- The i7 is the all-electric version of BMW's storied 7 Series full-size sedan.
- The M70 enhances performance thanks to a revised electric motor, revised suspension and upgraded brakes.
- We spent time with the i7 M70 to see if the upgrades were worth the $169,495 base price.
The BMW i7 M70 Makes the Best Electric Luxury Sedan Even Better
BMW's ultra-luxe electric 7 Series, now with 650 hp
Last year saw the introduction of the new BMW i7 sedan, an all-electric version of the long-running 7 Series. While we're still not totally smitten with the exterior design, the i7 impressed us from the moment we stepped near the automatically opening doors. It was spacious, comfortable and felt every bit as good as the standard 7 Series. The fact that the powertrain was whisper quiet and extremely smooth on the road only buoyed those impressions and really enhanced the 7 Series' luxury sedan feel. This year, BMW has introduced a new performance variant, the 2024 i7 M70, promising equal comfort with even greater performance.
Quick, but not a full M-tuned model
The M70's dual electric motors make a combined output of 650 horsepower. That's more than 100 hp up on the midtier xDrive60 and 200 hp above the entry-level eDrive50. In addition, the i7 M70 makes more horsepower than any other EV in BMW's lineup. It's also more potent than cars like the BMW M8 or X6 M. Torque output is 748 lb-ft in Sport mode, though you can get up to 811 lb-ft using launch control or the Boost function. The latter is activated by pulling a paddle on the left hand side of the wheel.
The M70's extra power comes courtesy of revised electric motors. Like the i7 xDrive60, the M70 uses one electric motor at each axle. The front motor remains unchanged, as does the 101.7-kWh battery pack, but the rear motor uses a six-phase dual inverter that helps make it more power-dense than the xDrive60's. BMW quotes a zero to 60 mph time of 3.5 seconds for the M70, though we'll have to bring one in for testing to verify that figure for ourselves. That time is plenty quick — we clocked the i7 xDrive60's sprint time at 4.3 seconds — but it pales in comparison to the supercar-like performance numbers that we've achieved with the Tesla Model S Plaid, Lucid Air Grand Touring, Porsche Taycan Turbo S and Mercedes-AMG EQS.
The EPA estimates range at 291 miles with 21-inch wheels and 274 miles with 20-inch wheels — opposite results of what you'd normally expect. (Typically, larger wheels translates to less range.) We expect that the tire selection used for the EPA tests is skewing the results, as both wheels are available with all-season and summer performance tires.
When we drove an i7 xDrive60 with 21-inch wheels and all-season tires in our EV range test, we beat the car's 308-mile EPA estimate by driving 320 miles on a single charge. BMWs like the iX and i4 have similarly beat their EPA estimates in our testing.
Other changes for the M70 include revised tuning for the steering, suspension and all-wheel-drive system, though the changes relative to other i7 models aren't as significant as what you might see on a full M division-tuned model like the M8 compared to the standard 8 Series. The i7 still has to be a big, cushy sedan, and leaning too far toward performance would sacrifice some of what makes the core i7 so good. For what it's worth, BMW has never made a full M version of the standard 7 Series sedan, just M-massaged models like this one.
Tightened up but not overhauled
The i7 M70 doesn't feel vastly different from the i7 xDrive60. The first thing you notice is the quicker throttle response. It's not touchy, but there's more power everywhere. The M70 moves with verve, especially when you pull that Boost paddle. The torque pushes you back in the plush seats, though it's smooth and almost comforting when the bolsters squeeze you tighter. At full spit, the speakers play a crescendoing, spacey hum crafted by legendary film composer Hans Zimmer. It's not as hokey as it might sound and definitely adds to the aura. And at least BMW didn't try to make it sound like a gas engine.
The steering feels a little more direct, though feedback isn't astounding. It feels most precise on center, and the weight builds nicely. Tight roads and lines of tourists along our test drive on the Portuguese coast meant we weren't able to push the car too hard, but body roll feels good for a car its size. The air suspension keeps the car from leaning heavily in a corner, but it doesn't punish you when you're cruising along on the highway. That's true no matter what drive mode you're in. Sport mode still allows for enough suspension compliance that both front and rear seat passengers should be comfortable. The M70 is the first i7 available with summer tires; considering the i7 xDrive60 pulled 0.97 g on our skidpad during testing while fitted with all-season tires, the i7 M70 should have plenty of stick in corners.
Is it worth the premium?
The i7 M70 starts at $169,495. That's $44,300 more than an xDrive60 and $62,800 more than a base i7 eDrive50. The car is better to drive and significantly quicker than that pair without sacrificing anything in terms of comfort. Do you need the extra performance over an xDrive60? No, probably not. Could you be blamed for ponying up for it? Not in the slightest.
The real rub is when you compare the i7 M70's price to its rivals. It's almost twice as much as a Model S Plaid, about $20,000 more than an AMG EQS, and a few thousand more than a Porsche Taycan Turbo (but not the Turbo S). It's not as good to drive as the Porsche and not nearly as quick as the Tesla, but the i7 is the most comfortable of the bunch. And that's what the M70 and the i7 as a whole is aiming for.
The i7 is not trying to be the sportiest or fastest electric car on the road, but it doesn't sacrifice comfort for the sake of enhanced performance. It's more comfortable, spacious and luxurious than its rivals, even if it's not quite as quick. The price is a hard pill to swallow, especially considering how good the regular i7 is. We called that car superior to the 7 Series in nearly every way. The M70 is better than the regular i7 in nearly every way. Too bad about that price.