BMW took a huge risk by fully transforming the new 7-Series. The model has been the brand’s flagship model for almost five decades and the new G70 variant is more radical than ever. From its extravagant looks, through its posh interior and all the way to the first ever fully electric powertrain - the new 7-Series elevates luxury to a whole new level. So has this risk paid off for BMW?
Today we are testing the fully electric version of the new 7-Series, called the i7 xDrive60. Our test car is filled with optional extras that alone cost about 60% of the price of a base i7. And they may well be worth as these extras are the ones that distinguish it from other luxury models and make for the truly unique luxury experience the i7 is known for.
BMW has borrowed a lot of knowledge from Rolls-Royce and trickled it down to a more affordable vehicle in the face of the 7-Series. It aims to combine the latest and greatest in terms of technology and user experience, while also providing superior driving comfort, much better than the competition. This task is further complicated by BMW’s decision to offer the new 7-Series with a bunch of different powertrains. Diesel, petrol, plug-in hybrid or fully electric - you can have it all on the same car. So has BMW managed this seemingly impossible task of creating the ultimate luxury vehicle?
A major topic of discussion regarding the new 7-Series is its design. Gone are the days of soft edges, beautiful curves and characteristic BMW features in its big sedans. The new i7 is a radical departure from all norms and traditions for the styling of the bavarians. Now the design is based on overstyled elements, grotesque grilles and brutal presence. It is definitely not everybody’s cup of tea, but is truly imposing and definately a conversation starter.
The front end of the i7 is massive and very tall, with many angles and curves. It is very stately and is reminiscent of Rolls-Royce models in its sheer size and presence. There is a lot going on design wise, since many elements and features are scattered all throughout the face of the i7, making it look busy and almost unfinished.
The front is characterized by the monstrously huge “kidney” grilles, which are further exaggerated by the very thin headlight units, which make the grilles pop out even more. The fact that the outline of the kidney grille lights up during the night makes sure you will not go unnoticed by anybody. This feature can be turned off, thankfully.
The front lights themselves are a piece of art, particularly these optional Iconic Glow headlights that have Swarovski crystals inside and have a special glare when you turn them on. The optional laser high beams work amazingly and can make even the darkest nights as bright as day. Choosing to integrate them in a separate unit from the running lights makes it look like the car is sad and crying.
The side view makes the i7 appear the most traditional and normal. The signature Hofmeister kink has been transferred into the newest generation as well, which makes the car recognizable as a BMW even without badging. The giant 21-inch wheels look subdued due to the massive wheel arches above them but also thanks to the sheer size of the vehicle. The i7 measures at a whopping 212.2 inches of length and 60.63 inches of height, dwarfing all of its competitors.
The door handles are interesting since they are rather an electrical door popper button. But, of course, if you opt for the optional automatic doors, you can press on another button near the door handle, which automatically opens the door all the way. Then, it can also be closed automatically from the inside with another button. It is a feature, which was traditionally reserved for Rolls-Royce models, but BMW has now trickled it down to the i7.
This option makes the whole car feel so upmarket and we definitely recommend you opt for it as it makes you feel truly special every time you get into the vehicle. In contrast the option to open all doors simultaneously seems like a total gimmick, rarely serving any purpose beyond being a cool party trick.
The rear of the i7 is a mix of different styles and design languages that combine for a very polarizing look. The taillights are big and elegant, with curvy lines and distinctive lights. However, they look very out of place in a rear that is otherwise very edgy and simple. Between the giant BMW logo and the license plate holder there is a large flat surface, featuring only the trunk release button, which makes the whole rear end design look disproportionate.
On the inside the i7 is a masterclass in luxury and offers one of the greatest and most modern interior layouts in the whole industry. The quality of the materials is superb, the fit has surgical precision, while the technology is on the peak of what is possible today.
As soon as you get inside you are welcomed into a world of excess. The floor mats are thick and plush, and so amazingly soft they almost invite you to be barefoot all the time.
