It’s been interesting to see how carmakers are choosing to incorporate electric drive technology into their models. Some opt to use the shift to electric cars into something sporty and fast, taking advantage of the acceleration ability of electric drivetrains. Others have cranked their MPG and fuel efficiency numbers, while others still have opted to bring the smooth, noiseless engine tech to the fore, boosting the luxury appeal of their cars. The new i7 – BMW’s all-electric take on their darling 7 series, does a bit of it all. And it does them very well.
BMW’s 7 series has long been one of its flagship models, if not the premium model in the manufacturer’s fleet. In fact, we’re probably all aware of the long-running joke that all one needs to see what the next five years will bring in terms of features to the automotive world is one look at the 7 series. What you find in the car today will be copied and added to other cars over the next few years. The 7 is BMW’s flagship, and it’s often packed with technology and abilities that BMW are clearly proud of, and are pushing the envelope with.
Let’s tackle the most eye-grabbing features first. The car actually has two electric motors, providing 536 horsepower and a fairly leggy 300 mile range per charge. The primary motor is similar to what the company uses for their iX SUV, only a little snappier and with lighter batteries for weight distribution purposes. The engine is a happy fit for the i7, allowing it to accelerate quickly and quietly.
To say more of the batteries, the lighter pack isn’t a compromise. In fact, the recharge rate is rather impressive – at a fully-equipped recharge station, BMW claims a half hour stop or shorter would be enough time to add 100 miles to the car’s range. That’s really nothing to sneeze at. Drivers will also be able to take advantage of free charges at participating stations across America for the first few years of the car’s life.
We mentioned that this model does a bit of everything that the world’s new electric cars are fast becoming known for – snappy acceleration, cool and quiet cruising, and luxury. The i7 has the bite when accelerating, but BMW’s core focus seems to be luxury. The interior of the car is decidedly luxurious, spacious, and clearly labored-over for hundreds, if not thousands of hours.
The attention to detail is second to none, and at the risk of appearing too modern, BMW rolled the dice on some thoroughly modern (almost futuristic) 12.3-inch displays set in a floating glass panel. There’s another huge panel stretching the entire interior width of the car that features lighting and other controls.
Riders in the back have an even better experience – BMW are offering (as an option) a rear theater-style entertainment system with a touch screen that comes in just shy of 3 feet wide. It transforms a simple backseat ride in the i7 into a bonafide trip to the movie theater.
Paired with the company’s proprietary iDrive 8 technology, which drivers may be familiar with from its debut in the i4, the i7 offers a very tech-forward user interface that is anything but traditional. It may be the most futuristic aesthetic we’ve ever reviewed.
The rest of the interior is as quality as we’ve come to expect in a 7 series. The seats are comfortable and offer a bevy of options to riders, such as heating, cooling, and – because it’s a 7 series – massage!
Safety and convenience are at the fore, too. BMW’s lauded Highway Assistant is included, and the car has the latest self-parking technology, as well as hands-free driving. The car is able to navigate a parking lot entirely without input from the driver.
All told, the car is one of the finest offers available today, from any automaker. The 7 series and its derivatives have a pristine batting record, and the once-distant future where cars have fully embraced electric technology without compromise of any kind is clearly upon us thanks largely to them. If the best of the best is where you have your bar set, this might just be the one for you.
Video by BMW USA