New BMW 7 Series only available as electric i7 version from launch

What grille?

BMW has taken the covers off its new 7 Series luxury saloon and revealed that only the pure-electric i7 variant will be available in Europe at the time of launch.

The new car features an entirely new structure meaning that, in addition to an electric powertrain, the new underpinnings can accommodate petrol and diesel engines, as well as plug-in hybrid options.

The latter two versions will arrive in the UK in spring 2023, a few months after the i7’s UK launch this November, though BMW has said we will not be getting the six-cylinder mild-hybrid-assisted petrol engines seen in the 7 Series in other markets.

While other versions of the i7 are due to follow down the line, the company will initially launch the i7 xDrive60 featuring a 101.7kWh battery, two electric motors, 536bhp, a range of up to 388 miles per charge and the ability to get from 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds.

Recharging using a DC rapid charger at up to 195kW should allow up to 106 miles of range to be added in 10 minutes, though that will be peak performance; battery management systems adjust the speed depending on the amount of charge in the battery.

Next year will not only bring a new 7 Series diesel and the 750e xDrive plug-in hybrid model, but two M division models, both coming with plugs. The first will be the M760e plug-in hybrid with 563bhp, followed by the pure-electric i7 M70, available later in the year.

2023 BMW 7 Series

All versions will be sold exclusively in stretched (long wheelbase) form, as the shorter model has been dropped, meaning that the new seventh-generation 7er saloon is bigger in every sense of the word — size, luxury, tech and, yes, grille.

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From the rear and in profile, the new 7’s styling is reasonably restrained with strong lines, little in the way of variable surfacing and slim L-shaped LED rear lights.

2023 BMW 7 Series

It’s the front though, that’s really set to be the 7 Series’ biggest talking point.

First up, there’s the new split-level lighting signature featuring a thin strip of daytime running lights (DRLs) on each side set above the adaptive LED headlights recessed into the apron. Then there’s the kidney grille that has grown compared to the previous model’s already sizeable unit.

Should a buyer wish to make the presence of the grille even more apparent, there’s the Iconic Glow option (also seen on the refreshed BMW X7 and others) that back-lights the grille at night in conjunction with upgraded DRLs inset with Swarovski crystals for some extra sparkle.

2023 BMW i7

Differentiating the i7 from other variants are the blue design accents on the lower front air intake, side skirts and rear apron as well as the fully-enclosed grille to reduce drag.

Inside, the biggest advance over the old 7 Series is the new Curved Display interface found on other models such as the iX. The Curved Display incorporates a 12.3in instrument cluster behind the steering wheel and a 14.9in central infotainment screen into one curved unit angled towards the driver and running the BMW Operating System 8 software.

2023 BMW 7 Series

Making its debut is the Interaction Bar, a long, thin strip of a screen stretching across the dashboard and wrapping around to the door. This functions not just decoratively and as ambient lighting but as a touch-sensitive control surface for operating the ventilation and climate control, activating the hazard lights and opening the glove compartment.

It also serves the function of warning the driver and passenger whether it’s unsafe to open the door and get out, for instance if there’s oncoming traffic.

The interior is sumptuously finished with a choice of high-gloss or open-pore wood, metal accents such as on the speaker covers, seats clad in a choice of real leather (the tan Tartufo colour is particularly fetching), faux-leather or cashmere wool fabric.

The new comfort seats, which are wider than before and feature electrically-controlled height and position adjustment, lumbar support and heating, are operated via control panels on the door.

Pleasant though it may be for front passengers, those in the rear arguably get a better deal, especially if the optional BMW Theatre Screen is fitted. This massive 31.3in 8K-definition screen flips down from the roof and can be operated remotely by the smartphone-sized controllers mounted on the doors.

Built-in is Amazon Fire TV giving users access to plenty of content, and when the screen is switched on, an automatic shading system lowers the rear blinds to prevent glare.

As well as the ability to connect to the screen’s audio with Bluetooth headphones, there’s also the option of listening out loud through the Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system, which incorporates speakers set into the seats for a more immersive experience.

2023 BMW 7 Series

Where the Theatre Screen isn’t optioned, a panoramic glass roof comes as standard in the new 7 Series with the Rolls-Royce-style feature of twinkling LED light strands after dark.

Automatically-opening doors are another potential option, their operation partly overseen by a range of ultrasound sensors based around the car so as to prevent them accidentally opening into traffic. The Executive Lounge option also brings reclining rear seats with integrated leg rests, heated armrests and inductive phone charging.

Among the range of advanced driver assistance features, Active Cruise Control with a Stop & Go function and Steering and Lane Control Assistant is activated by a single button on the steering wheel. Combined, all of these systems equate to Level 2+ driver assistance capability, meaning that though the driver can take their hands off the wheel under certain circumstances, they need to be able to assume control at any moment.

2023 BMW i7

Speed Limit Assist also means that the vehicle’s speed is regulated at up to 112mph not just by its distance from the cars around it, but by recognising any speed limit signs it passes and adjusting the pace accordingly. The system can also recognise traffic lights and, with the appropriate line-up of options installed, can automatically stop at red lights.

Though the i7 is expected to see its market launch in November, it’s entirely possible that the first UK deliveries of the new 7 Series won’t begin until 2023 due to the ongoing global chip shortage. Pricing for the model has yet to be announced.

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