BMW’s flagship limousine got its first all-electric variant in this latest generation, and it just got M-eaner.
The 2024 BMW i7 M70 xDrive is the biggest, baddest electric vehicle the marque has ever produced, but the go-fast M Division still says it lives up to the core values of its performance vehicles.
Despite weighing in around 2.7 tonnes, the electric Bimmer can dash to 100km/h from rest in 3.7 seconds, and hit a top speed of 250km/h. It also scores chassis adjustments and M-specific tuning to make it ride and handle like something befitting of the iconic M badge.
BMW’s new electric flagship is due in Australia during the fourth quarter of 2023. We flew out to Lisbon, Portugal, to have a steer at the international media launch before it hits local showrooms later this year.
Australian pricing for the 2024 BMW i7 M70 xDrive starts from $344,900 before on-road costs.
That makes it about $38,000 dearer than the i7 xDrive60, and about $170,000 more expensive than the ‘entry-level’ petrol-powered 740i.
The i7 M70’s most direct competitor is the Mercedes-AMG EQS 53 4MATIC+, which is a little more attainable at $327,075 before on-roads – and also a little quicker to triple figures at a claimed 3.4 seconds.
Beyond that there’s little in the way of similarly sized electric competition, though some brands offer limousines with hybrid power; including the Lexus LS 500h F Sport ($194,595), or the plug-in Porsche Panamera 4S E-Hybrid ($298,800) and Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid (from $479,900).
BMW 7 Series + i7 pricing:
- BMW 740i: $272,900
- BMW i7 xDrive60: $306,900
- BMW i7 M70 xDrive: $344,900
Prices include GST, LCT but exclude on-road costs
Much like the 7 Series and i7 xDrive60, but with some sportier M Performance accoutrements.
The cabin in BMW’s flagship limo is quite the statement piece, blending the company’s latest tech and design language with a somewhat conventional layout.
The i7 M70 basically gets everything the new 7 Series has to offer as standard, including the sweet Connoisseur Lounge rear seating and 31.3-inch rear entertainment display which dramatically folds down from the roof.
Up front is the 12.3-inch digital instrument display and 14.9-inch Curved Control Display, running the latest BMW Operating System 8.5.
As you’d expect, it has everything: connected navigation, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, DAB+ radio, over-the-air (OTA) software updates, and a range of net-based services. There’s a big colour head-up display with multiple views standard, as well.
The i7 range also gets a thumping 1965-watt and 35-speaker Bowers and Wilkins Diamond Surround setup with 4D technology. It basically turns this limousine into a rolling nightclub at high volume, or a portable cinema when using the rear Theatre Display with the Executive Lounge seating.
I didn’t spend too much time flicking through the display given most of my time spent in the driver’s seat was driving, but the revised home screen with customisable widgets and simpler menus is an improvement – pre-update BMW Operating System 8.0 was a backwards step compared to the seventh-generation iDrive, but this update definitely is a move in the right direction.
There’s a slew of different trimmings and colours available, including some of the more vibrant examples you see represented in the press kit imagery.
I spent time in the blue and beige interior, which featured a mix of BMW Individual Merino leather in Wool Taupe Grey and Night Blue, with BMW Individual Ash Flowing Grey open-pore wood trim inserts throughout.
The Caramel tan and blue interior above belonged to the Aurora Diamond Green vehicle shown throughout the press images, while the two-tone Liquid Copper and Black Sapphire hero specification featured a more sedate black and grey interior.
Regardless, the way that this cabin has come together is excellent. Build quality and surface tactility is remarkable, and certainly feels befitting of a luxury flagship.
My only real gripes are the pared back switchgear for the steering wheel which, for example, requires you to dive through the touchscreen to set the following distance for the adaptive cruise control.
The new M leather steering wheel is otherwise gorgeous, wth a thick, squidgy rim with cutouts for your thumb grips at 3 and 9 o’clock. All the multifunction switchgear – what’s left of it – operates nicely too.
While the M70 xDrive is pitched as the driver-focused offering of the i7 range, that doesn’t mean that the second row still isn’t the coolest part of the cabin.
Standard Executive Lounge seating means the kerb-side rear seat can be reclined and extended to offer business class-style accommodation, operated via swish 5.5-inch touchscreens in the doors. It will also push the front passenger seat forward and raise a footrest if you’re so inclined.
Activate Theatre Mode and the rear sunshades deploy and the Theatre Display drops from the ceiling, giving you the best view of the 31.3-inch ultra widescreen with 32:9 aspect ratio and 8K resolution. It truly is a sight to behold.
The display can stream movies and shows from Amazon Fire TV via the eSIM connection, or you can hook up a device via an HDMI cable to broadcast your own. There’s even a camera to conduct virtual meetings on the move. It won’t deploy however, if the front seats are pushed back with a taller driver or passenger, as it’s wary of being obstructed by the front seat backs.
While the amenities and luxury features in the 7 Series’s second row are super cool, I was expecting a bit more outright space, given how much the new 7 Series has grown in size.
It has around 200mm more wheelbase over the old 7 Series L , so I would have expected a greater amount of leg and knee room when in the standard seating position, though that’s not to say it was in short supply. There’s a sense of luxury that comes with being able to stretch out – without moving the front passenger seat forward into the lounge setting.
The i7 M70 xDrive is powered by a dual-motor electric drive system fed by a 101.7kWh (net) lithium-ion battery pack.
Up front is a 195kW/365Nm e-motor, while the rear drive motor makes 360kW/650Nm. In total, the M70 xDrive has outputs of 485kW and 1100Nm. BMW says the rear motor is 25.5 per cent more energy dense than that of the i7 xDrive60.
It uses a six-phase design with a dual inverter, offering a density of 2.41kW/kg. It also features six excitation windings in the motor’s stator instead of three, which BMW says makes the single motor superior to using two motors on the rear axle.
BMW quotes a 0-100 time of just 3.7 seconds, and a top speed of 250km/h. That makes the i7 M70 xDrive the fastest electric vehicle the company has ever built.
Claimed range on the WLTP cycle is 488-560 kilometres, based on energy consumption figures of 20.8-23.8kWh/100km. Part of the variance is down to the fact you can option grippier performance tyres on the i7 M70, which reduce driving range.
Our driving route probably wasn’t indicative of real-world Australian usage, given the high ratio of spirited B-roads and high-speed highways, but our test vehicles were showing around the 25-27kWh/100km mark on their trip computers.
All i7 models also come with a complementary third-generation BMW Wallbox for home charging, as well as a five-year Chargefox subscription.
I criticised the standard i7 xDrive60 for being a bit soft and lacking character – the M70 is a different beast.
This is a changed car from behind the wheel, and more in keeping with how I’d expect a flagship BMW sedan to feel on the road.
Our test route took us from Lisbon to the waterside city town of Setúbal, via stunning cliffside roads showcasing Portugal’s seaside.
We drove the i7 over a mix of freeways, highways, country B-roads and tighter urban areas, and despite its size and power it was impressively well rounded.
A key improvement is the steering and handling, which feel more tied down and allow the M70 to better disguise its heft when going hard in corners. It strikes a lovely balance that feels a lot more BMW than the lighter, more assisted feel of the i7 xDrive60.
BMW says it has tuned the all-wheel drive system, steering, dampers and stability systems specifically for the M70.
The M-fettled i7 rides on adaptive two-axle air suspension with electronically controlled dampers and automatic self-levelling, with M-specific air springs tailored to increase the number of vibrations on each axle to provide a “noticeably direct connection to the vehicle body”.
Rear-wheel steering and the Executive Drive Pro chassis package, latter of which includes active roll stabilisation, are also standard. It all comes together to make this 2.7t and 5.4m-long executive express handle like a much smaller car.
Body roll is amazingly well suppressed by the active anti-roll system without sacrificing comfort. The tighter steering makes for sharper turn-in feel and enhanced steering response, and there’s so much grip you really have to be pushing the M70 well above what the average person should be to illicit any tyre squeal or understeer.
Acceleration is monstrous, particularly from takeoff, with that 1100Nm (in its most aggressive setting) shoving you back in your seat and shooting the i7 towards the horizon at rapid pace.
