Conclusion: is the BMW i7 2023 more than an electric 7 series?

What is the BMW i7?

BMW entered the luxury electric vehicle market years ahead of many rivals when it introduced the i3, and it has continued to roll out new all-electric models since the launch of that odd but charming little hatch. The latest is the 2023 BMW i7, the all-electric sedan variant of the redesigned 7 Series, BMW’s longtime flagship four-door model.

Although the i7 is an all-new vehicle, unlike rivals like the Mercedes-Benz EQS, it’s not a bespoke EV platform. Instead, the new 7 Series was designed with gasoline and electric powertrains in mind. In the i7, a battery and electric motor at each axle replaces the standard 7 Series petrol powertrain. The two cars are very similar, but there are key differences in terms of comfort, driving dynamics and price.

What is the power and autonomy of the i7?

BMW recently announced the EPA-estimated range of the i7, with models rated from 296 to 318 miles on a single charge, depending on wheel and tire option. Those numbers are lower than a full-size luxury electric vehicle, especially when compared to EQS or the Lucid Air’s 500+ mile range. That said, the BMW i4 and iX far exceeded their EPA estimates in Edmunds’ real-world EV range tests (which can’t be said for either Tesla or Lucid), so we wouldn’t be surprised to exceed 300 miles in our test.

While the traditional 7 Series draws its power from six- or eight-cylinder mild-hybrid engines, the i7 comes with a battery pack of 101.7 kWh of usable power and two electric motors driving the front and rear axles for all-wheel drive. Combined output is 536 horsepower and 549 lb-ft of torque, which is powerful enough to accelerate the i7 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. It’s respectably fast, although the Lucid Air and Tesla Model S are even faster.

The i7 is capable of 195kW DC fast charging, which should allow it to charge up to 80 miles of range in just 10 minutes. Plus, free charging will be available at Electrify America stations for the first three years of ownership. And unlike models like the BMW i4 and iX, there’s no 30-minute limit on a free charge.

What does it compete with?

The Mercedes-Benz EQS sedan is as direct a competitor as you’ll find for the BMW i7. Both represent all-electric versions of traditional gasoline-powered luxury flagships and feature all the latest technological innovations. Unlike the Benz, which offers a more affordable EQS 450+ rear-wheel-drive base model, the i7 will only be offered as an all-wheel-drive xDrive60. It starts at $120,295 and is similarly priced to the upgraded EQS 580 4Matic.

Features are similar between the two too, with adaptive air suspensions, four-wheel steering, large color head-up displays and self-parking systems. All are available as standard or optional equipment. BMW’s iDrive infotainment system also gets a few upgrades to challenge Mercedes’ laudable MBUX system, including augmented reality overlays for navigation and an improved list of voice commands.

How does it ride?

As you’d expect, the i7 rides and handles just like a Series 7. The i7’s heavy battery means it weighs more than the Series 7, but the powerful electric motors mean the extra weight doesn’t not slow him down. The powertrain is smooth most of the time, delivering smooth power that’s more than enough to zip around town or merge onto the highway. Select Sport mode and the throttle response sharpens, making the i7 feel even faster. It also has a nice soundtrack, with a swell composed by Hans Zimmer that blasts from the speakers when you put it on the ground.

The extra weight means it doesn’t handle as well as the 7 Series. The steering doesn’t provide as much feedback, and the car itself tends to lean more in corners. We also found the ride to be a tad stiffer than the 7 Series, though far from harsh. The suspension soaks up the bumps, but it doesn’t smooth them out as well as the EQS. It’s a little more engaging than the non-AMG EQS, but the i7 isn’t a sports sedan. The i7 is a big car, but standard rear-axle steering makes parking and cornering in tight spaces easier by turning in the opposite direction of the front wheels at low speeds.

The i7 is capable of single-pedal driving, although you have to select the mode with the shifter each time you drive. Cars like the EQS and Model S remember if you prefer one-pedal driving. We also found the i7 to be a bit noisy on the road, with more road and tire noise than we’d expect from a luxury car, especially an electric one.

The i7 is available with a wide range of driving aids, including BMW’s hands-free highway driving technology called Highway Assistant. On certain stretches of freeway, the i7 can accelerate, brake and even change lanes with the push of a turn signal, though you always have to be ready to drive.

How is the interior?

Basically the same as the Series 7. It’s a huge change from the previous Series 7. It’s both good and bad, depending on what we’re looking at. The overall design is beautiful, with lots of nice materials on all surfaces. Leather is available, although we really like the available cashmere seating surfaces. We would love to see more premium fabric interiors like this. We didn’t like some of the shiny interior trim as much because they tended to reflect light in direct sunlight.

The driver-facing dashboard is topped by two large screens under a long, slightly curved window. It’s impressive and houses the new infotainment system. BMW’s latest infotainment system packs a lot more features than the outgoing system, but the interface and layout aren’t very intuitive. We have to take our eyes off the road longer than we would to do things like change the temperature or change stations. BMW’s voice control system helps here, as it can do everything from adjusting the temperature to lowering the blinds in the rear window. We just wish we didn’t have to depend so much on the system.

The back seat is arguably more impressive, especially when fitted with a frankly massive 31-inch 8K rear entertainment screen with built-in Amazon Fire TV. The resolution is great, but the ultra-wide aspect ratio doesn’t match anything in movies or TV, so the image will either be cut out or letterboxed. And despite the width, the screen is only able to read one thing at a time. Honda offered a widescreen (but much smaller) display in the back of the Odyssey that was capable of playing two things at once. When lowered, the i7’s large screen completely blocks the driver’s view through the rear window. That said, it’s pretty nifty to put the car in Theater mode. The rear blinds raise and the screen lowers. It’s like turning off the lights in a movie theatre.

This is BMW’s largest sedan, so there’s plenty of space in both rows. If there is no one in the front passenger seat, the right rear passenger can use a touchpad in the door to push the passenger seat forward and lie back. With the right set, you can almost lay the seat flat.

Is it practical?

The i7 has a massive trunk, but unlike some other EVs, it doesn’t locate a front trunk where a motor would sit. The trunk cargo area is wide and deep, but unlike some other sedans, the seats don’t fold flat on all trims. Storage space in the cabin for small items is quite good for a luxury vehicle, with sizable door pockets in each row as well as spacious front and rear consoles. That said, the cargo area is smaller than the wide-opening hatches you’ll find on the Tesla Model S and Mercedes EQS.

About Catherine Sturm

Check Also

Zhuhai’s Gree Electric Appliances: Wins Medals at Nuremberg Inventor’s Fair

Gree wins medals at Nuremberg Inventors’ Fair 2022-11-10 Recently, the Nuremberg infan‘s Fair iENA 2022 …