- Fantastic interior
- Superb luxury extras
- Great performance, handling, and ride
- Very expensive
- Incredibly long
- Current BMW grille is a matter of taste
Range (WLTP): 373-387 miles Top Speed: 149 mph 0 to 62: 4.7 sec Efficienty: 3.8 miles per kWh
Some cars are meant to please the driver, while others are more for the passengers. The BMW i7 is very much in the latter camp, with features for rear-seat passengers that provide a unique level of travel comfort. But it’s still a BMW so offers a high level of driving ability and pleasure, although the price is as high as the level of luxury. This could be the perfect electric vehicle for company directors and Arab princes, so long as money is no object.
Price and Options
There are three versions of the i7 – the eDrive50, xDrive60 and M70 xDrive. The eDrive50 was added to the range after we shot our video. We reviewed the xDrive60 and BMW almost treats the M70 as a different car, so this review is focused on the xDrive60. This comes in two trims – the Excellence and M Sport. Although BMW also lists two engine types for the xDrive60, the regular and Pro, there isn't any difference in powertrain. With the M Sport, you get upgraded brakes and trim including a spoiler, but both xDrive60 cars are all-wheel drive with 544hp, which is potent. The M70 version has a whopping 659hp. The eDrive50 is a rear-wheel-drive car with a “mere” 455hp. Our car was an xDrive60 M Sport Pro.
Like most BMWs, there's an option list that would make Tolstoy look like a pamphlet writer. There are lots of paint, trim and interior choices as well. Corporate purchasers are probably going to buy the more sober options for exterior and focus on making the interior just right for the tastes of passengers.
Even if you choose the most basic specification, however, this car isn’t cheap. The entry-level Excellence eDrive50 model starts at £100,205. However, the xDrive60 Excellence is £113,970, while the Excellence Pro is £134,070. M Sport adds £4,500 to all these prices. The configuration we reviewed will set you back around £147,055. The M70 starts at £161,905.
This isn't the class of car where your biggest concern is value for money, however. The starting price is slightly more than the Mercedes-Benz EQS, which is quite a bit slower but offers up to 16% more range. The EQS also doesn't have the option of a huge rear media screen (of which more shortly), although you can get tablets for individual passengers in the rear. Both cars have very smooth rides, but if you want to travel a bit faster, the i7 is also more enjoyable to drive. Then there’s the Tesla Model S, which is much faster and costs less, but is only available in left-hand drive and can’t match the i7’s interior or rear passenger experience.
The BMW i7 huge car, with an aggressive appearance. In fact, it’s so long (5,391mm) it doesn’t really fit in British car park spaces. The nose will stick out quite some way. BMW's increasingly large kidney grille still divides opinion, too. Once you’ve imagined the front teeth of a beaver, it’s hard to unsee this every time you look at the i7.
The side profile and rear deliver a sense of quality and strength, however. Front grille aside, this is an imposing vehicle and if you ignore the front, it has classic 7-series lines. So long as you avoid that grille, the i7 looks classy, as you'd hope for a car that is likely to end up being used for chauffeur services and costs a fortune.
This is always a matter of taste, but some would argue that while Mercedes used to hold the crown for mainstream luxury car interiors, BMW has taken over. The i7 underlines this. There are 12 different upholstery options, with the one in our test car being black Merino leather.
The front cockpit experience is in line with recent BMW EVs, with a seemingly single LCD panel spanning from the driver to the central infotainment area, which is in fact two screens. The front seats are very comfortable, and the whole sense is of luxury, as you'd hope. If you know you've got enough space, you can press the auto button and not trouble your own arms to open the door. This works both inside and outside the car.
Both driver and passenger side have electrically adjusted memory seats. They're heated, ventilated, and with the trim on our test drive have a massage function as well. This car is made for long drives. You can have 30 minutes of massaging with a variety of options and putting this on after a few hours of driving is amazingly relaxing.
