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BMW i7 Review: The Ultimate Electric Driving Machine

The future of luxury motoring has arrived with the 2023 BMW i7. As the first-ever all-electric version of BMW‘s flagship 7-Series sedan, the i7 represents a watershed moment for the brand as it charges headfirst into the premium EV market. With an impressive driving range of up to 318 miles, dual motors unleashing 536 horsepower, and an opulent interior brimming with cutting-edge tech, the i7 is poised to take on rivals like the Tesla Model S, Lucid Air, and Mercedes-Benz EQS. But does this electrified ultimate driving machine live up to its six-figure price tag? Let‘s take a closer look.

Power and Performance

Under the sleek sheet metal, the i7 packs a potent punch. Dual electric motors, one at each axle, churn out 536 horsepower and 549 lb-ft of torque. That‘s enough to rocket this 5,900 pound luxury barge from 0 to 60 mph in a scant 4.7 seconds on its way to an electronically limited top speed of 149 mph. While neck-snapping acceleration is par for the course with EVs, it‘s the i7‘s effortless cruising and wafting ride that impress most. The adaptive air suspension soaks up road imperfections while active roll stabilization keeps cornering tidy and drama-free.

But the i7‘s pièce de résistance is its driving range. With the smallest 19" wheels equipped, you can travel up to 318 miles on a single charge according to the EPA. Even opting for the larger 20" or 21" wheels still nets you 308 miles of range. In the real world, the i7 has no problem meeting or exceeding those estimates. On a multi-day road trip from New York to Boston, I saw ranges closer to 330-350 miles, even with a mix of highway and city driving plus liberal use of the climate control. Range anxiety? What range anxiety?

Charging Up

Speaking of charging, the i7 can fast charge at up to 195 kW through its standard Combined Charging System (CCS) DC fast charge port. Find a compatible charging station on the road and you can add 80 miles of driving range in just 10 minutes or charge from 10% to 80% in about 34 minutes. That‘s about as long as a typical rest stop break.

For home charging, the i7 comes equipped with an 11 kW onboard AC charger which can fully recharge the battery pack from empty in 10.5 hours, perfect for topping up overnight in your garage. BMW also includes 3 years of unlimited 30-min fast charging sessions at Electrify America stations nationwide. With over 800 locations and 3,500 individual chargers, you‘re never far from a fill-up.

Lounge on Wheels

While the i7 delights from behind the wheel, it‘s the palatial interior that steals the show. This is less a car cabin and more a luxe lounge that just happens to travel at autobahn speeds. Open the power-operated doors and you‘re greeted by an airy, modern space trimmed in the finest leathers, woods, and metals. The front seats coddle you with 20-way power adjustments, heating, ventilation, and massage functions. But it‘s the rear seats where you‘ll want to spend most of your time.

The reclining and heated rear seats offer plenty of legroom and pillowy headrests you can sink into. Tilt your head up and you‘re treated to a stunning panoramic LED roof with adjustable ambient lighting. And then there are the screens. Oh so many screens. The i7 packs BMW‘s new 31" 8K theater screen which deploys from the headliner and spans the entire width of the rear cabin. Fire up the 36-speaker Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system and you have a private movie theater on wheels. I binged the latest season of Stranger Things from the backseat and the picture quality and immersive sound rivaled my home entertainment setup. With built-in Amazon Fire TV, you have access to all your favorite streaming apps and shows on the go.

Up front, a curved glass panel stretches from door to door, housing a 12.3" digital instrument cluster and 14.9" central touchscreen. The graphics are crisp, the animations slick, and the response instantaneous. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are supported and integrated very smoothly. The revamped iDrive 8 software features myriad vehicle functions and settings you can tinker with and personalize to your taste. A neat trick – if you can‘t find a menu function, just draw the shape of what you want on the touchpad and it will intelligently find relevant controls. Want to adjust the ambient lighting? Draw a lightbulb and it brings you straight to the settings. How cool is that?

Safety and Self-Driving Smarts

As you‘d expect for a car that starts north of $120,000, the i7 comes packed to the gills with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) features:

  • Frontal collision warning with automatic emergency braking
  • Blind-spot monitoring
  • Rear cross-traffic alert
  • Lane keeping assist
  • Adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go
  • Automatic lane changing
  • 360° surround view & parking cameras

The Traffic Jam Assistant enables hands-free driving on highways at speeds up to 80 mph, provided you keep your eyes on the road. It‘s a similar system to GM‘s Super Cruise and worked flawlessly during my drives on I-95.

When you arrive at your destination, the i7 can even park itself. Using the My BMW smartphone app, you can remotely command the car to pull into or out of a parking spot all by itself. The 360° cameras scan for obstacles and can squeeze the i7 into spots you wouldn‘t dare attempt yourself. It‘s a neat party trick to have the car valet itself.

Controversial Looks

One area where the i7 may polarize is its exterior styling. The front end grafts the tall grille and split headlight treatment seen on other new BMWs to mixed reception. The i7‘s proportions are identical to the gas-powered 760i, just with a filled-in grille and some blue trim accents signifying its electric powertrain. Next to the swoopy Mercedes EQS or low-slung Lucid Air, there‘s no mistaking the i7 for anything but a regular (albeit very large) sedan.

Whether you find the design attractive or awkward, there‘s no denying it has immense presence on the road. My tester‘s Storm Bay Metallic paint sparkled under the sun while the optional 21" M Sport wheels added visual dynamism. BMW will even paint your i7 in a wild color like Purple Silk through their Individual customization program if you desire to stand out further.

Sky-High Pricing

Now for the elephant in the room – cost. The 2023 BMW i7 starts at an eye-watering $120,295 including destination fees. That‘s nearly $6,000 more than an equivalent gas-powered 760i and puts it at the top of the electric luxury sedan price spectrum. Tick every option box and you‘re looking at an i7 approaching $150,000.

At these lofty prices, the i7 isn‘t just competing with other large EVs, but also traditional gas-guzzling flagships like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Lexus LS. Compared to those stalwarts, the i7 has a harder time justifying its price premium beyond the novelty of its electric drivetrain and tech gimmicks. The Tesla Model S and Lucid Air both offer more range, quicker acceleration, and subjectively more attractive designs for tens of thousands less.

That being said, if you‘re a current 7-Series owner looking to make the jump to electric or a BMW loyalist who refuses to drive anything without a roundel on the hood, the i7 is a mighty compelling choice. It delivers all the prestige, luxury features, and driving enjoyment you‘d expect from Bavaria‘s finest while sipping electrons instead of gasoline. Over 300 miles of real-world range should eliminate any lingering doubts about EV usability.

The Verdict

The 2023 BMW i7 is a technological tour de force that shows the venerable German automaker can build an electric car without compromising on its core tenets of driving dynamics and unabashed luxury. With an opulent interior packed with futuristic gadgets and a robust range that can cover long distances with ease, the i7 is a preview of what we can expect from BMW‘s electrified future portfolio.

However, the i7‘s stately styling and budget-busting price may give some buyers pause, especially with the Tesla Model S and Lucid Air offering superior performance and panache for less money. As the first crack at an electrified 7-Series, the i7 doesn‘t quite leapfrog the competition, feeling more evolutionary than revolutionary.

But for the BMW die-hards and those who believe the Ultimate Driving Machine should come with an equally ultimate price tag, there‘s still plenty to love about the i7. Early signs are positive, with most of the first year‘s production already spoken for. Bring on the electric M7 next, please.