“That’s a 7 Standard, regardless of the powertrain,” emphasizes BMW its new luxury flagship. But that’s how intensive the progress in electrification has been since then i3 and i8 were launched in 2014, the focus of BMW’s latest executive sedan is definitely the i7 EV.
The big picture sees BMW transforming the luxury car experience around onboard wellbeing, a class-leading digital experience via its new OS8 software and benchmark sustainability. Oh, and a huge 31.3-inch panoramic screen that folds out of the roof for rear-seat passengers. BMW prefers what it calls “timid engineering” but reserves the right to be extravagant when the mood calls for it.
Whoever has long memories will remember BMW promised The ultimate driving machine. In some ways, that may be truer than ever, although the company’s CEO, Oliver Zipse, admitted to WIRED that the scope of the 7 Series now extends well beyond cornering. Quick is the answer. The xDrive60 has a combined braking power of 536 hp from two electric motors, its hardware is very similar to the setup in the Excellent iX. The front motor makes 255 horsepower, the rear 308 horsepower, with 549 pound-feet of total torque.
The drive units are compact and carefully integrated, and BMW says the charging software has been improved compared to the i4 and iX. The temperature of the battery is now regulated even more precisely, for improved efficiency and a smoother charging curve. The cooling of the batteries has also been optimized and it is even possible to save individual charging settings for specific charging points. You can also manually preheat the battery when switching to a fast charger. And because the motor uses an electrically excited synchronous motor instead of one with fixed permanent magnets, BMW says it has eliminated the need for rare earth metals in the rotor.
The lithium-ion battery pack delivers 101.7 kilowatt hours of usable energy and sits comfortably under the floor with a cell height of just 110 millimeters. BMW claims between 3.1 and 3.3 miles per kWh and a range of up to 388 miles on a full charge. I got 2.9 during a particularly hard driving session. The company has also worked hard to keep the best- and worst-case range scenarios closer together. After 90 miles of riding, my estimated range was reassuringly 90 miles less than when I started. In fact, based on experience with this and the iX, I would say BMWs are more accurate than most. Find a 195kW fast charger and you can add 106 miles in about 10 minutes. Claimed 0 to 62mph time is 4.7 seconds and the i7’s top speed is limited to 149mph.
For some reason, motorists are among the most scornful when it comes to online trolling. Needless to say, the new 7 Series has caused quite a stir, but Zipse defies BMW’s polarizing design language. “There is no future-oriented design without controversy,” he tells me. “I want controversy. If we don’t have them, then you already know it’s too easy. From controversy you gain engagement. Digitize it, electrify it, make it a little bigger, that’s the answer.”
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