BMW's Luxury EV Sedan
Hot on the heels of the full-electric Mercedes-Benz EQS comes its natural rival from the other side of Germany: the BMW i7. Based on the all-new 7 Series, the i7 is available for pre-order now at a starting MSRP of $119,300 before federal, local, and regional incentives.
Unlike the EQS, the i7 looks very much like a traditional, three-box luxury sedan – but its conservative looks are deceiving, as they cloak some seriously interesting technology. It also sits alongside gasoline-powered versions of the new 7 Series, many of which feature different levels of electrification.
Range and Charging
The i7, available initially as a high-output all-wheel drive xDrive60 model, has an EPA-estimated range of 300 miles from its 101.7-kWh battery. The range figure is behind other luxury sedans such as the Tesla Model S (348 miles) and the Mercedes EQS580 (340 miles), but it does have the ability to DC fast-charge at up to 195 kW on a Level 3 charger. That means that, on the right kind of charger, the i7 can add up to 80 miles of range in just 10 minutes.
The flip side of the range equation is performance, which is impressive. The i7 xDrive60 can reach 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds, faster than the gas-powered 7 Series, despite carrying a lot of extra weight. Power output from the twin electric motors is rated at 536 hp – more than the 516-hp EQS580; torque is a robust 549 lb-ft. Top speed for the i7 is much higher than most electric EVs, with the capability of reaching 149 mph where roads and regulations allow.
One Platform for Gas and Electric
Unlike Mercedes’ approach with having different architectures for its flagship gasoline S-Class and electric EQS, the i7 shares its basic body, dimensions, and cabin with the all-new 7 Series, which is available in gasoline, mild hybrid, and plug-in hybrid variants.
Unlike its predecessors, the BMW 7 Series and i7 are available exclusively as a long-wheelbase model that maximizes space in the rear. There is now a choice of combustion engines, diesel, and plug-in hybrid, as well as the i7’s all-electric drive. The degree of diversity in the drive system portfolio is based on a newly-developed vehicle architecture which gives BMW the flexibility to adapt its products and offerings to different infrastructure factors and legal regulations around the world. Europe will initially only get the i7. In the USA, two models will be offered at market launch in addition to the all-electric version – each equipped with a petrol engine and 48-volt mild hybrid technology.
Plug-in hybrid versions of the new 7 Series will follow from the beginning of 2023. These will include the first BMW M model with a six-cylinder engine and plug-in hybrid drive. A top-of-the-line i7 M70 xDrive will be available in late 2023, and will have over 600 horsepower, 737 lb-ft of torque, and will be the most powerful BMW model ever available for road use.
Tech-Fest Interior with Theatre Screen
Being based on the new 7 Series, the i7 therefore shares the new car’s somewhat polarizing looks, but also its ultra-luxurious cabin and its full suite of high tech features.
We particularly like the interior’s continued use of BMW’s iDrive concept, which retains a rotary central controller in addition to having touch-screen interfaces – it’s simply easier to use on the road and reduces distraction. The iDrive controller operates a giant curved digital display spanning from the large instrument cluster to the central infotainment area; both have crystal-clear graphics and are intuitive to use. The driver gets a heads-up display with an augmented reality function for the first time. New to the i7 is the BMW “interaction bar,” which combines almost invisible air vents, interior lighting, and some physical controls while radically simplifying the interior design.
The i7’s back seat area is arguably even more impressive. Each rear door panel has a 5-5-inch touch screen for controlling virtually every function, including climate control and seat position.
And passengers in the rear are greeted by a unique entertainment offering in the form of the new BMW “theatre screen” – a 31.3-inch panoramic display in 32:9 format with 8K resolution which powers downwards from the roof and transforms the second row into an exclusive private cinema on wheels. The driver and front passenger can also use YouTube video-on-demand streaming on the control display for the first time. A 5G-compatible aerial system takes care of high-speed connectivity.
Deliveries Start Now
BMW is taking $1,500 online reservations for i7 build slots, expecting that demand for the electric version of the new 7 Series will outstrip what it is able to build. The first deliveries to customers are rolling out now.