2023 BMW i7 M70 First Drive Review: The Big Boss
Lisbon, Portugal - Forget about the BMW i7 eDrive60. If you want the fastest BMW i7 in production, you get this, the new BMW i7 M70.
At the time of launch it is the most powerful series production BMW ever built, with a peak power of 660 horsepower.
It’s the closest thing that you can get to an electric 7 Series M car.
However, unlike track-focused M cars like the M3 and M5, the i7 M70 is an M Performance model.
This means that it’s tuned for a more supple ride and built to cover long distances quickly, as opposed to being a regular trackday fixture.
The point is, you can’t really expect a plush BMW 7 Series electric sedan to be used as a circuit weapon anyway, and BMW subtly states that the M70 is really a kind of flex, in that it’s still a comfortable i7, but a hugely powerful one.
It comes with greatly uprated suspension and power, with an earth-twisting 1,100Nm of torque. With both motors at maximum power driving all four wheels, the car punches from a standstill to 100km/h in 3.7secs. There are faster sportscars, but this is a luxury limousine, and a blindingly fast one at that.
It’s differentiated visually from the base model i7 with the inclusion of a pair of small M badges on the front fenders, another M badge on the front, a tiny little bootlid spoiler, and the M70 badge on the rear.
The cabin is all luxury, with very little to make it stand out as some kind of sporty car, and is practically identical to the base model version of the i7. It works best as a four-seater, but you can fold up the huge centre armrest in the back seat and it’ll still be properly comfortable as a five seater. A huge panoramic instrument cluster and centre screen takes up most of the dashboard real estate space.
The only real clue of this being an M-tuned car from the cabin is the M Sport steering wheel, with the familiar logo set into the lower spoke.
Some countries get the huge fold-down cinema screen that drops in from the ceiling that we also saw with the launch edition i7. The trouble is, if your driver up front is having a great time fanging the i7 M70 like a sportscar, then you’re not going to get any meaningful viewing done before becoming very, very carsick.
The i7 M70 has got pulling power like a freight train, and despite its massive size it hangs onto corners like it was pinned to a line.
In its default driving mode there’s a maximum torque output of 1,015Nm, then with a pull of the paddle on the left side of the steering wheel, where the sequential shifter paddle is normally located, you get all 1,100Nm for 10secs of crazy overtaking boost.
It’s an EV so there are no gears to shift through, and the power punch is delivered with the BMW Iconic Sounds module doing its big whooshing EV sporty noise that is fun for the first couple of times you punch the accelerator, but quickly starts becoming tiresome when on the way out of every B-road corner the car makes the big “WHOOSH” playback noise.
There’s always the option of selecting the other, more muted Iconic Sound modes or turning it off entirely and driving in silence. This experience does highlight the fact that some things are fun in small doses, but overkill in large ones.
It has adaptive all-wheel drive, though in the tradition of BMW’s usual sense of dynamism the car is rear-wheel-drive biased.
According to the specifications, the motor driving the rear axle has 489 horsepower, while the front axle’s motor has 258 horsepower.
Traction and stability control keep the car pointed where you want it to go, but it still demands a healthy level of respect for the power under your right foot, along with the mass of the car.
The i7 M70’s suspension and chassis have been given the full M Performance treatment, which means M-tuned air springs at all four corners, a stiffened chassis, and M Sport brakes.
Still, it’s worth noting that while you can accelerate hard, the car’s weight puts a lot of stress on the brakes and attacking B-roads at 100 percent with constant hard braking will see them fade off gradually as they get really hot past their optimal operating temperatures.
Yet for a spirited jaunt and with brakes moderately managed, it’s pretty sharp.
It’s best to think of the i7 M70 as a very fast luxury sedan, and for daily driving the car’s standard operating mode serves quite well.
A big point that BMW took pains to mention is that the car has a new ‘Max Range’ mode. This economises the power delivery, keeps the car to a top speed of 90km/h, and moderates the climate control to allow it to gain up to 25 percent of extra range, thus allowing it to be driven sedately to the next charging point.
BMW states that this will be progressively rolled out via software updates to the other i7 variants. Yet with a WLTP cycle claimed range of 488km, it’s a system that you’ll likely never need to use if you’ve planned your driving schedules right.
It’s expected to go on sale in Singapore in early 2024, and we expect it to retail in the S$800k with COE price bracket. But considering how good the i7 eDrive60 already is, would you pay extra and spring for the i7 M70?
STORY Lionel Kong
BMW i7 M70
Battery 101.7kWh, Lithium-ion Battery
Electric Motor 660hp / 1100Nm
Electric Range up to 488km (WLTP)
Top Speed 250km/h (electronically limited)
Efficiency 23.8kWh/100km (Combined)
Charging 195kW DC, 11kW AC