2023 BMW 7 Series & i7 EV: The Flagship Gets Seriously Striking New Looks
The new 7 Series brings with it a 300-mile electric version and a whole lot of tech.
If you're in the market for a full-size German luxury sedan but think the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is too obvious of a choice, BMW has unveiled its all-new 7 Series for your consideration. Entering the model's seventh generation, the 2023 BMW 7 Series brings with it a fully electric variant called the i7, some seriously capable automated driving functions, improved versions of the company's straight-six and V8 engines, and a swanky new interior with a whole lot of screen, particularly in the back.
One Body, Three Flavors
At launch, the new 7 will be available in three forms: as a straight-six, rear-drive 740i; a V8, all-wheel-drive 760i xDrive; or as the electric i7 xDrive60. That base 740i uses an updated version of the company's ubiquitous B58 3.0-liter, turbocharged straight-six. BMW has redesigned the intake ports and combustion chambers while adding electronically controlled VANOS variable camshaft timing for increased-yet-more-efficient power. This version makes 375 horsepower, 383 pound-feet of torque, and hits 60 mph in five seconds.
Spring for the 760i (that's just 760i, by the way, not M760i) and you get BMW's 4.4-liter turbocharged V8 with a new exhaust manifold, external oil cooling, a new oil pump, a reinforced crankshaft drive, and improved turbocharging. This motor makes 536 hp, 553 pound-feet, and gets to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds. Both gas engines are equipped with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system and debut a new eight-speed automatic transmission.
As for the i7 xDrive60, its dual electric motors provide electric AWD and provide a pretty close match to the V8 on paper: 536 total hp, 549 pound-feet of instant torque, a zero-to-60 time of 4.5 seconds, and an electronically limited top speed of 149 mph. BMW says the i7's motors use an electrical feed to create motion instead of magnets and therefore do not contain any rare earth metals. This being early days, we'll have to wait a bit for an official range but BMW is estimating 300 EPA-style miles out of the i7's 101.7-kWh battery. The full-size electric sedan supports DC charging at up to 195 kW and BMW is claiming up to 80 miles regained in just 10 minutes at a DC fast charger.
Behind the Wheel
Available as an option, BMW's newly improved Highway Assistant can do hands-free, Super Cruise-rivaling highway driving at up to 80 mph. As I learned taking this system out for a spin on the autobahn earlier in the month, it's shaping up to be a semi-autonomous force to be reckoned with.
When you decide to steer the 7 Series for yourself, however, BMW has improved things in that department as well. The body is more rigid than before while the front track has been widened by almost two inches for the benefit of handling. A new elastic steering gear mounting was attached to the front subframe for better acoustics while the i7 features its own motor mounts. AWD models get an aluminum shear panel for better front-end torsional rigidity while new rear subframe hydro mounts allegedly improve ride comfort.
Adaptive two-axle air suspension with automatic self-leveling is standard and can lower the car by 0.4 inches in Sport mode and can raise it by 0.8 inches to deal with adverse terrain or make it up a steep driveway. Borrowed from Rolls-Royce is a 48-volt active roll stabilization that uses electric swivel motors to mitigate body roll, contributing to better comfort and more stable handling. A new power steering system with rear-wheel steering of up to 3.5 degrees shrinks the turning circle by two and a half feet.
A New Flagship Look
By now, you've probably seen enough of this car to have a solid opinion on its design. The Drive's editors seem pretty split on the subject. Some say it's ugly, some enjoy it. As for me, I definitely wouldn't call it the best looking 7 Series ever by any stretch but, at the same time, it's not nearly as terrible as it probably could've been, given BMW's recent track record. The grille—which, by the way, can be lit up—is definitely and predictably big but not, like, appallingly so. Those in the loop will recognize the quad-horizontal headlight front end from the recently refreshed X7, a motif BMW says is the new design language reserved for its flagship products.
Those headlights can apparently be optioned with Swarovski crystal side markers and DRLs. Keeping on the subject of staunchly un-subtle visual flexes, look at the "760i" badge that's had its "7" enlarged so passersby have even less excuse to mistake this for a plebian 5 Series. Stay tuned for the eight-gen 7 Series on which the 7 badges are actually double-underlined for even more emphasis.
Dimensionally, the BMW's flagship sedan has grown slightly in most dimensions, more closely resembling the long-wheelbase version of the previous-gen car. Compared to the previous standard-length 7, this new version is 5.1 inches longer, 1.9 inches wider, and two inches taller. The wheelbase has grown by 0.2 inches and passenger room in all areas has naturally been expanded slightly.
For the first time in a BMW "series-produced" car, two-tone paint is available with different colors available above and below the beltline, separated by a drawn coach line, Rolls-Royce-style.
Rolling Screening Room
Open one of the doors with a touch of a button (because the new 7 Series has automatic doors), climb inside, and you'll be greeted with an interior design that's open-looking, modern, and quintessentially BMW. Up front, it's got the same ultra-wide curved dual-screen setup and glass controls out of the iX as well as with mood light bars spanning the entire cabin and on the doors. These thick, backlit crystalline "Interaction Bars," as BMW calls 'em, actually contain touch-sensitive controls for the hazards, HVAC, and glove box, seat heaters and seat presets. The colors of these can be configured to sync with drive mode or be customized to the driver's liking.
That two-spoke flat-bottom steering wheel is brand new but cars with the M Sport appearance package—standard on the gas 7 Series, a no-cost option on i7—will receive a three-spoke wheel. Also new is the option of cashmere seats and some pretty cool-looking, stainless steel speaker grilles.
This being a big, full-size sedan made to compete with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, life has to be just as, if not even more comfortable in the back seat and BMW has brought in some pretty big guns in that department. Specifically, a positively massive 31.3-inch 8K Theater Screen with built-in Amazon Fire TV will be available. It folds down from the roof, spans the width of the interior, and can be paired with the also-optional 36-speaker Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound system, in-seat bass drivers, and an automated rear shade system to render the back of the 7er your private, mobile AMC location. The position of the screen is adjustable and the system supports Bluetooth headphones.
The rear seats can be optioned with a massage function regardless of model, while an Executive Lounge option lets rear passengers recline and adds a leg rest for the passenger-side rear seat. This car's armrests can be heated and quilted, and as I spotted in the prototype, each rear door has a built-in 5.5-inch touchscreen that allows control over the Theater Screen, volume, climate and seat controls, ambient lighting, and sunshade. Four-zone automatic climate control is standard as is the panoramic roof.
All it's really missing is a flight attendant who knows your name and bottomless champagne, although given the sort of clientele BMW is targeting with this car, I'm sure that stuff can be arranged. Speaking of...
The 2023 BMW 740i starts at $94,295 while the 760i xDrive starts at $114,595. The i7 xDrive60 will cost at least $120,295. All three go on sale in the U.S. starting in the fourth quarter of 2022 but BMW is taking preorders for the i7 right now at its U.S. website. A $1,500 deposit is required.
If you absolutely can't wait to hear about how these drive, you can find my impressions of the pre-production prototypes here.
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