This flagship sedan is available with a 31.3-inch rear seat screen, offers a hands-free highway driving aid and can even be had with an EV drivetrain.
It's an infrequent occasion when a new flagship luxury sedan debuts, but on Wednesday, the totally redesigned, seventh-generation 2023 BMW 7 Series was revealed to the world. As you might expect, this full-size four-door is brimming with new technology while offering new interior materials that are also more sustainable. This car is even available with a fully electric powertrain. In short, this pinnacle-level Bimmer offers more than it ever has before.
Unlike some rivals, BMW is building the 7 Series on flexible vehicle architecture, one that supports a range of powertrains, from conventional gasoline and diesel engines to plug-in hybrid systems to a fully electric setup in the new battery-powered i7. This common architecture differs from what, say, Mercedes-Benz is doing. BMW's competitor in Stuttgart offers a conventional S-Class as well as the all-electric EQS, similar sedans with different drivetrains, something that allowed engineers to optimize each model. BMW didn't go this route because there's a lot of risk "which we don't want to have," according to Oliver Zipse, chairman of BMW's board of management, while speaking during a media roundtable. Zipse explained that going with a separate electric-only architecture would not provide enough advantages to make it worth the hassle, though the i7 does not have a front trunk, and there's still a tunnel in the rear floor, so perhaps there's more optimization left on the table.
Still, BMW's one-and-done approach allows it to build all 7 Series variants for sale around the world at its plant in Dingolfing, Germany. That new architecture also provides greater body rigidity for enhanced safety and more dynamic handling, as well as a not-insubstantial increase in size. The car is 5.1 inches longer, 1.9 inches wider and 2.0 inches taller than its predecessor, plus the wheelbase has been elongated by 0.2-inch. Consequently, luggage capacity increased by nearly 1 cubic foot to 19.1 cubes, though the i7 is slightly less capacious, offering 17.7 cubic feet of cargo space.
Improving agility, rear-wheel steering is offered. It turns the aft tires by up to 3.5 degrees, which reduces the 7's turning circle by about 2.5 feet. All models also feature an adaptive, height-adjustable, two-axle air suspension system with electronically controlled dampers. We won't drive the new 7 Series for a while still, though we did recently take a spin in a camouflaged prototype near BMW's headquarters in Munich, Germany.
When the 2023 7 Series goes on sale, American motorists will have three powertrain options: two mild-hybrid gasoline engines plus the all-electric i7. European drivers also get plug-in hybrids and diesels. Options are tailor-made for each country because, as Zipse said, "There is no resilience without diversity." Slowly and surely, EVs are growing, but they will only be about 50% of BMW sales by 2030; the automaker still needs to cater to drivers not ready to make the battery-powered plunge.
"There is no indication, no indication at all, that despite the fast growth of EVs that the rest of the market will be extinguished inside of 10 years," said Zipse. "There's some markets which might go BEV-only by 2030. That's fine, we're prepared."
The base 740i features a turbocharged I6. Now running on the Miller cycle, this engine has been updated in myriad ways and has redesigned intake ports and combustion chambers, electronically controlled camshaft phasers, a dual fuel-injection system and more. All told, this powerplant delivers 375 horsepower (40 more than the previous I6) and 383 pound-feet of torque, though that can briefly be boosted to 398 lb.-ft., thanks to the hybrid system. That's enough kibbles and bits to push this hulking sedan to 60 mph in 5 seconds flat.
The next rung up the ladder is the 760i xDrive. This one is powered by a modernized version of an old favorite, BMW's 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8. With new exhaust manifolds, external oil cooling, a 48-volt mild-hybrid system and many more improvements, this engine churns out a potent 536 hp and 553 lb.-ft. of torque, enough to complete the 0-to-60-mph sprint in an estimated 4.2 seconds. Both gasoline engines are matched to a familiar eight-speed automatic transmission.
Finally, the exciting new i7 xDrive60 features a pair of electric motors that are manufactured with no rare-earth materials, making them more environmentally friendly. This car's front dynamo provides 255 hp and the rear motor is good for 308, meaning the i7 is graced with 536 horsepower in total and 549 lb.-ft. of torque, which provides a 0-to-60 time of about 4.5 seconds. The car's floor-mounted battery pack contains 101.7-kilowatt-hours of usable capacity, enough for a BMW-estimated range of 300 miles on the EPA test cycle. For much more information on the exciting all-electric i7, we have a whole separate article, so make sure to check that out.
If you're not a fan of BMW's bucktooth front ends, you probably won't love the new 7. Overall, this sedan has a chiseled, hard-edged look that is in keeping with other all-electric BMWs like the iX SUV. The kidney grille has grown to oppressive proportions and the perimeter of each opening can now be illuminated, drawing even more attention. Another controversial design element are the split headlamps, which give the car a leering appearance. Those bottom assemblies house the low- and high-beam lights; adaptive LED lamps with cornering lights and automatic high beams are standard across the range. As for the upper housings, they contain the daytime running lights and, for extra money, can be gussied up with Swarovski crystal elements that are illuminated by 22 LED units.
This is a tall, imposing car, with the lengthy hood standing at least hip high at the front. Moving along the 7 Series' flanks, the body is relatively clean, with its nearly flush-mounted glass and recessed door handles. For added luxury or as a parlor trick to impress your friends, automatic doors are optional. They open or close at the push of a button from the inside or outside the car, plus you can activate them via the key fob. A dozen ultrasound sensors prevent these swing panels from crashing into parked vehicles or the wall of your garage, knocking pedestrians over or hitting other traffic, which would be really bad.
