BMW i7 India review: All-electric limo is a tech express

    BMW’s EV flagship is here in the form of the i7. That nose is just one of many talking points.

    Published on May 05, 2023 03:30:00 PM


    Make : BMW
    Model : i7
    We Like
    • Loaded with tech
    • Plush interior
    • Refinement and comfort
    We Don't Like
    • Expensive
    • Polarising style

    The i7 is BMW’s EV flagship. It’s the all-electric version of the 7 Series and, as you’ll soon learn, it’s also your meditation room on wheels, your movie theatre on the go and a full power tech express. What the i7 also is, is loud. Not in sound but in look. Just check that front end! Split headlamps on a BMW? And an even larger iteration of the ever-growing kidney grille? The designers have clearly thrown the style template out of the window to come up with the most rad-looking BMW limousine of all time. Love it or hate it, you just can’t ignore it.

    BMW i7 exterior

    Once the initial shock and awe subsides, there’s a lot of finer details to take in. The upper daytime running light strips, for instance, are embellished with Swarovski crystals that gleam as you walk by them. A sporty bumper with a contrast black surround for the grille and main headlights adds more flash, and there’s no missing that grille even at night – it comes outlined by an LED strip; ‘Iconic Glow’ in BMW speak.

    Kidney grille is fully enclosed for optimised air flow. Note LED light surround.

    The i7 is more conventional in profile. It’s got a traditional three-box shape and that’s down to its underpinnings. The i7 is built on the same platform as the 7 Series (only badges and subtle blue details distinguish the ICE and EV versions) and has the same hard points as its petrol/diesel siblings. Mercedes’ swoopy EQS, for reference, is based around an EV-only architecture. The 5.4-metre-long i7 has a stately air about it, a look helped by a block-like and flat surfacing all around. A high-deck boot, wide-sweeping tail-lights and diffuser-like element at the bumper lend the i7’s derriere distinction too. 

    The i7’s boot has a capacity of 500 litres and there’s a usable compartment under the boot floor too. There’s no spare tyre though and though the bonnet opens, it doesn’t include any storage.

    BMW i7 interior and features

    The i7’s interior tech experience starts before you even get inside. It’s got powered doors that swivel open (and shut) for you at the touch of buttons outside and inside. A long press on the brake pedal also does the job of shutting the driver’s door and you can even control all door operations via the touchscreen and with voice commands. Cool entries and exits are guaranteed, but it must be said we did find ourselves reverting to the manual door release lever every now and then over the course of the i7’s time with us. In case you’re wondering, the powered doors only open when the surroundings are clear. Movement is paused if an obstacle is detected.

    Crystal-like details up ambience but not to all tastes.

    Inside, the i7 borrows the twin-screen curved display from the latest lot of BMWs. However, in look and choice of materials, this cabin feels like a proper ‘seven’-badged flagship’s. There’s a generous use of leather all around and even the smallest of buttons look premium. Upping the lux look is a crystal-like finish (OTT or classy, your pick) for the seat controllers, iDrive knob and ‘Interaction Bar’ that runs across the width of the minimalist dash. What’s cool, literally so, are the AC vents that are concealed from view behind the dash bar. Cooling is effective and you can adjust the vent position via a rubberised controller lower down while temperature settings are in easy reach on the touchscreen’s home screen. However, if you want to fine tune the blower speed or more, you’ll need to access the dedicated climate control menu on the screen, which is a cumbersome process.

    The 14.9-inch touchscreen itself is great to use. It’s slick and responsive to touch inputs and what helps functionality is the option to use the physical iDrive controller to scroll through menus – a big plus on the go. There are gesture controls too for a few phone and audio functions. The other screen of interest is for the instruments. The high contrast 12.3-inch screen is vibrant and easy to read in all light, it’s hugely customisable and changes theme with each mode. Particularly fascinating is the AR (augmented reality) function that superimposes navigation direction graphics on the screen’s front camera feed. The flashing markers make it near impossible to miss your turn. Just wish the system also worked with a paired phone’s Google Maps, and not solely with the car’s onboard navigation system.

    Ambient lighting extends to panoramic glass roof.

    What also adds the wow factor to the interior is the lighting suite. There’s a 15-colour ambient lighting as a base and there are six themes and modes, each with their own colour mix. The flow of lights on the dash, doors and glass roof is absolutely brilliant.

    BMW i7 rear seats

    As comfy as those front seats are, the i7 is a luxury limousine so the seats to be on are the ones at the back. There’s superb legroom on offer, the seats are as sumptuous as they look and there’s heating, ventilation and massage to help you wind down after a hard day at the boardroom. What’s also worth a mention is that the seating position isn’t knees up as on many other EVs. The i7’s underfloor battery pack is a relatively slim 110mm so the seats are positioned as they are on the standard 7 Series.

    Rear section superb on space and comfort. Executive seat extends business class-like.

    For the full experience, you need to stretch out on the rear left passenger seat or ‘boss seat’ as we know it as. A full extension that moves the front seat forwards and folds out a rear legrest and footrest takes about 40 seconds, and transforms the rear seat into a business class chair. The backrest reclines 43.5 degrees but a few more degrees would be welcome. Also, the contour of the seats and a high centre tunnel means an i7 isn’t indulgent for a middle passenger.

    Rear seat settings, ambient lighting, controls for the window and roof blinds etc are packed into 5.5-inch touchscreens integrated onto the back doors. Mind you, these aren’t the only screens at the back. No Sir. Folding down from the roof is a – wait for it – 31.3-inch 8K screen! The screen natively runs eSIM-based Amazon Fire TV and can also be plugged into a device via an HDMI port. A Bowers and Wilkins sound system makes the viewing experience all the more immersive. Thing is not everyone will be at ease watching the screen on the move, especially at higher speeds. You do have the option to move the screen fore/aft for your comfort and it’s adjustable for angle too. Drivers, however, will frustratingly find their view out the rear view mirror completely blocked by the screen. Jaguar-like digital mirrors would have done the trick.

