While it never managed to reach the notoriety of the Mercedes S-Class, BMW’s 7 Series has long been a popular alternative for well-dressed henchmen in action movies. There have even been periods where the Bimmer came pretty close to matching Daimler’s flagship sedan in terms of sales. But BMW’s decision to take what was effectively a well-appointed sports sedan and reform it into a limousine with an optional 601-horsepower V12 seems to have backfired.
The 7 Series is allegedly getting more in touch with its roots for the seventh generation (G70/G71) model and throwing in the all-electric i7 for good measure. However, the resulting automobile still looks to be following the lead of the Mercedes, rather than focusing on being the “ultimate driving machine” of yore. Meanwhile, BMW is pulling out all the stops in terms of styling and is throwing down every modern technology at its disposal.
That’s par for the course with flagship German products. They all thrive on having the latest and greatest features while also maintaining a supple ride with the ability to haul serious ass whenever necessary. For the 2023 BMW 7 Series, that has resulted in a mix of chassis enhancements, rear-wheel steering, ultra-premium materials, and more tech stuffed into the cabin than anybody really needs. In fact, it’s the interior that’s stealing the show because most people already seem to have decided the exterior was some kind of prank.
BMW designs have always been a little edgier than what’s typically on offer from Mercedes. But the new 7 Series takes things further than usual by adopting split headlights with the important ones sitting below the running lamps — similar to what’s being done with the crossovers from Hyundai or Nissan. It’s not objectively beautiful and kind of gives the 7 Series a sinister mug. But it is quite trendy and something I don’t mind seeing automakers embracing if it means fewer bindings from oncoming traffic. The rest of the vehicle is harder to defend. The taillights are tasteful but the stepped rump doesn’t work with them. BMW’s extra-large kidney grille is also present here. Though it’s become easier to stomach now that the initial shock is gone and it’s actually hard to imagine something smaller working with the bold faces the company is putting onto its newest vehicles.
Powertrains have been limited to the base 375-hp turbocharged, 3.0-liter inline-six (standard on the 740i with rear-wheel drive) and an upgraded 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine cranking out 536 horsepower (standard on the 760i with BMW xDrive). Between them is the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) 750e the company plans to debut later on.
The standard gasoline models boast 48-volt mild-hybrid systems in an effort to maximize efficiency and have seen a myriad of other upgrades intended to enhance performance. These include the I6’s redesigned intake ports and combustion chambers, electronically controlled camshaft phasers, a dual fuel-injection system, and an over-boost system that temporarily gives the car more go. The V8 has been similarly enhanced, getting an external oil cooler, new exhaust manifolds, and more. However, it does share its eight-speed automatic with the base sedan.
Meanwhile, the all-electric BMW i7 will be supplanting the now-absent V12 as the spiciest variant of the flagship. Its details are also stuck in limbo for the time being. But the manufacturer has said to expect an M Sport variant that absolutely trounces the gasoline-powered models in terms of output. We’ve heard over 600 horsepower and 700 foot-pounds of torque, though the company did say that peak performance would be tied to a temporary “boost” feature that’s linked to the vehicle’s state of charge, operating temperature, and a few other factors.
The interior doesn’t exude good taste. But it is fantastically modern and comes with plenty of showy features, starting with a deployable 31-inch cinema screen for the rear occupants. Touchscreens are embedded everywhere, giving passengers plenty of control due to their being the likely owner of a vehicle like this. There’s even a seating package that basically turns one chair into a mobile throne with the kind of functionality that would make the most veteran Nordstrom employee weep.
Want doors that open and close for you? There here. Can’t live without a cabin loaded with open-pore wood trim or exotic leather? BMW has you covered. Custom sunshades? You know it. And the list of options and customizable elements just goes on and on. If you have the money to burn, there’s something here to spend it on and only a tiny fraction boils down to what color upholstery you want.
BMW is also offering a “Driving Assistance Professional” that allows for hands-free driving up to 80 mph. While it likely doesn’t make sense on a vehicle you probably hired a chauffeur for and requires constant driver engagement (making it largely pointless), it’s another item to chuck on for the hell of it. Unfortunately, it also requires an in-car camera that constantly monitors the driver which some will undoubtedly find intrusive. There’s also a deficit of buttons so that BMW could load the car up with more screens that might not be to everyone’s tastes, especially since the company hasn’t managed to improve responsiveness. But it’s still a sumptuous buffet of technology, tipping into overkill thanks to things like having a soundscape designed by none other than Hans Zimmer.
But it still manages to undercut the Mercedes-S Class by several grand no matter how it’s configured. The 2023 BMW 7 Series starts at $94,295 for the 740i and $114,595 for the 760i xDrive. Those interested in going all-electric will have to pay a little more, as the i7 starts at $120,295.
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