- Helping you drive happy

2023 BMW i7 First Drive: Your Electric Limo has Arrived

2023 BMW i7
Photo: D.Heyman
The i7 EV delivers the power, the ride and the interior accoutrements required of a flag-bearer for a brand like BMW Automotive expert , Updated:
2023 BMW i7, profile
2023 BMW i7, profile

•    Auto123 gets in a first test drive of the 2023 BMW i7, the German brand's new flagship electric luxury sedan.

Thermal, CA – The BMW 7 Series is all-new for 2023, and with it comes the 760i xDrive gas model with mild-hybrid tech, the 750e xDrive plug-in hybrid and the full battery-electric i7 model seen here. The 7 Series is part of BMW’s luxury lineup and while some may argue that in Canada BMW is a luxury manufacturer as a rule, the 7 Series goes the extra mile(s) in many ways.

Before you even look inside the i7 (full name: i7 xDrive60), you can tell it’s that much more special by its unique fascia. The split-level headlight and DRL assemblies flanking an outsized kidney grille are the most obvious giveaway, but look even closer and you’ll see unique details such as the way the headlights are highlighted with Swarovski crystals, which is a feature you’d expect more from a car in BMW’s upscale Rolls-Royce brand.

The design
The fascia of the new i7 is part of what BMW calls “monolithic surface design”, which incorporates modern detailing like those lights and grille but wraps it all in broad panels with a few choice creases on the lower doors and around the beltline and on the hood, plus features a modern take on the “Hofmeister Kink” at the corners of the rear side windows.

Browse cars for sale available near you

2023 BMW i7, three-quarters rear
2023 BMW i7, three-quarters rear
Photo: D.Heyman

That not only looks good, it also allows for larger side windows and a larger greenhouse, making for a brighter experience for rear seat passengers. The new 7 is also longer, taller and has a longer wheelbase than even the long-wheelbase version of the previous-generation 7 Series.

The rest of the styling cues likewise combine function and stylishness. They are shaped the way they are to decrease drag as much as possible, and while you’d be right in thinking that that broad grille is the cause of some of the drag, it doesn’t shoulder as much of the blame as you may think.

Indeed, a lot of the instability of the air around you that causes grad happens down the sides, underneath and around the rear of the vehicle. Every panel was designed to accommodate that, from how wide the trunk is, to how the side mirrors are shaped and so on.

The result is a .23 coefficient of drag, making it not quite as slippery as the Mercedes-EQ EQS. But when paired with the 101.7-kWh battery, the i7 is slippery enough to help provide 512 km of range according to NRCan’s testing cycle.

2023 BMW i7, interior
2023 BMW i7, interior
Photo: D.Heyman

The interior
Inside, there’s no question that this is an all-new car aimed at the most exclusive buyers. Especially if you’ve spec-ed the upgraded seats, which come finished in a glorious combination of real Marino leather and cashmere, for a soft, breathable seat surface that feels just as good as it looks. And feel good it should - it costs $7,500 to get.

Add crystal detailing on the door-mounted seat controls, iDrive wheels and gear select switch and you’re off to the races in the ultra-luxe department.

In addition to the quality of the materials themselves, the seats are throne-like in their comfort. Every part of your body that needs the most support gets it, while the padding is just right. They’re so adjustable that just when you think the bottom cushion is too short, you roll the thigh support forward, meaning there’s no uncomfortable gap between the thigh cushion and bottom cushion. If the side bolsters aren’t rigid enough, they can be adjusted too – indeed, finding an uncomfortable setting is almost impossible.

2023 BMW i7, second row of seats
2023 BMW i7, second row of seats
Photo: D.Heyman

Back seat passengers, meanwhile, get fully reclining seats if you spec the $2,800 Executive Lounge Package, as well as the ability to bump the front passenger forward. All of this, meanwhile, is controlled by an iPhone-sized display mounted right there atop the door pull, which is very nifty.

While there are more computers in here than in the Challenger Shuttle, the goal was to not overwhelm occupants. And so the dash is an uncluttered space, dominated by dual curved displays. The left-hand side unit measures 14.9 inches, with the main infotainment display coming in at 12.3 inches. It’s through here that you control almost everything the car has to offer, from the climate control system (which uses concealed vent outlets to contribute to that cleaner look), to the various sunshades (both rear side windows, the rear window, the sunroof) and drive modes.

Other clutter-reducing touches include power opening and closing doors that require no more than pressing the keyfob or a dash-mounted release up front and door-mounted release in the rear to open. The doors are also “smart” in that they won’t swing out all the way if they sense an object in their path.

The image displayed on the central screen changes depending on which of the MyModes – Expressive, Relax, Digital Theater, Digital Art – you’ve selected. These also modify the ambient lighting and whether or not the sunshades are open.

