BMW South Africa previewed its new luxury-class 7 Series vehicles, including the electric i7, at a media event in Steyn City in Johannesburg on Wednesday, 31 August.

The fully electric luxury sedans will be launched alongside their petrol and diesel counterparts later this year. The i7 joins the iX3 and i4 as BMW’s trio of EVs set to launch locally this year.

BMW South Africa chief executive Peter van Binsbergen says it is taking a big step forward with the 7 Series and the i7 set the benchmark for fully electric limousines in the luxury class.

The i7 xDrive60 has 400kW of power, 745Nm of torque and a 101.7kWh nett battery that has a maximum range of 590km to 625km (WLTP figures). It can go from 0 to 100km/h in 4.7 seconds.

BMW says the raw materials, such as cobalt and lithium, used in its high-voltage batteries originate from responsible mining and recycled materials are used in parts of its interiors.

The vehicle has a similar footprint to the Rolls Royce Cullinan. It is 5.4m in length, with more interior space and head- and legroom than its predecessor.

The i7 features Swarovski crystal headlights and a striking illuminated kidney grille. The company says this bold look will be the face of its luxury vehicles in the future.

The design elements include rear headlights with a geometric 3D-like pattern. The vehicle will be available in two-tone paint finishes.

It features a Sky Lounge panoramic glass roof and adjustable LED lights which let in light during the day. At night ambience can be created through its dynamic lighting option.

Innovative technologies include a fold-down 31.3-inch “theatre screen” for passengers in the back; the latest operating system 8 that supports voice, touch or gesture control and a 14.9-inch curved display on the dashboard that brings together the information and control displays.

The technologies are not exclusive to the electric i7 and will be available on other models in the 7 Series.

The theatre screen folds down on demand and can be accessed through voice or the touch panels. The panels, which resemble  smartphones, are on both back passenger door handles, and are used to control the display, seats, blinds, lights, phone and car modes.

The 8K resolution display, with a 32:9 aspect ratio, runs on the Amazon Fire TV platform, which supports apps like YouTube, Disney+, Netflix, Prime Video etc. An eSIM is needed to access streaming services, at a separate cost to the customer.

The interactive, high-resolution touch display is customisable – viewing angles can be tweaked, based on where the passenger is seated. It is complemented by a Bowers & Wilkins sound system to deliver a cinematic 4D audio experience through 1 965-watts from 39 tweeters and mid-range speakers and a subwoofer and shaker.

Other digital highlights include automated doors; BMW’s Iconic Sounds by Hans Zimmer to match each driving mode; Digital Key Plus to access the car with a smartphone or smartwatch; remote over-the-air software upgrades and subscription services. Features like steering-wheel heating and parking assist are available through the ConnectedDrive Store via monthly subscriptions.

The 7 Series will launch in South Africa towards the end of the year, with prices starting at R2 160 000 for the 740i and R2 280 000 for the 740d xDrive.

The fully electric i7 xDrive60 starts at R2 825 000 and goes up to R2 940 000 for the top-of-the-range M Sport Package Pro option.

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