The 2023 BMW 7 Series, i7 EV Are Bigger, Smoother, Swankier Flagships Than Ever

We have now entered the seventh generation of the BMW 7 Series. A bit like how it’ll be another 100 years before we experience another 02/22/22, it’ll be quite a while before BMW crosses another numerically quirky milestone like this again—the theoretical fourth-gen 4 Series would presumably be the next one. Outside of that number-nerd-pleasing nugget, the 2023 BMW 7 Series also marks another turning point in the nameplate’s history: the introduction of the first all-electric version, the i7.

The V12 is also gone, but gas-powered 7ers live on still in the form of the V8 760i and straight-six 740i. I recently got to sample the i7 EV and the 760i from both the front and rear seat, and, turns out, BMW’s flagship is as solid as it’s always been.

Chris Tsui

2023 BMW 7 Series & i7 Review Specs

  • Base price
    • 740i: $94,295
    • 760i xDrive (as tested): $114,595 ($149,045)
    • i7 xDrive60 (as tested): $120,295 ($151,995)
  • Powertrain
    • 740i: 3.0-liter turbo straight-six | 48-volt mild hybrid | 8-speed automatic | rear-wheel drive
    • 760i xDrive: 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 | 48-volt mild hybrid | 8-speed automatic | all-wheel drive
    • i7 xDrive60: two electric motors | 1-speed transmission | 105.7-kWh battery | all-wheel drive
  • Performance
    • 740i: 375 hp @ 5,200 to 6,250 rpm | 383 lb-ft @ 1,850 to 5,000 rpm
    • 760i xDrive: 536 hp @ 5,200 to 6,500 rpm | 553 lb-ft @ 1,800 to 5,000 rpm
    • i7 xDrive60: 536 hp | 549 lb-ft
  • Curb weight
    • 740i: 4,594 pounds
    • 760i xDrive: 4,969 pounds
    • i7 xDrive60: 5,917 pounds
  • Seating capacity: 5
  • Cargo volume: 13.7 cubic feet (11.4 cubic feet in i7)
  • EPA fuel economy 
    • 740i: 25 mpg city | 31 highway | 27 combined
    • 760i xDrive: 18 mpg city | 26 highway | 21 combined
    • i7 xDrive60: 81 mpge city | 85 highway | 83 combined (with the 20-inch wheel)
  • i7 xDrive60 EPA range: 318 miles (19-inch wheels) | 296 miles (20-inch wheels) | 308 miles (21-inch wheels)
  • Quick take: Stately, comfortable, and capable, BMW’s new flagship sedan—and its ridiculously large Theater Screen—is better experienced as an EV and a fairly clear dunk on its Benz competition.
  • Score
    • 760i xDrive: 8/10
    • i7 xDrive60: 8.5/10

Hyperpop Flagship

As an item, the 7 Series is very much a product of BMW’s hyperpop era but, on the outside at least, that clashes a bit with its relatively boxy, stodgy executive limousine shape. For every Swarovski DRL, there’s a door handle with black circular sensors on it that looks oddly unfinished. And I can’t remember a car whose outward appearance varied in appeal so wildly depending on color. In white, it looks pretty weird; things get better in that metallic beige, and in two-tone black-and-red, it’s gloriously Rolls-Royce-esque.

The inside of the new BMW flagship is quite pretty, but it’s admittedly sacrificed a bit of outright function in the name of vanity. For example, I am indeed a sucker for how the crystal controls look when they’re clean, but they got quite fingerprint-y after not all that much time in the car. The glass-look light bar that spans the dash and extends into the door cards is indeed quite cool-looking at night and integrates the seat memory and door lock controls, but pressing these yielded quite a bit more flex than there really ought to be.

Also, the crystal infotainment knob controller isn’t as physically easy to use as BMW’s regular plastic one; its press-down movements require much more precision and, when I was using it, regular presses to enter something often activated the “up” D-pad function. As for one stylistic flair that didn’t come with any downsides, I particularly enjoyed the very skeletal-looking bottom steering wheel spoke that looks like it came right out of a one-off concept supercar.

BMW’s iDrive 8 infotainment is generally good, sporting an attractive, snappy interface with pared-down physical controls. You can read my in-depth review of this system here as it existed in an i4 M50 since the system in the 7 Series and i7 is, by and large, the same.

