BMW finally has a competitor to the Tesla Model S, updating the iconic BMW 7 Series lineup with a new generation of both combustion and pure electric sedans. BMW is calling its new flagship EV sedan the BMW i7, built on an all-new platform shared with its combustion-powered 7 Series family, offering 536 hp and 549 lb-ft of torque and an estimated 300 miles of range.
The 7 Series “Masterpiece”
We’ve already detailed the new combustion mild-hybrid BMW 760i xDrive and 740i separately, but it’s the i7 that execs have dubbed their “masterpiece.” Both combustion models come with the M Sport Package standard, but the i7 stands out with a, um, unique look without it (though the package is still available as an option). You should strongly consider the M Sport dress-up bits. The more impressive part of the i7 is how it’s integrated with the 7 Series family in a way BMW’s other i EV models aren’t with their internal-combustion equivalents, such as the i4 and 4 Series lineup and the iX, which has no direct analogue, at least by name. The i7 even shares its basic look with the regular 7, right down to that new front end and its odd array of lights, intakes, and grille openings.
BMW claims the i7 xDrive60, or “i7” for short, will deliver an estimated range of 300 miles “based on EPA test procedure standards,” though the EPA has yet to officially confirm anything. It’s powered by a 101.7-usable-kWh battery pack wedged between the axles under the car. BMW says its latest battery cells that go into the vehicle are produced in Germany using local green hydro energy, to help the automaker achieve is carbon-neutrality goals.
The i7 gets from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, and is electronically limited to a top speed of just 149 mph. It also has a GVWR of 7,165 lbs, according to the door sticker of a European floor model we previewed, so it’s likely somewhat heavy. Power is delivered through two electric motor drive units, one to each axle, offering all-wheel drive performance.
In its fifth-generation of the tech, each of BMW’s eDrive units now features an electric motor, power electronics, and transmission in a ultra-compact housing. The i7’s motors don’t use rare-earth materials like some competitors, instead operating “according to the principle of an electrically excited synchronous motor, where it is a precisely controllable electrical feed that sets the rotor in motion rather than fixed permanent magnets.” This is the same tech that’s used in the iX electric SUV.
A Flagship EV
BMW says features on its i4 and iX EVs, such as regenerative braking, charging software, temperature control, and the BMW Maps charging navigation system, are all upgraded on the i7. There also is now the added feature of charging profiles for various stations, so the vehicle can prime for charging as it nears a saved location. Purchase of an i7 comes with three years of no-cost, unlimited charging with Electrify America.
The i7 is slightly wider than the outgoing 7 Series, and comes with adaptive air suspension and self-leveling tech that lowers the car by 0.4 inch in Sport mode, or at speeds over 75 mph. The suspension system can also raise the car 0.8 inch. Standard Integral Active Steering, which can turn all four wheels, improves high-speed cornering, low-speed handling, and reduces the car’s turning circle by 2.5 feet.
The car rides on 20-inch aerodynamic gunmetal gray wheels on mixed all-season non-runflat tires, though you can swap for other 19-inch wheels with all-seasons, or 20-inch wheels on mixed performance tires, at no additional cost. There are 21-inch wheels with performance tires available as an upgrade. All performance tires come with foam inserts for limiting tire and road noise in the quiet EV.
BMW executives assured journalists at a preview last week that each version of the new 7 series, including the i7, was developed with testing on the German Nürburgring as well as the Autobahn, to develop an “extremely rewarding” driving experience that can also handle longer, more comfortable rides. The i7 and new 7 Series represent another “Neue Klasse” of vehicle for the automaker (a term used back on the original 2002 and related models that established BMW’s sport sedan bona fides decades ago), offering customers the comfort of choice as the industry begins to electrify.
Inside the i7
Inside, there’s a huge new curved display featuring BMW’s latest version of iDrive infotainment, stretching from the center console to behind the steering wheel. The interior layout now features a new BMW Interaction Bar, which turns the crystal interior trim light strip into a touch-sensitive control panel, featuring four-zone climate controls, hazard lights, glove compartment, and the door-close buttons. Despite this, the new interior is specifically mapped for gesture and voice control, with otherwise minimal touchpoints.
Heated seats and the Radiant Heating Package is standard on the i7, including a heated steering wheel and armrests. Merino leather is standard on the i7 xDrive60, but BMW Individual Merino leather with cashmere wool in Smoke White and Light Grey combination is an interesting new option, and BMW says it’s sustainable. The roof of the i7 is a single fixed glass surface with LED lighting and programmed light shows, with a sliding shade for sunny days.
In the back of the new i7, a $4,750 rear theater experience is now available as an option. A 31.3-inch 8K touchscreen display with Amazon Fire TV is mounted to the roof of the car, and electronically folds up and out of the way when not in use by the rear passengers. The screen controls, rear climate controls, and the powered rear seats are adjustable through new 5.5-inch touchscreens inserted in each rear door. The new theater system allows for various user profiles for a tailored viewing experience. It’s essentially a small Fire-equipped TV like you’d normally keep at home, now hanging from the roof of your 7 Series.
Additionally, the vehicle’s sound animations have been composed by Oscar-winning Hans Zimmer, the guy who just did the recent Dune soundtrack. He’s composed melodic drive soundtracks for the all-electric and rather quiet i7. There are seven drive sound effects, the most powerful of which comes in Sport mode, and more can be added later via OTA updates. The theater screen’s animation melody is also done by the composer.
Pre-orders for the all-new i7 begin today, April 20, 2022 at 8:01 a.m. est. and require a $1,500 deposit, with deliveries later this year.