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BMW i7 review: Ostentation on wheels

Leow Ju-Len
Published Thu, Nov 10, 2022 · 05:56 PM

LAYING eyes on the new BMW 7 Series can be a little overwhelming, especially if you start from the front, where there’s plenty going on.

The lights are literally all over the place, as if Picasso did the styling. The main headlamps sit in a small niche, tucked away but very much visible, while slim strips of LEDs perch high up to give the car a focused squint that rivals Clint Eastwood at his meanest.

Meanwhile, if the front grille were an actual grille, its massive size would comfortably permit the barbecuing of a small elephant.

The odd thing is, when you see the car roll up the driveway towards you, it all seems coherent and fitting, for what is basically a monolithic slab of opulence on wheels. 

At nearly 5.4 metres in length, BMW’s new flagship is longer than a Bentley Flying Spur. It’s roughly 5cm wider and 5cm taller than the previous 7 Series, and while the front grille is a bit much, it does help to give an enormous car the sort of imperious presence it needs when it costs this much.

How much? Since you asked, the cheaper of the two models available in Singapore costs S$583,888 with Certificate Of Entitlement. That sum buys the 735i, which relies on a 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine to move it around. For S$631,888 you can have the i7 xDrive60 instead, which has two electric motors and a battery pack so huge it could power a household air-conditioner for four days straight.

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You definitely want the i7 if you can swing it. It has enough battery capacity for roughly 10 days’ honest motoring in Singapore, or a non-stop drive to Kuala Lumpur with plenty to spare (the claimed range is 625 km).

More to the point, it has real zap, with enough power to slingshot to 100 km/h in a sportscar-like 4.7 seconds. The acceleration is instantaneous, which only adds to the feeling that this is a car that takes no prisoners.

No one needs something this fast — anyway no one will dare to start the meeting without the person who arrives in a 7 Series — but the i7 is about excess and ostentation.

Unlock the car and Swarovski crystals embedded in the slim lights twinkle to life and put on a show of welcoming you.

You enter by pressing a button that makes an unseen hand pull the door open for you. Climb aboard, and another button swings it shut. It’s all very ceremonious and slightly spooky, like having a doorman’s ghost follow you around.

If you sit up front, the controls are typical modern-era BMW, with a large curved screen projecting all sorts of digital info at you. It sits atop a clutter-free dashboard so minimalist that even its air-con vents are suspiciously slim, calling into question their suitability for the most blazing of our tropical days.

Still, the main highlight up front is probably something BMW calls the Dynamic Interaction Bar. That sounds like a fun place to meet and hang out with physically fit singles, but is really an illuminated bit of ornamentation that stretches across the dashboard and into the door panels.

That undersells it somewhat, though, because the i7’s cabin lighting is exquisite. It adapts to your mood via MyModes, a group of umbrella settings with names like “Expressive” and “Relax” that alter the car in various ways.

The MyModes settings tweak things like the sunshades, the massage chairs, the background soundtrack and yes, the Dynamic Interaction Bar.

Naturally, you can choose a setting you want from the back seat. Each rear door has a 5.5-inch touchscreen, so climate and entertainment controls are only ever a finger’s reach away for the VIP there. That’s also where you can call up Theatre mode, which dims the cabin lights and draws the shades shut, while a 31-inch, 8K screen pivots down so you can really make your shared Netflix password count.

At least, you could if the feature were available in Singapore. Apparently, the relevant territorial rights for the screen’s software will only be sorted next year.

Surely no one needs a widescreen TV in the back of a car here, where half an hour is enough to make people grumble about a “long drive”? I put the question to Thomas Neumair, the 7 Series’ product manager. He basically informed me, with a slightly pitying look, that the well-heeled customer doesn’t always consider whether he really uses every last feature in a car, but wants to have it anyway if it looks like the latest and greatest.

That’s fair enough, because the very essence of luxury is frivolous extravagance. The i7 is a magnificent car in the classic sense, in that it handles securely, floats over bumps as if they weren’t there and wafts around in near total silence, but it also embodies lavishness.

Part of that is the styling, which is at least provocative, just as Picasso’s cubist work was initially denounced as “the product of diseased nerves” by the New York Times.

Whether you think the i7 should be called an iSore, its in-your-face looks and very big size will certainly inform the neighbours that you just dropped a very big wad of cash on a car. And while looking at it might be overwhelming, the last thing you want from a BMW flagship is for it to be underwhelming.

BMW i7 xDrive60 Pure Excellence

Electric Motor / layout Dual / Front - Rear 

Motor power / torque  544 hp / 745 Nm

Battery type /net capacity  Lithium-ion, 101.7 kWh

Normal Charge Type / Time 22 kW AC / 5.5 hours 10 to 100 per cent

Max Fast Charge Type / Time 195 kW DC / 34 mins 10 to 80 per cent

Electric Range Up to 625 km (WLTP) 

0-100km/h 4.7 seconds

Top Speed 240 km/h (limited)

Efficiency 19.7 kWh/100 km

Agent BMW Eurokars or Performance Motors Limited

Price S$631,888 with COE

Available Now

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