The rest of the car is typical top-shelf luxury with a nice emphasis on function. Powered seat motors move just a little bit gentler than they do in lesser BMWs. The HVAC vents are hidden underneath the light bar and adjusting them is—praise the heavens—done via physical nubs hidden below in a way that makes them easily accessible but still visually discreet. The carpets are very plush. And, a lot like the new Bentley Bentayga EWB, its doors can swing open and close automatically at the touch of a button. Unlike the Bentley, which only automates its rear doors, however, the new 7 does this for all four of its entry points. BMW’s auto-doors work as advertised and use sensors to detect obstacles so they don’t slam into any other cars, walls, or passing cyclists.

Chris Tsui

In the United States, the new gas BMW 7 Series will come as a base, rear-drive 740i with the company’s ubiquitous B58 turbocharged straight-six or as a twin-turbo V8 760i xDrive. The big powertrain news, however, comes in the form of the all-electric i7, formally known as the i7 xDrive60. Coincidentally (or not), both the gas 760i and i7 make exactly 536 horsepower and practically identical amounts of torque, although given BMW’s suspected propensity to pull conservative-sounding numbers out of a hat when it comes to listed power figures, take all of that for what it’s worth. A 750e plug-in hybrid is coming soon but, for this first test, I drove the V8 and the EV.

Driving the BMW 7 Series

It may be tempting to assume that the driving experience of a big, limo-style sedan like this is secondary, but, according to BMW, most 7 Series buyers actually prefer driving over relying on a chauffeur. And when it comes to driving, both versions of the 7ers tested were expectedly very smooth and comfortable.

The 760i xDrive

Suspension movement is indeed much more pronounced and slowly deliberate than what you’d get in sportier, smaller BMWs—almost to the point of being floaty—but, given the 7’s purpose, I found this to be a more than an acceptable tradeoff. Steering is very light at low speeds, making the valet’s life quite easy, and remains accessibly intuitive on the highway and around mid-speed roads. The brake pedal similarly leans into the big cruiser vibe by being quite long but, of course, serves up a solid feel and good stopping power.

Chris Tsui

Stick it in sport mode, hit up the curvy roads, and the new 7 Series holds its own, exhibiting a good sense of precision and smooth speed, but you can also still tell that this sort of driving isn’t what it’s for. Weight is masked fairly well but you can’t really get around its sheer proportions. It’s 5 cm wider and taller than the outgoing 7, which meant hucking it around a narrow Palm Springs switchback felt a bit claustrophobic.

Out on the open highway, though, it’s really damn good at that German luxury car thing of disguising speed. Eighty mph routinely felt more like 80 km/h (just about 50 mph) and, believe it or not, that’s less of an exaggeration than you might think. Once traffic clears and you decide to really give it the beans, the 760i takes a beat to kick down and pull forward, further lending to the car’s relatively relaxed feel. The ensuing acceleration is quite mighty and you’ll be doing 110 mph before you know or feel it.

The V8 is also smooth and extremely well-insulated. Starting it up, it sounds as if a whole other car is starting about 50 feet away, and, sitting at traffic lights, I couldn’t really tell whether it was shut off via start/stop or idling. That whole process, by the way, is seamless thanks to that 48-volt mild hybrid system that is present on both gas-powered 7s coming to our shores.

The i7 xDrive60

For those who’d like a 7 that uses no gas, however, there is the i7 xDrive60. Extending the same parallel seen in the i4 and 4 Series Gran Coupe, the i7 is very much an electric version of the 7 Series. They look mostly the same inside and out, and—powertrain aside—drive fairly similarly, too. The muted V8 noises, however, are replaced by Hans Zimmer-produced sci-fi whooshing sounds that, in the context of a non-performance-oriented luxury car, sound almost as exciting and arguably more interesting than the V8.

Official BMW figures say the i7 takes 0.4 seconds longer to hit 60 mph than the V8 760i but, in practice, the EV feels a notch more sprightly on account of its instant electric torque. Launching out of corners is smoother and more immediate and despite carrying almost 1,000 pounds of extra curb weight, the i7 actually felt more planted than the gas car under hard cornering, likely thanks to a lower center of gravity.

For whatever it’s worth, the i7 is also handily a better driver than its electric archrival, the Mercedes-Benz EQS. The BMW feels like a deliberately well-sorted executive sedan from a company that genuinely knows a thing or two (or seven) about driving dynamics whereas, in comparison, the EQS feels like Mercedes threw a big heavy battery underneath that jellybean-aerodynamic chassis, said, “Well, I guess that’s how it drives,” and just called it a day.

BMW

As for the all-important issue of range, the EPA estimates up to 318 miles on the smaller 19-inch wheels. Its electric motors, by the way, are said to use no rare earth metals.

