LUXURIOUS ELECTRIC TRANSPORTATION
BMW’s i7 xDrive 60 is a stately way to signal your virtue
A good friend of mine is a BMW enthusiast and wants to do what he can to save our planet. He’s also a former 7-Series owner and was intrigued with the German automaker’s i7 luxury electric vehicle offering. My friend especially wanted to know how the car handled the extra 1,100-pounds of battery girth, the equivalent of taking three NFL linebackers along for the ride. Apparently, a few of my colleagues thought the new M70 model was better. Because it was faster. And more sporting. Of course the additional $44-grand for the M version is simply a text entry for many car critics since test vehicles don’t come with a payment book. As it was, our lavishly equipped i7 xDrive 60 took its $124,200 base price to a lofty $162,495 with options.
Added power always makes a vehicle seem lighter, especially in the straight-line romps from 0-to-60 the industry appears to vex on these days, but I would consider another comparison. BMW’s 7-Series petrol version, the 740i xDrive, is about $25-grand less in its base MSRP than our i7. That’s enough to buy a nice second sporty car like a Honda Civic or perhaps membership in a lovely country club or a lot of gasoline. And between weight savings and powertrain improvements, the 740i has a combined EPA fuel economy of 27MPG.
Back in our battery electric i7, the quiet ambience of electrified transportation is a perfect attribute of luxury. I know, some gearheads wish for the bark and snarl of today’s factory performance machines. But in this big, posh Bimmer, it’s delightful to listen to the Bowers & Wilkins surround audio system without competition from exhaust pipes that are shouting Harley Davidson out the back. And if you really miss the aural sense of an engine at work, simply engage the i7’s Drive System Soundscapes the hear Hans Zimmer’s notion of what throttle inputs should sound like. Trust me, it won’t bark, pop or snarl.
I had the opportunity to test this big BMW land yacht cruising on highways and boulevards as well as corner carving through the twisting two-lane roads above the San Francisco Bay Area’s Skyline peninsula. While tossing any big, luxury sedan around as if you’re a stunt driver in a Hollywood action movie isn’t recommended, the low center of gravity from the i7’s battery placement along with solid, on-center steering and well-crafted suspension allowed me to move with robust alacrity. I even passed a slower car or two with the instant electric torque assuring confidence and safety.
Although I spent my journeys up front, the spacious rear accommodations were appropriately luxurious. Family members along for the ride loved the spacious Rear Executive Lounge Seating that for its $7,250 option allowed heated or cooled seats that reclined while enjoying a theater screen. And a $6,500 Executive Package allowed any door to close with the push of a button in case that poorly-trained chauffeur (yours truly) forgot to properly assist his pampered guests.
So when I reported back to my BMW friend, I told him that he would be perfectly happy with this “non-M” version of the new i7 and it would feel right at home in his lovely Newport Beach neighborhood. Other luxury electric sedans to consider would be a Lucid Air that offers more power and range, the Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4MATIC or Tesla’s Model S Plaid that’s far less posh (and expensive) but is quick, has 396-miles of range and comes with a robust charging infrastructure.
THE FINE PRINT
2024 BMW xDrive 60
TYPE: Dual-motor, all-wheel-drive
HORSEPOWER: 536 equiv
TORQUE: 549 lb.ft. equiv
BATTERY: 105.7 kWh
MPGe: 85 city, 89 highway, 87 combined
BASE PRICE: $124,200
AS TESTED: $162,495