    When headrest-mounted screens aren’t enough. The i7 has a 31.3-inch unit!

    BMW i7 refinement and ride quality

    While the screen presents a great way to catch up with your favourite shows and movies over your journeys, the cabin is also a place to reconnect with your thoughts. The i7’s silence is a revelation. Of course, the powertrain runs quiet but even road, wind and ambient noise are superbly suppressed. Helping the tranquility is the air suspension that rounds off the bumps with grace without that low speed clunkiness many EVs exhibit. At higher speeds too, there’s none of that floatiness you’d associate with a large limousine. Rather, body movements are kept so well in check, if prompted, you’d probably underestimate actual road speed.

    Long wheelbase and low ground clearance call for caution on speedbreakers.

    BMW i7 driving experience

    Hard acceleration is a different matter. A quick getaway will yield a sportscar-like 4.57 second 0-100kph time and kickdown acceleration is mega as well. You’ll sure feel the forward thrust even if you don’t hear it.

    The source of that performance is a pair of electrically excited synchronous motors, one at each axle, that produce a combined 544hp and 745Nm. That’s supercar power but then the i7 also tips the scales at a pavement crushing 2,640kg. Much of that weight comes from the 101.7kWh lithium-ion battery pack under the floor. A 740i petrol is a lightweight in comparison at ‘just’ 2,090kg.

    You might not hear it but you’ll sure feel its might. 0-100kph takes all of 4.5 seconds!

    From behind the wheel, there’s no escaping the feeling of commanding a big and heavy car. It takes up a lot of road space and even with the helping hand of four wheel steer (the rear wheels turn up to 3.5 degrees to ease manoeuverability), the i7 can feel intimidating on our congested roads. You’ll also have to be extra careful on speedbreakers. Sure, the i7 isn’t as prone to scraping its belly as an EQS, but the BMW’s long 3,215mm wheelbase and 136mm of clearance still need to be worked into route plans. A suspension lift function adds a crucial 20mm of clearance, and thankfully the shortcut to the feature is a physical button in easy access at the centre console. 

    It’s as the road opens up that you (or perhaps your chauffeur) will feel more at ease with the i7. For one, power delivery is predictable and, dare I say, ICE car-like progressive. No sudden woosh or bursts to catch you off guard. And what that means is you can dig deeper on the accelerator with confidence when the conditions permit. The all-encompassing feeling is of being in a powerful car. Sport mode dials things up with a sharper throttle response and there’s even a Boost mode (operated via a paddle behind the steering) that has the motors give their all for 10 seconds. It’s the electric vehicle equivalent of NOS and delivers a serious pushback on to your seat.

    The 5.4-metre-long i7 has a stately air about it; a look helped by block-like, flat surfacing all around.

    BMW i7 sound modes, regen and ADAS

    Lending some playfulness to the experience are the sound themes composed by Hans Zimmer. Each mode has its own aural profile, with the futuristic violin meets space moan sound on acceleration in Expressive being the most distinctive. On hurried journeys, you’ll also take well to the i7’s high speed poise. It feels surefooted and tidy in its handling but isn’t a car that shrinks around you. The i7 is strong on the brakes and well-calibrated adaptive regen means you won’t feel the need to tinker with settings on the go. Just as well because regen level adjust is a three-step process via the touchscreen.

    Boost has the motors give their all for 10 seconds.

    Of the other things, the i7 packs in ADAS functions such as auto emergency braking, lane-keep assist and active cruise control that work well enough in our settings. Also included on the i7 is BMW’s Parking Assistant Professional suite that includes a 360-degree camera, auto park and a super helpful Manoeuvre Assistant. The latter memorises vehicle trajectory into a parking, and subsequently can be put to use to automatically steer, brake and accelerate the car in. We tested the feature in our office compound and it followed the convoluted route to our EV charger to the T. Brilliant.

    AR screen overlays navigation arrows on camera feed.

    BMW i7 charging and range

    The i7 supports DC charging up to 195kW, but it’s likely the complimentary 22kW AC charger BMW provides with the car that owners will make most use of. A full 0-100 percent charge with the said charger takes 5 hours. In our tests, the i7 delivered a range of 396km in town and 489km on the highway. The figures are good as luxury EVs go and will easily meet the requirements of most typical owners.

    BMW i7 price and verdict

    The decision to go for an all-electric limousine is as much about luxury as it is about making a statement. It’s about establishing yourself as a forward thinker ready to embrace a new world of electric mobility. The BMW i7 has you covered on both fronts. It’s everything you want of a limousine - an opulent interior, first rate comfort, loads of tech and ample power - with a politically correct image delivered by its green number plates.

    It runs quiet and the cabin is hushed. The loudest thing about the i7 really is styling.

    The polarising styling, however, means the i7 is not a car conservative buyers will take to readily; and then, there’s the matter of price. At Rs 1.95 crore (ex-showroom, India), the i7 xDrive60 is pricey even by full size luxury sedan standards. More so when you see the fully imported i7’s pricing in light of its closest competitor, Mercedes’ locally assembled EQS 580 that comes in at Rs 1.59 crore.  

    Even so, there’s no taking away from the fact that the i7 is a superb addition to the EV-scape. And its arrival has just opened up the fight for the title of India’s best EV. We can’t wait to play judge.

    Tech Specs

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