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2022 BMW i7 review: Bavarian motors work

2022 BMW i7 review: Bavarian motors work
The new BMW i7 is a new kind of flagship limo for a new era of motoring. Behind that formidable four-eyed face, it is a leap forward from the past?
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Every time BMW launches a new 7 Series it's a big deal, but this G70 model is making an extra large splash: it's nearly 5.4m long, which makes it longer than a Bentley Flying Spur, believe it or not.

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Needless to say, that makes it way longer than the previous 7 Series.

In fact, the new BMW flagship is upsized in every dimension (it's roughly 5cm wider and 5cm taller than before) and now only comes in a standard wheelbase body, which is extra large to begin with.

But it also goes big on several themes: a modern interior with playful ambient lighting, in-your-face styling, and of course, electrification.

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In fact, you can have your new 7 in Singapore as a mild-hybrid (the 735i) or as a full electric car, which is the i7.

It's the xDrive60 model we spent time with at the G70's international launch, which has two motors (one front, one back) that peak at a combined 544 horsepower, and a 101.7kWh battery pack that shoves it along for up to 625km on a single charge - call it more than 500km in our traffic and weather.

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It's a different kind of flagship for a different motoring era, that's for sure. But is the i7 a car that sits credibly at the top of the BMW range?

Design and appearance

BMW i7 xDrive60 - rear view
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First things first, the i7 is as striking as they come.

The car's hulking size automatically means it has lots of presence, naturally, but that's exaggerated by its large vertical grille and the way the headlights are split.

The upper edge of the car's face has a slender cluster of LEDs that make up the daytime running lights as well as the turn signals, but also provide a little crystalline light dance when you approach and leave the car.

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Meanwhile the main lights live lower down, tucked away in their own niche.

You can downplay them by choosing the M Sport package, which puts a stretch of black over the i7's face to hide the lights (at least in the daytime).

Over at the back, things are somewhat calmer, with clean lines and slim taillights adding plenty of contrast with the front.

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Sebastian Simm, an exterior designer for BMW, told CarBuyer he and his team actually fought to raise the 7's bonnet line, making the front end more upright and grander. 

The new lamps were also a big matter of internal debate at BMW, with the split design winning out because, among other things, it leaves people in no doubt that they're looking at the brand's flagship - from a distance, you can't mistake this for a 5 Series, the way you might have with the previous 7.

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One thing's for sure, the i7 looks better in the flesh than in pictures. That's not a cop-out; I hated the design when I first saw photos, but I can see how it works when you see one rolling along the road in stately fashion. It's not pretty, but it's grand.

Interior and features

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Here's where BMW seems to have tried extra hard with the new 7.

It's modern inside, of course, with the main element that makes up a contemporary BMW: freestanding curved screen that stands on the dashboard, with a 12.3-inch driver display and a touchscreen that measures all of 14.9-inches diagonally.

If that ain't enough screen space for you, the rear has a 31-inch, 8K ultra widescreen monitor that folds down - just not for Singapore yet.

Apparently, the software's territorial rights for our region have yet to be sorted, but with any luck you'll see the theatre screen here by the middle of 2023.

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Unlike the Mercedes-EQS, the BMW i7 doesn't really attempt to wow you with slick digital displays. But the graphics do look sharp, and some of the augmented reality displays (they overlay arrows onto the street you're supposed to turn into if you use the satnav) are properly useful.

The dashboard itself is unusual, in that BMW slimmed down the air-con vents until they're barely visible.

The approach looks cool, but we'll reserve judgement on whether it's a good idea for those scorching days we have when all you want is a powerful blast of icy air to your face.

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The place does look posh though, thanks in part to the glass gear selector and iDrive controller - the knob is still there so you needn't stretch to the further corner of the touchscreen if you don't feel like it.

Then there's the backlit light bar that stretches across the dashboard and continues onto the doors (the Dynamic Interaction Bar, if you want the proper name).

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It's part of an ambient light show that changes your i7 or 7 Series interior, according to your mood. You can tweak it with MyMode, a group of umbrella settings that alter various systems.

Choose 'Relax' and the cabin fills with a soft aquamarine hue, best enjoyed at night, of course.

The driver display changes, the massage chairs switch on, all the window shades close, and so on. If you want to know what 'Expressive' looks like, feast your eyes on this:

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'Sport' bathes the place in red, of course, while turning up the accelerator response and lowering the i7's air springs by 10mm.

It even changes the soundtrack of the motors, turning up an artificial whirr.

The car comes with six MyModes settings to choose from, and gimmicky though it sounds, the feature does do a lot to make your i7 suit your mood.

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It adds to the sense of luxury that, if you happen to be in the rear, each door comes with a 5.5-inch touchscreen to that can control the climate and entertainment systems, along with the seat position, sun shades and of course MyModes.