It definitely feels as quick as its 3.7s 0-100 claim, and to be honest it’s so strong in a straight line that successive full-throttle inputs can induce the sort of motion sickness that you’d experience on a rollercoaster – it’s best to be a little more measured when carting passengers around.
The level of performance on tap makes squirts onto short freeway onramps and quick overtakes light work, and it can be addictive pushing the i7 M70 hard when behind the wheel (not when you’re a passenger).
You also can get a kick out of the Iconic Sounds by composer Hans Zimmer, which offers a range of synthesised powertrain notes in the cabin. It’s not really trying to mimic a combustion engine, and some may find it gimmicky, but I preferred the tones to that of the Mercedes-AMG EQE 53.
Just like how it handles, the i7 M70’s acceleration makes it feel like a lighter, more athletic vehicle than its dimensions would suggest.
While the M70 unlocks a new level of handling potential for the all-electric i7, it’s on the open road where this car feels most at home.
The lax speed policing in Portugal and higher 120km/h signed speed limits gave us an opportunity to experience some of the i7 M70’s bahn-storming abilities, and on beautifully smooth freeways the i7 proved supremely comfortable and serenely insulated from the outside world.
Only a faint hint of tyre roar could be heard at higher speeds, largely due to the fact our test car was wearing optional performance tyres. We imagine the standard lower rolling resistance rubber would be quieter, and desirable if you’re spending more time doing extended highway stints.
The 255/40 Pirelli P Zero performance rubber wraps around standard 21-inch alloys, available in four different designs in Australian specification.
Part of driving the i7 is also the suite of active assistants, which as we’ve come to expect from BMW all work very well.
Adaptive cruise control with Steering and Lane Control Assistant offer Level 2 autonomous driving capability on the highway and is definitely one of the most intuitive and user-friendly implementations on the market.
The active speed limit assist also helpfully adjusted the set cruise speed with each changing speed limit sign, which in Europe seems to happen very often.
Surround cameras and parking sensors with Automated Manoeuvre Assistant and Reversing Assistant Professional mean it’s not too hard to see out of this big bluff executive limousine, and it can even perform the reverse of a manoeuvre up to 200m autonomously if you’re too scared to do it yourself.
- M Sport package
- 20-inch M light alloy wheels
- Run-flat tyres
- M front, rear aprons
- M High-Gloss Shadow Line
- M Sport Brakes with dark blue calipers
- M Side Sills in High-Gloss Black
- M Leather Steering wheel, flat-bottom design
- M Headliner Alcantara Anthracite
- Design Pure Excellence package ($NCO)
- BMW Individual metallic paint
- BMW Iconic Glow illuminated grille surround
- Adaptive 2-axle air suspension
- Auto self-levelling
- Manual raising by 20mm (35km/h max)
- Integral Active Steering
- Adaptive LED headlights
- BMW Crystal Headlights Iconic Glow
- High-Beam Assistant
- Ambient interior lighting
- Electric folding mirrors, auto-dimming (driver)
- BMW Live Cockpit Professional
- 12.3-inch digital instrument display
- 14.9-inch Curved Control Display
- BMW Operating System 8
- Voice recognition
- Map updates*
- BMW ConnectedDriveIntelligent Emergency Call
- BMW TeleServices
- Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- News, Weather apps*
- BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant*
- Remote Software Update*
- Remote Services*
- Real Time Traffic Information*
- Interior camera incl. anti-theft video recording
- Head-up display
- BMW Touch Command 5.5-inch displays in rear doors
- Wireless smartphone charging
- 18-speaker Bowers & Wilkins Surround Sound, 655W
- 6 x USB-C ports, 4 x 12V power sockets
- Surround View Cameras
- BMW Individual Merino leather upholstery
- Multifunctional Seats, frontElectric adjustment incl. lumbar
- Electric adjustment of headrests
- Memory function
- BMW CraftedClarity handmade glassBMW Controller
- Start/stop button
- Volume roller
- Gear selector
- Seat adjustment buttons
- Seat heating, front and rear
- Heated steering wheel
- Surface heatingFront centre console armrest
- Front, rear door armrests
- Instrument panel, lower section
