The new BMW 7 Series can be had with internal combustion engines and, in i7 guise as explored here, as a zero-emission vehicle. It is spacious, comfortable, quiet and potent. But the design and the multimedia interface (MMI) polarise, again.
Excessive camouflage on this prototype does not bode well. The rectangular headlamps are tucked away in deep recesses, the eyebrow daytime running lights are an acquired taste, and that controversial in-your-face grille did once more grow in size and aggro appeal. Leaked photos of the real thing show, however, a more ambivalent, less frustrating picture.
While the silver 760i brochure queen definitely lacks the faintest trace of bedroom poster sex appeal, the all-black M770e plug-in hybrid exudes a visual meanness not even an S-Class treated by AMG can match. The new 7 is probably not a car rich many European customers want to be seen in, but it should do well in China and North America where overt opulence remains a strong buying motif.
Mercedes developed a bespoke electric architecture for the EQS, and Audi is doing the same for the 2025 A9 e-Tron. In contrast, BMW derived the i7 from the same CLAR matrix that underpins the rest of the 7 Series range. This pragmatic mix of oldish platform and new drivelines meets the tougher upcoming emission norms and extends the grace period for the petrol/diesel twins here in Europe until the end of the decade.
Both versions use essentially the same axles, brakes, steering, subframes, tyre dimensions and the E/E architecture. The model range is more extensive than ever. The line-up starts with a pair of 3.0-litre in-line petrol and diesel variants and a brawny 4.4-litre V8. One rung up, we find two frugal long-range plug-in hybrids. On the EV front, BMW will in November begin deliveries of the i7 in three performance stages.
Exclusively available in long-wheelbase guise, the 5250mm seventh-generation 7 Series may struggle to squeeze into standard-size parking spaces and garages. Chauffeurs may thus be pleased to learn that BMW is offering its new halo car with three different parking assistants. The system with the highest IQ can park automatically – remotely if need be – and it will, on demand, even fetch the vehicle in the right kind of digitalised environment.