2023 BMW 760i xDrive and i7 xDrive60 Review: Dual dreamboats

2023 BMW i7 xDrive60 BMW

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but BMW’s most remarkable driving experience today might be in … the new 7-series?

The three-row X7 is also a gem—this coming from a company that built its reputation on the strengths of its compact cars. How times change.

But before we explore the latest big-body Bimmer, we should go over the executive sedan competition. Broadly speaking, the Porsche Panamera is the most fun to drive, the Mercedes S-Class is the proverbial luxury cloud on wheels, and the Audi A8 is the most subtle (if flying under the radar is your thing). With its latest 7 (chassis codename G70 according to internal BMW nomenclature) Munich cut a path directly through the center of that rival set.

Don’t think too hard about the differences between the 4.4-liter, twin-turbo V-8-powered 760i xDrive and the pure-electric i7 xDrive60. BMW didn’t seem to; the two cars look and drive as if developed from scratch as two expressions of the same luxury goals. Spotters will notice only the lack of tailpipes and a blue ring around the roundels as the only tells for the battery-powered bruiser. MSRP, including destination, is $114,595 for the 760i xDrive and $120,295 for the i7 xDrive60.

The G70-generation 7-series is, fittingly, the seventh distinct iteration of BMW’s full-size luxury sedan. It is longer, wider, and taller than any prior 7. I’d argue it’s also more aesthetically anomalous than the infamous “Bangle-butt” E65 generation (2002–2008); the new, bifurcated headlights (shared with new XM and updated X7 SUVs), bi-colored fascia, and upsized kidney grilles suggest BMW doesn’t care how many buck-tooth jokes Cammisa makes. The look is the look, and it’s quite a departure from arguably the last great 7-series—the subtly-designed E38 generation (1995–2001).

BMW 760i Euro Model front halved vertical showroom
2023 BMW 760i xDrive BMW

Aside from the powertrain, most everything else is shared, including the exterior dimensions and interior layout. BMW even launched its two 7-series variants simultaneously, and the result is a cohesive duo that makes us wish Mercedes had done the same with the current-generation S-Class and Mercedes-EQ EQS—two totally distinct products. It’s a new tack for BMW, which has thus far presented its electrified cars (i3, i8, iX) as painfully future-forward cyber-rides lacking clear synergy with the rest of the brand lineup or existing product line.

2023 BMW 760i xDrive

  • Price: $114,595 / $162,045 (base / as-tested)
  • Powertrain: 4.4-liter, twin-turbo V-8; eight-speed automatic
  • Horsepower: 536 hp @ 5200-6500 rpm
  • Torque: 553 lb-ft @ 1800-5000 rpm
  • Layout:  All-wheel drive, four-door, five-passenger sedan
  • Weight: 4969 lbs
  • EPA-Rated Fuel Economy: 18/26/21 mpg (city/highway/combined)
  • 0-60 mph: 4.1 seconds
  • Competitors: Mercedes-Benz S580 4Matic, Audi A8, Porsche Panamera 4S E-Hybrid

2023 BMW i7 xDrive60

  • Price: $120,295 / $151,945 (base / as-tested)
  • Powertrain: Dual permanent-magnetic synchronous AC motors with direct drive
  • Horsepower: 536 hp
  • Torque: 549 lb-ft
  • Layout:  All-wheel drive, four-door, five-passenger sedan
  • Weight: 5917 lbs
  • EPA-Rated Fuel Economy: 85/89/87 MPGe (city/highway/combined)
  • Range: 268-318 miles
  • 0-60 mph: 4.5 seconds
  • Competitors: Mercedes-Benz EQS 580 4Matic, Audi e-Tron GT, Porsche Taycan 4S

Let’s start with the dinosaur-burner. With the V-12 7-series now kaput, BMW’s 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 (codename S68) is the top-dog gas engine for the brand. In the 760i xDrive it produces 536 hp and 553 lb-ft—a big bump against the 375 hp and 383 lb-ft offered in the base 740i’s 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six. Both engines enjoy mild hybridization via a 48-volt electric motor, which functions as a starter-generator, integrated between the engine’s crankshaft and eight-speed ZF automatic transmission. All-wheel drive comes standard on the V-8 model.

