The new seventh-generation BMW 7 Series isn’t just one of the most striking cars we’ve seen in decades, it’s also a bona-fide tech-fest with all the makings of a headline act at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
Just as BMW shook up the executive-class sedan world with its first iteration of the 7 Series more than 45 years ago as a properly sporty lux-mobile, chock full of state-of-the-art tech, the new range-topping i7 might just blow everything else out of the water – and then some.
It’s a huge car stretching nearly 5.4 metres in length – longer than a Rolls-Royce Cullinan – as well as standing wider and higher than the previous long-wheelbase 7 Series, and by some margin. No longer will there be long- and short- wheelbase versions available, either, just long.
BMW Australia will launch two variants only: the 740i with 48-volt mild-hybrid (MHEV) technology paired with a twin-turbo petrol six, along with the fully-electric i7 xDrive60 flagship with dual motors tested here, in Frozen Deep Grey.
There are way too many big ticket items to catalogue now, but the feature ticket goes to the phenomenal 31.3-inch 8K panoramic screen in 32:9 format, with audio courtesy of a 35-speaker Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system that makes Hoyts’ Dolby Atmos sound like a ’60s drive-in.
Then there’s the extravagant light show encircling the i7’s Merino leather/cashmere wool combo cabin that’s more intense than Sydney’s famed New Year’s Eve fireworks display, thanks to the 15.6 million(!) possible colours produced by the car’s so-called ‘Interation Bar’. I’ve never seen anything like it, at least not in a car.
And, if you want to open or close the doors, blinds or Sky Lounge roof, it’s just, “Hey BMW, open all doors and blinds”, and presto, it’s done.
Whereas it’s fair to say it’s predecessor was simply an evolutionary design with a more nip & tuck approach to styling, the new 7 Series is 100 per cent revolutionary in its execution.
Headlining the new look with so-called ‘monolithic’ surfaces is the i7’s massive kidney grille and front bumper, complete with an new split headlight design.
On top are mere slits that house the jewel-like Swarovski crystal-inlayed daytime running lights, while below are Matrix LED headlights hidden behind smoked glass and pushed back a little for stealthy effect.
The exterior light extravaganza doesn’t stop there either. The iconic kidney grille is also lit under BMW’s Iconic Glow Illuminated surround. Combined with the ultra-low-profile DRLs, it’s an unmistakable light signature that’s bound to impress even non-car people.
The L-shaped tail lights aren’t nearly as impressive, but they’re just as intense with a 3D LED design that matches that of the metal speaker grilles in the cockpit.
Offsetting the deep front and rear-end treatments is a sleeker, more elegant side profile with flush door handles and an integrated Hofmeister Kink.
Even though the door panels seem large, the glasshouse itself (bar the back window) is sufficiently large to afford the driver plenty of all-round vision.
Then there’s the suite of engineering solutions centred around the upgraded chassis, which somehow makes this cruise ship on wheels perform more like a seriously-sorted grand tourer, but with even more linearity and feedback than you get from equivalent combustion-engined 7 Series. But, not at the expense of on-road comfort – that alone deserves applause.
It’s got adaptive air suspension to sort out the bumps and keep all four paws grounded, while all-wheel steering straightens out the corners, despite its size and heft. You won’t believe this big Beamer tips the scales at a colossal 2715 kilograms (with driver) – it just can’t be.
It’s also a bone-fide corner crusher too, thanks to new 48-volt active anti-roll bars (12-volt in its predecessor) – that magically counters any-and-all body roll – and that’s in the canyons!
BMW also says green energy and environmentally-friendly materials factor heavily into the manufacturing of the new-generation 7 Series – in-line with what its customers are demanding.
For instance, the source material for the floor coverings in the i7 include fishing nets recovered from the world’s oceans as well as used flooring and residual waste from plastics manufacturing.
It’s the real deal, too, as the process for manufacturing recycled plastic emits 80 per cent less CO2 than the standard practice of using oil-based nylon.
The material itself is known as Econyl, and is used throughout the new BMW flagship, including the substructure of the door panels, bumper guides and even the surround for the front grille. It’s all made from 100 per cent salvaged plastics.
The range-topping all-electric 2023 BMW i7 xDrive60 will start from $297,900 plus on-road costs, and includes a third-generation BMW Wallbox, as well as a five-year subscription to the Chargefox national charging network.
Entry-level for Australian buyers of the new-gen BMW 7 Series is the 740i petrol version with 48-volt mild-hybrid technology, which kicks off at $268,900 plus on-roads.
Luxury rivals include the Audi e-tron GT ($249,700), Mercedes-AMG EQS 53 4Matic+ ($328,400), while the less-luxurious and sportier Porsche Taycan 4S starts at $208,200, or $283,300 for the quicker Taycan Turbo version.
