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Reviews2023 BMW i7 First Drive Review: New Benchmark?

2023 BMW i7 First Drive Review: New Benchmark?

The 2023 BMW i7 is the new flagship luxury electric vehicle from BMW, and it behaves the way a flagship should.

 

2023 BMW i7 Pros:

 

  • Ultra luxurious and comfortable

  • Impressive technology inside

  • Generous range

  • Very quick and surprisingly agile

 

2023 BMW i7 Cons:

 

  • Frustrating technology at times

  • Easily over $200,000 with options

  • Interior layout not all that different from less exclusive BMW models

  • Doesn’t look very special

The 2023 BMW i7 is the most expensive, most exclusive, and by far the most luxurious BMW electric vehicle you can buy. It not only sets the benchmark for technology and refinement within the BMW range, but as far as advanced features, performance, comfort, and the overall balance of refinement and sportiness, the new BMW i7 should be the standard against which other automakers develop their luxury electric vehicles.

 

2023 BMW i7 review | Photo: Charles Jolicoeur
2023 BMW i7 review | Photo: Charles Jolicoeur

 

As the gas-powered BMW 7 Series has always done, the i7 blends the kind of elegance and premium driving experience you expect from a full-size luxury sedan, but with a hint of traditional BMW edginess and sportiness that will appeal to those who still like to drive. On the other hand, there is a lot going on when you are on the road in the BMW i7. You are surrounded by technology, some of it occasionally frustrating to use and figure out, and although the cabin is Rolls-Royce-like in its quietness, you can’t help but feel disconnected at times.

 

Still, the 2023 BMW i7 will appeal to a variety of drivers and buyers. If you like the handling and agility of the Porsche Taycan but need more space and want more comfort, the BMW i7 is a great choice. It’s not quite as refined and comfortable as the Mercedes-Benz top-of-the-line EV, but it provides sharper handling and a better steering feel.

 

2023 BMW i7 review | Photo: Charles Jolicoeur
2023 BMW i7 review | Photo: Charles Jolicoeur

 

Moreover, unlike the EQS which has a fairly underwhelming rear seat area, the i7 provides state-of-the-art and exclusive infotainment features, starting with the massive 31.3-inch BMW theatre screen, which is a true showstopper. There’s a lot to unpack here; let’s start with the powertrain and, maybe more importantly, the EV-related characteristics of the 2023 BMW i7.

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0-100 km/h In 4.7 Seconds with Up To 512 Kilometres Of Range

 

For now, the 2023 BMW i7 is offered in a single version, the xDrive60. A more powerful BMW i7 M70 is on its way, but for now, buyers interested in the i7 will have to go with the xDrive60, and believe me, it is in no way a compromise on performance. The i7 is powered by two electric motors, which each drive their own axle, thus delivering a combined 536 hp to all four wheels. Torque is equally generous, with 549 pound-feet sent instantaneously to the road. This gets you to 100 km/h in 4.7 seconds.

 

2023 BMW i7 review | Photo: Charles Jolicoeur
2023 BMW i7 review | Photo: Charles Jolicoeur

 

What’s great about the i7 is just how easy it is to modulate this ample power. There is a clear and distinct difference between each drive mode, with Sport being truly sporty and Comfort being perfectly balanced. ECO mode guarantees that you get the most range out of your i7, although the all-electric freedom the new BMW top-of-the-line sedan offers is impressive regardless of the chosen mode.

 

The 101.7-kWh battery delivers a claimed 512 km of range. As we found out in the BMW iX M60 review, the posted range and the actual range are quite similar.

 

Although I didn’t get to 500 km, I did average 458 km, and this was in fairly cold temperatures in March and without significantly changing the way I was driving. I kept the i7 in Comfort mode with regenerative braking on its least aggressive level. The i7 gives you different regen braking options, from adaptive, to low, medium, and high. I played with both adaptive and low, as the medium and high settings are quite aggressive. The adaptive battery regeneration mode is quite effective, adjusting how the brakes regenerate energy depending on how the i7 is being driven.

 

2023 BMW i7 review | Photo: Charles Jolicoeur
2023 BMW i7 review | Photo: Charles Jolicoeur

 

Still, like other German luxury electric vehicles like the Taycan and EQS, there is quite enough range here for your needs, and you don’t have to work to extract reasonable EV freedom. Just drive the way you would normally do, and you’ll still get over 400 km in the BMW i7, whether it’s cold, hot, or the EV-perfect 21° Celsius outside. Charging at home at 9 kW, I was able to get a full charge in just over 10 hours. Charging on a Level 3 charger, I was able to reach 131 kW, replenishing from 31% to 80% in 41 minutes on a 150-kW charger. The i7 can reach charging speeds of 195 kW, while at home, you can charge at up to 11 kW.

 

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Remarkable luxury inside

 

Stepping inside the BMW i7, you press the brake and the door automatically closes like a Rolls-Royce (or Genesis G90!). Comfortably seated in Cashmere and Merino optional seats, I notice three things about the i7’s interior. The Light Bar that spans the entire dashboard is absolutely stunning, especially in Sport mode where it turns a bright red and blue. The quality of the materials and the fit and finish is near perfect, and the overall layout is a mix of modern metal trims and premium classic finishes like glass and wood that all combine to create a very upscale environment.

 

2023 BMW i7 review | Photo: Charles Jolicoeur
2023 BMW i7 review | Photo: Charles Jolicoeur

On the other hand, the large centre 14.9-inch display combined with a 12.3-inch instrument cluster is taken directly from other recently refreshed BMW models like the X5 and X7. There’s nothing wrong with it on its own, but this screen can’t compare with the massive 56-inch Hyperscreen found in the EQS when it comes to both exclusivity and visual appeal.

