All-new BMW i7 leads the 7 Series into the electric era, but with a face only a mother could love

We thought we were ready for this with the amount of teasers and leaks, but we were wrong. What you’re looking at is the all-new, seventh-generation BMW 7 Series – and yeah, it’s a lot. Best to take a seat while you look through the pictures.

BMW says that the seventh-generation model is now significantly larger, more spacious, and more luxurious than at any time in its 45-year history, and for the first time ever, it’s also being offered in a fully-electric guise, called the i7.

But first, we have to address the elephant in the room, and that’s the 7-er’s looks. BMW says the new design is driven by customer feedback in some of their largest markets such as China and North America, and it’s… bold, to say the least.

The German carmaker does have a penchant for the more daring and expressive designs (see: Bangle-butt), but we think that this all-new 7 Series takes the cake as the most egregious of all – even more so than the buckteeth M3 – and is sure to stir up “heated discussions” within online communities.

The kidney grille, which was already humongous on the previous-generation model, is now even bigger and surrounded by an illuminated frame. Flanking those massive nostrils are the new split headlight that was recently introduced on the BMW X7 facelift, and if there’s one thing we can say about the new headlights, it’s that they work better on darker-coloured body hues.

For how loud the front fascia is, the back does seem oddly bland. The boot line tapers down slightly, while the LED taillights get a slim horizontal design much like that of the BMW iX, giving the new 7 Series some additional visual width, and that’s about it for the rear.

Say what you want about the looks, but you can’t deny that it does give the car some real sense of presence, to the point where it reminds us a little of the Rolls-Royces. The three-box silhouette is familiar, especially with the characteristic long bonnet. The sides, however, remain largely smooth and unadorned across the entire surface, save for a light shoulder line visually connecting the headlights to the tail lights.

In terms of sizing, the 7 Series has grown in every single dimension, by quite some margin specifically in terms of length – measuring 130 mm longer than before. Unlike before, though, it will no longer be offered in two different wheelbase options. Instead, all seventh-gen 7 Series models will come with a standard 3,215 mm wheelbase, which in itself is already a 5 mm increase over the previous long-wheelbase model.

Told you it looks better on darker paint jobs.

And despite it being a proper luxobarge, BMW will also be offering three different M styling packages – M Sport, M Sport Pro, and M Performance – to add some more aggressive styling cues, if you so wish. These include a selection of blacked-out exterior trims,more aggressive bumpers, and wheel sizes ranging from 19- to 22-inches in diameter – the latter a part of the range-topping M Performance pack.

As for the fully-electric i7, it too gets its own unique design touches, including a largely blanked-off grille with a BMW i logo, as well as blue decorative elements on the bumpers, side skirts, and the ring around the BMW roundel emblem.

Similar to its exterior, the cabin of the all-new BMW 7 Series is also quite unlike anything we’ve seen before. The dashboard features a non-symmetrical tabletop design, with a scalloped wooden section (carbon fibre-look trims on M-badged models) that houses the new floating iDrive 8 curved display panels.

But the more interesting bit here is actually the Interaction Bar, which is a touch-sensitive transparent surface that spans across the entire front half of the cabin from door to door, hiding many of the control surfaces for the climate control system, lights, and even a “button” on the passenger side to open the powered door.

The air-con vents are hidden neatly in tiny slits beneath the panel, and the entire bar actually lights up to serve as ambient lighting for the cabin, with the light playing off the multi-faceted, jewel-like surface for a unique look.

With all that being said, though, the main highlight of the interior is of course in the rear seats. As usual, the seats here can be specified with power adjustability and ventilation/heating function, and if you want to go one level higher, there’s also an Executive Lounge option with up to 42.5 degrees of seat recline, and a built-in gapless ottoman.

But those are things you’ve already come to expect in a 7 Series. For the ultimate “wow factor”, how about a 5.5-inch control touchscreen housed in each rear door to access settings like your seat angles and climate control? Or a massive roof-mounted 31-inch 8K BMW Theatre Screen TV with integrated Amazon Fire TV? Yeah, we weren’t joking.

