Editors note: It’s the holidays and we’re doing something a little different this week. We’re going to be reviewing a few of the most interesting cars we’ve driven this year within the BMW family that aren’t MINIs. We started at the top with the Rolls Royce Ghost Black Badge. now lets take a look at the future of luxury.
When we first saw the covers pull back on the BMW i7 and 760i, there were audible gasps from the assembled journalists. It’s a shocking car visual as much as it is daring technically. The exterior design was and still is challenging (even though it’s becoming more compelling with time). But it was the technical aspect of what BMW was doing with the i7 and the 760i that was so novel; offering both electric and an M derived ICE powertrain on one platform. How could BMW do both without making sacrifices? It turns out BMW has done just that and in the process built the most compelling 7 Series in two decades.
In fact this new 7 Series might just be the most impressive new BMW in years full stop. Based on a modular architecture changes the scale of the 7 Series, it’s a tour de force of luxury, technology and performance that takes it to the top of the luxury segment and into Rolls Royce and Bentley territory. Trust us, we were just as surprised experiencing it for the first time as you are reading this.
This new 7 Series also introduces a new (and contentious) new design direction for the brand that is nothing if not bold. But that bold look (perhaps not surprisingly) has quickly aged well since its introduction this spring and in person look a bit more tolerable. In fact if it wasn’t for the excessive front overhang (surely dictated by pedestrian safety standards) this might be the most interesting BMW design in a decade.
But you can’t talk about the design of the car without touching on it’s overall presence. The new 7 Series has grown by 5.1 inches in length to 212.2, by 1.9 inches in width to 76.8, and by 2 inches in height to 60.8. This is a big boy that demands attention in not just its look but in its size. And yet it was the way it drove that really impressed.
The 2023 BMW i7 vs the 760i
Both of these cars are excellent at being 7 Series and possess all of the best qualities you’d want a large sedan with a roundel. And both were surprisingly engaging as driver’s cars. However it was the BMW i7 that immediately stood out. Not has an electric rocket ship like the Model S or Lucid Air. Its character is much more well rounded and focused on being both the ultimate driving machine as well as the ultimate executive transportation. Even driving the recently released Rolls Royce Ghost Black Badge reinforced the point that the i7 has a legitimate claim to the best driver oriented luxury car in the world.
The i7 is effortless performance in elegance and sophistication eclipsing every rival we’ve driven – including the new Mercedes EQS.
From the serene roads of Palm Springs to the mountain canyons above the Cochella Valley, the i7 xDrive60i was near faultless. Motivated by a front and year motor producing 536 hp and 549 lbs of torque, the i7 is quick but surprisedly not as quick as the ICE 760i. But despite that the i7 felt more capable in every scenario we threw at it. The fluidity of this 5,917 lbs car going from apex to apex and and the feedback was shocking. While the steering wheel feel isn’t compelling, the feedback builds linearly and consistently. But more impressive is how the suspension deals with it all while still delivering a sense of confidence and even enthusiasm for corners. This 6,000 lbs car showed an eagerness and even precision on our mountains road test route that didn’t initially compute. How could a car this big and heavy feel this good?
A 101 kWh battery delivers 318 miles of range but we saw estimates of near 350 with spirited driving. With DC fast charging getting you 80 miles in 10 minutes or from 10% to 80% charge in 34 minutes. This isn’t the 800 watt architecture you see elsewhere but given the state of charging infrastructure in the US I’m not sure you’ll miss it all that much.
Back to back with the 1,000 lbs lighter, M engined (S68) 760i was even more shocking. With so much weight so low, the i7 was able to feel both eager and effortless. There’s no question that, on paper, the 760i is everything that we would have preferred. With an M engineered S68 engine under the hood, the 760i has an output of 536 hp and 553 lbs of torque – almost identical to the i7. Given the weight you’d assume the 760i would be the driver’s car here. Yet everything that a great electric drivetrain provides turns out to be exactly what you want in a car like the 7 series. Effortless acceleration, an eagerness in corners and an overall seamless experience is what the ultimate driving machine in this class should be.
The Technology in the New 2023 BMW i7 and 760i
But numbers only mean so much and this is a BMW. More importantly this is a 7 Series which has a history of ushering in new technology since it was introduced in the 70s. Here we have the first fully electric 7 Series as the headline. But dig deeper and the changes are even greater. In the rear you have that the massive rear screen with Amazon Fire integration and a HD camera for Zoom calls. In the doors are small (phone-like) Android devices that allow rear seat passengers to control just about everything in the car. Then there’s the reclining rear seat and footrest that allowed all 6′ 2″ of me to lay back in total bliss while I watched the latest Rings of Power episode.
Upfront the tech is everywhere. iDrive 8 is here along with the massive twin screens that debuted on the iX. Also here are the confusing seat controls and crystal finishes. But where the iX felt a bit hurried, the new 7 Series feels honed.
Doors open automatically with a button (or your phone) and interface sits on the glass trim itself inside the car. The shifter is now a very small lever that feels so intuitive that you wonder why it took BMW so long to get to this point.
But the highest for us was the Highway Assist. Allowing for total control of the car up to 82 mph, Highway Assist is a game changer for road trip as it takes over full control of driving on all major highways in the US. And with a cost of only $2,100 it actually feels reasonably priced given what it can do.
The 2023 BMW i7 and 760i – Conclusions
BMW has a history over the last twenty years of not holding anything sacred and not being afraid to rethink some of the very core aspects of the brand. Here, in a quest to rethink what luxury can be, BMW has rethought almost every aspect of exterior and interior design, human interface and even what powers the car. The 2023 BMW 7 Series as much a revolution for the brand as it is a rethink of the 7 Series itself. And as great as the M engined 760i is, no where is that more evident than the all electric i7 model.
This is BMW’s first real attempt and electrifying a product core to the brand heritage. And from our first impressions behind the wheel, BMW has pulled off the seemingly impossible by offering everything while giving up nothing.