 

The i7 compensates for its lack of infotainment wow-factor upfront in the back, where the optional 31.3-inch Theater display is always the star of the show for your passengers. It made getting my three-year-old into the car and off to daycare considerably easier during my week with the i7, especially since the doors also feature two 5.5-inch displays that provide full control over a variety of functions.

 

2023 BMW i7 review | Photo: Charles Jolicoeur
2023 BMW i7 review | Photo: Charles Jolicoeur

 

The large screen integrates Amazon Fire TV, Prime Video, YouTube, and more. The i7 can transform into a true theater at the touch of a button, with side shades and rear window shades closing and creating a truly isolated experience where one’s favorite movie can be enjoyed. These are all part of the i7’s Executive Lounge package, which provides a truly first-class environment for rear-seat passengers.

 

2023 BMW i7 review | Photo: Charles Jolicoeur
2023 BMW i7 review | Photo: Charles Jolicoeur

 

Of course, all of these options add to the bottom line. Those Cashmere seats you see in the pictures add $7,500 on their own, and they have to be grouped with multiple other packages that added over $25,000 to the total price. The i7 was packed with equipment, but there were still some boxes left unticked, notably the dual-tone paint. In other words, don’t let the $147,000 starting price fool you. The i7 will be considerably more expensive than that.

 

In any case, there is a ton of legroom and headroom in the back, more so than in the EQS, and unlike the latter, the i7 truly replicates the kind of rear-seat experience we see in the very best gas-powered full-size luxury sedans.

 

2023 BMW i7 review | Photo: Charles Jolicoeur
2023 BMW i7 review | Photo: Charles Jolicoeur

 

Back to the front, the i7 features an easy-to-use infotainment system once you get used to all of the available features. As expected, the i7 comes with what BMW calls “My Modes,” which include Expressive, Relaxed, Digital Theatre, Digital Art, and Individual options. Choosing these settings transforms the interior of the i7 and activates various features to create different environments. It’s a nifty touch, something a model like the i7 needs to have.

 

As stated previously, all of this technology is relatively easy to figure out, but the i7 does have a few frustrating quirks. The major one is the automatic door functionality, which are far less straightforward than in the Genesis G90. Sometimes they close on the first touch, sometimes they don’t; sometimes, you get so annoyed that you simply push them yourself, only to realize these doors were made for automatic function. They are very heavy to close when the system is not cooperating. Meanwhile, the infotainment system can sometimes lag, although this might have just been an isolated incident.

 

2023 BMW i7 review | Photo: Charles Jolicoeur
2023 BMW i7 review | Photo: Charles Jolicoeur

 

Beautifully balanced

 

Once you head out on the road, you find that there is really nothing the 2023 BMW i7 doesn’t do well. It is exceptionally quiet, and the suspension ensures you don’t feel a single bump or pothole, despite the massive wheels. On the flip side, going around corners, roundabouts, and getting off highway exits, the 2023 BMW i7 magically shrinks into a sporty luxury sedan that is, dare I say, nimble. An i4 M50 or M3 it is not, but it feels so much more connected than its size and weight should.

 

2023 BMW i7 review | Photo: Charles Jolicoeur
2023 BMW i7 review | Photo: Charles Jolicoeur

 

Lay on the accelerator, and the i7 pushes forward instantaneously with the kind of thrust that puts a smile on your face but never jolts you or compromises your comfort. This is a car that is made for the German autobahn, as the silence of the cockpit and the isolation provided by the suspension will take you far above the allowed speed limit if you’re not paying attention.

 

Is it more comfortable than the Mercedes-Benz EQS? As stated previously, the Mercedes-Benz still has a slight advantage, although we will have to test both models back to back. On the other hand, I prefer the balance and the i7’s uncanny ability to shift from a luxury highway cruiser to a sporty sedan at the first corner. No other EV balances refinement and sportiness like the i7.

 

2023 BMW i7 review | Photo: Charles Jolicoeur
2023 BMW i7 review | Photo: Charles Jolicoeur

 

Like an Electric 7 Series

 

Unlike the EQS, which feels very much like a standalone premium luxury EV, considerably different from how the Mercedes-Benz S-Class feels and drives or even looks inside and out, the 2023 BMW i7 feels like an electric 7 Series. It drives much the same way, at least. For some, this is a plus, while for others looking for a more distinct and unique electric vehicle experience, the i7 may not feel all that different from a traditional gas-powered luxury sedan. It doesn’t really get noticed on the road, unlike the EQS or Taycan, which again for some is a plus while others want to feel like they are driving something completely different. The i7 isn’t that vehicle, but what it is, is an EV that does everything you want a car to do and does it better than most.

 

2023 BMW i7 review | Photo: Charles Jolicoeur
2023 BMW i7 review | Photo: Charles Jolicoeur

 

Is it a new benchmark for premium electric vehicles? I wouldn’t go that far as there are some pretty impressive models in the i7’s segment. It does fit the middle ground between the Taycan and EQS perfectly, however, with more space and comfort than the Porsche, and sharper handling and dynamics than the Mercedes-Benz. What is certain is that BMW’s third electric vehicle to arrive on the market is a true flagship and yet another impressive showcase of BMW’s ability to take its DNA and personality and perfectly translate it into an electrified vehicle.

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Charles Jolicoeur
Charles Jolicoeur
Charles Jolicoeur was studying to be a CPA when he decided to drop everything and launch a car website in 2012. Don't ask. The journey has been an interesting one, but today he has co-founded and manages 8 websites including EcoloAuto.com and MotorIllustrated.com as General Manager of NetMedia360. He also sits on the board of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada. Send me an email

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