A BMW 7 Series has always promised to set standards in the luxury class. Can the first all-electric version of the sedan do the same? springerprofessional.de and ATZ/MTZ have tested the BMW i7 xDrive 60.
A 7 Series has always been big, the i7 is huge. Almost 5.4 m long, 1.95 m wide and weighing 2.7 t. The wheelbase of 3,215 mm is even a touch larger than that of the EQS from Mercedes-Benz and creates unrestricted space in the second row of seats. Opinions differ on the design of the luxury liner. The oversized kidneys and the split LED headlights are particularly striking, and in general the front looks very jagged with the enclosed, embedded hood. In contrast, the side line and rear seem almost calmly drawn. With the exception of the iDrive rotary pushbutton and the selector lever, you won't find any haptic buttons, but virtually every translucent surface serves as a control element. However, most things are operated via the central display.
The i7 amazes with ease, especially on winding country roads - despite its enormous weight. The steering rear axle plays a major role in this, giving the vehicle, which weighs almost 3 t with passengers and some luggage, unexpected agility and also reduces the turning circle by almost 1 m. The adaptive suspension does the rest and swallows up a lot even on chaotic stretches that otherwise stress the back and chassis. Even in Sport mode, with tightly pumped seat bolsters, there's outstanding comfort. The sensational acoustics leave out anything distracting.
Engine + Drive
The i7 is driven by one electrically excited synchronous machine (EESM) each. The front-axle motor delivers 190 kW and 365 Nm, the rear-axle motor 230 kW and 380 Nm. The systemic maximum output of both together is stated at 400 kW, the maximum torque at 745 Nm. The 30-min continuous power rating is 135 kW in the vehicle registration document. When the full power is called up, the luxury liner reaches 100 km/h after 4.7 s, and the top speed is limited to 240 km/h. It's not so much the power delivery that's fascinating, but rather the controllability of the electric elemental force. But the driving pleasure, of which you always want to have the maximum in the i7, costs energy. While the i7 is rated at 19.6 kWh/100 km in the WLTP, we did not manage to get below 20.9 kWh/100 km in the test despite all our eco efforts.
Electronics + Connectivity
The i7's underbody hides the battery with a net energy content of 101.7 kWh, which can be charged with a maximum of 195 kW at HPC stations. In fact, the i7 also reached its maximum charging power up to about 40 % SoC in our test under almost ideal conditions. Thus, a charge from 10 to 80 % took about more than 30 min. The charging power still drops to about 80 kW up to the charging target of 80 %. A range of about 480 to 500 km is realistically achievable.
Shortly before our test, a colleague was still upset about the assistance systems in a 5 Series rental car; he was finally annoyed on a long haul. He asked if that was as bad in the i7. On the contrary! For a long time, the i7 has been the first vehicle in our tests where none of the assistance systems made us shake our heads because of a failed adaptation. This is where the luxury class pays off. From L3-automated driving up to 60 km/h to automatic parking or the precise rear-view assistant to the adaptive adjustments in flowing traffic – all systems we were able to try out in our everyday test did their job as you would expect. The connectivity is also typical of BMW and the upper class, so many options and software are system-integrated. Only the many vehicle functions are not always easy to find in the complex menu, or you have to remember the different positions on the screen or all menu buttons.
Conclusion + Criticism
The i7 is not for purists, but rather for the playful tech nerd with the wherewithal. Actually, it's even made for the one that can be driven. The sheer size and weight allow questions about the sense of making such a model a BEV. This is a classic top-down development: BMW is using this high-tech vehicle to show what is possible in series production. This electric car then works so well that, apart from the ideological or emotional component, there can hardly be any arguments only for a combustion 7-series.
- Weight perception: Of course, a 7 Series is not an ultra-light sports car and is rather sedate. But the i7's curb weight of 2.7 t is not noticeable. Thanks to its low center of gravity, adaptive chassis with rear-axle steering, and lively e-drive.
- Assistance systems: Excellent tuning and programming make the systems among the best we have been able to test so far.
- BMW does without the PSM and thus the rare earths in the magnet for the e-machine. This is even more efficient.
- Battery size and consumption: More than 100 kWh capacity enables high ranges. But more than 20 kWh per 100 km real consumption is still too much.
- Complexity: Even professionals have trouble keeping track of all the vehicle's functions and finding them in the menus. Less is sometimes more.
- Automatically opening and closing doors: The reaction time when pressing a button is too long and stopping the closing when there is an obstacle is not reliable. An upper body can withstand it, but a lower leg between the frame and the door hurts. We then decided not to try it out with our fingers.