2023 BMW i7 xDrive60 M Sport G70

2023 BMW i7 xDrive60 M Sport G70

BMW’s luxury class enters the truly digital and electric age, headlined by the all-electric i7.


Words: Dave Humphreys

Photos: Uwe Fischer

We get behind the wheel of the latest incarnation ofBMW’s ultra-luxury flagship.


Curtain airbags. Built-in satellite navigation. The world’s first electronic speedometer. The iDrive interface. These are just some of the innovations that BMW has introduced with the 7 Series. Now the marque’s flagship saloon enters a new generation, so rather aptly, the seventh Seven is the most innovative yet. The most significant talking point of the new generation is the introduction of a fully electric variant – the i7 – a car that is very much in keeping with the times. The i7 must deliver the expected refinement without compromising on the driving performance side in every aspect. No pressure, then.

2023 BMW i7 xDrive60 M Sport G70

Development of the G70 began towards the end of 2017 when the initial concept for how BMW would replace the then-current carbon-cored 7 Series began. The car we’re sitting behind the wheel of today had a lengthy and challenging gestation, not helped by the arrival of a global pandemic. Its development team also had to make difficult decisions as to how this model would pan out over its entire lifecycle, especially when emissions regulations are going through a fast rate of change. With challenging times also come challenging looks. The exterior design of the new 7 Series was dictated by aerodynamics, along with a company approach that is unapologetic about producing polarising forms. Proposals came from US, European and Asian design centres, and with China now expected to account for 45% of 7 Series sales, you might guess which proposal had the most influence. Unlike previous generations, BMW will offer only one length of the G70.

2023 BMW i7 xDrive60 M Sport G70 - road test

At 5391mm, it is slightly longer than the G12 while maintaining a useful 500 litres of boot space. Though the signature kidney grilles are not quite as frumpy as those on the G11/12 LCI model, they continue to occupy a sizeable amount of real estate on the front of the car – though a fair portion of them accommodate the long-range radar and other assistance hardware. There’s a fine line between cool and cringe. Approach the car at night, and you can fully experience the illuminated kidney outline and the ‘Iconic Glow’ from the upper daytime running lights as more than two dozen LED units project through Swarovski crystals (we’re not making this up) to create a dynamic twinkling effect. Fear not, though, the crystals are an option, otherwise you get more conventional LED daytime running lamps. The main adaptive LED headlights, which include a corning function, matrix high-beam and BMW Selective Beam all come as standard and are housed behind a darkened panel. On dark-painted cars, this goes almost unnoticed during the day and models equipped with the M Sport exterior package gain a more angular front bumper design. In this finish, the 7 Series does indeed appear as if sculpted from one enormous billet of material. Its flanks accurately convey what BMW refers to as a monolithic surface design. A shoulder line runs from the headlight to the rear light, and the door handles, while sitting flush, are more visually pronounced, especially against lighter paint colours. The Hoffmeister kink remains, in a way, as a trim panel integrated into the C-pillar.

2023 BMW i7 xDrive60 M Sport G70

If showing off is your thing, then the Automatic Doors will give you a kick. Operated via the BMW smartphone app or by simply pressing the button on the permanently recessed door handles (a move that reduces drag), the door will electrically open. Ultrasonic sensors fitted along the car’s sills and within the doors ensure there is no object or person in the way that could cause harm or damage. It’s even possible to have all four doors open simultaneously, a feature that is sure to be a hit with chauffeur companies. For the driver, sitting in and holding your foot on the brake pedal can also activate the door closure. Surprisingly, these close quickly and firmly. There’s a familiar BMW feel to the inside due to the Curved Display dashboard layout. This dual-screen setup uses a 12.3” display for the instruments and a 14.9” touchscreen for the infotainment, which runs BMW Operating System 8. It all functions as slickly as you would expect. Further novelty value comes with the Interaction Bar, a crystalline strip that spans the dashboard fascia and extends into the front doors. Aside from housing touch-sensitive controls for the air conditioning, ventilation and door operation, it can illuminate according to the functions being selected, such as when the hazard lights are switched on, or depending on the My Mode setting.

2023 BMW i7 xDrive60 M Sport G70 - interior rear seats

Thanks to a 101kWh battery sandwiched into the floor, the i7 can officially drive up to 388 miles before needing to plug in. Just as importantly, with DC charging rates of up to 195kW possible, owners can add 105 miles of driving range in as little as 10 minutes. A dual-motor setup produces a total output of 544hp, but it’s the 549lb ft of torque you notice the first time you press the accelerator pedal. The world outside begins moving past rather quickly, yet given the i7 xDrive60’s 0-62mph time of 4.7 seconds, the i7 doesn’t feel neck-snapping quick. You feel it surge forward rather than slingshotting you towards the horizon. Perhaps that will change when BMW introduces the more powerful i7 M70 xDrive model. In its standard setting, the car remains impressively quiet on the move.

BMW doesn’t depend on any active noise cancellation technology to keep things quiet inside, preferring to use good old-fashioned engineering to keep any unwanted din from the cabin. You won’t notice much in the way of wind noise at motorway speed, either, thanks to acoustically optimised glass that sits flush with the rest of the bodywork.

2023 BMW i7 xDrive60 M Sport G70

There’s a thick layer of sound-insulating foam beneath carpet that’s so plush you’ll want to take your shoes and socks off to appreciate it fully. The electric motors are mechanically isolated from their mounts to minimise any chance of transmitting sound or vibration back into the car as they transmit their output to the wheels — 258hp and 313hp on the front and rear axles, respectively. Even the HVAC unit is sealed within a container to ensure silence.

