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2023 BMW i7 First Drive

Grand Luxury meets electric propulsion

By Dan Heyman Wheels.ca

Nov 19, 2022 6 min. read

Article was updated 15 days ago

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For 2023, BMW’s flagship 7 Series sedan has been redesigned, adding new styling, new tech and perhaps most importantly, and all-new battery-electric option – the i7.

A big part of that redesign includes the unique facia that incorporates modern detailing like the lights and grille but wraps it all in broad panels with a few choice creases on the lower doors, around the beltline and on the hood plus a modern take on the “Hofmeister Kink” at the corners of the rear side windows. That not only looks good, but also allows for larger side windows and larger greenhouse as a result. The new 7 is longer, taller and has a longer wheelbase than even the long-wheelbase version of the previous-generation car.

2023 BMW i7

Like that kink, the rest of the styling cues are functional as well as stylistic, resulting in a .23 coefficient of drag. When paired with the 101.7 kWh battery in xDrive60 form it’s slippery enough to help provide 512 km of range, according to NRCan’s testing cycle.

Inside, there’s no question that this is an all-new car aimed at the most exclusive buyers. Especially if you’ve speced the upgraded seats ($7,500) which come finished in a glorious combination of Merino leather and cashmere, for a soft, breathable seat surface that feels just as good as it looks.

Speaking of “feel”: in addition to the quality of the materials themselves, these seats are throne-like in their comfort. Every part of your body that needs the most support gets it, while the padding is just right. Just when you think the bottom cushion is too short, you roll the thigh support forward, leaving no uncomfortable gap between the thigh cushion and bottom cushion. If the side bolsters aren’t rigid enough, they can be adjusted too – finding an uncomfortable setting is almost impossible.

Back seat passengers, meanwhile, get fully reclining seats if you spec the $2,800 Executive Lounge Package as well as the ability to bump the front passenger forward. All of this, meanwhile, is controlled by a nifty iPhone-sized display mounted atop the armrest.

While there are more computers in here than in the Challenger Shuttle, the dash is an uncluttered space, dominated by dual curved displays. The left-hand side unit measures 14.9 inches, with the main infotainment display coming in at 12.3 inches. It’s through here that you control the climate control system (which uses concealed vent outlets to contribute to that cleaner look), to the various sunshades (both rear side windows, the rear window, the sunroof) and drive modes. Or, go ahead and make use of voice commands; “Hey, BMW: I’m cold” will raise the temp, while Easter Eggs like “Hey, BMW: I’m bored” will activate Sport mode.

2023 BMW i7

2023 BMW i7

Other clutter-reducing touches include power opening and closing doors that require no more than a button or key fob press. They won’t open all the way if they sense an object in their path.

The image displayed on the central screen changes depending on which of the MyModes – Expressive, Relax, Digital Theater, Digital Art – you’ve selected. These also modify the ambient lighting and whether or not the sunshades are open.

The Digital theatre mode is probably the most transformative of all of them, as it will automatically deploy the optional 31.3-inch 8K rear entertainment display from the roof and closes all the blinds. Various apps included with on-board Amazon Fire TV are YouTube, Prime Video and more. You will, however, have to live with the fact that it obstructs part of the full-length moonroof when stowed.

2023 BMW i7

While the driver and front seat passenger won’t be able to experience that, they do get to experience the fantastic Bowers & Wilkins audio system that will vibrate the seatbacks for a 4D experience; it really does feel like the music is playing right there in your chest.

Drivers can turn to either of the two displays in front of them to make use of some modern tech in the form of augmented reality navigation. Essentially, the screens in front of them display a real-time view of the road ahead. When following a navi route, arrows will appear on the screen to help guide you through the various intersections along the way.

The i7 is a dual-motor hybrid, meaning you have EV motors on both the front and rear axles, which combined provide 544 horsepower and 549 lb-ft of torque, enough to hustle the 2,600 kg-plus i7 from stop to 100 km/h in 4.7 seconds, on to a 240 km/h top speed.

It’s that kind of torque wave that you want in a cruiser like this, along with a ride that’s befitting of a vehicle of this stature. That’s achieved by the standard fitment of a four-corner air suspension and adaptive dampers. The i7 floats above the tarmac, so smoothly you sometimes feel like you’re levitating. A little much? Maybe, but the bottom line is that when driving the i7 I had to try and feel the bumps I was traversing. That’s right on for this segment.

2023 BMW i7

When you do want to hustle it, you can – grab Sport mode for the powertrain and the EV motors are allowed to flex their full strength, zipping you along with pace as the air suspension keeps everything nice and level through the bends and the rear-wheel steering adds stabilization by turning the rear wheels in concert with the fronts.

In addition to drive modes like Comfort, Sport, and Eco, the i7 gets a separate set of selectable modes that have everything to do with battery regeneration. There are four: adaptive, low, medium, and high. Adaptive was our mode of choice as it automatically adjusts the regen depending on what it senses from the driver; if you’re stuck in traffic and try to floor it, for example, the i7 will only provide the kind of acceleration befitting of the circumstance. In this mode, we were able to go from 141 miles (227 km) of range remaining to 225 (362 km) after driving about 50 miles (80.5 km).

2023 BMW i7

When plugged into a DC Fast charger, the i7 can charge at up to 195 kW, returning 170 km in about 10 minutes.

While the rear passengers are allowed to enjoy their time unfettered by the requirements of, you know, driving, drivers are given some relief as well. The i7 sees the debut of Driving Assistant Professional level II autonomous tech with Highway Assistant. When on BMW’s mapped roads – all divided highways with no level crossings – you can cruise hands-free and pedal-free, with no nannies telling you to stop. Even lane changes can happen with a light tap of the turn indicator, although there are a few button presses required to activate it.

This is a grand car, this i7, full-stop. It has the power, the ride, and the interior accoutrements required of a flag-bearer for a brand like this, not to mention a brand that also happens to own the most luxurious car brand you can name in Rolls-Royce. I’m sure there’s little to no tangible connection there, but I couldn’t help but think about the 7 Series’ Rolls-Royce Ghost cousin as I piloted the i7 thanks to the materials and on-road attitude on offer. If that isn’t some high praise, I don’t know what is.

2023 BMW i7 xDrive60

BODY STYLE: Four-door full-size luxury sedan

DRIVE METHOD: Dual-motor, all-wheel drive
ENGINE: 101.7 kWh battery, 544 hp, 549 lb-ft of torque

FUEL ECONOMY CITY/HIGHWAY/COMBINED: 2.8/2.6/2.7 Le/100 km
TRANSMISSION: One-speed automatic

MAX CARGO CAPACITY: 500 litres

TOWING CAPACITY: N/A

Base MSRP: $147,000

WEBSITE:  BMW i7

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