Driven: The 2023 BMW i7 And 7-Series Are Near-Perfect Flagship Sedans
What defines the modern flagship sedan? Is it luxury, space, power, or technology?
That question doesn’t have an easy answer, but it was one BMW was faced with when creating the seventh-generation 7-Series. An upper-class icon, the redesigned model combines all four of those attributes with an available electric powertrain and driving dynamics that need to be experienced to be believed.
The end result is near perfection as the sedan lives up to the ethos of the ‘best car to drive and the best car to be driven in.’
A Bold, Imposing Look
Fast Facts > > >
> Model: 2023 BMW 760i xDrive & i7 xDrive60
> Starting Price: $113,600 / $119,300
> Power: 536 hp
> Fuel Economy / Range: 18/26/21 mpg or up to 318 miles
> On Sale: This fall
While flagship sedans tend to play it safe, BMW is no stranger to taking risks with the 7-Series. The E65 provoked strong reactions and there’s little doubt the G70 will do the same.
The car immediately stands out as it features a distinctive front fascia with a massive kidney grille that is flanked by split lighting units. This design debuted on the facelifted X7 and will be unique to the company’s flagship vehicles.
Getting back to the lights, the upper units serve as daytime running lights and turn signals, while the lower units are recessed Adaptive LED headlights with standard high beam assist. The lights can be accented by Swarovski crystals and owners will find a “dynamic light carpet,” which uses LEDs integrated into the door sills to project four graphics, one after another, onto the ground just outside the doors.
While the front end will prove divisive, the rest of the sedan adopts a more evolutionary design. The bodywork has been streamlined, and there’s a new interpretation of the Hofmeister kink as it’s now rendered in fixed chrome. The model also sports a subtle shoulder line and new flush-mounted door handles.
Speaking of the doors, they can open and close at the touch of a button. This feels a little gimmicky and the doors can be slow to open. However, there’s something wonderful about hitting a button on the dash and having the driver’s side door fully open by itself.
The i7 and 7-Series are virtually identical, but there are a number of small differences between them. Besides a blocked off grille, the EV comes equipped with a unique rear end and aerodynamically optimized 20-inch wheels. Buyers will also find subtle ‘i’ badging and BMW roundels with a blue surround.
Besides the new looks, the sedan has grown in size as the model now measures 212.2 inches (5,390 mm) long, 76.8 inches (1,951 mm) wide, and 60.8 inches (1,544 mm) tall with a wheelbase that spans 126.6 inches (3,216 mm). These numbers closely mirror the Mercedes S-Class as both models have the same wheelbase, although the 7-Series is 4 inches (102 mm) longer.
A Streamlined And Tech-Forward Cabin
The bold design gives the 7-Series an unmistakable presence, but it’s what’s inside that really matters. Thankfully, the interior doesn’t disappoint as the cabin is ultra-luxurious and impressively high-tech.
Once seated behind the two- or three-spoke steering wheel, drivers will find themselves looking at an all-new Curved Display. It consists of a crisp 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 14.9-inch infotainment system.
The car leans heavily on the infotainment display as traditional switchgear has largely been eliminated. This results in a far more modern and streamlined appearance, although it requires owners to put in some effort to adjust common controls.
This isn’t much of an issue as temperature settings for the driver and front passenger are always displayed. They’re separated by a Climate Menu ‘button’ that pulls up a screen, which enables owners to easily turn on the heated steering wheel and heated/ventilated front seats as well as adjust the fan speed and air flow.
Read: 2023 BMW 7-Series Range Grows With Two Plug-Ins And An Updated Diesel In Europe
Besides climate controls, the infotainment system provides access to countless other settings and features a customizable home screen with widgets. The system is fast, fluid, and intuitive, although its speech recognition capabilities leave something to be desired. Getting the system to navigate to spoken addresses was a frustrating and repetitive experience as the car routinely heard things differently than what was said.
Once the correct address was finally entered, the navigation system worked flawlessly and getting to our destination was a breeze thanks to the standard head-up display and the available Augmented View function. The latter shows navigation information over a live video feed displayed in the instrument cluster.
