In its excitement to bring its next-generation luxury class of vehicles to local customers, BMW South Africa has flown in a pre-homologation unit of the first-ever all-electric 7 Series, the i7.
The luxury sedan’s amazing next-generation technologies were shown off to customers and media this week, a few gadgets of which the brand has never seen.
The new 7 Series is scheduled for its market introduction in November 2022 at a starting price of R2,172,751 for the 3.0-litre, turbo-petrol 740i, going up to R2,825,000 for the fully-electric i7.
Like nothing else on four wheels
The new 7 Series is the most cutting-edge production vehicle BMW has put out to date, focused on extreme luxury and the newest tech while retaining the driver-focused personality typical of the brand.
Though the new design may be controversial, as before, BMW’s large grilles have a way of growing on the public and with the IconicGlow light strip now running all along the edges of the kidneys flanked by thin headlights decorated with Swarovski crystals, the intimidating breathers have never looked cooler.
We better also get used to them, as Dieter Herbst, head of product at BMW South Africa, said this is the face reserved for the brand’s top-end models going forward.
For the first time, the monolithic 7 Series with nearly the same footprint as the Rolls Royce Cullinan SUV spoils its owner with fully-automated doors whether getting in or out, while sensors on the sides tell it if something’s in the way so that it knows where to stop.
This, said Herbst, is not even available in the company’s ultra-premium Rolls-Royce range.
Once inside, the premium atmosphere continues with supple Veganza, a “leather-like material”, seats. However, when sat it doesn’t feel like you’re on top of the thick cushions but rather like you’re sinking into them, which I was told was a focal point during the production of the luxurious new four-door.
And if you’re being chauffeured, which many of the 7 Series owners will hopefully do else they’re missing out on the best part of their car, you can even kick out the bottom and move the front passenger seat forward to lounge on your back in ultimate extravagance.
Undoubtedly, though, the highlight of the new 7 Series is the 31.3-inch, 8K-resolution Theatre Screen that folds out from the roof at the tap of a button to provide the “most outstanding and immersive rear-seat entertainment experience on four wheels,” said Herbst.
With this screen, backseat passengers can connect to the in-car SIM and watch Netflix, YouTube, browse the internet, and more, while it can also be controlled by both touch inputs and 5.5-inch smartphone-like panels in the door.
These panels aren’t only for the Theatre Screen, either, they give the users control over almost everything in the cabin including the multi-colour ambient lighting, climate control, electric seat adjustment, and electric window blinds.
Incredible immersiveness is then brought by a high-quality “4D” Bowers&Wilkins surround sound system with up to 36 speakers, of which four are integrated into the headliner.
At the front of the opulent passenger cell sits an expansive infotainment system running the newest iDrive 8 software offering extensive user customisation in the form of widgets and skins, and i-specific features specifically for the electric i7.
Installed below this is a cabin-wide ambient lighting bar that not only uplifts the overall atmosphere with the owner’s choice of colour, but also houses the touch-sensitive controls for systems like the four-zone airconditioning, heated and ventilated seats, rheostat, and automatic door opening and closing.
Only the most premium materials were then chosen to finish off the interior design, including gorgeous metal speaker grilles, crystal-glass buttons and controls, and one of three open-pore wood trims.
For a more personal touch of flair, the new 7 Series is now also available with a two-tone paint scheme in one of eight colour combinations for the first time ever, with more Rolls-Royce paint palettes to be added at a later date, said Herbst.
The electric i7’s fifth-generation eDrive platform sees a 101.7kWh battery hooked up to two electric motors splitting 400kW and 745Nm between the axles.
The big BMW with its big battery weighs in at a hefty 2,640kg, but sprints to 100km/h like a car half its size with a time of 4.9 seconds while top speed is rated at 240km/h.
A maximum 625km driving range is also on the books and charging from 10-100% takes around nine and a half hours on an 11kW wall box.
During the remainder of 2022, the new BMW 7 Series including the i7, facelifted X7, as well as updated 8 Series are all scheduled for their South African introductions.
The group further plans to sell 100 all-electric Mini SE models in the local market for this year, with almost every SE currently on its way to our shores being pre-sold, said Peter van Binsbergen, CEO of BMW Group South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Next year then marks the 50th anniversary of the domestic subsidiary opening its doors within the country’s borders, and this will be met by the debut of an “absolutely stunning product in the luxury class,” said Van Binsbergen.
Although he did not confirm what this will be, it was hinted that the BMW XM SUV is now in its final prototype stages so this might just be the stunning product he was referring to.
Finally, on its path to electrification BMW plans to put over 10 million electric cars on roads around the globe by 2030, with the sub-brand Mini to become fully electrified by this time.
BMW i7 xDrive60