BMW places a gleaming crown on its iconic 7 Series, shifting from the allure of V12 power to a lavish electric driving experience in this Bavarian luxury sedan. While comfort and performance are impressive, there’s a nostalgic yearning for the classic V12, but maybe we’re just old fashioned.
One year post-launch, the aesthetic of the new 7 Series remains a talking point, yet this hasn’t dampened its favourable market uptake. With fully booked order lists, BMW has certainly catered to the varied tastes of luxury buyers, offering petrol, diesel, plug-in hybrid, and now electric options. The line-up was lacking an unequivocal flagship—until now. Far from surprising, this pinnacle model is electrified. Forsaking the once-coveted twelve-cylinder engine, Munich’s premium offering now embraces electric propulsion. Under the badge of the BMW i7 M70 lies an all-wheel-drive system with 660 horsepower, bestowing an unexpected level of vigour upon the 2.7-tonne Dingolfing-built sedan. Those horsepower figures may read modestly compared to American or Chinese electric rivals, but on the road, they feel nothing short of phenomenal—thanks to an expertly tuned drivetrain and chassis reminiscent of its less potent i7 counterpart.
Coupled with a peak torque of up to 1,100 Nm, acceleration is blistering, irrespective of your starting speed. The grand saloon offers a respectable range of 490 to 560 kilometres, and if you’re cutting it close, a Max-Range function can extract an additional 25% range by limiting power output. However, the model falls short in charging speed, its 195 kW DC charge rate not quite keeping pace with 800/900-volt hyperchargers that deliver upwards of 270 kW.
BMW positions its i7 M70 xDrive as what it labels an ‘M-Performance’ variant, more akin to an M-Light rather than a fully-fledged M model complete with custom aerodynamics, distinct styling, and additional features. This pinnacle model sets itself apart from its less vigorous counterparts through subtle enhancements, such as tweaks to the radiator grille, mirrors, wheels, and side skirts. The theme of nuanced distinction continues into the lavish cabin, which remains a sanctuary of luxury regardless of whether you opt for the electric or combustion engine versions.
Seating is impeccably comfortable at both the front and rear, and noise intrusion is minimal, allowing for an almost imperceptible experience of acceleration. When the dual electric motors — 258 hp at the front and 489 hp at the back — engage their 21-inch wheels with the asphalt, the hefty sedan propels forward with a force akin to a high-performance sports car, achieving top speeds of 250 km/h.
The colossal weight exceeding 2.7 tons is fabulously masked in day-to-day driving until one is faced with swift cornering. At this point, the laser-sharp yet effortlessly light steering and the air suspension featuring active roll stabilisation begin to show their limits. Assisting in these challenging manoeuvres are a meticulously calibrated chassis, which could benefit from a more reactive sport mode.
The majority of this technical finesse operates unbeknownst to the driver; it’s executed with millisecond precision behind the scenes, allowing passengers to relish uninterrupted comfort and serenity, the dual personality and effortless poise of the i7 is all you would hope and expect from a top tier BMW.
With a starting price of at least €181,800, there’s not much to complain about the BMW i7 M70 xDrive, aside from its considerable curb weight — par for the course in such an electric model. The illuminated bling in the trim and displays can be turned off with a bit of dedication, and the customisation options for both interior and exterior are virtually limitless. However, the front displays could be larger and more imposing. While they are razor-sharp compared to some competitors, they aren’t overly large, and their black frames haven’t aged so gracefully. There’s no display for the passenger, while rear-seat occupants have a large cinema screen that descends from the roof. It’s a pity that, for all the money in the world, the BMW i7 doesn’t come with a sunroof.