The luxury electric landscape is now getting populated with flagship sedans. A benefit of the size is that these land yachts can house larger batteries to ensure sufficient range. BMW has taken the covers off the new-gen 7 Series and simultaneously introduced an all-electric version called the i7.
These are the top seven things you need to know about the BMW i7 luxury electric sedan:
It feels sadly normal that a new BMW model will be a lot uglier than the one it is replacing. When the brand debuted its enlarged grille design on the sixth-gen 7 Series, it got plenty of ridicule for the disproportionate styling. With the seventh generation of its flagship sedan, BMW has outdone itself with a far worse front fascia by adding odd-looking split headlamps next to the massive metallic nostrils. To me, it looks like a non-descript luxury sedan from a video game based in a semi-dystopian future (like Cyberpunk 2077). The oddity of the styling is highlighted on the i7 with fewer openings and larger plain surfaces.
The rear end design is simply boring. It has a chunky rear bumper, sleeker taillamps and large flat surfaces in between. The i7 looks even more boring since it was showcased alongside the new 760i with the quad-exit exhaust.
While the Mercedes-Benz EQS looks like a melting body of metal, the i7 looks like a bar of soap. However, these designs do remind me of the original Tesla Model S, so there’s hope that the looks of the i7 could improve in a few years.
Pretty Good Range
BMW was impressive with the claimed range figure of the i4 and the i7 seems to have had a similar target. It is said to promise between 590km and 625km of range, as per the WLTP cycle. That’s enough range to drive from Delhi to Jaipur and make it back, with just a single 30-minute charging stop. Or good enough for me to make at least 90 trips to and from my nearest Starbucks before the battery needs charging.
The i7 has debuted in a high-specification xDrive60 variant which seems like the most powerful option for the time being. It has two electric motors, one on each axle, that constitute its all-wheel drive system. The front motor has a peak performance rating of 258PS and 365Nm while the rear motor can produce 313PS and 380Nm. However, the combined output of the i7 xDrive60 stands at 544hp and 745Nm.
BMW claims this debut-spec i7 can do the 0 to 100kph sprint in 4.7 seconds and will hit an electronically limited top speed of 240kph. The i7 is not going to turn heads with its performance, but those times are still impressive considering it is a 5.4-metre long luxury sedan weighing 2.7 tons.
Battery and Charging
At the core of the i7 is a high voltage battery under the floor and between the axles with a net capacity of 101.7kWh. That’s a notably bigger battery pack than the one in the i4 but slightly smaller than the battery of the Mercedes-Benz EQS whose net usable capacity is 107.8kWh. Considering that the i7 is not a dedicated EV unlike the EQS, it packages the electric components incredibly well.
BMW allows the i7 to have a charging capacity of up to 195kW which can top the battery from 10-80% in 34 minutes. Using an 11kW wallbox charger, owners can charge the top-spec i7 from 10-100% in just under 9.5 hours. A more commonly available 50kW DC fast charger will probably be capable of charging the battery from 10-80% in around 90 minutes.
Interior Tech Fest
As the electric version of BMW’s flagship luxury sedan, the i7 gets the latest tech the German marquee has to offer. It has the integrated curved display for the digital instrument cluster with the Augmented View function and the central touchscreen infotainment system. The iDrive runs on the latest BMW OS 8 for a host of clever features including the digital A.I. assistant and 5G internet connectivity.
The rear doors feature integrated 5.5-inch touchscreen control panels for functions like wireless telephony and in-car multimedia. This console also allows each rear passenger to set their climate controls, seat adjustment with massage function, the blinds and cabin lighting too. It also has presets called My Modes to set the cabin ambience to your mood.
Additionally, the doors are motorised with a choice of automatic operations. There’s even a collision protection function while opening these doors using sensors on either side. Speaking of sensors, the seventh-gen 7 Series has enough of them along with radars and cameras to offer Level 3 autonomous driving tech.
Rear Cinema Screen
The coolest part of the cabin of the new-gen BMW 7 Series, and therefore the i7, is the rear entertainment setup called the BMW Theatre Screen. It uses a 31.3-inch 8K touchscreen panoramic display that slides down from the roof panel and in front of the rear passengers. The rear shade system kicks in too when the theatre screen is deployed to create a cinematic lounge experience in the back.
It even has Fire TV built-in to browse and stream movies via the eSIM. There’s also a Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system with optional speakers that would be inside the seat bases for a more immersive experience.
Compared to the Mercedes MBUX Hyperscreen in the EQS with three-large displays under a single glass surface, the BMW Theatre Screen seems like a much more useful modern feature.
Who’s The Competition?
While there are a growing number of luxurious and expensive electric sedans in the world, the BMW i7 rivals only a select few. It does not seem to be a competitor to the Tesla Model S which offers far more performance and range with a relatively plain interior. For the same reasons, it does not rival the Lucid Air either. The Porsche Taycan and Audi e-tron GT are also focused more on performance than luxury.
So, the only rival to the i7 as of now simply continues a longstanding rivalry between two German carmakers into the EV future. We’re talking about the Mercedes-Benz EQS.
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