The issue is where do you start given the extravagant level of kit and genuine theatrics on show in what must surely be one of the most exiting (if not enticing) displays of cutting-edge technology you’re likely to see in a car for some time.
Standard fitment in the i7 is a blend of Merino leather/cashmere wool upholstery in Smoke white and Light Grey. If you’ve ever had the good fortune of wearing anything made of cashmere, then you’ll understand just how luxurious this fabric can be.
Every millimetre of the blend is also perforated for the perfectly even dispersal of hold and cold air depending on the desired settings. Even the armrests are heated.
Softer again are the goose down-filled rear headrest cushions that provide a sensation as if your head is floating on a cloud.
They’re also the perfect accompaniment to the optional Connoisseur Lounge, which affords the left-hand-side rear passenger first-class-style stretched seating complete with footrest and reclined seat back. It’s next level and not unlike that offered in the new Bentley Bentayga EWB.
Next off, you’ll want to use the rear-seat individual touchscreen controller built into each armrest (it looks a lot like the latest iPhone) to lower the 8K widescreen and be dazzled by its 7680 x 2160 pixel display and incomparable surround sound via 35 Bowers & Wilkins speakers in both seats and headrests. The sensation is totally immersive and off the charts.
It’s not just the movie screen you can deploy via the built-in touch screen, passengers can also operate change the audio source, paired smartphones, My Mode functions, rear-seat adjustments, window blinds, climate control and interior lighting – that alone is special.
The whole theatre experience wouldn’t be complete without opening up the Glass Roof Sky Lounge – again with the iPhone thing – to cap off the ambience with a light effect using light threads backlit by LEDs on the glass roof. The pattern of the lights mirrors that of the seat quilting, while the colours interact with the My Mode tile you’ve chosen.
Nevertheless, the real illumination blitz starts up front with BMW’s latest Interaction Bar extending to all four doors, and best described as the world’s most vivid ambient lighting. The dash-mounted light strip also hides the air vents – you won’t pick them at night.
Choose between Expressive, Relax, Theatre Mode and Digital Art and be blown away by the sheer intensity and animation of colour – apparently 15.6 million colours in the system.
The new 7 Series is a big car with big doors, but never mind opening them manually that’s not the play here. There’s a touch button on each door, or simply use voice activation to the tune of, “Hey BMW, open the driver’s door”, and it works exceptionally well once you get the hang of it.
BMW i7 buyers get the choice of three interior trim packages – our tester was matched with the sporty M carbon-fibre with silver stitching and piano black combination, but any one of the three trims we saw at the launch looks and feels like an appropriate match.
The i7 gets the same curved-screen combo that we first saw in the BMW’s iX EV – that is to say a 12.3-inch configurable driver’s display integrated with a massive 14.9-inch touchscreen unit boasting exceptional levels of colour and clarity, along with endless customisation, once you’re au- fait with the multiple layers of information available.
Much of the switchgear is authentic Swarovski crystal – diamond cut and polished pieces for the seat controls, iDrive controller, drive selector and start/stop button. Even the volume scroller is the real deal.
The large metal speaker grilles are specially patterned to match the 3D effect inside rear taillights, while the new flat-bottom steering wheel is laden with all sorts of tech accessed through active haptic touch buttons and circular scrollers.
But, the steering wheel rim is still too damn thick. BMW, just take a look at a Porsche 911 steering wheel and let that be your template.
Not only is there luxurious levels of leg and headroom in the i7, storage spaces are equally generous, with wireless phone charging pad up front, along with two square-shape cup holders and a sizeable dual-door console bin capable of swallowing all manner of wallets, sunnies and additional phones.
Boot space is a reasonable 500 litres for the i7 xDrive60, while the 740i gets slightly more at 540 litres.
The all-electric flagship i7 xDrive60 uses a dual-motor all-wheel drive electric powertrain with total system outputs of 400kW and 745Nm.
BMW claims it can do the 0-100km/h sprint in 4.7 seconds, with an electronically-limited top speed of 240km/h. It’s mated to a 106kWh battery pack that can deliver a range of up to 625km on the WLTP test cycle.
AC charging with up to 22kW is possible, while DC charging with up to 195kW means driving range can be increased by around 170km in 10 minutes. At this same high-speed charging rate, the i7 xDrive60 can also go from 10 per cent to 80 per cent charge in approximately 34 minutes.
Power consumption for the i7 in the WLTP cycle is rated at 19.6-18.4kW/100km. Towing capacity for the i7 is rated at 2000kg, with a tow ball down weight of 80kg.