Putting the screens aside, the 7-Series has a new Interaction Bar which wraps around the front of the cabin and features a crystalline surface with backlighting as well as touch-sensitive control panels. The latter can be used for adjusting the hidden air vents as well as heating the front/rear windows and opening the glove box.
While the model is largely devoid of physical switchgear, the center console has glass controls for the shifter, volume, and infotainment system. It also houses dedicated buttons to pull up the drive mode selector as well as the home, media, telephone, and navigation screens.
Elsewhere, there are new multi-contour front seats, which are comfortable and supportive while also being wider than their predecessors. They offer heating, ventilation, and a massage function with nine different settings.
The entry-level 740i has leather-like Veganza upholstery, while extended Merino leather comes standard on higher-end variants. Customers can also opt for the BMW Individual Merino leather/cashmere wool upholstery that was found on our testers. It’s undeniably elegant and features a two-tone design with Smoke White leather and Light Grey cloth.
Buyers can also get an Alcantara headliner, wood or carbon fiber trim, and a Radiant Heating Package that adds a heated steering wheel as well as heated armrests. The model comes standard with a Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system with stainless steel speaker grilles, although audiophiles will want to upgrade to the Bowers & Wilkins diamond surround sound system that sports up to 36 speakers including four integrated into the headliner.
Speaking of the ceiling, the 7-Series comes standard with a Panoramic Sky Lounge LED fixed glass roof, which is larger than its predecessor and features an assortment of different lighting options.
A Luxurious Passenger Compartment With A Massive 31-Inch Screen
While the driver’s seat is the place to be, we wouldn’t fault anyone for wanting to get chauffeured in the 7-Series as the rear passenger compartment is essentially a living room on wheels. The key highlight is the all-new BMW Theater Screen, which makes traditional rear seat entertainment systems feel as dated as the Sony Walkmans and Nintendo Game Boys that served as the rear seat entertainment of my youth.
After hitting a virtual button on the 5.5-inch displays integrated into the rear door panels, a massive 31.3-inch 8K touchscreen display folds down from the ceiling. As this is happening, the sunshades close and the rear ambient lighting is dimmed to turn the rear passenger compartment into a movie theater.
Thankfully, there’s plenty to watch as the screen supports streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and YouTube. This means rear seat passengers can watch films and TV shows in 16:9, 21:9, or 32:9 aspect ratios at their leisure. Sound is pumped through the Bowers & Wilkins audio system, although passengers can also connect Bluetooth headphones to listen without disturbing the driver.
While the screen is truly a jaw dropping feature, it’s not the only thing that helps to make the experience stand out. In particular, the optional Executive Lounge Package features a rear seat that can be reclined up to 42.5^0. However, the seat is more notable for having a powered leg rest and a foot rest on the back of the front passenger seat.
The front seat automatically slides forward and tips down when the leg rest is deployed. When combined with the aforementioned BMW Theater Screen, the experience is a bit like relaxing in a recliner in front of a TV at home.
Those are just some of the highlights as the 7-Series sports a four-zone climate control system and an available wireless smartphone charger in the rear armrest. The door-mounted displays also enable passengers to adjust their seat, turn on the heating, ventilation, and massage functions, open and close blinds, and change the car’s media/radio settings.
While that’s a lot to take in, BMW deserves credit for nailing the user experience. With so many high-tech toys, owners could have easily been overwhelmed, but the smartphone-like door displays are intuitive and make accessing various features incredibly simple.
It’s also easy to get comfortable in the rear seats, which offer an impressive 43.3 inches (1,100 mm) of legroom. That drops to 42.8 inches (1,087 mm) in the i7 and the EV also gives up 2.3 cubic feet (65 liters) of trunk space for a total of 11.4 cubic feet (323 liters).