The interior in our test model was finished in an combination of Merino leather, wool and cashmere, which costs a hefty premium but also delivered an unrivaled sense of luxury. Strangely enough, the headrests move only up and down and not front and back, which is a big oversight in a luxury sedan. There's also the fact that the seats look too much like they are base model plush ones, until you sit inside and experience the difference that is.
Offering a driver’s car is what BMW always strives to do and the new 7-Series still offers great driver focus. The steering wheel is small and thick, with nice leather finish and multiple controls for the infotainment and the gauge cluster. Prior BMW models lacked here and didn’t offer many customization options, but now the whole gauge screen can be programmed and set to show all kinds of information to as per the driver’s preferences.
The center screen of the i7 is slightly tilted and curved towards the driver. With its impressive 14.9-inch size it offers great usability. It features a touchscreen, but if you don’t want fingerprints all over it you can use the beautiful crystal dial in the center console to operate it too.
Talking about the center console, it combines the traditional BMW layout from recent generations, but feels very upscale and premium, thanks to the amazing material choice. The starter button, iDrive dial and the volume knob are all made of clear crystals that look and feel special, while the rest of the console is made of a glass-like surface with chrome outlining. The only downside is that the black polished surface attracts a lot of dust and fingerprints.
In front of the console there are 2 separate cup holders with individual covers, which add to the poshness and excess of the interior.
There is also a small storage space with wireless charging in their vicinity, but as usual with charging pads in cars, it provides slow charging and mostly heats up the phone.
An unusual decision in the interior is the presence of a giant light bar that spreads across the entire front starting from one door and going all the way to the other, all at the level of the steering wheel. On the doors it integrates the seating controls, while on the center section below the infotainment it contains some climate controls, the glove box opener and the hazard lights. The whole panel lights up in different colors and is made of crystal glass giving the i7 a very unique vibe.
Mentioning the hazard lights we have to say making their button a touch-sensitive one with almost no haptic feedback has to be one of the worst decisions in the entire industry. After all it operates a feature that should warn others in traffic about a potential emergency and we had trouble pressing it precisely a few times during our test, which is unacceptable and borderline dangerous. When you eventually get the hazard lights to work the whole panel flashes red, which is an eye-sore, especially at night.
Now comes the time to discuss the rear seats, which offer more experiences than just about any other passenger vehicle out there. As we previously mentioned, our test vehicle came equipped with a lot of optional extras, one of which was the Executive Lounge package. It is a pricey option, which adds heated, cooled, massaged and reclining back seats with a center lounge console and the industry-first 31.3-inch TV screen for the rear passengers.
So riding in the back turns into an amazing experience - you can recline your seat, fold the front passenger one all the way and comfortably rest and lay down while watching something on the giant TV. All this is possible with the press of 2 buttons - one folds down the seat, while the other adjusts the seats.
The buttons to control the seats, monitor and all other features of the vehicle are on the door on both sides. The 5.5-inch touchscreen displays control for a vast array of functions, but the placement of the screens is not the most ergonomically optimal. You have to significantly tilt your head while sitting and your arm should be placed on the door in order to access the controls. This may prove especially uncomfortable for people whose dominant hand is the one away from the door.
Another significant problem with the rear seat entertainment is the fact that if the driver and/or the passenger are taller and have their seat back, the big theater screen cannot unfold. This is oversight that could force tall chauffeurs to sit in a less than ideal position if the passengers are to get the proper luxury experience.
On the upside the i7 is great for tall people as it provides excessive amounts of space. Our 1.95 m (6ft4in) tall reviewer fits effortlessly both around back and in the front seat with plenty of headroom and legroom left.
The storage of the i7 is okay for a big sedan. The trunk space is 17.7 ft³, which is 1.77 ft³ less than the petrol versions of the 7-Series and 0.88 ft³ less than the plug-in hybrid ones. There is also a small storage space below the main trunk floor and a ski pass-through, but the seats don’t fold at all. BMW firmly believes nobody uses a frunk (front trunk) and therefore none of its models have one, including the i7. We'd disagree though - it would’ve been a good addition for some extra storage.
Driving the i7 can be one of a number of different experiences depending on the drive mode you select. It is important to note that no matter the mode, you are always driving in absolute silence and feel as if you are in a cocoon gliding over the road surface. The insulation is so good that it blocked the satellite connection of our Racebox measuring device.
