BMW

Review of the BMW i7: Performance, Features, and Impressions

The BMW i7 is a high-end electric luxury car designed to offer exceptional comfort, especially for rear passengers who can enjoy an optional 31-inch 8K Theater Screen and lounge seats with massage functions. The top-tier Technology Plus Pack includes a 40-speaker Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system. As a driver-focused vehicle, it features a superb driving position and advanced semi-autonomous driving aids. With three power outputs, the i7 offers strong performance but contends with luxury competitors like the Mercedes EQS and Tesla Model S. Despite its plush ride and high-tech interior, its range is decent but not outstanding. Standard equipment is lavish, though desirable options quickly raise the price.

Introduction

What Car? says…

The BMW i7 is an electric luxury car designed to take people from one place to another in great comfort. However, for anyone sitting in the back, it’s more like a mobile cinema.

We’re not just talking about a few small entertainment screens shoehorned into the backs of the front headrests. In the i7, rear passengers are treated to an enormous 31-inch 8K touchscreen, called the Theater Screen, which lowers itself from the headliner with the touch of a button.

BMW sells the Theater Screen as an individual option or as part of the Executive Package. This also adds two supremely comfortable rear lounge seats that can treat you to a massage. If you add the Technology Plus Pack, you get a 40-speaker Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system with shakers in the seatbacks for the full cinematic experience.

If you’re wondering why we’re focusing on the environment for rear passengers, well, that’s because the i7 is, like the BMW 7 Series, designed primarily as a driver. That doesn’t mean the driver is stuck; they are treated to a brilliant driving position, fantastic interior quality, and some of the latest semi-autonomous driving technologies.

However, the BMW i7 faces stiff competition against some deeply impressive luxury limousines, with direct rivals including the Mercedes EQS and the Tesla Model S. If you skip electric car models, you’re looking at the Audi A8 and the Mercedes S-Class.

In this review, we’ll tell you how we rate it, plus what trim level and options we recommend.

Performance and Drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

The BMW i7 is available with three power outputs. The entry-level eDrive50 offers plenty of punch for most buyers, producing 449bhp and sprinting from 0-62mph in 5.5 seconds. It has one engine and rear-wheel drive, unlike the other options, which have two engines and xDrive four-wheel drive.

Next is the 536bhp eDrive60 xDrive. Despite being a big and heavy car, it can accelerate from 0-62mph in just 4.7 seconds, faster than most versions of the Mercedes EQS, though not as quick as some Tesla Model S versions.

At the top of the range is the M70 xDrive, which adds a more powerful electric motor at the rear, for a combined 650bhp. It’s the most powerful electric M car in the BMW range, darting from standstill to 62mph in 3.7 seconds.

The i7 is incredibly quiet on the move, so acceleration never feels wild. The instant power delivery will pin you back in your seat, but there isn’t much drama during acceleration. It’s closer to the experience you’d get in a jumbo jet on takeoff than the satisfying rush of a sports car.

Those quiet ways make the i7 a phenomenal long-distance cruiser. You can speak quietly and your passengers will hear you clearly (unless they are engaged in the many entertainment functions, of course). There is hardly any road noise and only a small amount of wind noise inside.

Ride comfort is also excellent, cushioning occupants from the road surface much better than in the Mercedes EQS. The i7 M70 has a slightly firmer suspension than other versions but does not compromise ride comfort. Some might prefer its tighter body control over bumps, which reduces the soft floating feeling you sometimes get with the standard models.

This huge saloon can corner more deftly than it should. It leans less than the Audi A8 through tight twists, and the steering gives you a good sense of connection with the front wheels. The tuned suspension and active anti-roll bars on the M70 help it feel quieter than the eDrive50 and eDrive60.

Rear-wheel steering is also standard on the M70 to help sharpen cornering response, although it’s not as nimble or grippy as the smaller BMW i5.

The battery of the i7 has a usable capacity of 101.7 kWh. On the eDrive50 and eDrive60, that can officially keep the car going for up to 387 miles (varying slightly depending on wheel size and optional extras). That drops to 343 miles on the M70, and in real-world driving, we’d expect around 300 miles.

Driving overview

Strengths

  • Punchy performance
  • Plush ride
  • Muted cruiser
  • Orderly handling

Weaknesses

  • Battery range is decent, rather than impressive

BMW i7 rear bend

Interior

The interior arrangement, fit and finished

Although the i7 is designed primarily for rear passengers, the driving position is great, plus there’s plenty of power seat and steering wheel adjustment to help set everything up just the way you like it.

This is a lounge, so you sit close to the road. If you want similar levels of comfort but prefer a higher seat, consider a luxury SUV like the BMW X7 or the Range Rover.

Visibility in the i7 is excellent; it comes with front and rear parking sensors plus a 360-degree camera.

It’s a step above its main rivals for interior quality. There are plenty of gloss black and crystal-effect finishes to give the interior a suitably expensive feel, along with a semi-transparent touch-sensitive panel that extends across the dashboard. This might sound like an example of style over function, but it works well, responding consistently to presses—which is fortunate as it houses important controls, including the hazard light switch.

The seats come trimmed in merino leather as standard. A faux leather material called Veganza is available at no extra cost. Alternatively, you can pay extra for fabric that is part merino wool and part cashmere.