As the i7 wafts along California’s I-10, the concrete surface below has little influence on the driving experience. Safely ensconced in a bubble of serenity, you cruise along using only a tiny percentage of the power available. On such roads in North American markets, the “Steering and Lane Control Assistant” allows drivers to permanently take their hands off the wheel at up to 81mph. They must continue to watch the road, and a driver-facing camera monitors their attention and gaze, alerting them if it detects they’re not looking ahead. A lane change is possible with a tap of the indicator, and the system ‘drives’ in a very natural way — a positive sign of things to come when such systems are permitted in Europe.

The i7 is not only a motorway cruiser. Peeling off the motorway and onto the mountain roads provides a better opportunity to explore that dual-motor powertrain. Considering its 2715kg weight, it doesn’t half move. Being electric means that performance is always there and deployed instantaneously. You can play with the accelerator pedal as a potentiometer, rolling on and off as if turning the volume dial on a high-end stereo.

Speaking of sounds, BMW employs the skills of famed composer Hans Zimmer for the ‘IconicSounds’ drive sound. More evident in the Sport setting, it generates a futuristic noise that reverberates through the cabin as the speed climbs. It’s different and entertaining at first, but after a few minutes, we were reaching for the off button. The lack of any discernible pitch or yaw comes thanks to a 48-volt active roll-stabilisation, a part of the Executive Drive Pro package, and it works at an impressive level. Besides smoothing out bumps, it can also adjust the body height on the corresponding side of the car for an even greater level of comfort.

In the tighter, positively cambered corners of a particularly interesting mountain climb, the optional Integral Active Steering shrinks the car’s length as it pivots around each apex. The rear wheels can turn in the opposite direction to the fronts by as much as 3.5°, seemingly eradicating the added length the 7 Series now has. The electrically assisted steering, whose ratio varies with the steering angle and adjusts its assistance according to speed, doesn’t provide a real bite of resistance to add involvement, though arguably, this isn’t the type of car that warrants such a setup. Although BMW says that a high majority of its 7 Series customers prefer to drive the car themselves, a considerable number of owners will choose to travel in the rear seats.

Not that BMW is neglecting the drivers; after all, there is also the 760i xDrive model, which sadly won’t come to Europe, but comes with a 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 with 48-volt mild-hybrid technology. Almost an exact twin for the i7, it matches its 544hp and gets a bit more torque at 553lb ft; it can see off the dash to 62mph a half-second quicker than the i7. That torque isn’t difficult to find thanks to the mild-hybrid system’s electric motor that is integrated into the transmission, providing up to 147lb ft on its own, while the entire 553lb ft is available from just 1800rpm. There is a pleasingly noticeable V8 burble from the 760i, though part of that is attributable to the lack of a gasoline particulate filter for the US-market model we tested. After the instant responsiveness of the i7, the 760i takes a noticeable splitsecond longer to spool up yet feels every bit as rapid once up to speed.

Weighing 370kg less than the i7 also adds to the car’s dynamic abilities. It handles direction changes with aplomb and can be hustled along a twisting road as if it was a 5 Series. Decent brake pedal feel adds to the confidence that this car imbues in the driver as the adaptive damping and air suspension work to maintain a reassuringly even keel no matter what’s happening underneath. Having a familiar soundtrack is also a plus when you choose to have some fun with the car, but rest assured, this is not an exhaust-crackling hot rod. It never loses its composure, and when you dial things back, it becomes almost as quiet and serene as the i7, save for a distant hum from those eight cylinders. For those sitting in the rear, that engine is unlikely to distract from the other available entertainment options, namely the impressive Theatre Display.

Initially shown at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas, this 31” 8K resolution display screen can be activated by using either of the 5.5” colour touchscreen displays integrated into the armrests of the rear doors. The screen electrically slides down from the roof while simultaneously raising the side and rear blinds (to provide better viewing quality and prevent other road users from being distracted).

BMW has paired with Amazon Fire TV for streaming, and the builtin eSIM allows you to also watch your favourite things on YouTube or Netflix. An HDMI connection also lets you link up a games console to the display, and if you’d rather not have the sound blast through the car’s Bowers & Wilkins speakers, a set of Bluetooth headphones with independent volume controls is available.

If the TV thing isn’t for you, then simply stretching out in the rear equipped with the Executive Lounge option is a must. One touch of the in-door display panel sees the front passenger seat slowly slide forward and fold, opening a short footrest while your rear seat moves into a more relaxed position, elevating your legs and reclining to a 42.5° angle. You won’t be surprised to read that it is exceptionally comfortable and, debatably, one of the best ways to travel in the new 7 Series.

In truth, there is no bad seat to be in, but those in the driver’s chair will get to experience how polished this latest luxury saloon can be. While the European side of the Atlantic won’t get that brawny V8, a slew of plug-in hybrids will provide ample performance, possibly without making as much of a dent in your wallet when the fuel light comes on. But it’s the i7 that symbolises the quality of the new 7 Series, moving it into a new era of motoring that appears to be signalling the end of the internal combustion engine age.

TECHNICAL DATA 2023 BMW i7 xDrive60 M Sport G70

  • ELECTRIC SYSTEM: Dual electric motors with101kWh battery
  • MAX POWER: 544hp
  • MAX TORQUE: 549lb ft
  • 0-62MPH: 4.7 seconds
  • TOP SPEED: 149mph
  • PRICE (OTR): £114,605
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