The 760i xDrive Is A Proper Driver’s Car
While the i7’s electric powertrain is the most interesting addition for 2023, the 7-Series hasn’t abandoned petrol power. Quite the opposite as the 740i is equipped with a “substantially upgraded” 3.0-liter inline-six that features an upgraded turbocharger as well as redesigned intake ports and combustion chambers. Thanks to these and other modifications, the engine now develops 375 hp (280 kW / 380 PS) and 383 lb-ft (519 Nm) of torque for an impressive increase of 40 hp (30 kW / 41 PS) and 53 lb-ft (72 Nm).
Besides the 740i, BMW offers the amazing 760i xDrive, which is exclusive to North America. It has a new twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8, which “utilizes the thermodynamic benefits of a cross-bank exhaust manifold and external engine oil cooling.” The engine also sports a reinforced crankshaft drive, a new oil pump, and further developed turbocharging with a blow-off valve.
This enables the engine to produce 536 hp (400 kW / 543 PS) and 553 lb-ft (749 Nm) of torque, which is 13 hp (10 kW / 13 PS) more than the old 750i xDrive. While that’s a modest gain, both engines are connected to a new eight-speed automatic transmission which features an integrated electric motor that can deliver a boost of up to 12 hp (9 kW / 12 PS) and 147 lb-ft (199 Nm) of torque. The latter is powered by a small battery and it enables the car to deliver improved efficiency and responsiveness.
Picture credit: BMW
Thanks to the trick transmission, twin-turbo V8, and standard all-wheel drive system, the 760i xDrive rockets from 0-60 mph (0-96 km/h) in approximately 4.2 seconds. That’s slightly slower than the 750i xDrive, but the car’s curb weight has climbed from 4,722 lbs (2,142 kg) to 4,969 lbs (2,254 kg).
However, the weight gain is soon forgotten as the 760i xDrive is a blast to drive. It’s comfortable and civilized around town, but ready to party at a moment’s notice.
On mountain roads outside Palm Springs, the V8 roared to life and put an unabashed smile on our face. Besides sounding great, the engine is impressively responsive and seemingly delivers endless power.
The good news doesn’t end there as the 7-Series is a proper driver’s car. The changes are numerous, but the redesigned model benefits from increased body rigidity, wider tracks, larger wheels and wider tires. All-wheel drive variants also have an aluminum shear panel that improves torsional rigidity up front.
The 760i xDrive goes even further as the optional Autobahn Package includes active roll stabilization that virtually eliminates body roll. Speaking of options, the M Sport Professional package adds M Sport brakes, a discreet rear spoiler, and Shadowline trim on the grille surround.
All models are equipped with an adaptive air suspension, which automatically lowers the vehicle 0.4 inches (10 mm) when put into Sport mode. The mode adds heft to the steering, while also optimizing the dampers to deliver more dynamic handling.
The results are truly phenomenal as our well-equipped 760i xDrive was an unflappable Bavarian beast. The car hugs the ground and devours corners with an insatiable appetite, while always remaining surefooted. The steering is also precise and nicely weighted in Sport mode, while the M Sport brakes provide plenty of stopping power.
Even more impressively, the car drives much smaller than it actually is. That’s an impressive statement for a sedan that’s longer than a Cadillac Escalade, but the 7-Series is surprisingly nimble and that’s aided by a standard Integral Active Steering system on the 760i xDrive and i7 xDrive60.
The system enables the rear wheels to turn up to 3.5 degrees in either the same or opposite direction as the front wheels. This is particularly useful at low speeds as the system reduces the car’s turning circle by approximately 2.5 feet (762 mm) and this makes it easier to navigate tight parking lots.
The i7 Packs 536 HP And 318 Miles Of Range
The big news for 2023 is the addition of the all-new i7, which features a 101.7 kWh (net) battery pack that powers a dual-motor all-wheel drive system producing a combined output of 536 hp (400 kW / 543 PS) and 549 lb-ft (744 Nm) of torque. This setup enables the luxury sedan to hit 60 mph (96 km/h) in 4.5 seconds and travel up to 318 miles (512 km) on a single charge.
