2023 BMW i7 xDrive60: An Eco-Friendly Expression of Opulence

Published on November 5, 2022 in First Drives by Gabriel Gélinas

Palm Springs, California—The launch of the seventh-generation 7 Series marks an important milestone for BMW. For the first time ever, the Bavarian automaker’s full-size sedan is available in 760Li xDrive trim with a new twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8 and as a fully electric model called i7 xDrive60.

Both will go on sale in Canada on November 26, 2022 starting at $147,000. They will be joined in 2023 by a 563-horsepower 760e xDrive plug-in hybrid, as well as a higher-performance i7 M70 xDrive producing 650 horsepower.

By the way, this brand new 7 Series is the first BMW developed and built to be compatible with ICE, hybrid and all-electric powertrains on a shared platform.

Photo: Uwe Fischer

Stately Sedan

BMW says the 2023 7 Series is the world’s all-electric luxury sedan because it thinks the Tesla Model S is not an actual luxury car and the Mercedes-Benz EQS is closer in size to an E-Class than an S-Class. But what about the Lucid Air? Or the Porsche Taycan?

For sure, the BMW i7 is an imposing figure at 5.39 metres long. It also has a wheelbase of 3.21 metres that trumps that of a Cadillac Escalade ESV. The resulting interior offers a ton of legroom for rear passengers. Headroom is generous, too, which comes a bit at the expense of aerodynamic performance (0.24 drag coefficient versus 0.20 for the EQS).

As a matter of fact, the body of the i7 is very similar to that of the conventionally powered 760Li xDrive, complete with an oversized double-kidney grille featuring an illuminated contour. Slim daytime running lights sit above the low- and high-beam headlights, adding to the unique look.

Photo: Uwe Fischer

Surprisingly Good Handling

Two electric motors draw energy from a 107kWh battery and generate a combined 536 horsepower and 550 pound-feet of torque. But if you think the i7 handles clumsily due to its outrageous weight of 2,684 kilograms, you’re wrong.

We put the car to the test on a winding mountain road near Palm Springs and it never felt that heavy. The V8-powered 760Li xDrive might be around 300 kilograms lighter, but it’s the i7 that proved more playful and more fun to drive. One reason is near-perfect mass distribution (49.8-50.2 vs. 45.4-54.6) resulting from the floor-mounted battery. The 760Li xDrive has nearly identical power and output numbers (536 hp, 553 lb-ft.), and it does get to 100 km/h more quickly (4.2 seconds vs. 4.7 seconds).

In Sport mode, the i7 shows remarkable handling prowess through twists and turns. Our only complaints are the long brake pedal stroke and steering that could be firmer. But remember, we’re talking about a full-size luxury sedan and not a sports car, so all is forgiven.

Photo: Uwe Fischer

An adaptive air suspension and four-wheel steering are part of the package in addition to Executive Drive Pro technology that reduces body roll. These systems and more help the i7 handle like a true BMW despite the excess weight. Selecting Sport mode also channels a unique soundscape developed by Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer and befitting of a high-powered automobile like this one.

Similar to the i4 and iX, the BMW i7 uses regenerative braking to charge the battery when decelerating. There’s an adaptive mode that proves particularly effective as it takes into account elevation changes, traffic and navigation data to optimize energy recuperation in real time.  

The i7 xDrive60 has an NRCan-estimated range of 476-512 kilometres depending on the size of the wheels. Charging the battery from 10-100 percent takes 5.5 hours when using a 240V domestic charger (22 kW). Plug the car into a 195kW DC fast charger and you’ll charge the battery from 10-80 percent capacity in 34 minutes.

Photo: Uwe Fischer

Semi-Autonomous Driving

All 2023 BMW 7 Series models including the i7 are built with the necessary tech and hardware for Level 3 semi-autonomous driving capability. An OTA update is required to activate it in countries where this type of driving is legal.

During a session on the highway, we were able to test the car’s Assist Plus system, which takes care of driving duties up to 140 km/h, regardless of traffic. You can let go of the steering wheel and simply activate a turn signal to initiate a lane change when there’s a slower car in front. That won’t work if another vehicle is lurking in your blind spot, mind you.

Assist Plus stays on as long as the driver-facing camera in the dashboard can track your eye movements to make sure you’re still paying attention. If you happen to wear polarized sunglasses, the camera won’t be able to see your eyes and the system will not work.

Photo: Uwe Fischer

Rolling Theatre

The new 7 Series introduces the BMW Theater Screen, which allows rear passengers to stream video content from Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube and more on a 31.3-inch panoramic display with 8K resolution that extends downwards from the roof. The sound is delivered by a 2,000W, 35-speaker Bowers and Wilkins Diamond Audio system.

The rear-view mirror becomes useless when the screen is down. Same thing for the right side-view mirror when the rear passenger sitting on that side reclines their Executive Lounge seat with footrest, because the front seat needs to fold forward and the headrest gets in the way. Unlike Cadillac, BMW doesn’t offer a digital rear-view mirror to address that issue, which is a shame.

Photo: Uwe Fischer

Up front, the driver-centric interface features the new BMW Curved Display combining a 12.3-inch instrument panel with a 14.9-inch centre touchscreen. Powering it all is the eighth generation of iDrive, complete with augmented reality navigation. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is also included.

A door assist option will let you open or close all four doors simultaneously at the push of a button. As standard, the seats are appointed in Veganza, which looks like leather but isn’t. The alternative is a superb combination of leather and cashmere. The rear doors each have a smartphone-sized Touch Command display for controlling audio, climate, seat adjustments, power blinds and more.

Photo: Uwe Fischer

Final Word

Overall, the new 2023 BMW i7 is proof that top-end luxury can be a perfect match with electric mobility. We can’t wait to try the more powerful i7 M70 xDrive, not to mention the recently unveiled Rolls-Royce Spectre that rides on the same platform and should launch in the fall of next year.

Watch: 2022 BMW iX Review

Test drive report
Test model N/A
Trim level i7 xDrive60
Price range $147,000
Price as tested 147 000 $
Warranty (basic) 4 years/80,000 km
Warranty (powertrain) 4 years/80,000 km
Fuel economy (city/highway/observed) N/A
Options N/A
Competitive models 2023 Tesla Model S
Strong points
  • Excellent handling
  • Supreme luxury
  • State-of-the-art technology
  • Spacious and comfortable interior
Weak points
  • Ultra-high price
  • Theater Screen impedes visibility
  • Polarizing looks
  • Heavy weight
Editor's rating
Fuel economy 4.0/5 Energy consumption is reasonable especially with the adaptive energy recuperation system.
Comfort 4.5/5 This large sedan is supremely comfortable.
Performance 4.0/5 Let’s just say you will never lack power.
Infotainment 4.5/5 The eighth-gen iDrive system is sharp and user-friendly. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is included.
Driving 4.5/5 Handling is surprisingly good despite the car’s heavy weight.
Overall 4.5/5 A genuine expression of BMW opulence and a mighty impressive car overall.
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