Welcome to the BMW i7. This is the fully electric version of the new 7 Series, and, in my opinion, it actually suits a silent electric powertrain more than a petrol engine, because it is so incredibly relaxing.
BMW offers two versions of the i7 in Australia, including the performance M70, and this, the xDrive60. Both feature a dual-motor fully electric powertrain with impressive outputs in either case; 400kW/745Nm in this, or a whopping 485kW and 1100Nm in the M70.
Prices start from $306,900 for the xDrive60 M Sport and from $344,900 for the M70 (excluding on-roads). Compared with the latest 7 Series combustion-engined model, the 740i M Sport (the only variant currently available in Australia), this is $34,000 more expensive. But it is a lot quicker, quieter, and it comes with a spattering of bespoke features.
2023 BMW i7 xDrive60 M Sport – THE SPECS
Battery: 106kWh lithium-ion
Output: 400kW / 745Nm
Transmission: 1-speed auto
Drive type: All-wheel drive
Wheels: F: 21×9.0, 255/40 R: 21×10.5, 285/35
ANCAP: Not tested
Tare weight: 2640kg
Power-to-weight: 6.6:1 (kg:kW)
Official range: 625km
Recharge capacity: DC up to 195kW, AC 22kW
0-60km/h: 2.58 seconds*
0-100km/h: 4.64 seconds*
0-200km/h: 16.62 seconds*
60-110km/h: 2.57 seconds*
1/4 mile: 12.70 seconds at 187.4km/h*
Max acceleration: 1.056g*
100-0km/h braking: 3.13 seconds at 38.16 metres*
Max deceleration: -1.536g*
Decibel at idle (on standby): 25*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 68*
Priced from: $306,900
* Figures as tested by PerformanceDrive on the day. Factory claims may be different
2023 BMW i7 xDrive60 M Sport – THE PACKAGE
Aside from the huge grilles at the front, which are ghastly in my opinion, the exterior design is really something. It stands out as a very modern limousine with plenty of distinctive BMW attributes.
The rear end in particular is very elegant and suave, with clean lines providing a stately character. The LED taillights, like the headlights, showcase amazing attention to detail, and the chrome trimmings around the diffuser area provide traditional luxury charm.
Wow, what an interior. This is nothing short of spectacular. I’m generally not a fan of huge screens in a car, but come on, you can’t hate on this. Front passengers are faced with a seamless curved dual-screen panel showcasing BMW’s latest graphical themes, and all running on the company’s 8.5 operating system.
If you’ve liked BMW’s previous operating systems, this is pretty much an extended and more detailed interpretation. It does take some time to get used to, especially with all apps housed on a dedicated page. However, the menu sequences and the clever way that it remembers where you were last all remains.
Check out the exquisite lighting details around the dash. Panelling that encompasses the frontal cabin sparkles and changes colour depending on the circumstances (and the drive mode), and the front chairs offer all the support and comfort of a king size bed in a five-star hotel. Interestingly, the driving position is still spot on, even though some buyers might prefer to sit in the back. And we’re glad the iDrive hand controller is sticking around.
If you like big screens, take a look at this bad boy in the back. It’s called the Theatre Screen, and yep, it pretty much is like sitting in a theatre, in the “Gold Class” section. You can load up movies or play a gaming console and just sit back and relax. It does, unfortunately, completely obstruct the rear view for the driver when deployed. It folds up and down electronically, of course.
There’s even little touch-screens on the doors. These provide control for that massive screen, and for the separate climate controls and power seat adjustments for the back. Legroom is plentiful, and just to top it off, you don’t even need to close the doors. Because they’re electric. Just tap the button and get back to relaxing and enjoying the movie.
Boot space is pretty good. You’ll have no trouble packing some golf clubs or luggage during business trips. And there’s a spot for the charging cable under the floor so your driver can maintain a suitable battery level. The capacity is rated at 500 litres, down from 540L in the regular 740i due to the electronic componentry under the body.
2023 BMW i7 xDrive60 M Sport – THE DRIVE
This isn’t even the M Performance M70 variant yet it comes with two powerful electric motors. These generate 400kW under floor throttle, and up to 745Nm. Acceleration is gut-twisting. Especially for such a large and heavy vehicle. The G-force is just epic, and, surprisingly, there’s even a proper launch control function that allows you to catapult off the line following a ‘rev-limiter’ hold.
We timed some impressive numbers out on a private road. Our best 0-100km/h result was 4.64 seconds, slightly defeating BMW’s claim of 4.7 seconds, with 0-200km/h coming up in 16.62 seconds. Usually, acceleration in electric cars starts to drop off in the top end. But this seems to steam ahead at a consistent rate – great for the autobahnen in Germany.
That xDrive in the name means this is all-wheel drive, with an electric motor mounted at the front and rear axle. Grip never seems to be an issue, even under ridiculous amounts of throttle and during cornering. You can raise the standard electronic suspension system as well for some very mild off-road capability.
What I love most about its drive character is that it feels like a proper BMW. Even carrying its 2.6-tonne weight around. The ride can seem a bit soft in the normal mode, but that’s what it’s meant to be. However, flick it into sport mode and really push it in some bends, and you’ll see it turns in and holds on with intense balance. Obviously the weight is its main enemy, but it’s mainly a noticeable detriment during very tight switchbacks.
The fact that it comes with staggered-width Pirelli P Zero tyres gives you some indication of its handling intensions, too. Speaking of which, the wheels fitted to this test car are from the BMW Individual catalogue. They’re a bit unusual but they kind of suit the eco underpinnings I think.
As for the electric side of things, a 106kWh battery pack sits under the body to provide an impressive on-paper range of 625km. This is more like it. Electric cars need range figures like this before they can be truly practical for everyday use. And in this, you’ll be able to drive to the airport and know you’ll have enough charge to get back home again without worrying about a pesky public charge station.
2023 BMW i7 xDrive60 M Sport – THE VIDEO
2023 BMW i7 xDrive60 M Sport – THE VERDICT
It’s as glamorous as a stepped-in turd from the front, but boy is this an astonishingly peaceful yet relentlessly responsive driver’s limousine from the inside. With hugely impressive tech and exquisite attention to detail, the i7 confidently takes BMW’s flagship nameplate into the next generation, and with all the regality and refinement it needs to easily supersede every one of its ancestors.
– Immensely impressive blend of tech and luxury inside
– ‘Theatre’ screen in the back wins class wow factor award
– Serenely peaceful and pleasant drive
– Drives like a proper BMW in the corners
– Configurable and comprehensive ‘8.5’ infotainment system
– Ugly front end design
– $34,000 more than petrol 7 Series
– Theatre screen blocks rearward view for the driver
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