The Ultimate Chauffeuring Machine
Let's get straight into controversy-the new BMW i7 looks. Love it or hate it (there seems to be little middle ground) the new i7 certainly looks distinct. I wasn’t a fan initially but the more I learned about the reason it looks the way it does, I changed my mind.
Here’s a quote from the official BMW press release for the i7-
“The presence of the front end is complemented by a clear and monolithic surface design-This gives the front end of the new BMW 7 Series a progressive and memorable appearance”
Progressive? Maybe. Memorable? Absolutely, and I think that’s the best compliment that could be paid to the new 7 series’ exterior appearance- you won’t forget it. BMW also states in its press release that the new 7 series was designed specifically for “particularly demanding target groups in a globalized marketspace” it then goes on to say that the company's most important sales region is now China. Once I read this it all made sense. If you’re not familiar with the Chinese car market simply google “Chinese luxury cars” and you’ll see what I mean. Compared to others in this space the new 7 series is downright subdued, even conservative. The hottest trend in the Chinese luxury car world is a gargantuan front end. Think “monolithic”- a word usually reserved for giant stone structures. Needless to say, designing a luxury car for the Chinese market means its going to stand out here in the states.
So that’s that, now that we understand the exterior styling we can move on to the best thing about the new i7- the interior. The model we drove had the optional “executive package 2” ($3,700) meaning it comes with automatic doors. Press a little button on the door handle and the door glides open revealing a gorgeous interior draped in soft leather, crystal controls and the most amazing looking speakers you’ve ever seen. The Bowers and Wilkins Surround sound speakers are arguably the best sounding speakers you can get in a car and the brushed silver artwork coverings offer a lovely contrast to the black merino leather and dark Fineline Open Pore wood trim. Slicing from door to door across the center console is a crystal light bar that houses various controls. The light changes color based on mode settings and does a great job giving the interior a glowing ambiance.
The new i7 is fully electric, all wheel drive and produces 536hp and 549 lb-ft of torque so needless to say it has more than enough power but so do almost all electric cars nowadays. What not all electric cars have is a ride that rivals Rolls Royce. I’m not saying the BMW i7 rides better than a Rolls Royce Phantom but, I’m confident that if I was blindfolded and driven in the back of each I’d probably have a hard time telling them apart. It’s that good. Is this BMW the ultimate driving machine? Well if you’re looking at it from a ride perspective, absolutely. Nothing south of a half a million dollar price tag is going to give you a ride this plush.
This car has more tech than anything I've ever driven-and that's saying something. Aside from the biggest rear screen you can get in a car- 31 inches and 8k, it's got more features and functions than most owners would likely even use. The rear passengers each have control screens built into the door handles which can deploy the screen (completely obscuring the drivers rear view), open and close window shades, recline the seats, activate various massage features and change the “mood” of the car. The screens are a nice feature and with this amount of tech they’re pretty necessary but the touch response time is a little laggy. I'm sure there will be people who own and drive this car for years who are completely oblivious about some of the features this car has. If I'm honest, it's a bit much for my liking. I like simple, intuitive and easy to use cars but this one comes with a pretty steep learning curve if you're not coming straight from another BMW. The BMW i7 may require a computer science masters from MIT to operate but mastering all the tech might just be part of the appeal.
The EV market is getting more and more competitive but the new BMW i7 stands alone at the very summit of the Luxury EV market. If you have to have an electric car and want the best and more luxurious of the breed, nothing comes remotely close.