Should an EV look different from a gasoline-powered equivalent, or have we reached the stage where electric power is just another powertrain choice, like choosing between a four- and a six-cylinder engine? With its F-150 Lightning, Ford chose to make its EV version look a lot like the regular F-Series. Mercedes-Benz, on the other hand, offers an EQS that bears no resemblance to its current S-Class.
With its new-for-2023 7 Series, BMW has come down firmly in the camp of making electrification just another powertrain alternative. The i7 xDrive60, as the EV version is called, differs from the V-8-powered 760i xDrive in only minor visual details: The BMW roundel on the hood has a subtle blue ring around it, the start/stop button inside is blue, the grille is solid and has a small “I” in a vertical element, and of course there are no tailpipes.
This all-new Seven bears a clear resemblance to the previous model. The basic shape remains a three-box sedan with a large cabin to provide enough space for passengers in both rows. Up front, the large grilles remain, but they retain a horizontal orientation that dominates the car’s face without overwhelming. BMW’s new signature split lights are incorporated with narrow running lights at the top corners and the headlights an inch or two below.
There is a powerful character line that runs along the car’s flanks, and the iconic Hofmeister nod is present in the rear quarter windows—in triplicate—echoed in the door molding, chrome trim and in the reinforcement visible in the window. Overall, the car has a presence – it looks substantial, elegant and rich.
Some of that presence comes from sheer size, as the new model is a solid increment larger than its predecessor. Overall length is up to 212.2 inches, almost five inches longer than before, though the wheelbase has only grown by 0.2 inches—and there’s no short-wheelbase version. Width increases by nearly two inches, and the overall height rises by about two and a half inches. These dimensions make the i7 the largest car in the luxury-sedan segment—by a fair amount.
Battery size and range
Much of this increase was motivated by the need for a battery compartment under the inner floor. This volume is 4.9 inches deep to accommodate the 4.3 inch tall lithium ion cells. The battery operates at 376 volts and offers a usable energy capacity of 101.7 kWh. That’s enough for an EPA range of between 296 and 318 miles, depending on the wheel and tire option.
Those electrons power a 255-hp electric motor driving the front wheels and a 308-hp motor in the rear. Combined output is 536 horsepower and 549 pound-feet of torque. Both motors use excited field coils rather than permanent magnets to avoid the need for rare-earth elements. Of course, such cars use brushes, which BMW expects will last the life of the car.
Driving the i7
We predict this formidable drivetrain will accelerate the nearly 6,000-pound i7 to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds, and the i7 certainly felt that quick. As with most electrics, the torquey single-speed drive is smooth, seamless and instantly responsive, especially in urban areas.
As speed increases, acceleration falls off simply because the power-to-weight ratio isn’t spectacular and also because the electric motors deliver peak power at 8000 rpm, less than half of their maximum 16,700 rpm, which is achieved in the car ‘s 149-mph top speed. That puts the power peak at a little over 70 mph, and without a transmission to keep the cars near their peak, the power starts to drop off once you exceed that speed.
BMW offers three levels of regenerative braking, as well as single-pedal steering if you select “B” on the transmission. Using the single pedal mode makes for very smooth urban driving, and it also works well when driving hard on mountain roads—at least uphill. You barely have to touch the brakes. When you do press the left pedal, you appreciate BMW’s good job of blending the regen and the friction brakes, with no discontinuities in pedal effort or travel.
Running hard, the i7 feels composed and competent, although you never forget that it weighs nearly three tonnes. With standard air springs and adjustable dampers at all four corners, as well as the low-mounted half-ton battery, the car corners admirably flat when pushed.
Selecting Sport mode helps a bit in such driving, as it stiffens the dampers, lowers the ride height by about 0.4 inch and provides full power. In normal mode, the i7 motors are limited to 489 horsepower, but the same 549 pound-feet. In certain trim versions, you can also press a switch labeled Boost to turn on peak power and torque for a few seconds.
Quietly running, the i7 rides smoothly and quietly, with a rock-solid structure. The seats are fully adjustable and superbly shaped, acceleration is effortless, and the standard Bowers & Wilkins sound system (18 speakers, 655 watts, or 36 speakers and 1965 watts with the optional Diamond version) fills the cabin with high-definition music of your choice.