2023 BMW i7, rear entertainment screen
2023 BMW i7, rear entertainment screen
Photo: D.Heyman

Off to the theatre
The Digital theatre mode is probably the most transformative of all of them, as it deploys the optional 31.3-inch 8K rear entertainment display from the roof and closes all the blinds so rear seat occupants get the most out of the various apps included within on-board Amazon Fire TV.

It’s quite a piece of work that is great to have as long as you’re willing to live with the fact that it obstructs part of the full-length moonroof above when stowed. I also think a little more could have been done to hide the display’s hinges when stowed. It looks somewhat unfinished in its current form.

The other thing I would have liked here is a digital rear-view mirror as the display and rear window shade does obstruct the view rearwards. With the exterior-mounted cameras digital mirrors use, this ceases to be a problem.

While the driver and front seat passenger won’t be able to experience that, they do get the fantastic Bowers & Wilkins audio system that will actually vibrate the seatbacks a little for a 4D experience.

While drivers may not get the glory of that massive rear display, they can turn to either of the two displays in front of them to make use of modern tech in the form of augmented reality navigation. Essentially, the screen within the display directly in front of them or on the main display to the right becomes a real-time view of the road ahead. When following a navi route, arrows will appear on the screen to help guide you through the various intersections along your route.

2023 BMW i7, front
2023 BMW i7, front
Photo: D.Heyman

The powertrain
The i7 is a dual-motor hybrid, meaning you have EV motors on both the front and rear axles, which combine provide 544 hp and 549 lb-ft of torque, enough to hustle the 2,600 kg-plus i7 from a stop to 100 km/h in 4.7 seconds on its way to a top speed of 240 km/h.

The drive
Those figures are fine, but I wouldn’t say the i7 rockets off the line like some direct-drive EVs do. It’s too heavy for that. But once you get all that mass moving, watch out. At-speed acceleration is incredibly potent; the shove we got in the chest when we really stepped on it never ceased to surprise.

It’s that kind of torque wave you want in a cruiser like this, along with a ride that’s befitting of a vehicle of this stature. That comes via the standard fitment of four-corner air suspension and adaptive dampers. With tech that reads the ground below in less than a blink of an eye and adjusts the damping strength accordingly, the i7 floats above the tarmac, so smooth you sometimes feel like you’re levitating.

A little much? Maybe. The bottom line is that when driving the i7, much like trying to find an uncomfortable seating position, I had to try and feel the bumps I was traversing. That’s right on for this segment.

When you do want to hustle it, you can. Select Sport mode and the EV motors get to flex their full strength, range be darned. You’ll be zipping you along with pace as the air-suspension keeps everything nice and level through the bends, tThe rear-wheel steering effectively shortening the wheelbase by tightening the turn radius. You have to work very, very hard to upset the balance here to the point where few ever will.

2023 BMW i7, front grille
2023 BMW i7, front grille
Photo: D.Heyman

In addition to drive modes like Comfort, Sport, Eco, etc., the i7 gets a separate set of selectable modes that deal with battery regeneration. There are four: adaptive, low, medium and high. Adaptive was our mode of choice as it automatically adjusts the regen depending on what it senses from the driver. You could be stuck in traffic, floor it, and it will not let you do so in this mode. Once we got used to it, we were able to go from 141 miles of range remaining to 225 after driving about 50 miles. Not bad.

Regenerative braking aside, the i7 can charge at up to 195 kW, returning 170 km in about 10 minutes.

Autonomous driving, of a sort
The i7 sees the debut of Driving Assistant Professional level II autonomous tech with Highway Assistant. When on appropriate roads – divided highways with no level crossings that BMW has mapped – you can cruise hands-free and pedal-free, with no nannies telling you to stop. Even lane changes can happen with a light tap of the turn indicator and I found the tech work worked without a hitch, although there are a few button presses required to activate it.

2023 BMW i7,  profile. front
2023 BMW i7, profile. front
Photo: D.Heyman

The final word
This is a grand car, this i7, full-stop. It has the power, the ride and the interior accoutrements required of a flag-bearer for a brand like this, not to mention a brand that also happens to own the most luxurious car brand you can name in Rolls-Royce.

I’m sure there’s little-to-no tangible connection there, but I couldn’t help but think about the 7 Series’ Rolls-Royce Ghost cousin as I piloted the i7 thanks to the materials and on-road attitude on offer. If that isn’t some high praise, I don’t know what is.

We like

Incredible on-board luxury
Advanced autonomous driving tech
Good range and charging speeds

We like less

Large rear display has compromises
No digital rear-view mirror
No storage area under hood

2023 BMW i7,  rear
2023 BMW i7, rear
Photo: D.Heyman

Road Tests and Reviews

2023 BMW i7
Review this Vehicle
Space and Access
Driving Dynamics
General Appreciation
Forgot your password? Click here
2023 BMW i7 pictures

From this author

Dan Heyman
Articles By
Dan Heyman
  • Over 12 years' experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 70 test drives in the past year
  • Participation in over 150 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists