The new all-electric BMW i7 M70 is packed with luxury touches and boasts blistering straight-line speed, but it costs a hefty £160k
4.0 out of 5
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The BMW i7 M70 is much like lesser i7 models bar for the ridiculous straight-line performance, but it costs more than £160,000, so it's a pricey car that only few will value. However, for those that do, it'll hit the spot, even if it feels more like a tweaked standard car than even a true M Performance model.
This new i7 M70 xDrive is the most powerful electric BMW yet, a flagship for the firm's already top of the range model, the all-electric i7 luxury saloon.
The M70 is defined by its pair of electric motors – one on the front axle and one at the rear – which deliver a total of 650bhp and an astonishing 1,100Nm of torque, so despite the i7's significant size and weight, the M70 will accelerate from 0-62mph in just 3.7 seconds. That makes this luxury limo as fast as the hardcore M4 CSL.
Top speed stands at an electronically limited 155mph, but it's more about how the i7 gets there, with launch control and an M Sport Boost function. EVs don't deliver their performance like a luxury, V12-engined model in this class might once have, but there's no denying the M70 lives up to the numbers. It's shockingly rapid, thumping forward with a level of ferocity that doesn't seem to correlate initially with such a big, heavy car.
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The M70 the third all-electric M performance model BMW has offered, following the i4 M50 and the iX M60, and for the this i7 BMW has equipped it with more M-specific features, including standard-fit M Sport brakes and adaptive air suspension.
There are lots of 'active' systems this is teamed with, including Integral Active Steering (rear-wheel steer), Active Roll Stabilisation and Active Roll Comfort as part of the Executive Pro drive package. Together with a stiffer body, the latter two systems are said to boost comfort and agility – one a key factor for any 7 Series, electric or otherwise, the other a key factor in making this performance model fun, or at least more rewarding to drive.
That's because with EVs it's easy to make them accelerate hard and deliver punchy performance in a straight line, as is immediately apparent the moment you use full throttle here. From low speed that torque peak is deployed without delay and for a huge machine it rockets forward, with the ferocity of the acceleration sustained up to the legal limit. The brakes are powerful enough and combined with the nicely calibrated regen are up to the task of stopping this mammoth machine from the impressive speed it can reach in an impressively short period of time.
It's the ability to control this mass in corners that has proved more difficult for makers of fast EVs, and with the M70 this is no different. Of course, the brief for this car is far from the i4 M50; as a comfortable cruiser the i7 M70 has to deliver refinement and supreme ride quality whilst adding that bit more engagement and dynamic performance than lesser i7s. While the performance is easy to identify, the extra engagement isn't apparent.
The M70 also features BMW's Quick Select function for the OS8.5 infotainment system. This arranges functions vertically on the same menu level so you can access different areas directly without having to go in and out of sub-menus. As per BMW's expertise when it comes to its iDrive infotainment, the system is superb and offers the kind of clarity in the display of information, plus the ease of use, speed of response and functionality that some premium rivals at this level can only hope to match. As a high-end tech showcase, the i7 is a fantastic piece of software engineering.
Part of that is down to the battery management too, as the 102kWh unit in the M70 delivers a claimed range of 347 miles – not too bad for a 5.4-metre-long, 2,770kg luxury saloon with a front-end design that has all the subtlety of a sideboard. Despite its bluff appearance, BMW's designers have managed to reduce the car's drag coefficient down to a slippery 0.26Cd, so the extra performance only cuts the M70's range by around 40 miles when compared with the most efficient model in the line-up.
Charging at up to 195kW means that big battery can be replenished from 10 to 80 per cent in 34 minutes, while a home top-up will take less than five and a half hours, according to BMW but based on a 22kW supply.
Space in the rear is superb, as is the level of tech on offer, with BMW's Theatre Screen option available, plus advanced touchscreen, tablet-style controls in each rear door for climate, multimedia and other functions. Comfort is also excellent, as in the more relaxed driving modes the tweaks for the M70 don't seem to have affected the ride. However, herein lies the problem, because at more than £160,000, the i7 is pricey.
|Model:||BMW i7 M70 xDrive|
|Powertrain:||102kWh battery/2x e-motors|
|Transmission:||Single-speed automatic, four-wheel drive|
|Charging:||195kW (10-80% 34 mins)|
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