The 740i, meanwhile, is powered by a 3.0-litre twin-turbo inline-six-cylinder petrol engine with a 48V mild-hybrid system, with total system outputs of 280kW of power and 540Nm of torque. This is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, with drive sent to the rear wheels only.
BMW claims the 740i can do the 0-100km/h sprint in 5.4 seconds.
Right from the get-go the i7 feels dynamically sorted from behind the wheel. Even more so than the twin-turbo V8-powered 760i xDrive we also got to sample at the same launch event in the California desert.
The i7’s lower centre of gravity certainly helps by putting the battery-cell modules deep into the floor of the car – the perfect place for it, but there’s also a lot more going on here.
The engineers cite the lack of a conventional gearbox and exhaust system as contributing to the car’s better balance and rigidity – something you’re acutely aware of from the very first canyon corner you tuck into.
It’s rock-solid and utterly predictable, as we throw the i7 from one back-to-back corner to another. No way this feels like a 5.4-metre, 2.7-ton colossus of a car. There’s a real sense of agility at play here matched with unusually fast response rates from all the major controls.
The all-wheel steering, throttle and brakes are calibrated for maximum linearity and feedback. Not necessarily quick, but in perfect sync with each other, giving the driver stacks of confidence and evoking plenty of smiles and general disbelief as you properly attack the endless corners in these parts.
Much of it comes down to the chassis engineering, but the grip levels too are impressive. It seems ridiculous, but we’ve dialled up Sport+ and we’re pushing properly hard here and the i7 is still completely unruffled.
A shout-out to the i7’s rear-wheel steering system, too, which we attribute to the car’s agility and smaller-car feeling from behind the wheel. Some systems feel contrived giving an unnatural feeling on turn-in, but this system feels largely linear.
Overall, it comes down to those mechanical controls again, at least for me, and again the linearity of the throttle and brake pedals in particular. You can modulate these functions down to the smallest degree and get precise feedback – even with mid-corner corrections. And for a huge, heavy car, it’s uncanny.
Dialling it up further with the boost mode button we peel off out of the canyons and down onto flatter terrain, but nevertheless with plenty of fast-flowing corners to lap up.
Still, there’s not a single squeal or protest from the tyres. And get this, these aren’t even the full-blown performance rubber we’ll see on the high-performance BMW i7 M70 version in 2023, rather a tyre that balances.
Perhaps we’re not pushing hard enough, but there’s no sense of understeer even in the tighter bends, which by the way, I was fully expecting at this kind of pace. So, you just end up carrying more speed into the next set of corners, and yet the big electric 7 Series is just as obliging. Remarkable.
Moreover, the car sits dead-flat too, no matter what the G-meter says. And, it doesn’t feel artificially contrived like some EVs, just like a well-sorted chassis, in a much smaller car.
Put that effect down to complex new software and BMW’s latest 48-volt active roll bars over the previous 12-volt units, the results of which completely neutralise body roll.
While the upcoming i7 M70 will likely be skewed more towards handling with a slightly firmer ride, the i7 xDrive60 get gets the balance just right – perfect, even.
We hit some fairly ordinary sections of road on our route to Mt. San Jacinto and the single-chamber air-suspension soaked up all the bumps and cracked road like only air-suspension can do.
It’s impressive just how well the i7 balances ride and handling, so as to be highly competent with both aspects of performance and luxury.
We also had the opportunity to test out the Level 3 driver assist function, where the car effectively drove itself on certain sections of the interstate. It doesn’t engage all the time for myriad of factors, but when it takes over it’s pretty impressive.