There are lit trim elements all over the place and plenty of clear plastic, which some might consider a bit too bling, but it has a modern look. The plastic is also unfortunately a bit prone to collecting fingerprints. The centre console has a cubby with some USB ports. There are a couple of cupholders and a wireless phone charger. You open the glove compartment with a touch button on the dashboard. This is big enough for a few pairs of chauffeur’s gloves.
The front cabin is comfortable and a pleasant place to be, but the rear passenger experience is what the i7 is all about and how it sets itself above the competition. Of course, the rear doors are automatic like the front ones. The leg room is incredible, and there’s a decent amount of headroom despite this car not being an SUV. The sense of space is augmented by the panoramic sunroof, although in our review car this was bisected by one of the i7’s party pieces: the 31in 8K Theatre display.
Tesla might like to boast about the new rear screen in the Model S, and you can get seat-back individual panels in some other vehicles such as the Mercedes EQS. But the i7’s 31in display blows them all out of the water. It's an expensive option, and in our car's case came bundled within the Ultimate Pack, which costs £28,000. But for supreme passenger luxury, it’s superb. It folds down from the ceiling, and this is accompanied by blinds going up to cover the door windows.
The Theatre screen is touch-enabled, and comes with support for all the expected services, including Netflix, Amazon FireTV including Prime, plus ITV X and Channel 4. This is coupled with a Bowers and Wilkins Diamond surround sound system with 40 speakers, capable of nearly 2,000W of volume. You can have a truly cinematic experience in the back of the i7. You may never want to leave.
Further accentuating this is the Executive Lounge rear seat option. This enables almost as much adjustment as the front seats. They have heating, ventilation, and that superb massage function as well. But there’s an extra party trick. If there's nobody in the front passenger seat, you can turn the rear seat behind it virtually into a bed. When you enable this function, the front seat slides forward and its base becomes a footrest, while the rear seat reclines. It’s not quite horizontal but is certainly flat enough for comfortable sleeping.
There is a third rear seat in the middle, but if you're not using it, you can pull the back down to make an armrest – with an integrated wireless phone charger. There are two USB C ports in the armrest cubby, and a couple more in the backs of the seats in front under flaps. The side LCD panels in the doors, which control things like the Theatre screen, Executive Lounge reclining, and massage function, also provide air conditioning adjustments.
This may be an executive car, but there are still ISOfix points, so you can secure your little princes’ or princesses’ mini thrones in the back.
Storage and Load Carrying
The boot has a powered opening mechanism, as you would expect for a car in this class. However, this isn't a disguised hatchback like the i4. It's a regular saloon, and you can’t let the rear seats forward to increase the capacity. However, there's plenty of rear luggage space without it, certainly enough for an airport pickup, and a ski hatch available down the middle.
The capacity is 500 litres, with a little extra below for some charging cables. We managed to load a big pile of artworks in the back from a fair without difficulty. Despite not having the height of a hatchback, the BMW i7’s boot is wide, so you can fit most things in easily. This car can also tow up to 2,000kg braked, which seems a tad unnecessary. The i7 is a bit too special for dragging a caravan, although you might want to tow a boat or some ponies.
BMWs are supposed to be driver's cars, and the i7 cockpit feels well laid out for this. The steering wheel is conventional, with media and menu controls on the right, plus cruise control buttons on the right. There are conventional steering wheel stalks for indicators and windscreen washing. A Boost paddle engages a short period of extra power when you need the most acceleration during overtaking.
You turn the system on with a button, and then select drive modes with a rocker. There's a separate electric parking brake and auto hold capability. With that enabled, single-pedal driving is possible. The two front seats have easily accessible climate controls, as do the rear seats via the little LCD panels in the doors.
You get a 12.3in digital instrument readout, providing speed on the left and power/regeneration on the right. The middle will show a sat-nav map, but in urban environments it can switch to a forward video view with a direction overlay. This is handy so you don’t miss a turning. There's also a Head-Up Display. BMW was one of the first automakers to offer HUDs, and the design is excellent, with relevant information and a very useful satnav direction snapshot. You get clear ADAS warnings too.
