For decades the BMW 7 Series has become synonymous with a luxury, upmarket feel, and has also become known as the technology powerhouse that goes on to inspire future BMWs.
Luxury has evolved with time, though, and it’s why BMW is launching its new 7 Series as the electric i7, though plug-in hybrid versions of this saloon will follow. It’s a hugely important model in BMW’s history, and the German firm has pulled out all the stops.
It’s got one of the brand’s boldest designs yet, while the cabin is truly brimmed with technology, from its displays to an optional 31-inch cinema screen for rear passengers. But against rivals like the Mercedes EQS, is it good enough?
The new i7 shares a lot of the powertrain technology already seen on the fantastic iX SUV, and at launch, there’s only a single model available, known as the ‘xDrive60’.
It boasts two electric motors that produce 537bhp and 745Nm of torque, while also packing a huge 101.7kWh usable battery, which is one of the largest of any EV available to date.
Accelerating from 0-60mph takes 4.5 seconds, with the i7 able to carry on to a top speed of 149mph. But the range is the real highlight, with BMW claiming between 367-388 miles on a full charge, one of the longest of any EV, if a bit behind the 453 miles that Mercedes claims with its EQS. In terms of charging, the i7 can handle a rate of up to 195kW, theoretically allowing a 10 to 80 per cent charge to take place in just 34 minutes.
Ride and handling
On the road, the i7 is impressively smooth and powerful, with the experience being enhanced by the electric soundtrack engineered by legendary German composer Hans Zimmer.
It’s every bit as comfortable as you’d cope a luxury car to be, and the refinement and quietness of the i7 only adds to the experience. Active steering and suspension help the car to avoid feeling wallowy.
Though not currently available to be used in the UK due to our laws, in countries that allow it, the i7 is geared up for autonomous driving on the motorway, while it can ‘remember’ parking spaces, and can autonomously do it for you with minimal fuss.
The interior is perhaps the most important part of a luxury car, and the i7 most certainly doesn’t disappoint. A lot of thought has gone into the incredible displays in this BMW’s cabin, while the quality throughout is sensational.
But it’s the rear that is the real highlight of the i7, particularly when the optional rear-seat packages have been selected. There’s the aforementioned 31-inch screen for the passengers in the back, which emerges from the roof lining and offers stunning 8K quality and a 5G internet connection so it’s able to broadcast your favourite shows and channels thanks to an in-built Amazon Fire Stick. It’s very much a USP for the i7.
There are two trim levels available on the i7 – Excellence and M Sport – and standard equipment is unsurprisingly very generous.
It includes a superb Bowers & Wilkins sound system, along with soft-closing doors, 19-inch alloy wheels, a large 14.9-inch touchscreen and 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.
The M Sport model brings larger 20-inch alloy wheels and a generally more aggressive-looking bodykit.
As BMW’s flagship electric car, the i7 most certainly isn’t cheap, with the range starting from £110,545, or £115,045 if you want the M Sport model.
But the option list is equally extensive, as well as expensive. If you want a two-tone paint finish, that will cost more than £10,000, while the ‘Executive Pack’, including reclining rear seats and the fancy cinema screen comes in at another £10,000. It’s very easy to end up with a £150,000 i7 with a few option boxes ticked.
As a look at the future of luxury cars, the BMW i7 is a hugely exciting choice. Its mix of comfort, refinement and pace is brilliant for this executive class of car, and whether you’re in the front or sitting in the rear, it’s a superb way to travel.
Though it doesn’t come cheap, the i7’s long range and array of technology make it a standout choice in the luxury car segment.