A number of plug-in variants are on their way, but for now it’s one-size-fits-all on the EV front. The i7 xDrive60’s dual-motor drivetrain makes the same 536 hp as the combustion version and nearly the same amount of torque (549 lb-ft), all fed by a 101.7-kWh lithium-ion battery. If you’re a range queen, wheels matter; the 20-inch rollers limit the vehicle to 296 miles, the 19-inchers 318 miles, and the slippery aero-optimized 21-inchers are good for 308 miles. Not bad, but the obvious analogue here is the decade-old Tesla Model S, which now tops 400 miles and boasts the advantage of the brand’s Supercharger network. Speaking of charging, it’s also somewhat “eh,” with a max speed of 195 kW when connected to a Level 3 DC plug.

2023 BMW i7 xDrive Frozen Deep Grey wheel tire
2023 BMW i7 xDrive60 BMW

Slide inside and, all of a sudden, none of these figures really matter. The 7-series cabin is magnificent—a genuinely novel, interesting place to be. It is sculptural and intensely design-forward, sitting on the fence between techy minimalism and effusive expression. The scalloped, bi-level dash wears a composite screen fixture allotting 12.3-inches for the driver’s gauge cluster functions and 14.5 inches for the touchscreen infotainment, both relatively downsized when compared with some of the TV-sized screens we’ve come to expect—and sometimes dread—in modern luxury. Directly beneath the top portion of the dash is what BMW calls the Interaction Bar, a faceted crystalline trim that stretches the length of the dash and extends through the door panel. Selectable ambient light shines through the shaped surface and changes color in tandem with functions like incoming phone calls, music, and active driving assists.

2023 BMW i7 xDrive Frozen Deep Grey interior front
2023 BMW i7 xDrive60 BMW

It’s not all bells and whistles, either. There is real substance in the new 7, largely because BMW is a master of material application when it wants to be. Plastic trim and fixtures are cleverly cut and feature intricate patterning that varies depending on placement. The leather feels and smells outstanding. The crystal seat controls mounted on the door wouldn’t feel out of place in a Bentley or Rolls-Royce. Buyers can pick between four distinct wood trims, in both glossy and open-pore finishes, or opt for the unusual silver-threaded carbon fiber trim that goes fabulously with the geodesic speaker grilles.

There’s even the option for cashmere upholstery inserts, though it’s gated behind $28,500 worth of options, including the $7250 Rear Executive Lounge Seating Package. Tick that princely little box and your rear-seat passengers—or you, you lucky chauffeur-employing oligarch—can engage “Theater Mode,” an appropriately-named seating configuration that reclines the rear seats and draws rear sunshades. It also unfurls a ceiling-mounted, 31-inch, 8K display that’s 5G-capable and standard with Amazon Fire TV streaming capable. Long desert rides between Los Angeles and Vegas? Maximum zonk-out, please! The audio experience is about as good as it gets on four wheels, with an 18-speaker, 655-watt “4D” Bowers & Wilkins system on board. Even if you don’t spring for the home (car?) theater setup, each door features an embedded 5.5-inch touchscreen featuring infotainment, seats, and lighting controls.

These are genuine luxuries that make the 7-series feel distinct from the plenty-large and competent 5-series. I can’t say the same for the 7’s silly suite of drive modes, a portion of which are purely audio-visual in nature. Along with an animated “Digital Art” presentation courtesy of Chinese multimedia artist Cao Fei (BMW expects a whopping 70 percent of 7-series sale volume to come from China), modes like “Expressive” and “Relax” activate a host of ambient soundscapes composed by Hans Zimmer. It’s considered tactful to mention this both loudly and often at country clubs and charity balls.

