BMW i7 Prototype Review

Price: £107,400 (estimated)


The i7 certainly isn't as interesting technologically as rivals, including the Mercedes EQS. But like the i4, it seems to match the radical rivals despite having to share its body with a petrol car.


Lease
  • Battery size: 102 kWh
  • Miles per kWh: 3.82
  • E-Rating™: A

    ​​Click here to find out more about our electric car Efficiency Rating.​

  • Max charge rate: 195 kW
  • Range: 367-388
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  • BMW i7, BMW electric, cutout
  • BMW i7 prototype front action
  • BMW i7 prototype rear action tracking
  • BMW i7 interior, red leather, LHD
  • BMW i7, gold car, action tracking front three quarters
  • BMW i7, gold car, on hill top, rear three quarters
  • Electrifying.com E-Rating A
Published: 12/04/2022・Updated: 24/06/2022

Ginny Says

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8/10

“Cars like the i7 don't seem terribly relevant in the world today, as they will suit only a few well-heeled VIPs. But the tech from cars like this will soon filter down to the cars us mere mortals drive.”

Nicki Says

8/10

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“I'm not going to let my kids anywhere near the i7 when it is finally launched. That Theatre Display rear screen will spoil them for life and is far too good for Peppa Pig.”

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BMW i7 prototype front action

The automotive world in general - and the luxury class in particular - are in a state of upheaval. The main players are determined to take different approaches; while newcomers such as Tesla or Lucid are daringly and uncompromisingly plunging into the new world with radical engineering, some of the traditional premium brands seem a little lost. Jaguar cancelled its all-electric car at the last minute. Audi has played it safe by borrowing from Porsche, while Mercedes is hedging its bets by offering an S-Class hybrid alongside the more radical EQS. And BMW is also hedging its bets.

Using the same formula as on the X3/iX3 and 4-Series and i4, the luxury flagship will be available with conventional power as a 7-Series and as a fully-electric i7. 

The way they are powered may differ, but the claim remains the same: BMW says the 7 should be the most dynamic and at the same time most comfortable car in its class. To see if they've achieved this, we were allowed to sample the still-disguised prototype on a drive in and around Munich.

Whether powered by fuel or electricity, this luxury liner actually feels much more of a driver’s car than its competitors – even though the prototype is longer than even the previous stretched version and measures a hefty 5.40 metres.

The driving forces behind the i7 are two electric motors borrowed from the iX and the i4. It's more powerful though, trumping the iX and the EQS’ figures of 516bhp with 537bhp.

The battery is from the iX too, which means it’s a whopping 101.7kWh pack which gives a range of between 367-388 miles, depending on the specification and wheels. Charging is at 195kW, meaning 10 minutes at the charging station should therefore bring more than 100 miles of added range. That’s not exceptional, but should be enough to keep the i7 in contention.

And of course there is plenty of tech too. The inclined nerd can get lost in the menus, pre-select different levels of recuperation and even play with the silly sound generators – or simply ignore them all and enjoy the silence.

The real eye-catcher – and this can be taken quite literally – is emblazoned above the passengers in the rear. Because here is the new rear-seat infotainment, which is a 32-inch screen across the entire width of the vehicle, which folds down on command and turns the i7 into a cinema on wheels. And to be prepared for the longest journey, there is also the first automotive application for the Amazon Firestick, which opens up access to a long list of streaming providers.

But don't worry, if you don't need all the digital magic, you can simply sink deep into your soft armchair, extend your leg rest electrically, close your eyes and enjoy the cinema in your head.

If you want someone else to do the driving and switch to the back seats - as many lucky VIPs and millionaires will do, no doubt – and you suddenly feel as if you're in a completely different car, and hardly notice any interruptions from the outside world. Air suspension, rear-axle steering and active roll control might make it interesting to drive but they somehow also make it very relaxing to be driven in. Since the i7 will form the basis of the first electric Rolls Royce, this is good news for both chauffeurs and their employers.

But there is some relevance to the rest of us too. As always, the tech from the top gradually filters down to more affordable cars and we can all enjoy some of the 7’s swish silence soon.

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