Alongside the instrument panel is a slightly larger 14.9in infotainment touchscreen, but the two displays sit side-by-side with the intention of looking like one very wide screen, although they clearly aren’t connected. The infotainment system can also be operated via a wheel in the central console. The touch panel is very responsive and easy to use, however. There is support Apple Car Play and Android Auto – something BMWs haven’t offered as long as you’d expect. You can add all manner of widgets to the infotainment panel. BMW has really upped its game here, with easy-to-access functions and competent satellite navigation.
Performance and Driving
The i7 is huge and aimed at transporting rear seat passengers, but it’s still a BMW, so it remains good to drive. With 544hp, despite the 2.7-ton weight, this car can hit 62mph in 4.7 seconds. However, you need to press the Boost paddle on the steering wheel for this power level. It's still quick without this, but not so earth shattering. The eDrive50 takes a still rapid 5.5 seconds to reach 62mph, while the M70 drops this to an impressive 3.7 seconds.
Cornering is much flatter and more composed than other large luxury saloons we’ve driven. It even compares well with the lighter Tesla Model S. This isn't an all-out driver's car, however. The weight and suspension softness preclude this. But that's a good thing for passengers. The suspension on this car eats bumps in the road for breakfast. Driving round London's terrible roads, you barely notice the potholes.
It's also incredibly comfortable for long journeys. Driving up and down the M1 for hours, this car reigned supreme. It wafts along at 70mph like it's rolling round a car park at 5mph. It's probably the smoothest electric car we've driven, and that includes the Mercedes EQS.
Range and Charging
The huge size of the BMW i7 means that there’s plenty of room for a big battery. All cars have a 105.7kWh unit with 101.7kWh net. That's enough for up to 387 miles of WLTP range with the Excellence and 373 miles with the M Sport Pro, which is close to what a Tesla Model S can achieve, with a slightly smaller battery. However, the Mercedes-Benz EQS can go over 450 miles.
With DC charging going all the way to 195kW, you can get from 10 to 80% in 34 minutes, which makes long journeys very possible in the i7. There’s AC up to 22kW too, so you can recharge to 100% in 5.5 hours if you have access to that, but it will be over 15 hours on a regular 7kW wall box. You also get free IONITY charging for a year when you first buy this car. We tried this out and managed a maximum of 187kW, making the 195kW rating quite accurate.
We also drove the BMW i7 from London to Nottingham and back down the M1, mostly doing 70mph, giving an average of 2.5 miles per kWh. This would mean 254 real miles of range, which is well below WLTP but still plenty for long journeys.
The WLTP rating equates to 3.7 miles per kWh for the M Sport (3.8 miles per kWh for the Excellence), although as already mentioned we saw 2.5 miles per kWh when driving at motorway speeds. This means that the i7 is not the most economical EV around, but it’s not terrible for such a heavy car.
The basic warranty is three years, with a 12-year anti-corrosion guarantee. The battery has a typical eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty although BMW doesn’t say what percentage that’s for.
It will no surprise to hear that every single version of the i7 is in insurance group 50, the highest available.
The full gamut of modern safety tech is provided in the i7. This includes Frontal Collision Warning, Blind Spot Detection, and Lane Departure warning. The blind spot detection appears visibly as an orange triangle on the wing mirror. There’s driver monitoring for attention and fatigue. Although the i7 doesn’t have a Euro NCAP safety rating, there is plenty of active tech included, such as pre-tensioning seatbelts when an impeding collision is detected.
|Price:||xDrive60 Excellence – £113,970; xDrive60 M Sport – £118,470; xDrive xDrive60 Excellence Pro – £134,070; xDrive60 M Sport Pro – £141,320|
|Range (WLTP):||Excellence – 387 miles; M Sport Pro – 373 miles|
|Charge time (7.4kW):||16.5 hours|
|Charge time (22kW):||5.5 hours|
|Charge time (170kW, 80%):||34 minutes|
|Battery:||105.7kWh (101.7kWh usable)|
|On Board Charger:||DC: 195kW; AC: 22kW|
|Efficiency:||3.8 miles per kWh|
|Wheels driven:||All wheel drive|
|Cargo:||500 litres; 2,000kg towing braked|