Beyond the usual active safety suite we’ve come to expect, both versions of the 7 offer the trick Highway Assistant module added on top of the standard adaptive cruise control. When engaged in an applicable highway scenario, the car will maintain speed, change lanes, and steer without requiring the driver’s hands on the wheel, at speeds up to 80 mph. To prevent YouTubers from hopping in the back seat and enjoying a cheeky bout of Theater Mode while blocking the flow of traffic in the left lane, the car monitors your eyes with a camera and warns you if you look away too long, eventually canceling Highway Assistant unless you keep your eyes forward or hands on the wheel.

2023 BMW i7 xDrive Frozen Deep Grey front driving action
2023 BMW i7 xDrive60 BMW

Out on the dusty desert highways surrounding Palm Springs, California, this autonomy-lite system felt intuitive, confident, and composed, but the camera monitoring system proved hyper-sensitive to the extent that I most often reverted to conventional adaptive cruise control. If you look away for more than what seems like one second to change the song or adjust the temperature, you get an audible warning. More than once, the simple act of changing the radio station on the center screen set off the wrist slap. If the point is hands-free driving, what is one supposed to do with their hands?

2023 BMW i7 xDrive Frozen Deep Grey front three quarter driving action
2023 BMW i7 xDrive60 BMW

When you do actually drive the 760i or i7, it’s rather delightful. Feather-light inputs make the big sedan feel lithe, and powertrain performance is strong in any context. I found a small squiggle of trafficked asphalt that lanced deep into the Mojave desert. The 760i xDrive’s 4.1-second 0–60 mph scramble belies its 5917-pound bulk, and the V-8 pulls forcefully once the car builds momentum. The i7’s thrust delivery is the reverse, with insta-torque off the line and then a more level rate of acceleration that ultimately lags behind its V-8 sibling, resulting in a 4.5-second sprint to 60. Both are plenty quick for public roads, though neither 7 is a leading choice for a canyon romp. (To be fair, even the Alpina B8 feels porky on mountain roads.) Still, the aluminum-intensive platform’s adaptive suspension does yeoman’s work managing body movements given the 7-series’ intended use case.

Straight roads and gentle bends are where the car really sings, or whispers, rather. It feels confident and substantial going down the road, which is how a luxury machine should feel. I suspect it wouldn’t be any different at triple-digit speeds on the Autobahn. It bears mentioning here that while drivers expecting the sporty “ultimate driving machine” don’t exactly get it from the M440i, the 7 delivers on its promise of an effortless dreamboat, regardless of powertrain.

2023 BMW i7 xDrive Frozen Deep Grey rear driving action
2023 BMW i7 xDrive60 BMW

As is usually the case with EVs, the i7 provides an interesting counterpart compared to the conventional driving experience. Curiously, the i7 isn’t quite set up for one-pedal driving; the standard “D” setting will assess road conditions using GPS and a variety of sensors, and it attempts to automatically apply regenerative resistance to preemptively slow the car. However, I found this behavior inconsistent and even unnerving at times, and I often had to intervene and supplement with brake application. “B” mode is the closest thing the i7 offers as far as one-pedal driving, and with that setting active it is possible to fully stop the car, though not as smoothly nor predictably as the best EVs. Give it time. If this is what the first generation of a real BMW luxury EV looks like, there’s reason to be optimistic.

Thus far, BMW has not been willing to declare that it will go all-electric or discontinue the development of gas engines. Which means whatever kind of power you prefer for your 7-series will be on the table for the foreseeable future. And what better luxury is there than that of choice?

2023 BMW 760i xDrive and i7 xDrive60

Highs: Gorgeous, high-quality materials. Sumptuous ride and powertrain regardless of energy source. A mind-blowing rear seat experience with Theater Mode.

Lows: Polarizing styling, infotainment and interior tech can be fussy and overwhelming at times.

Takeaway: A techno tour-de-force that puts BMW’s pinnacle luxury sedan on even footing with the long-dominant Mercedes S-Class.

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