LISBON, PORTUGAL- Driving BMW’s new electric 7 Series is one of the real car surprises of 2022. The automaker has rolled out the electric and combustion-technologies at the same time, with the electric i7 better than the gas-burning 760i in just about every way. . Now, BMW has sent its biggest and boldest EV off to its M division, in-house tuning and motorsport people. The resulting car is the fastest and most expensive electric BMW to date.
I have been an advocate for putting electric motors in luxury cars, especially big ones–The combination of fast rotation and near-silent distortion is ideal for that application. Both new and established automakers still like the idea of big, luxury EVs because they can charge a lot for the benefit, so it’s a crowded field. Some cars in this class focus on rollercoaster-like acceleration; for example, Porsche, Tesla, and Lucid will each sell you a four-door EV that can achieve a 0–60 time of about two seconds.
The i7 M70 is not as fast as the EVs, and those that have it don’t have the kind of EV luxury you can use to wipe off the smiles and kill some faces in the strip area “run an ya brung” night. Instead, in keeping with BMW’s old “ultimate driving machine” slogan, it’s an engaging driver’s car, one that defies its size and is well-rounded.
The folks at M have kept the i7 front motor unchanged—it puts out 255 hp (190 kW) and 296 lb-ft (401 Nm). And the battery has the same usable 101.7 kWh (105.7 kWh gross) capacity. But a more powerful rear drive unit that includes a two-speed six-speed converter and a long torque increase the power and torque at the rear axle to 483 hp (360 kW) and 479 lb-ft (650 Nm).
Maximum combined power and torque is, as always, a function of how much power the battery can provide to both motors at once—in this case, 650 hp (485 kW) and 784 lb-ft (1,062 Nm) at curb weight. of 5,929 lbs (2,689 kg).
That’s not an insignificant amount—it’s 770 lbs (345 kg) more than the V8 7 Series. But from the driver’s seat, it doesn’t register as a car that has anything similar. Some of the highlights are the powerful electric powertrain, which will take you from 0 to 62 mph (100 km / h) in 3.7 seconds, shave 0.8 seconds off the less powerful time i7. Top speed is limited to 155 mph (250 km/h).
But the way you keep your stock is more than a quick response from the brake pedal to the wheels. Modern air suspension is surprisingly good at its job, and the i7 M70 features new M tuning for how those air springs react. The cheaper, underpowered i7 was already a fun car to drive, but now it feels tauter—in addition to the active antiroll bars and M-tuned suspension, there’s also more chassis traction.
A supercar like the i7 M70 has excellent handling miles on open roads. Even in sport mode, it feels like an effortless car in that setting. Electrically motivated cars do not offer resistance when they are not powered, so it is easy to maintain the speed of travel with a small application of blowing between the long stages of the coast; the drag coefficient of 0.23 is also very helpful in this regard.
If you feel the need for more speed, a paddle behind the left spoke of the steering wheel activates a 10-second boost mode that increases maximum torque to 811 lb-ft (1,100 Nm) – you know, for putting the the money booth dropped. Opinions are divided when it comes to the sounds written by Hans Zimmer who followed the acceleration in Sport mode-send me in the camp that likes the subtle addition of some aural play.
Since our drive route is not a loop, I can’t offer any meaningful insights into actual power consumption based on our first drive. But BMW says it expects an EPA range of 295 miles, which works out to 2.9 miles/kWh (21.4 kWh/100 km).