The i7 it is set to be in comfort mode as a default, which is a nice and balanced setting for daily use that most people would probably stick to. It delivers power smoothly without being too aggressive or too sluggish. The damping is soft and the steering is vague, which is just about expected for daily usage of a big luxury sedan.
On the other hand, if you want the ultimate chauffeur driven experience, the efficient mode takes things up a notch. It cuts power significantly to eliminate the risk of sudden hard accelerations, the steering becomes even lighter. Combine that with the softest suspension setting and potentially turning on theater mode and you got the recipe for the most relaxed transportation.
If you want to be a little sportier and go quicker around some backroads you select sport and the vehicle becomes as alive as a behemoth of its calibre can get. The i7 steering becomes sharper, although it still carries on some vagueness. The gas pedal becomes way more responsive too and the 544 hp start counting. It is nowhere near a proper sports car, but has enough spirit to put a big smile on your face.
Another unique option the i7 offers are the two art modes, which don’t correlate to the ride, but to the atmosphere inside the vehicle. You get moder art displayed on all the screens inside the vehicle, and extended to all the lighting. The temperature, massage and scents inside are also changed to make for a truly immersive experience.
If you want the i7 to drive itself while you enjoy the luxury of the interior, you can freely do that on the highway, but you still need to pay attention to traffic. The i7 has all kinds of assistants and helpers, which make the ride as easy as possible.
Technology is put on a pedestal in the i7, designers cramming as many high tech features as they could think of inside the cabin.
The gauge cluster is fully digital and can show all kinds of data,. You can change the graphic on the speedometer, choose what kind of car information to be shown, if you want a simplistic readout or if you want the whole gauge cluster to be a map - you can have it all.
An amazing addition to the gauge cluster is the virtual camera navigation assistant, which portrays an image from the front camera and layers exact instructions where you need to turn or make an exit, so that you never misunderstand what your GPS instructions are. It shows them in real life and makes driving much easier and simpler.
The center screen uses BMW iDrive8, which works mostly great except for some small issues. Since we had the i7 on a hot summer day with 97°F outside it once overheated and stopped working and also Apple CarPlay refused to work for most of the time we had the car, even though it never displayed an actual error to let un know something was wrong. Not huge issues perhaps, but they certainly make us question the reliability you can expect in the long term usage. Beyond that the system is very quick and responsive and offers a huge number of options and settings.
Some of the most notable ones include the automated features, which will remember your habits and prepare for them in advance. You can prepare the battery pack for charging or even use the i7 as a personal assistant. You can also enjoy different online features like YouTube, internet browser or Amazon Fire TV.
The rear seat occupant gets a wide variety of live-enahcing features too. The rear door displays can control the rear seat entertainment but also show information from the front and you can even input navigation destinations from the rear.
Naturally, you can control the theater screen from the back. You can either use Amazon Fire TV or the HDMI port to connect your devices, which is really convenient. A slight oversight is the lack of full-sized outlets in the back, which makes plugging in a Playstation or some TV box impossible. Rivals like the Audi A8 have had outlets like this for more than a decade at this point.
The big 31.3-inch screen is also too close to the eyes of the rear passengers and you have to look at it from an angle all the time. The option to split it in half works much better, but defeats the whole purpose of such a huge unit. When the screen is folded up you cannot enjoy the beautiful panoramic roof with LED lighting, which takes away from the craftsmanship that went into designing the whole thing.
On the other hand, you can enjoy crisp 8K resolution on the rear display with touchscreen and great stereo sound. When you enter theater mode all the curtains close, creating a nice and cozy setting, much like in a cinema.
The audio system in our test vehicle was the famed optional Diamond Surround Sound System from Bowers & Wilkins with 35 speakers. It works tremendously in the i7, but the regular 7-Series takes it up even one step higher thanks to one more speaker and more powerful subwoofers beneath the front seats. Even so the i7 is probably the best sounding stereo in any EV at the moment with its great depth, mid-range and bass characteristics.