- 20-inch M alloy wheels
- M Sport package
- M front, rear bumpers
- M Sport brakes with dark blue calipers
- High-gloss black M side sills
- Rear-axle steering
- Adaptive two-axle air suspension
- BMW Crystal headlights with adaptive LED technology
- Illuminated Kidney Grille Iconic Glow
- Panoramic glass roof Sky Lounge
- BMW Individual metallic paintwork
- 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster
- 14.9-inch infotainment touchscreen
- Head-up display
- BMW CraftedClarity Glass details
- iDrive controller
- Start/stop button
- Volume roller dial
- Gear selector
- Seat adjustment buttons
- M Carbon Fibre interior trim
- Travel & Comfort system
- USB-C ports behind the front seat backs
- Interior camera
- 20-speaker Bowers and Wilkins surround sound system
- Natural Interaction
- Interior camera
- BMW Individual leather ‘Merino’ upholstery
- Multifunctional front seats
- Heating, ventilated
- Power lumbar support
- Power head restraint adjustment
- Massage function
- Heat Comfort package
- Heated rear seats
- BMW Individual Alcantara Anthracite headliner
- Remote engine start
i7 xDrive60 adds:
- 21-inch M alloy wheels
- Executive Drive Pro
- Active roll stabilisation
- Active roll comfort technology
- Automatic doors
- Acoustic protection for pedestrians
- BMW IconicSounds Electric
- 31.3-inch 8K BMW Theatre Screen for rear passengers
- 35-speaker Bowers and Wilkins Diamond surround sound system
- Multifunction rear seats
- Rear seat entertainment experience
- BMW Individual Gran Lusso interior
- BMW Individual merino/wool-cashmere combination upholstery
- Five-year Chargefox charging subscription
- BMW third-generation wallbox
- Mode 2 domestic charging cable
- Mode 3 public charging cable
Design Pure Excellence package:
- Chrome exterior elements
- Grey brake calipers
M Sport Pro package:
- M Sport brakes with black high-gloss calipers
- Black high-gloss M rear spoiler
- BMW Individual high-gloss shadow line on the grille frame and struts, rear apron trim and tail lights
Connoisseur Lounge package ($27,900 740i, $9000 i7 xDrive60):
- Automatic doors (740i only)
- 31.3-inch 8K BMW Theatre screen for rear passengers (740i only)
- Executive Lounge seating
- Rear multifunction seats (740i only)
- Rear ventilated seats
- Massaging rear seats
- Executive lounge rear console (740i only)
- 40-speaker Bowers and Wilkins Diamond surround sound system
There are also a range of different alloy and titanium wheels available including three 20-inch versions as a no-cost option, or four 21-inch versions of which are at no-cost for the i7, but incur a $2600 cost with the 740i.
- Alpine White
- M Carbon Black metallic
- Black Sapphire metallic
- Sophisto Grey Brilliant Effect metallic
- Mineral White metallic
- Oxide Grey metallic
- M Brooklyn Grey metallic
- Sparkling Coper Grey metallic
- Aventurine Red metallic
- Space Silver metallic
- Dravit Grey BMW Individual metallic
- Tanzanite Blue BMW Individual metallic
- Frozen Pure Grey BMW Individual metallic ($2600)
- Frozen Deep Grey BMW Individual metallic ($2600, as tested)
There are also a range of BMW Individual two-tone metallic paintworks available with either a Black Sapphire metallic or Oxide Grey metallic upper sections. These cost an additional $17,500.
Available colours to match Black Sapphire metallic include:
- Dravit Grey
- Tanzanite Blue
- Oxide Grey
- Aventurine Red
Available colours to go with Oxide Grey Metallic comprise:
- Black Sapphire
- Dravit Grey
- Tanzanite Blue
- Aventurine Red
BMW Individual Merino Leather options:
- Smoke White
The i7 xDrive60 comes standard with BMW Individual Merino leather/cashmere wool blend upholstery in Smoke White and Light Grey, which can also be specified with the 740i for $15,800.
Interior trim options:
- Carbon fibre M interior trim with Silver stitching/Piano Black
- Fine wood trim oak Mirror finish Grey metallic high-gloss
- BMW Individual fine-wood ash Flowing Grey, Open-Pore
The new 7 Series and i7 have not been crash tested by ANCAP or Euro NCAP as yet.
Safety features include:
- Driving Assistant Professional
- Parking Assistant Professional
- Surround-view cameras
- Reversing assistant (200 metres)
- Manoeuvre assistant (600 metres and up to 10 saved manoeuvres)
- Tyre pressure monitoring
- 8 airbags
The new 7 Series also comes with new-generation sensors, a new software stack and a more powerful computing platform that yields potential for Level 3 Autonomous driving and parking.
BMW has finally moved to a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty in-line with all other luxury rivals.
The i7 xDrive60 comes with a six-year/unlimited kilometre BMW Service Inclusive package. This particular service package includes all logbook service requirements.
i7 buyers also get a third-generation BMW Wallbox with purchase, as well as a complimentary five-year subscription to Chargefox national charging network.
The BMW 740i comes standard with a five-year/80,000km BMW Service Inclusive package.
You’ll make up your own mind about the Monolithic-surfaced styling, but if you’re looking for unmistakable road presence with a cutting-edge look – the BMW i7 xDrive60 has got all bases covered.
Inside, it’s the most exciting car on the market; EV or ICE, it doesn’t matter, this thing is the gold standard if you want unbridled luxury and all the cool tech in the world at your fingertips.
Likely you’ll be just as happy kicking back in the Connoisseur Lounge watching the latest Top Gun movie on the best screen we’ve ever seen, as you would behind the wheel carving up the Palm Spring canyons like any properly engineered hot hatch might do.
This is top-shelf engineering at work here, though, we’ll have to wait until we get to drive it on local roads before we can make a definitive call on the i7.
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