Boasts at 660 Electric Horsepower: the BMW i7 M70
BMW is all-in on electric. A decade ago, the i3 city car was one of the first electric cars available from a premium German manufacturer, and in the last couple of years, it has launched the fully-electric iX3, i4, iX, and i7 – alongside a raft of plug-in hybrid models including the XM flagship crossover. Now, it’s introducing the i7 M70 xDrive – its most powerful electric car yet, with up to 660 hp, all-wheel drive, and every luxury feature you could imagine.
The “M” in the i7 M70’s name indicates it has been developed by BMW M, the company’s motorsport division, which has been transforming itself for electric mobility. It follows on the heels of the i4 M50 – M’s best-selling model worldwide in 2022 – and the iX M60. The success of electric propulsion among BMW enthusiasts is impressive, and highlights potential of electric technology to deliver performance that still excites performance-minded drivers.
The i7 M70 features BMW’s fifth-generation eDrive technology, which further improves power output as well as efficiency and charging capability. There are two highly integrated drive units – one at the front and one at the rear axle – which combine an electric motor, power electronics and transmission in a single, compact housing. The two motors use electrically-excited synchronous technology, and thus avoid the use of rare earth metals in their manufacturing.
It's the rear motor in particular that BMW says has been tuned to achieve unprecedented levels of power density. Using a six-phase design, which uses six excitation windings in the motor’s stator instead of the customary three, and a dual inverter, it is over 25 percent more power dense than the unit on the “standard” i7 xDrive60, and is currently BMW’s most powerful electric powerplant. BMW says the solution is lighter and more compact than using two motors at the rear axle to generate more power.
Fastest Accelerating and Charging Electric BMW
Along with the 258-hp front motor, the 489-hp rear motor create an all-wheel drive setup that produces a maximum of 748 lb-ft of torque in Sport mode and as much as 811 lb-ft when a boost function is activated. Despite weighing close to 6,000 pounds, BMW says the i7 M70 is capable of sprinting from 0 to 62 mph in an impressive 3.7 seconds and up to a top speed of 155 mph, making it the fastest electrically-powered BMW model. The boost function is activated by a paddle on the steering wheel and also engages performance graphics in the instrument cluster as well as sounds created by Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer.
With a long wheelbase and a huge cabin, the i7 M70 should also make for an excellent long-distance cruiser. Despite its size and blocky profile, BMW has worked hard to optimize its aerodynamics and included a wealth of measures for reducing power consumption. These include adaptive regeneration of braking energy and a heat pump to warm the cabin. The 101.7-kWh battery has impressive density, and BMW claims a range of between 303 and 348 miles o the European WLTP cycle; expect the EPA estimates to be slightly lower. On the charging front, the i7 M70 can charge on a Level 2 charger at an impressive 22 kW, while Level 3 DC power can be taken on board at up to 195 kW. On a suitably fast charger, just 10 minutes can add up to 106 miles of extra range. There’s also a “max range” mode that limits power and top speed to further bump range by 15 to 25 percent.
Being a BMW M product, drivers will want the i7 M70 to handle as well as go fast. The electric all-wheel drive system, the steering, the suspension, and the stability control systems have all been specifically tuned. The company claims exceptionally sporty handling for a vehicle in this class, as well as great comfort over long distances. Helped by the almost-silent drive system, passengers can enjoy sumptuous levels of comfort. Standard equipment includes adaptive air suspension with adjustable dampers and automatic self-levelling, active steering and roll stabilization, and additional structural bracing.
Packed with Technology
Like all 7 Series and i7 models, the i7 M70 is packed with innovative tech. Inside, an “interaction bar” pans the width of the cabin, integrating most of the vehicle’s controls, and also serving to enhance the ambiance. In the rear, an available “executive lounge” has an optimized reclining function to allow riders to lie almost flat, while there’s an optional gigantic theater screen and powerful Bowers & Wilkins sound system with speakers in the seats. Advanced systems for automated driving and parking are also included. The parking assistant can even be controlled remotely using the My BMW app, allowing customers to enter and exit tight parking spaces with greater ease.
The BMW i7 M70 xDrive is one of the brand’s first models to feature the latest Operating System 8.5, which has a newly-designed home screen with an improved menu structure. It also includes a broader offering of digital content, shorter update cycles, better information on charging locations, and more. Drivers access it through a massive curved screen that integrates the instrument cluster, infotainment, and climate controls.
Of course, the most controversial part of the i7 M70 may well be its looks. It is big, it is bold, and it is glitzy. While the standard sporty M details are present, with black accents on a number of components, you can also opt for gaudy two-tone paint, glowing grille surrounds, and more. At least the optional “frozen” matte paint finishes are made from biomass instead of crude oil – a nod to sustainability alongside the optional interior combinations which feature wool/cashmere seats.
How Green is the BMW i7 M70?
Can a vehicle this big, this powerful, and this ostentatious truly be considered a green car? On the one hand, its size, weight, and presence suggest it is about indulgence instead of altruism; on the other hand, if a customer wants a large, fast, powerful, and feature-packed luxury car, and is presented with an array of choices, at least the i7 M70 is one that produces zero local emissions and guzzles electrons instead of gasoline. Final pricing will be announced closer to its on-sale date later in 2023.