BMW's new-look 7-Series is big, bold and, er... Bavarian
THE BMW 7 Series has long been a class leading 'luxo barge' for the company director set, so the premium motoring world always takes notice each time the Munich based marque unveils a new version of the swish saloon it first launched in 1977.
The new-for-2022 7 Series got a decidedly mixed reaction when it was unveiled last month. Why? Well, just look at it – specifically that big, blunt front end dominated by a comically enormous kidney grille (complete with LED illumination) and framed by split-level side/running lights and headlights similar to those favoured by Hyundai's premium brand Genesis and indeed the X7, its own sister SUV.
However, the boxy, utilitarian lines of the BMW X7 somehow lend themselves to this split-level arrangement in a way that the saloon profile of the new 7 Series just doesn't.
It's a big statement from the Bavarians, particularly as the outgoing 7 Series was one of the most attractive since the mighty E32 last bossed our motorways in the mid-90s.
Unlike Genesis cars, the 7 Series doesn't also feature split-level rear lights: instead, there are unexpected (and not unwelcome) shades of the old Alfa 159 in its new simplified light clusters/bootlid configuration.
There are big changes afoot under the bonnet too: the latest 7 Series is the first to be available in pure EV form with the introduction of the new BMW i7 xDrive60 and the upcoming range topping BMW i7 M70 xDrive.
It also marks the end of an internal combustion-powered era for this particular autobahn stormer, with petrol and diesel engines dropped in favour of plug-in hybrids combining a turbocharged six-cylinder petrol engine with battery assistance.
Riding on adjustable air suspension and only available in long-wheelbase form, the 2022 7 Series is the biggest ever version of BMW's most sizeable saloon: it has grown 130mm in length to a whopping 5.39m over the outgoing model, and it's wider than ever at 1.95m across.
A 51mm increase in height also contributes to a slight increase in headroom within the typically plush and roomy cabin, which is appointed with all manner of high-end luxury madness: behold BMW's rather cool looking curved widescreen infotainment system complete with augmented reality sat-nav system, the BMW Interaction Bar featuring nifty touch-sensitive system controls located within spaceship-esque crystal-effect panels, optional oak, ashwood, carbon fibre and crystal trim, plus a mini cinema for rear passengers in the form of a drop-down BMW Theatre Screen with built-in Amazon Fire TV.
This option comprises a full-width 31.3" 8K touchscreen display with Bluetooth headphone compatible Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system "with optional in-seat exciters" (it says here), linked to built-in BMW Touch Command touchscreen remotes in the door panels and an automated rear shade system which activates whenever the BMW Theatre Screen is turned on. You'll be in no doubt when that happens, as it's announced by a specially composed jingle courtesy of Hans Zimmer.
Indeed, BMW-buying fans of The Zimmer (as surely no-one calls him) are in luck: every time you start your new 7 Series, it will play "an acoustic accompaniment" created by Christopher Nolan's go-to scoremeister, and the car can also deliver "authentic audio feedback" created by him whenever you move the accelerator – in other words, drivers can compose their own automotive symphony drones whilst negotiating the golf club carpark.
Animal lovers will welcome the news that the new 7 Series interior is available in BMW's new Veganza faux-leather material, while newly developed heated front comfort seats offer extensive electric adjustment and lumbar support for driver and passenger, with an optional Front Comfort Pack adding active seat ventilation and a nine-programme massage function.
Multifunction seats, active seat ventilation and a massage function are also available for the rear, with the Executive Lounge option including a reclining rear seat function with integrated leg rest for the space behind the front passenger seat, individually adjustable neck cushions and an optional quilted and heated armrest with high-quality glass insert and integrated smartphone tray for inductive charging.
Available in either M Sport or Excellence specification, the 2023 7 Series will debut as the pure electric i7 xDrive60 and priced from £110,455 OTR, with first UK deliveries expected in December.
This will be followed early next year by the 490hp 750e xDrive and high-performance 571hp M760e xDrive plug-in hybrids.
The i7 M70 xDrive will follow later in 2023 as the pure EV 7 Series flagship model, with exact performance specs yet to be confirmed – but expect to find around 650hp under your right foot.
AT A GLANCE
BMW BMW i7 xDrive60 Excellence
Price: from £110,455 OTR
Drivetrain: twin electric motors powered by 101.7kWh battery, single speed automatic gearbox and electric all-wheel drive
Max power/torque: 544hp / 550ft lb
Max speed: 149mph
Energy consumption WLTP combined: 3.2 to 3.4 miles/kWh
Max charging rate: 11kW AC / 195kW DC
Max range WLTP: 387 miles
Weight (unloaded): 2,715kg