Read: BMW Announces Armored i7, Will Combine Blast And Bullet Resistance With Electric Powertrain
As in other EVs, power delivery is instantaneous and the car accelerates in near silence. However, the quietness can be broken by an electric melody created in collaboration with Hans Zimmer. BMW bills the sound as a “strikingly transparent timbre with spherical components” that deliver feedback based on the movement of the accelerator. We wouldn’t go that far, but the sound is fairly benign and helps to convey a sense of speed.
Putting artificial noise aside, the i7 is similar to its gas-powered counterpart. That being said, the model feels softer and less performance focused than the 760i xDrive. The experience is still very good, but the EV doesn’t feel as planted or as responsive as its sibling.
This can be chalked up to a variety of factors including an increased curb weight of 5,917 lbs (2,684 kg). That’s 948 lbs (430 kg) more than the 760i xDrive and 1,323 lbs (600 kg) more than the 740i.
When it comes time to charge, owners can use an 11 kW charger to fully replenish the battery in approximately 10.5 hours. However, it’s important to note that’s a worst case scenario as your battery should never reach a 0% charge.
Away from home, the i7 has a 195 kW DC fast charging capability that takes the battery from a 10% to 80% charge in approximately 34 minutes. If you’re just making a brief stop, 10 minutes of DC fast charging can deliver around 80 miles (129 km) of range.
For a more holistic charging experience, i7 buyers will get three years of unlimited complimentary charging at Electrify America stations. The car’s cloud-based navigation system also finds charging-optimized routes and displays information such as “estimated charge level upon arrival, the recommended charging time, and the target charge level for the onward journey.” Furthermore, the system ensures drivers always have at least a 10% charge when they get to a charger or their destination, so they’re not entirely out of luck if something goes awry.
To pass the time while charging, front seat occupants can watch videos on the Curved Display. Of course, if you get the BMW Theater Screen, you can just pop in the back seat for a little bit and relax while your car recharges.
New Tech And An Improved Semi-Autonomous Driving System
Apple iPhone owners can take advantage of BMW Digital Key Plus, which enables them to automatically lock and unlock the vehicle with their phone. While digital keys are nothing new, BMW Digital Key Plus uses ultra-wideband technology so owners no longer have to take their phone out of their pocket or purse.
In terms of safety, buyers will find an assortment of new and improved driver assistance systems. Standard features include a front-collision warning system with city collision mitigation as well as pedestrian and cyclist detection. Drivers will also find Speed Limit Info, Speed Limit Assist, Evasion Assistant, Lane Departure Warning, and a new Safe Exit function.
Customers looking for more advanced features can opt for the Driving Assistance Professional Package, which adds a semi-autonomous driving system that allows for hands-free operation at speeds up to 80 mph (129 km/h). That’s twice as fast as before and this makes the system far more useful as it can now be used at highway speeds.
Other high-tech features include Assisted View, which displays a mock-up of the vehicle in the instrument cluster as well as the location of other nearby vehicles. The model also has advanced parking technology including a new remote function, which enables owners to use the My BMW app to remotely maneuver the vehicle into or out of parking spaces.
A Near-Perfect Flagship Sedan
The 2023 BMW 7-Series is a crowning achievement as it offers everything you could wish for in a flagship sedan as well as features that would have seemed far-fetched not long ago.
If you want to drive yourself, you can’t go wrong with the 760i xDrive as it offers a comfortable ride, amazing driving dynamics, and a powerful twin-turbo V8 engine. If you’d rather leave the driving to someone else, put your feet up and relax in the Executive Lounge seat while watching Netflix on a massive 31.3-inch display.
Want to embrace the future and go electric? No problem as the i7 offers up to 318 miles (512 km) of range and is arguably cooler than the more expensive Mercedes EQS 580 4MATIC.
Speaking of pricing, the 740i starts at $93,300 and climbs to $113,600 for the 760i xDrive. Likewise, the electric i7 xDrive60 begins at $119,300. Those prices are pretty competitive for a flagship sedan, although well-equipped models can end up costing more than $140,000.
While few people will ever get to experience the luxury and performance of the latest 7-Series, those that can are in for a treat as flagship sedans don’t get much better than this.
2023 BMW 760i xDrive
2023 BMW i7
Picture credits: Michael Gauthier for CarScoops