The new BMW i7 isn’t really a car, it’s an experience. You travel in a first-class suite, enjoy a relaxing massage and lie back to the latest blockbuster movies in your own private cinema.
I can tell you that this all-electric limousine delivers supercar catching with 400 kW and 745 Nm and will hit 100 km/h in 4.7 seconds despite its weight of 2.7 tons but that would miss the target.
Not because it’s bad steering. far from it. It’s a comfortable-to-drive luxe barge, masking its ridiculously huge dimensions and mass. It accompanies its driver in a climate-controlled leather wonderland, complete with digital displays, mood lighting and a crystal-cut glass switchgear.
But wouldn’t you rather be in the backseat party? We have the BMW i7 xDrive60 ($297,900 plus road) that tops our range and has the optional $9,000 Connoisseur Lounge, where the ventilated leather/cashmere rear seats recline and massage, raising your lower legs to a business-class position.
While enjoying self-importance under an LED-backlit panoramic roof, tap the iPhone-like door screen and the 31.3-inch 8K theater screen descends from the ceiling. Is that true.
Rear and side shades go up, Amazon Fire (or HDMI cable) built-in flashes, and streaming services are just a login away. A 39-speaker surround sound system completes the cinematic experience.
It is a showcase of technology, innovation and electronics. Why is there a global shortage of microchips? Because they are all in this BMW.
At the touch of a button, all four doors open electrically and the front Swarovski crystals sparkle as part of the “grand entrance” light show.
The dashboard eschews buttons for the touch control interaction bar, there’s a giant curved digital screen running half the length of the dashboard, and infinite ambient lighting colors. The controls for the seat, gear selector and infotainment dial are made of cut glass and the latter rounded out with the tactile beauty of a Swiss watch.
It adds up to the next level of limousine – a Rolls-Royce Ghost alternative at half the price. At 5.4 metres, the new 7 Series is partly shorter than the Stealth. The optional two-tone paint with side stripe ($17,500) is unabashedly inspired by the Rolls-Royce.
BMW has overtaken the British to market an electric limousine. The i7’s giant 106kWh battery provides a range of up to 625km, while DC fast charging brings a 10-80 percent charge in 34 minutes, which is fast but not quite as fast as the competition. Still, the i7 theater isn’t a bad place to relax while you’re recharging.
BMW offers five years of free Chargefox membership and a home wall charger, plus six years of free service.
The throttle floor and dual electric motor drive are exciting, but never tacky.
Special sound effects from Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer get louder the faster you go. The ride is cushion-like in the dual-pivot air suspension—adaptive, of course—and in Comfort mode (Sport seems superfluous) it’s a lush, roll-free experience. For the driver, the hardest part is dealing with the barrage of screens, lights, colors and augmented reality navigation flooding your vision. And with the use of a theater screen, your rearview mirror only becomes decorative.
Hence why you need a driver. Your job is to get the most out of the backseat.
It’s not pretty to look at however
The cabin is a fairyland of class, comfort and entertainment. Great to drive, but better
to ride in.
BMW i7 XDRIVE
price About $320,000 by car
power Dual electric motors, 400 kW and 745 Nm
warranty service 5 years/unlimited km, six years free service
safety Eight airbags, automatic emergency braking, radar cruise, lane departure
Blind Spot Assist and Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert
Luggage 500 liters
additional repair kit
BMW still sells the petrol 7 Series, although it looks a little dated alongside the i7. The 740i shares the dimensions of the i7 but is missing some of the extravagance. It’s about $30,000 cheaper at $268,900 plus charge, but it only has 280 kW and 540 Nm, is up to 100 km/h slower and rear-wheel drive only.
The 3.0-liter twin-turbo petrol engine is smooth, quick enough and relatively economical at 7.9 L/100km, but can’t match the i7’s silent progression. If you can live without active roll stabilization, self-opening doors and full rear-seat entertainment ($27,900 option), the 740i might be for you, even though it feels a century past.
Originally published as How BMW reinvented the 7 Series limousine