.7kWh battery, which is extremely thin at just 110mm. BMW also integrated heat pump technology into the car's heating and cooling systems for the cabin and powertrain to boost efficiency. As a result, the i7 has a range of up to 388 miles, but that is significantly less far than the Mercedes EQS or the Lucid Air can go on a charge.
The BMW i7 can also reach 195kW charging speeds, at which rate you could add 106 miles of range in just 10 minutes – so long as you’re plugged into a sufficiently fast rapid charger. The i7 allows for AC charging at up to 11kW, though fully replenishing the 101.7kWh battery from a regular 7.4kW wallbox should take close to 17 hours.
Both plug-in hybrid versions of the new 7 Series feature a six-cylinder engine coupled with an electric motor and eight-speed automatic transmission, plus all-wheel-drive. In the 750e xDrive this combination produces 486bhp and 700Nm of torque, while the M760e xDrive pumps out 563bhp and 800Nm of torque.
Performance figures for both have yet to be confirmed, but thanks to a 18.7kWh battery they get a 50-mile pure-electric driving range. The entry-level 750e xDrive returns 282.5mpg on the WLTP combined cycle, with CO2 emissions as low as 22g/km. The more potent M760e xDrive, meanwhile, gets a maximum fuel economy figure of 256.8mpg, and emits 25g/km of CO2.
Recharging the plug-in 7 Series’ battery from flat will take less than three hours from a wallbox charger, or roughly nine hours using a three-pin plug, 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 saloon. Behind the steering wheel, which is a new design for this model, is a 12.3-inch driver’s display paired with a 14.9-inch central touchscreen.
One new feature for the i7 and 7 Series is the ‘BMW Interaction Bar’ that stretches across the dash and onto the door cards. The surface is able to display different themes, as well as provide visual feedback for things like safety warnings and incoming calls.
But the bigger news is the rear entertainment setup. Opposed to an ordinary pair of touchscreens mounted to the front seat backs, the new 7 Series is available with a 31.3-inch 8K touchscreen display that BMW calls the theatre screen. The system has Amazon Fire TV built-in, and features Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system, touchscreen remotes in the door panels and a rear shade that automatically closes when the BMW Theatre Screen is turned on.
The display spans nearly the full width of the 7 Series’ cabin, and the screen itself folds away into the ceiling when not in use. To make it easier to operate the enormous 31.3-inch panel, its distance from the rear passengers can be adjusted to put it within arm’s 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 auto-levelling 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 go faster than 75mph in the i7, the ride height is automatically lowered by 10mm. For rougher roads or steep driveways, the car can raise itself by 20mm. Rear-wheel steering is another option available, which not only helps reduce the 7 Series’ turning circle, but can improve stability at higher speeds.
While it doesn’t feature any storage space under the bonnet like its Lucid or Tesla rivals, the i7 still gets 500 litres of boot space, which is the same amount as the BMW iX SUV. It’s also just 25 litres less than the plug-in hybrid 7 Series boasts; itself over 100 litres more than the previous generation car offered.
Prices and equipment
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 £111,900 M Sport version gets more aggressively-styled front and rear bumpers, plus an upgrade from 19 to 20-inch alloy wheels. However, prices for the various options offered on the i7 have yet to be revealed.
It’s also possible to spec an M Sport Pro package, which features 21-inch wheels, gloss black trim pieces, M-themed seat belt stitching and uprated brakes. The forthcoming M70 model is expected to use a different set of 21-inch wheels, tweaked bumpers and aero mirrors, similar to those found on the plug-in hybrid M760e.
There’s a range of five different colours for the standard-fit leather interior, or it can be switched for faux-leather ‘Veganza’ at no extra cost. Another option is to switch the interior trim to BMW Individual Merino leather with cashmere.
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