A host of luxury features
The i7’s interior is a lovely place, with jewels of large controls, nicely detailed speaker grills and dashboard surfaces, and lovely upholstery, including a new optional cashmere/wool blend that feels particularly rich. And every car comes with a Panoramic Sky Lounge LED moonroof that’s large, can produce a subtle light show and its motorized shade is up front to avoid compromising rear headroom.
The i7 also offers numerous convenience features, such as optional power opening and closing doors—front and rear—each with its own battery sensors to prevent running into adjacent cars, walls or people.
You can also specify the Executive Lounge option if you intend to have a chauffeur drive your i7 for you. It offers a reclining right rear seat—up to 42.5 degrees—including a footrest and heel rest on the back of the right front seat, which tilts as far forward as possible when you engage this option.
Another new feature is the Theater Screen. It’s a 31-inch, 8K LCD screen that folds down from the ceiling for the rear passengers. It actually measures about 30 inches wide by nine inches high, so movies will be letterboxed at most, unless you go to extreme lengths. But you can move the screen to either side to bring the image closer to a single backseat passenger. Control of the operation of this screen, as well as any rear seat adjustments, is carried out using 5.5-inch touch screens in the armrests of each rear door.
For the person driving, a notable addition is a feature called Highway Assistant, which will both maintain speed and steer the car on a highway at up to 80 mph, without the driver’s hands on the wheel. However, the driver must pay attention to the road, and the car monitors your eyes with a camera. If you look down or away for more than a few seconds, you will be warned to either look at the road or put your hands on the wheel. The system works very well and can even perform a safe lane change in traffic if you flash the indicator. But if the lane markings fade or the road gets too twisty, the system will disengage.
With so many functions to operate, there is a steep learning curve for the touchscreen interface. Almost every function is displayed on BMW’s Curved Display, which includes a 12.3-inch LCD that serves as the instrument cluster, along with a 14.9-inch center screen, both housed in a wide, gracefully curved, thin panel.
A new, eighth-generation iDrive controls everything and you can operate the center console with either the traditional iDrive controller, directly through the touchscreen display, or via various shortcuts scattered throughout the cabin. The shortcuts are a nice touch, because when you call up the screen that displays all the car’s apps, there are 43 of them in total—all with various submenus. The i7 also offers a pretty good voice-activated system, which works better for common functions than for obscure ones.
The instrument cluster offers a variety of layouts and choices of information to display. But some of the designs are more creative than practical, with key elements like the graphic speedometer and power displays mostly blocked by the steering wheel rim. It would have been nice to offer a traditional layout with double round hands and minor information grouped between them, but unfortunately it is not available.
Overall, the i7 is a great luxury sedan. It is comfortable, luxurious, effortlessly powerful, impressive and offers more comfort and convenience features than you can imagine. Of course, all of this also applies to its gasoline-powered 760i sibling, which costs $5,700 less than the i7’s $120,295 base price.
But the electric powertrain adds an additional element of smoothness and refinement. If you don’t expect to take long trips in the car, this is the way to go.
2023 BMW i7 xDrive60
Vehicle type: front and rear car, four-wheel drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
Front Motor: Up-Generated Synchronous AC, 255 hp, 269 lb-ft
Rear motor: upstream synchronous AC, 308 hp, 280 lb-ft
Combined power: 536 hp
Combined torque: 549 lb-ft
Battery pack: liquid-cooled lithium-ion, 101.7 kWh
On-board charger: 11.0 kW
Peak DC fast charging rate: 195 kW
Transmissions, F/H: direct drive
Wheelbase: 126.6 inches
Length: 212.2 inches
Width: 76.8 inches
Height: 60.8 inches
Passenger volume: 112 feet3
Hull volume: 11 feet3
Combat weight (C/D east): 5950 lbs.
PERFORMANCE (C/D IS)
60 mph: 4.1 sec
100 mph: 9.0 sec
1/4-mile: 12.5 sec
Top speed: 130–149 mph
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 83–89/81–87/85–92 MPGe
Range: 296–318 miles
This content is imported from OpenWeb. You may be able to find the same content in a different format, or you may be able to find more information on their website.