ITS presence is hard to miss. But that’s as it should be, given its pedigree in the BMW scheme of things.
The big, boxy BMW i7 with the squinty-slim Swarovski crystal headlamps that wink and blink, and the disproportionately huge grinning grille presents a variety of conundrums.
In the Singapore context, some may consider picking up this distant relative of the Rolls-Royce for around *$750K. Others may well question the rationale of that after checking out the car and its offerings.
The i7 is part of the standard bearer range for BMW, and in the electric era, this even quieter and smoother ride will have to shoulder a heavier burden; it has to be comfortable, powerful and presentable.
It has to continue in its large form or else it would lose relevance in a world where bigger is still desired for purposes of stature and compensation.
But with the i7 you expect even more. For all its outward largeness, its interior is disproportionately small. Not that it’s small, but you feel it should be bigger, especially in the rear.
Makes you wonder why it’s got such a long bonnet when it doesn’t require an engine. Pop the hood and the whole space where the engine used to reign supreme is covered from view. It’s loaded with electrical stuff, so you don’t want a stray hand causing untold damage. And there’s a generous boot.
The crystal motif follows into the interior of the i7. There’s a sweeping line of faceted crystal running the length of the dashboard that changes colour, along with seat adjustment switches, shifter, a controller and a volume roller in crystal. It’s a mixed bag of materials and textures that doesn’t necessarily come together well. The sound of the dash, when tapped is hollow, the haptic control for chaning the driving mode is sometimes a hit-and-miss affair, and the piano finish on parts that are often handled means that much more maintenance is required.
The display is a sweeping expanse that reaches the front passenger’s seat where it’s left hanging. Big displays mean more features are going to move towards touchscreen status. And that’s just going to baffle many as it often becomes a case of overkill.
Not ideal for a driver who may want to have some key features literally in hand. But in this new era, one wonders who the innovators want to please; the future generation who may be using autonomous vehicles, or the present generation that still clings on to aspects of the past and has the cash to splash?
Even the rear seat door handles have a touchscreen that brings up key features, assuming the i7 could as easily be chauffeur-driven.
Big And Nimble
Which would be a shame since, for a 2.8-tonner it is nimble on its feet for something close to 5.4 metres in length. The handling is sharp and responsive for the leviathan that it is. And being electric, the instant torque is great for leaving everything behind.
With a range of drive options that you can poke at on the touchscreen, the only one that offers a firm ride is the Sport mode, where you still have to opt for the stiffer suspension. With the large size of the i7, there’s a lot of rocking in comfort mode, which may not appeal to everyone. The firmer suspension setting reduces this considerably.
Able to punch out 400kW, the beast hurls itself from standstill to 100kmh in under 5 seconds and peaking at 240kmh. With a range of close to 600k, the large 500L boot should easily carry luggage and golf bags to your destination in Malaysia, or beyond.
And you’ll probably enjoy the ride unless you’re a dedicated petrolhead. The i7 offers a soft and comfortable ride — not quite Rolls-Royce, but certainly heading there — except for the sibilance that makes its presence felt over speeds of 70kmh. But turn on the Bowers & Wilkins sound system and that’ll mask any unwelcome noises.
Once you shut yourself in this space, you’re effectively keeping the world outside and you’ll begin to think it might be money well spent.
RATING: BMW i7 Electric xDrive60 M Sport Pro
*Please reconfirm price with dealers.
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