Riding in the BMW 7 Series

Climbing into the back of the Executive Lounge-equipped i7, you’ll find a space that shares a whole lot in common with the aforementioned Bentley beyond automatic doors. Full recliner mode moves the front passenger seat all the way forward, pops a little footrest out, and angles the seat into something you might find poolside. There are little pillows on the headrests, deployable shades for all rear windows, a little phone-like screen in the doors that let you control pretty much everything you’d like to control as an executive passenger, and, naturally, a copious amount of room.

While we’re on the subject, this new 7 Series is 13 cm longer overall than the long-wheelbase L versions of the outgoing model. Thus, this generation will not get a short and long version, just one standard length.

It’s truly very comfortable back there and is just as—if not even more—plush than the Bentayga EWB’s so-called Airline Seat. Riding back there with the massage function and seat coolers on with all of the window shades closed, I really felt like a big-deal German business magnate.

007 Series

The 7’s biggest party trick, however, would definitely be the Theater Screen—an optional extra, obviously, bundled in with the reclining seat, footrest, and big rear console for $7,250. It’s a 31.3-inch, ultra-wide, 8K screen that slides down from the ceiling and turns the rear bench of this car into a mobile AMC theater. It runs Amazon Fire TV and all of the streaming apps available on that platform but can also receive HDMI input, meaning you can theoretically plug a PlayStation back there and drive virtual BMWs in the back of your actual BMW.

Having unfortunately left all of my video game consoles at home during this first drive, I settled on a quick Prime Video stream of No Time to Die. The screen itself is quite impressive, sharp as shit, and able to recreate the colors of Daniel Craig’s bloodied face as accurately and richly as any reasonably high-end modern TV. Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound likely surpasses the sound systems of most people’s actual home theater setups, spewing out the sort of bass you can feel in your chest.

As awesome as the Theater Screen is, it does come with its fair share of asterisks in its implementation.

The display may be 8K but, when streaming, the actual video resolution will obviously depend on the amount of data your wireless connection is able to transmit. U.S. customers can simply add the car as an additional device on their existing data plans, but because the wireless situation up in Canada is, er, different, BMW Canada will allow northern 7 Series owners to stream on the Theater Screen free of additional charge for the first two years. It’s currently TBD as to how it plans to service the feature after those two years.

There’s also no digital rearview mirror, not even as an option, which means the driver’s view out of the back is totally obstructed when the screen is down. Granted, there are certain vehicles on the road where you can never see directly out of the back, but a digital mirror here would’ve been ideal, especially considering those are available on regular, mainstream cars like the Toyota RAV4. What’s more, I could not figure out a quick way of folding the Theater Screen back up from the driver’s seat, and, no, verbally asking BMW’s digital assistant to do it did not work.

BMW

The Theater Screen also restricts how far back the front seats can move and, therefore, refuses to deploy at all if your chauffeur happens to be above a certain height. Also, I would’ve liked a physical volume knob back there. And a handheld remote à la Bentley (or, more accurately, pop-out versions of the door card screens) would’ve been nice, too.

All in all, though, the Theater Screen—paired with the massaging, heated, cooled, recliner seats—is quite a swanky thing to have in the back of your executive sedan. Here’s to hoping BMW throws in a built-in popcorn machine for the mid-cycle refresh.

The Early Verdict

Even without a makeshift cinema in its rear row, both the new BMW 7 Series and i7 are splendidly luxurious cars. They’re huge, they drive well for what they are, feel well-built, and rival Bentleys when it comes to backseat comfort—although I’d argue that the British ultra-luxury marque still has this beat on sound insulation and interior materials. You’d probably spring for the i7 EV over its gas counterparts if your funds and personal charging situation allow, since quiet, smooth electric power pairs that much better to the 7er’s whole vibe.

Chris Tsui

I had no major gripes with the cars, just a lot of little gripes with them, and that’s simply because these cars do a lot. They’re extra, they’re opulent, they’re packed with technology, and with most things this far out on the cutting edge, a lot of those edges aren’t quite as smoothed out as they could be.

But for the sort of person with the cash to splash on The Big BMW Sedan, it’s a small price to pay for having this many toys. Given the money, I’d have the i7 over the EQS no questions asked—not only does the Bimmer drive better, but its interior and tech aren’t as finicky—and that alone is probably enough to chalk the new 7 Series up as a win.

Chris Tsui

Got a tip or question for the author? You can reach him here: chris.tsui@thedrive.com

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