- Active seat ventilation, front
- Seat massage function, front
- 4-zone climate control
- Remote Engine Start
- Remote climate pre-conditioning
- Comfort Access
- Auto tailgate operation incl. contactless function
- Panoramic Glass Roof Sky Lounge
- Instrument panel, upper doors in Walknappa leather
- Fine-wood interior trim
- Roller sunblinds, rear
- Soft-close doors
i7 xDrive60 adds:
- 21-inch M light alloy wheels
- Executive Drive Pro
- Active roll stabilisation
- Active Roll Comfort
- BMW Iconic Sounds by Hans Zimmer
- 5-year Chargefox membership
- BMW Wallbox (excl. installation)
- BMW Service Inclusive Basic (6yr/Unlimited km)
- 31.3-inch Theatre Display
- 32:9 ultra-wide format
- 8K resolution
- 35-speaker Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound, 1965W
- Automatic Doors
- Multifunctional Rear Seats
- Forward/back adjustment
- Seat base inclination
- Backrest angle, upper adjustment
- 4-way lumbar support
- Head restraint height adjustment
- Loudspeaker in head restraint
- Executive Lounge Rear Console
- Auxiliary heating, A/C and pre-conditioning
i7 M70 xDrive adds:
- M performance tuning
- Executive Lounge Seating
- Ventilated rear seats
- Massaging rear seats
- BMW Individual Frozen metallic paint
M Performance Package: $NCO
- M High Gloss Shadow Line
- Grille surround
- Grille struts
- Rear spoiler
- Accent strip
- Rear apron inlay
- M Sport brakes
- Dark Blue Metallic OR
- High-gloss Black
The BMW 7 Series and i7 are yet to be crash tested by ANCAP or Euro NCAP.
Standard safety features include:
- 7 airbags incl. front-centre
- Active Protection inc. Attentiveness Assistant
- Active front headrests
- Driving Assistant Professional
- Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
- Lane change warning
- Lane departure warning
- Front, rear cross-traffic alert
- Rear collision prevention (AEB)
- Exit Warning
- Steering and Lane Control Assistant
- Auto speed limit assist
- Evasion Assistant
- Front Brake Intervention (AEB)
- Forward collision warning
- Parking Assistant Professional
- Parking Assistant
- Active Park Distant Control
- Lateral Parking Aid
- Surround View cameras
- Panorama View
- 3D View
- Reversing Assistant Professional (up to 200m)
- Object and line marking detection
- Automated Manoeuvre Assistant
- BMW Drive Recorder
- Speed limit recognition
- Speed limiter
- Tyre pressure monitor
BMW offers a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
Further, BMW Australia offers i7 customers six years of free scheduled servicing, which has an unlimited distance cap.
Owners of the i7 also receive a five-year subscription to the Chargefox Fast and Ultra-Rapid DC public charger network, as well as a complementary third-gen BMW Wallbox, excluding installation.
There’s not much more you could ask for, as you have next to no running or maintenance costs for at least the first five years of ownership.
The M70 definitely feels more like a ‘proper’ BMW than the standard i7 xDrive60.
While the softer, more sedate character of the standard i7 is well aligned with the 7er’s limousine form, the M70 dials in that extra dash of driver engagement that BMW is renowned for.
The more communicative controls and tighter body control strike a great balance between enjoyment and comfort, and in some ways it actually feels better sorted than the i7 xDrive did on Australian roads – though a proper local drive will be the more accurate comparative test.
BMW’s flagship EV also offers wild straight-line performance that not long ago was the exclusive realm of exotic supercars, though unfortunately Australia’s strict speed restrictions means you’ll never properly experience this vehicle’s full potential on public roads.
Despite its performance capabilities, it still retains a solid electric range claim, which should be achievable in normal driving – i.e. less full throttle, no matter how addictive.
Its distinctive looks and opulent cabin appointments look and feel special, even if the exterior is a talking point, and the rear Executive Lounge and Theatre Display are awesome party tricks that mean you can enjoy driving or being driven.
Pragmatic buyers may not see the appeal here – at this end of the market decisions are made based on image, tech and luxury features, regardless of whether you intend to use them to their full potential or whether there are inherent compromises.
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