The seventh generation of the BMW 7 Series makes its debut with a fully electric version called the i7. Set to go on sale towards the end of 2022, BMW will initially only offer the battery-powered version before introducing plug-in hybrid models in 2023. It uses a new platform architecture that will enable several powertrain options, from pure electric variants to combustion engine versions with mild hybrid assistance that BMW will sell elsewhere.
Initially, BMW will offer the i7 xDrive60 that will use a 101.7kWh battery powering two electric motors for an output of 544hp and 0-100km/h acceleration time of 4.7 seconds. Most notably, BMW says that the i7 will be capable of a WLTP driving range of up to 625 kilometres, while DC charging at up to 195kW will make topping up the large battery less time-consuming.
BMW continues to take a divisive approach to its design and the i7 will feature several details that will distinguish it from the rest of the 7 Series lineup. Its prominent kidney grilles are fully enclosed, and BMW incorporates an illuminated outline to add more visual presence. The dual-section headlights comprise slender daytime running lights on top, with the main headlights enclosed in pods below, made more discreet by tinted glass. There are subtle blue inserts around the car’s base to signify that this is the electric i7.
Unlike previous generations of the 7 Series, buyers will now only have a long wheelbase version available. The car’s overall length has grown by 130mm and is also wider and taller by 48mm and 51mm respectively, the latter partly due to the need to incorporate the battery within the floor. A host of new technology will be available, including the option of electrically operated doors for the first time on a BMW. At the touch of a button, the doors gracefully open while ultrasonic sensors placed along the side of the car monitor the surroundings to prevent the risk of damage. If you stand in front of the doors as it opens, it automatically stops.
The dashboard layout is similar to what BMW has introduced in the i4 and iX models. A curved dual-screen display runs the German marque’s latest infotainment system and can be used directly by the touchscreen, via the iDrive rotary controller or voice activation. A host of luxurious materials can be specified and there is a considerable amount of adjustment available to find a suitable driving position.
But it’s in the rear that the true luxury of the BMW i7 can be experienced, partly thanks to that longer wheelbase. Ample amounts of legroom and headroom should make travelling much less tiresome. Should you need to catch some rest, then with a single press on the touch panel of the door, the front passenger seat can move forwards and tilt down to transform into a footrest while the rear seat reclines to a 42.5-degree angle, akin to a seat on business class. The 7 Series also gets a panoramic glass roof as standard with the ability to activate a twinkling LED light show at night.
In-car entertainment also moves up a notch with BMW’s introduction of the Theatre Screen. Housed in the car’s roof, when activated, a 31.3-inch 8K touchscreen display seamlessly slides forward and down into place in front of the rear-seat occupants as the rear and side window blinds roll up to create a cinema-like atmosphere. It is equipped with a 5G connection and has a built-in hard drive and HDMI input to enable passengers to watch their favourite shows or movies on the go.