The 740i and 760i xDrive models come standard with an M Sport package, an options group that's also available at no extra cost on the i7 xDrive60. This includes a unique front end, other visual tweaks and either 20- or 21-inch wheels. An M Sport Professional package is available across the new 7 Series range and it includes upgraded brakes, a discreet rear spoiler and dark trim on the grille.
As for paint colors, one nonmetallic and 10 metallic hues are offered on the 740i and 760i xDrive. The 760 offers three additional metallic shades, plus you can get a range of two-tone finishes from the BMW Individual program, which is really cool.
Matching its exterior, there's a lot going on inside the new 7 Series. For starters, the car's scalloped dashboard is dominated by a pair of screens mounted behind one gently curving piece of glass. A 12.3-inch panel functions as the digital instrument cluster and next to it is a larger 14.9-inch touchscreen, one that you can actually watch YouTube videos on while parked (like and subscribe!).
The 2023 7 Series also comes with a smartphone-size 5.5-inch digital controller in each rear door panel. These allow you to adjust entertainment-related functions as well as the climate controls, seat, sunshades and more. Testing these screens at the 7 Series reveal event in New York was a bit disappointing, as they weren't very responsive, lagging noticeably, though BMW was undoubtedly showing us prototype cars, so it's not fair to fully judge the current performance.
Undoubtedly, the most impressive display in this sedan -- and one of its standout features -- is the ingenious BMW Theater Screen. Clocking in at an enormous 31.3 inches, this 8K touch-enabled panel spans practically the entire width of the interior and elegantly folds down from the ceiling. Supporting 16:9, 21:9 and 32:9 aspect ratios, you can consume your favorite content by way of an integrated Amazon Fire TV. When that massive screen is lowered, the car can automatically engage a theater mode by dimming the lights, reclining the seats and raising the rear sunshades. How cool is that? Further accentuating the experience, various vehicle sounds were composed by Academy Award winner Hans Zimmer, and the new 7 Series can be had with a 36-speaker, 1,965-watt Bowers & Wilkins sound system (an 18-speaker arrangement is standard).
Running across the car is something called the BMW Interaction Bar, a crystalline-faceted piece of trim that houses touch-sensitive controls for ventilation, the glovebox, hazard lights and more. Along with physical switches, traditional air vents have also been replaced by thin slits that are almost invisible.
Ensuring everyone is comfortable, four-zone climate control is standard in the new 7, ditto for a nanoparticle filter that can remove virus-sized particles, something that sounds pretty useful in the age of COVID-19. Helping improve range, the i7 features an efficient heat pump instead of a power-hungry resistive heater.
As for seating arrangements, up front, heated, ventilated and massaging chairs are available depending on model, while rear seats with the same functionality are offered, too. You can also get an Executive Lounge options group that adds a reclining function and a leg rest for the passenger-side rear seat. But whether you go gasoline or electric, "[There] is no difference whatsoever in the seating comfort and space between the two drivetrains," said Pieter Nota, member of the board of management at BMW.
Providing customers with more choice, you can get the new 7 Series with unique materials. Open-pore wood trim is offered, as are cashmere wool and leather seating surfaces. Veganza provides an alternative to traditional leather, though any cow hides used in this car come from controlled sources in Europe or North America.
Letting the light shine in is a standard Panoramic Sky Lounge LED roof. This massive, fixed panel features integrated LED threads that create a light show when entering the car, though the colors can also be customized depending on your mood.
Naturally, this flagship-caliber sedan comes with plenty of advanced driver aids including things like lane-departure and forward-collision warning. The latter item can also prevent crashes while making left-hand turns by automatically applying the brakes if oncoming traffic is detected. Automated parking functionality is another cornerstone technology. BMW's latest version of this feature not only uses other vehicles as guides, but it also can read lines and curbs for greater accuracy. This system allows you to maneuver into and out of parking spaces from outside the vehicle via the My BMW app, which also enables you to use your phone as a key. The new 7 Series also features an interior camera that lets you take snapshots or, again, through the My BMW app, look to see if you left something in the backseat. There's even an antitheft recorder built right in.
Rivaling GM's Super Cruise and Ford BlueCruise, BMW's optional Driving Assistance Professional package with Highway Assistant enables hands-free driving on divided highways at speeds up to 80 mph, double what the technology could do before. Like those other systems, you must pay attention and be ready to intervene if the vehicle requests it, but still, this will be a godsend on long drives. We tested it in an i7 prototype in Germany.
The 2023 BMW 7 Series starts at $94,295 including $995 in destination fees. Stepping up from the base 740i, the 760i xDrive kicks off at $114,595. As for the innovative i7 xDrive60, it can be yours for not too much more than the V8-powered car, at $120,295. If you're interested in owning an all-electric 7 Series, you can preorder an i7 starting right now; it just requires a $1,500 deposit.
This car's looks won't be for everyone, but it's hard to argue with all the features and luxury amenities crammed into the new 7 Series. That cinematic rear-seat entertainment screen is oh so cool, the hands-free highway driving aid is great news, too, and the work engineers and designers have done to make this sedan more environmentally friendly are just as praiseworthy. You'll be able to check out the new 7 Series yourself starting in the fourth quarter of the year.
"Customers of that segment, they don't want any compromises, and that is independent of the drivetrain," said Zipse. "That is what they want," and hopefully for BMW, the new 7 Series delivers.