PALMS SPRINGS, Calif.-For decades, automakers like BMW and Mercedes-Benz have battled each other in group tests for the title of “best car in the world,” an honor awarded by various magazines. The battle is mostly between the 7 Series and the S-Class, with occasional challenges from Lexus. Jaguar and Cadillac often followed suit.
Today, there is a serious new contender for the crown as the latest generation BMW 7 Series goes on sale.
I got hooked on cars-as-technology during the early ’90s, and how cars have come since, as powertrains have pushed new boundaries and energy sources, and interiors have become more cosseting and protecting the inhabitants.
The Bavarian OEM made a decision a few years ago to invest in a powertrain-agnostic vehicle architecture, so the new 7 Series will be available with an internal combustion engine, as a plug-in hybrid (which will come to the US in time), and as a battery-electric version fully called i7. BMW brought both gasoline and BEVs Palm Springs for the first international drive, and You can read about the 760i xDrive elsewhere on this page today.
But the star of the show is the i7, which once again proves that if you want to make a luxury car better, give it an electric motor.
The electric version has full feature parity with its gasoline-powered counterpart, including a new advanced driver assistance system that lets you cruise hands-free on premapped toll lanes and a large curved theater view for lucky rear seat passengers. BMW has even succeeded in making the car fun to drive.
The electric powertrain technology in the i7 is now relatively familiar. It’s BMW’s 5th generation EV powertrain, and it debuted in last year’s i4 sedan and iX SUV. It uses the same family of electric synchronous motors for both axles, powered by a lithium-ion battery pack that uses prismatic cells. (BMW is move to cylindrical cells for its sixth-generation EV platform, which we’ll see in the Neue Klasse 2025.)
There is only one i7 for sale today, the $119,300 i7 xDrive60. The vehicle uses a 255 hp (190 kW), 296 lb-ft (401 Nm) front motor and a 308 hp (230 kW), 280 lb-ft (380 Nm) rear motor with a total output of 536 hp (400). kW) and 549 lb-ft (745 Nm). The battery pack has 101.7 kWh of a total capacity of 105.7 kWh.
The i7 has an official EPA range estimate of 318 miles (512 km) on smaller 19-inch wheels and 308 miles (496 km) when using 21-inch wheels, like our test car. Over a 2.5-hour trip that featured lots of elevation changes and little city driving, I averaged 2.7 miles/kWh (23 kWh/100 km), slightly better than the 2.6 miles/kWh (23.9 kWh/ 100km) EPA rating.
Charging up and down
DC fast charging takes 34 minutes to return the battery to 80 percent state of charge (SoC), or 80 miles (129 km) for every 10 minutes, and i7 owners will get three years of unlimited charging sessions at Electrify America. I tried to charge my test i7, but my fast charging attempt ended in partial success. I arrived at the charger with 56 percent SoC remaining, but the session was terminated due to a fault or error after a few minutes with 9.5 kWh, which took the battery to 67 percent SoC.
If I really need to top the battery up to 80 percent, I’ll unplug the car and plug it back in to try to fix the problem, but I don’t need 80 percent and I don’t like wasting half an hour. the phone will be told that no one knows why it happened, either.
When I got back, I let the BMW engineers know about the problem, and when they found out I was using the EVgo charger, they let me know and said yes, they’ve been having problems with that bank all month. (BMW brought waves of international media for weeks to drive the i7; Ars and other US and Canadian outlets were the last.) Beyond that, they don’t know what the problem is, which is just that. reinforces my argument about the reliability of fast chargers from earlier this summer.