Opulent, high-tech interior
Balanced ride and handling that defies the laws of physics
Less range than its competitors
Lisbon, Portugal – The BMW i7 M70 xDrive, the figurehead of the Bavarian brand, stands out like an automotive behemoth. Weighing in at over 2,700 kilos, this colossal electric sedan makes no compromises when it comes to performance. It can leap from 0 to 100 km/h in just 3.8 seconds. It is intended to be the spiritual replacement for the great V12 for a new generation of buyers.
Technology that needs taming
Buying this car implies immersion in the world of technology, for better or for worse. Most features require careful exploration of the menus. The architecture’s 8.5 operating system offers a sophisticated but complex world. You have to go through several submenus to find what you’re looking for. You’ll be able to customize a multitude of parameters. From managing an internet space to settling parking payments, to finding the electric charger. The interior of the i7 M70 has been designed as a sanctuary, devoid of artifice, visually and physically, with only a few buttons on the dashboard and center console. Silence reigns, and the design team clearly sought to eradicate the slightest disturbance.
It glides along in silence, unless the driver, or his passengers, decide to unleash the “iconic sound” of the spaceship generator when the two electric motors roar into Sport mode. The M70’s rear engine boasts 25.5% more power than the M60 version, offering a total output of 650 hp and 748 lb-ft of torque in Sport mode. By activating the throttle paddle or engaging launch control, the car can even reach 811 lb-ft of torque. Despite its immense performance, BMW claims that the 101.7 kWh battery will be capable of delivering a range of 474 km.
A new driving mode called Max Range lets you exploit every electron by limiting the M70 to 100 km, limiting power and deactivating the air conditioning, heated and ventilated seats, and heated steering wheel. The i7 M70 supports rapid DC charging up to 195 kW, with BMW claiming that the battery can go from 10% to 80% in 34 minutes.
The overall aesthetic exudes refined elegance, with high-quality materials adorning every surface. Leather is available, but it’s the cashmere seat option that attracts the most attention. The rear seats can be adjusted to offer maximum comfort, while the spacious trunk, although lacking the front compartment where an engine would normally be located, provides ample luggage space. Small storage pockets in the cabin also provide valuable space for personal items.
The main attraction of the rear seat lies not in the screens or sophisticated infotainment systems, but in a 31-inch rear entertainment screen with an astonishing 8K resolution, incorporating Amazon Fire TV functionality. A marvel of technology offering an immersive experience. In the lowered position, this immense screen completely obstructs the driver’s rear view, with no digital rear-view mirror to compensate for this inconvenience. Nevertheless, transforming the car into a theatre, with the rear blinds raised and the screen lowered, creates an atmosphere similar to that of a movie theatre.
The M70 is visually distinguished from other i7s by its black trim, side skirts and rear diffuser. The M Performance package adds a black rear spoiler, black trim between the taillights and further black trim on the rear bumper. Like the other i7s, the M70 can be fitted with two-tone paint, and the outline of the huge grille lights up for an extra $500.
Nimble and heavy
The i7 is much more agile than its size and weight would suggest. The electric motors generate plenty of power. But, despite its M-specific adaptive air suspension, you have to be careful when cornering. Bavarian engineers are well aware of weight as an enemy of performance, but the current trend towards electric models, which are all heavy, forces engineers to go with the flow and have to make an elephant nimble. In a straight line, the car behaves impeccably, absorbing imperfections on the tarmac with ease, and negotiating bends with agility.
This good handling is thanks to the M-specific adaptive air suspension, with electronically controlled dampers and active roll stabilization. You can drive at the touch of a pedal by simply pressing or releasing the gas pedal. When the i7 M70 xDrive hits North American roads in November, it will be equipped with Highway Assistant, a Level 2 system that allows you to drive freely on fast lanes thanks to a multitude of sensors. Active Lane Changing will be this year’s new feature, enabling the driver to change lanes with complete confidence, thanks to the detection of openings in traffic.
Who’s this machine for?
With a price starting at $185,000, this car occupies a very small niche. Its format is bulkier than a Tesla S, but close to that of a Mercedes EQS or Lucid Air. With a model that closely resembles a gasoline-powered 7 Series at comparable prices, BMW wants to make a smooth transition between the two models, hoping to convince its customers to switch seamlessly from one to the other.
On the road, the i7 becomes BMW’s most powerful car, a promise of speed and refinement. However, its range places it at the bottom of the hierarchy of large electric luxury sedans. The competition, whether from Mercedes, Lucid or Tesla, offers far superior figures, the champion being the Tesla Model S Plaid. However, for buyers of the BMW i7 M70, range becomes a secondary concern.