There's one on each door, though, so try not to start a mode war if there are two of you in the back.

Space and practicality

With a car like this the best seat in the house might be the one in the back, on the passenger side. There's an optional Executive Lounge seat that reclines while the front seat tips forward to create more room.

BMW G70 BEV (aka the BMW i7) has a Theatre Screen in the back
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Meanwhile, a foot rest slides up to support your calves, which basically makes Business Class travel an option for the road.

Handy for long drives, or perhaps after a long day in the boardroom. Or just to show off, really.

The i7's rear bench is actually best suited to two people, and if it's lots of cabin space you want you might consider an X7 instead, especially if you use your big BMW to move a big family around.

Despite the car's size, the i7's boot isn't enormous, though it is large at 500 litres in capacity - that compares with 540 litres for the 735i, presumably because the rear motor takes up some room.

There is a real sense of occasion to riding in a 7 Series or i7, though, not least because it's such a hulking car. But when it pulls up, you click a button and the door swings open electrically.

Climb aboard, tap another button and it swings shut by itself. You can do the same in reverse (though sensors kill the operation if it's unsafe).

Trust me, after you get used to this, other cars feel primitive in comparison.

Driving experience

Electric power suits the 7 Series well.

At low speed the BMW i7 rolls along silently, and when you pick up the pace there are different sounds to accompany the acceleration, depending on which MyMode you're in.

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You can turn off the sounds if you like and just keep things whisper quiet if you prefer.

Doing so lets you savour the excellent sound insulation; the i7 is a terrific example of how it's only meaningful when a car has silent motors if it also blocks out noise from the wind and tyres effectively.

All the new 7s ride on air suspension now, and it's mighty effective at just smashing the road flat underneath the car. It must help that the i7 is more than 2.6 tonnes heavy, but it simply steamrolls bumps like a, well, a steamroller.

BMW i7 price in Singapore: S$612,888 with COE
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As with most electric cars, the BMW i7's acceleration is both seamless and immediate, and the rush from the motors is fairly addictive.

I've loved every generation of 7 Series I've driven, for their uncanny ability to carve through fast corners in defiance of physics, and the latest one is no different.

It's simply faster, more poised and more agile than any of its owners will ever demand it to be.

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More to the point, it's also supremely relaxing. 

Competition and pricing

First, a quick word on the 760i xDrive, which I drove briefly on the cars' launch. It's fabulously fast and just as glued to the road as the i7, with an ever-so-slightly more nose-heavy entry into slow corners.

BMW 760i in Palm Springs, California
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It's not as silent as its electric sibling, of course, but its twin-turbo V8 sounds eerily distant, and whatever you can hear of it sounds lovely.

If anything, it's slightly more engaging to drive, with the engine's remote howl and rapid gearchanges adding excitement. 

As a car, it's just as appealing as the i7, in other words, and much the same probably applies to the 735i, so maybe petrol hasn't quite had its day yet.

But if you're all-in on electric cars, then they don't come much better than the i7 xDrive60. It's grand, swift, refined, roomy and the cabin is exquisite.

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The competition? There isn't much, frankly.

The Mercedes-EQ EQS is a possible candidate, especially since it's touted as the S-Class of electric cars. It's similarly impressive in terms of comfort and refinement, and is also great to drive.

But there's less sense of opulence, especially in the back. If you're relatively tall and don't intend to drive much yourself, you'll much prefer the i7.

Porsche's Taycan is another brilliant electric car (as is its companion, the Audi e-tron GT), but it's smaller inside with less noise insulation, though it's a sportier drive overall.

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For $612,888 with COE (and all the current electric car incentives and rebates), the i7 isn't cheap, but it does stand on its own in the posh end of the electric vehicle (EV) market right now. 

At this sort of money, whatever the kind of car, buyers tend to look for the latest and greatest, too. The BMW i7, for now, is two out of two.

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2022 BMW i7 xDrive60 Pure Excellence

Drivetrain type Full electric 
Electric Motor / layout Dual / Front - Rear 
Motor power / torque  544hp / 745Nm
Battery type /net capacity  Lithium-ion, 101.7kWh
Normal Charge Type / Time 22kW AC / 5.5 hours 10 to 100 per cent
Max Fast Charge Type / Time 195kW DC / 34 mins 10 to 80 per cent
Electric Range Up to 625km (WLTP) 
0-100km/h 4.7 seconds
Top Speed 240km/h (limited)
Efficiency 19.7 kWh/100km
VES Band  A2/ -$15,000
Agent BMW Eurokars or Performance Motors Limited
Price $612,888  with COE and VES
Availability  Now
Verdict  It's pricey, but the BMW i7 is swift, silent and supremely comfortable, with an exquisite interior. Everything you could want in a flagship limo is here

ALSO READ: BMW's eye-opening new 7 Series debuts with electric i7 flagship

This article was first published in CarBuyer.

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