All i7s come with the latest BMW iDrive infotainment system. It appears to be one giant screen that stretches across more than half the dashboard. It’s actually a 14.9-inch touchscreen paired with a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel behind the steering wheel. The whole arrangement is slightly curved towards the driver for better visibility.

The touchscreen has pin-sharp graphics and lightning-fast responses, plus there’s the added convenience of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The operating system isn’t as intuitive as earlier versions of iDrive, but it’s still better than the systems in the Mercedes EQS and the Tesla Model S. This is primarily because BMW decided to buck the trend for touchscreen-only infotainment systems in its more expensive models.

You can control the screen by touch when you’re parked, but there’s also a rotary controller between the front seats, which is less distracting when driving. There’s also a voice control function.

The optional Theater Screen is a 31-inch screen that folds down from the ceiling to give rear passengers a cinema-style experience. With a built-in Amazon Fire TV and a 5G antenna on the roof, you can stream on-demand TV or watch YouTube on the go. Parts of the screen are touch-sensitive and not too difficult to use.

If you add the Theater Screen, you’ll probably also want the 40-speaker Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system (part of the Technology Plus Pack). It sounds amazing, and you get shakers in the seat backs for a more immersive experience.

Internal supervision

Strengths

  • Intuitive infotainment system
  • Impressive Theater Screen option
  • Strong build quality

Weaknesses

  • We haven’t seen any so far

BMW i7 interior dashboard

Passenger and Boot Space

How it deals with people and disorder

At 5391mm in length, the i7 is one of the longest cars on the road, longer than the Audi A8 (and A8 L), the Mercedes EQS, and the Tesla Model S.

That length translates into vast amounts of rear legroom. Even if you’re sitting behind a really tall driver, you’ll have several inches between your knees and the back of the front seat.

Head room is also impressive—despite the i7 coming with a panoramic glass roof as standard. If no one is sitting in the front passenger seat, you’ll want to sit on that side of the car because you can slide and fold the front seat to use it as a footrest.

The optional Executive Package replaces the outboard rear seats with lounge alternatives that can convert business class-style into a bed and have extra adjustment options plus a massage function.

The i7’s boot has a respectable 500 liters of volume, so trips to the airport won’t be a problem. However, the saloon opening is relatively small. The EQS and Model S have considerably larger loads and vans for more convenient loading. There is a folding ski hatch in the center of the backrest, allowing you to surf longer items between the two rear seats.

Practicality overview

Strengths

  • Impressive space for all residents

Weaknesses

  • Some hatchback rivals have more convenient boot openings

BMW i7 interior rear seats

Buying and Owning

Daily costs, in addition to how reliable and safe it is

The BMW i7 is priced roughly in line with the Mercedes EQS, making it an expensive car. Additionally, some of the most attractive features, including the saloon rear seats, the Theater Screen, and the surround sound system, cost extra.

The i7 will continue to operate much cheaper as a company car than alternatives with petrol, diesel, or plug-in hybrid engines, as fully electric cars are currently taxed at a very low benefit-in-kind tax rate of 2%.

Large sedans tend to depreciate quickly, and the i7 will lose its value faster than a Range Rover. However, compared to petrol or diesel alternatives, the i7 is a good investment and is expected to depreciate at a slightly slower rate than the EQS.

Standard equipment is generous. The entry-level Excellence fitted with 19-spoke alloy wheels, leather upholstery, ambient lighting, illuminated front grille, panoramic glass sunroof, heated front and rear seats, wireless phone charging, and head-up display. M Sport models add black exterior lighting and 20-inch wheels for a sportier look.

The M70 comes with visual differences, including blue brakes, M logos, and a different 21-inch wheel design. Given that it costs significantly more than our preferred eDrive60 in M ​​Sport trim, we don’t think it’s worth the extra cost for slightly better handling and quicker acceleration.

Reliability is an unknown quantity for the i7, as it’s too new to feature in the 2023 What Car? Reliability survey. As a brand, BMW ranked 12th out of 32 automakers, below Tesla but well ahead of Mercedes.

The i7 has not been rated for safety by Euro NCAP at the time of writing, but it comes with plenty of active and passive safety equipment.

Semi-autonomous driving aids in the Driving Assistant Professional package include adaptive cruise control and a self-steering system that’s smooth but can struggle if the road doesn’t have clear markings or you encounter a tight corner. It is best left for highway driving.

Overview of costs

Strengths

  • Many well-equipped trim levels
  • A wide range of luxury options

Weaknesses

  • Options raise the purchase price very quickly

BMW i7 interior infotainment

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the range of the BMW i7?

Officially, the i7 can travel a maximum of between 343 and 387 miles on a full charge (depending on the specification). Don’t expect to get that far in real-world driving, though.

Is the BMW i7 a full electric car?

Yes, the i7 is a fully electric car. A plug-in hybrid version (PHEV) with a petrol engine and an electric motor—the BMW 7 Series—is also available.

How fast is the BMW i7?

The fastest i7 is the M70, which can officially do 0-62 mph in 3.7 seconds. That’s fast, especially for a large luxury limousine, but the Tesla Model S is even faster.

Where is the BMW i7 built?

The i7 is built in Germany at BMW’s Dingolfing plant. Many other BMWs, including the 4, 5, and 6 Series, are built there as well.

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