Review: 2023 BMW i7 xDrive60



Words: Calvin Chan

Photography: Calvin Chan

Published: January 9, 2023

 



The 7 Series has always been BMW’s technological vanguard, introducing the newest gadgets and gizmos that would subsequently trickle down to the 3 Series and 5 Series. The last-generation 7 Series in 2016 debuted Gesture Control, a lit-up panoramic sunroof, a digital key fob with a touchscreen embedded inside, and a first-class seating position for the rear right passenger.

 

 

The new 2023 BMW i7 aims to do the same but with a galvanic edge. It’s an all-electric variant of the 7 Series that takes the fight directly to the Mercedes-Benz EQS, Tesla Model S, and Porsche Taycan. The latter trio had a head start in the luxury sedan market while BMW focused on the SUV segment instead with the iX. Still, better late than never.

You could even call the i7 not-so-fashionably late. Like Lewis Hamilton showing up to Friday practice, the i7 is a bold statement piece. Use whatever adjectives you want to describe the awkward front end - fashion, avant-garde, daring - but it undoubtedly garners attention, both positive and negative. Who can tell anyways? Do you think driving around in a yellow Lamborghini doesn’t draw stares of envy and animosity either?

 

 

Still, we think the odd mix of angles and shapes makes the i7 look incohesive, unfinished, and half-baked. The rear end is attractive and stately, and certainly more visually striking than the outgoing 7 Series, but it’s too conventional and generic for BMW’s flagship sedan. The $12,000 two-tone paint of Sapphire Black draped over Aventurine Red comes out well though and is flanked by a stripe where the paints meet, mimicking the coachline from Rolls-Royce models, but the BMW’s isn’t hand-painted on. We have a soft spot for these two-tone paints when done right, like here and on Range Rovers and Maybachs. Of note, the i7 is identical in looks to the 760i gasoline-powered variant except for the rear bumper and exhausts. They even sport the same price tag of $147,000.

 

 

Despite the perplexing epidermis, what lies behind the automatic doors lies another story. This is undeniably the most high-tech and loaded BMW cabin to date. It’s even more luxurious and dramatic than the iX SUV. A massive light panel stretches the entire width of the cabin and can change colour depending on the driving mode or chosen ambient lighting. And there’s finally a new BMW steering wheel design, which is both elegant in shape and ergonomic to hold. The leather grips are still overly thick and chunky but they feel substantial and upscale. Disappointingly, the signal stalks are the same plastic design from 2012, and the same goes for the solo ‘Boost’ paddle shifter, but the remainder of the crystal switchgear is a masterclass of quality.

 

 

We find the seats more comfortable and supportive than the EQS and Taycan, with better padding and range of adjustment in all areas. And while the automatic doors seem like a gimmick, they come in handy, and having the ability to open and close all the doors with a touch of a button in the center menu, is a party trick that never gets old. But ever since the more affordable Genesis G90 ran with the idea, it’s become less of a billionaire’s feature.

 

 

Amenities are not lacking when you check the right option boxes. In the case of our i7, $51,000 worth of options were spec’d, equivalent to one and a half Subaru BRZs. As a result, there are digital screens everywhere, both front and back. The largest draw is the 31.3-inch cinema-style display ($4,900) that sits on a track below the fixed glass roof. Admittedly, it’s larger than our computer monitor, and subsequently blocks most of the view out front as well. The screen quality is high-definition, showing vibrant colours and crisp graphics. Using the car’s own 5G internet, we were able to stream Netflix and YouTube and make use of the 4D audio experience that adds bass shaking to the seats for better immersion.

 

 

But it comes with a few drawbacks. Due to its substantial size, the screen can’t be lowered if the front seats are situated too far back, which is always the case as I’m six feet tall. So I need to uncomfortably contort my seat forward for any chance to use the screen, but even then, the screen then ends up way too close to the rear passengers. In the end, it’s more of a stationary car experience, because the screen blocks the view out the rear window anyways. It’s better to park the car, head to the back, recline the seats fully, pull up the thick rear and side blinds for absolute privacy, and enjoy a movie. Either that or you hire a dwarf chauffeur.

 

 

Instead of the outgoing 7 Series’ removable Samsung tablet, the i7 now uses 5.5-inch fixed touchscreens on the door panels that streamline the control system. They govern every function from the seating position and massage, to the brightness of the reading lights. It doesn’t come across as gimmicky, though we found it more cumbersome than real switches and buttons. However, it should bode well and keep the i7 floating into the new few years of upcoming tech.

 

 

The driver’s seat is an equally special place to be. Taking the helm of the i7 and its 101.7 kWh lithium-ion battery and dual electric motors means you have 536 hp and 549 lb-ft at your disposal. All-wheel drive is standard, and 0-100 km/h is reached in a speedy 4.7 seconds. Yes, the gasoline-powered 760i will reach that in 4.2 seconds but it also weighs nearly 400 kg less and carries slightly more torque.

 

The i7 is quick off the line and light on its feet. Never does it feel lethargic or unwieldy, and there’s even a Boost paddle shifter on the left side of the steering wheel should you ever have something to prove. And it’s agile under rotation thanks to an adaptive suspension and rear wheel steering. Like the EQS, it takes some getting used to the sensitive reactions to pitch and yaw. We ended up overcorrecting and oversteering and had to adjust our inputs to compensate for the darty front end. We think the Taycan still feels the most natural and nails the steering the best, but the i7 does not isolate the driver from the road as much as the EQS.

 

 

The i7 floats around town with a cloud-like sensation, like it’s tip-toeing around, neutralizing all small suspension movements and leaving only minor vertical oscillations to be noticed. It’s so effective that it can be disorienting at first. Add to that the distinct feeling of EV acceleration where it’s instant and uninterrupted, and the constant jerking of regenerative braking, and it can make some EV-naive passengers quite nauseous.

 

And then we get to the range. The i7 xDrive60 is claimed to hit 517 km on a single charge, while the range we observed was closer to 405 km due to multiple factors such as a fair deal of highway driving, cold 0-degrees Celsius weather which impacts battery strength, and the fact that we perennially kept the heated seats and steering wheel on. Comparatively, the Porsche Taycan 4S is claimed at 320 km, and the Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 at 547 km, but the latter two seemed to have a better estimate of their driving range that diminished more accurately as we drove.

 

 

The BMW i7 is a technological showcase in the all-electric space. While we don’t think it will be as popular or as well-received as the Mercedes EQS or Porsche Taycan, there’s no denying the attention it has collected. The rear entertainment screen is eye-opening but also quite limited in its function, but we appreciate BMW’s daring approach to offering something unique. The same goes for the rear door pad screens and automatic doors. Like every modern BMW, the driving dynamics are excellent and the i7 is genuinely fun to drive, as it doesn’t isolate the driver from the excitement of the road. It’s a bold statement piece for a bold brand in a bold segment, and we can’t wait to see how all these new gadgets will trickle down to the rest of the BMW lineup.

 


Photo Gallery:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Specifications:

Model: 2023 BMW i7 xDrive60 Sedan

Paint Type: Aventurine Red III / Sapphire Black Two-Tone
Base Price: $147,000

Price as Tested: $198,100
Wheelbase(mm): 3,215
Length/Width/Height (mm): 5,391 / 1,950 / 1,544

Curb weight (kg): 2,684
Powertrain: 101.7 kWh lithium-ion battery, front and rear electric motors
Horsepower: 536 hp
Torque: 549 lb-ft
Transmission: Single-speed transmission
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD

Claimed Range: 512 km
Observed Range: 405 km

Tires: Pirelli P Zero Winter; 21-inch tires

 



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