The i7 is among the greatest new luxury vehicles when it comes to comfort. It has a soft air suspension with big travel and great damping, so that potholes and bumps are never felt inside the cabin. It becomes slightly rougher in sport mode, but still remains very pleasant and cushy. The soft seats with wool and cashmere, the great materials and build quality also help with the overall amazing ride comfort and sense of coziness inside.
As we previously mentioned, the i7 is so well insulated that it even blocked our GPS signals. There is absolute tranquility inside, which is remarkable even for the segment of ultra-luxury vehicles. The optional acoustic windows tremendously help in suppressing virtually all ambient sounds.
|37 mph||50.0 dB|
|56 mph||53.8 dB|
|81 mph||58.7 dB|
Sound level tests are carried out with a specialized sound level meter placed in the car's cupholders. The test is conducted with air conditioning and radio off and while maintaining a steady speed.
The i7 is quick off the line and even the manufacturer stated time for the 0 to 62 mph is easily beaten by half a second. The best we could achieve was 4.2 seconds. The claimed max speed of just 127 mph is actually 134 mph, which is great news for frequent enjoyers of the autobahn. Also, when doing launch control starts and generally driving in sport mode, the car makes artificial sounds a la Star Wars to set a more dynamic mood inside.
Stopping a vehicle that weighs way over 5,952 lb is no easy task but the i7 excels and does it in 36 m (118 ft). It should be noted that braking didn’t seem to worsen with heavy use, which is rarely the case with such big and heavy vehicles.
At lower speeds the BMW i7 does alright in the consumption category, despite the fact it is based on an ICE platform and is so big and heavy. Sadly, as soon as you start pressing the accelerator a bit more, you can easily go beyond 1.8 mi/kWh. We did our test runs in near-optimal conditions with an ambient temperature of 75°F.
|37 mph||5.1 mi/kWh||518 miles|
|56 mph||3.4 mi/kWh||342 miles|
|81 mph||3.1 mi/kWh||314 miles|
We measure consumption by driving at constant speeds on an identical test route during the day. Testing is conducted with air conditioning, all safety systems and radio on. The data comes from the vehicle's board computer. Specific testing parameters, such as ambient temperature, are mentioned in the text on a case-by-case basis.
BMW claims the i7 can charge at up to 195 kW on a fast enough charger, but we even managed to reach 197 kW peak charge power during our testing. This results in solid charging times despite the fact it is based on an 400 volt platform.
The BMW i7 is a big luxury sedan and is among the pioneers of that segment. Luckily, more and more rivals enter the race for the best luxury cruiser, so the i7 will soon get some proper competition.
The first and closest alternative is the Mercedes EQS, which is another German luxury sedan. It has similar size and a different but again somewhat controversial design, whereas inside it emphasizes more on traditional luxury. Of course, it also provides great tech and innovations, but nothing too crazy like the big TV screen and rear door screens in the i7.
The second competitor for the i7 is the Lucid Air, which is an American take on luxury and sports prowess combined. It has more modern 900V architecture and bigger storage areas. When it comes to luxury and technological features, the i7 is certainly a class above, but the Lucid costs significantly less.
BMW has used all its know-how on luxury vehicle making and the best EV technology it currently has in the making of the i7. The result is a stately vehicle with a strong presence on the road, which underscores the influence of its owner. You do need a bunch of the expensive optional extras to truly feel the difference to the other high-end rivals, though, which is unfortunate.
But if you have the money you can choose to be the driver or a passenger and you will not regret it either way. Driving the i7 is a pleasant and rewarding experience and the car can masterfully cater to completely different driving moods in each of its drive modes. Riding at the back of the i7 is among the greatest sensations one can have in a vehicle, but again a large part of the comfort is supplied by the pricey options.
Whoa, BMW really took a risk with the new 7-Series! It's the definition of ugly, but the interior makes up for it in some ways. Wouldn't personally go for the big screen, but all else seems perfect!
This a good review, more and more im starting to read about cars on gsmarena than mobiles and enjoy it more haha
Fine, now BMW should do an i3 sedan, maybe even an i1 (sedan)