Other optional items here include a 1,965 watt, 36-speaker Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System with “exciters” built into the seat backrests, a Sky Lounge panoramic sunroof with LED lights ingrained into the glass itself, and even automatic powered doors.

As for the touchpoints, the new BMW 7 Series can be specified with a wide range of different upscale upholstery appointments, including the Veganza faux leather as standard, optional extended Merino leather, or even cashmere wool if you feel even more fancy.

The all-new 7 Series – including the i7 – is built on the same CLAR platform as the previous-generation model, but for improved comfort, BMW says that it has completely redesigned the suspension setup of the 7 Series, with double wishbones at the front and multilinks at the rear, fitted with standard air springs, adaptive dampers, and new rear hydro mounts.

For an even more serene ride, buyers can also opt for the Executive Drive Pro option, that adds a 48V electronic active roll stabilisation system to manipulate the body roll characteristics during cornering – M-badged models also get specific tuning for the system.

At launch, only the fully-electric i7 will be made available globally, specifically the i7 xDrive60, which packs two electric motors for a combined total system output of 544 hp (400 kW) and 745 Nm of torque.

The motors sip electric juice from a 101.7 kWh battery pack located underneath the floor, propelling the 2,640 kg behemoth from a standstill to 100 km/h in 4.7 seconds, onward to an electronically-limited top speed of 240 km/h. Driving in ideal conditions, the battery is also enough to give the all-new i7 an electric driving range of 625 km based on the WLTP test cycle.

Charging port for the i7, fuel port for the 7 Series.

For charging, the i7 supports AC charging of up to 11 kW via a Type 2 connector, with a full charge taking approximately 9.5 hours. DC fast charging meanwhile is supported up to 195 kW, which translates to a 10-80% charge of roughly 34 minutes.

Aside from cabled charging, the BMW i7 also recharges itself via an upgraded adaptive regenerative braking system, which takes into account the geographical data from the navigation system, as well as traffic lights or junctions along a planned route to ensure optimal power recuperation on the fly.

BMW will also be unveiling a new i7 M70 xDrive variant in the near future to top the 7 Series’ model range. While no official figures have been provided yet, the carmaker says that the new flagship will feature over 600 hp and 1,000 Nm of torque, making it the most powerful BMW model ever made for the roads.

As for the ICE-powered models, BMW says that the exact offerings will differ from region to region, but all of them will feature electrification of some form.

US and China will receive a 740i variant with a 380 hp/520 Nm 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six, alongside a 760i xDrive with 544 hp and 750 Nm from a 4.4-litre turbocharged V8, both of which are mild-hybrid powertrains, and are paired to an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

The Middle East will receive a slightly less-powereful 735i variant with 286 hp and 435 Nm, while Europe will be the sole region to receive an oil-burner powertrain (coming later), with the 740d xDrive offering 300 hp and 650 Nm from its 3.0 litre turbodiesel inline-six.

Starting next year, BMW will also be offering two plug-in hybrid models for the global market – a 750e xDrive and a M760e xDrive, the latter billed as the first M-badged car based on the 7 Series. Both models pair a 3.0-litre turbocharged inline-six engine (from the 740i) to a 200 hp (145 kW) electric motor, raising their combined outputs to 490 hp/700 Nm and 571 hp/800 Nm respectively.

The batteries for the PHEV have been increased by more than 50% in this latest-generation model, now 18.7 kWh in capacity, allowing for an all-electric driving range of 80 km. Charging can also be done at up to 7.4 kW now with a Type 2 AC charger, which mean a full charge can be completed in less than three hours.

As for safety, expect nothing but the best in BMW’s new flagship model. As usual, features will differ based on the options you tick during your purchase, but the top-of-the-line pack will include features such as hands-free driving on highways at up to 130 km/h with automatic lane changes (in North America).

BMW says that SAE Level 3 autonomous driving technology is also already built into the architecture of the car, with the feature arriving at a later date via an OTA software update.



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