From the iX, we are familiar with the Curved Display. It’s core to BMW’s push to digitalization and combines a 12.3-inch instrument display with a longer 14.9-inch main infotainment glass touchscreen. This whole sculpture sits in slender brackets topped by an open-pore matt wood trim. You can customize individual tiles to control audio, navigation, Apple CarPlay and other functions. There’s voice activation, too, which works (not all of them do), and passengers can now access the Personal Assistant. There’s even an unnecessary digital clock widget by Qlocktwo that spells out the time. Go for the Heat Comfort package and you’ll get a heated steering wheel and panel heating for the armrests and center console. This will keep you warm inside your EV more efficiently than using the AC.
The Interaction Bar is a new feature on the 7 Series. It has a subtle, crystalline surface with backlighting, and spans almost the entire width of the cabin. BMW has an insatiable desire for crystal. It takes its color cues from whichever of the My Modes you’ve gone for; red for Sport, green for Expressive, blue for Efficient. Cao Fei is a BMW Art Car recent artist and has also created a Digital Art Mode. These also alter the sound signature, as codeveloped with Hollywood movie soundtrack maestro Hans Zimmer, and they’re mostly variations on an escalating sci-fi pulse.
While the centre console looks more like the iX than the iX’s, it has the same small (optional) crystal drive control and other haptic touches. It’s an easy, swift way to get going and feels satisfying.
You can push a button on the iX to unlock it. The 7 has automatic doors. There’s a little button below the wheel that closes the door from inside, or you can set the system so that the driver’s door shuts when you press the brake pedal. Or use the voice activation if you’re incredibly lazy. There are actually four methods to unlock the doors, none of which require touching the handle. The doors’ gyros and sensors recognize inclines and possible hazards and obstructions, so don’t be alarmed if you can’t get out.
They are stunning, and have multiple function options as well. Headrests are trimmed with wood and have electro-plated accent strips. Optional wool cashmere trimming is also available. It’s durable and can be used in many ways. You can choose from a variety of interior designs for wood or metals. There is also a vegan option. This interior is just as beautiful as a Bentley or Range Rover. Interestingly, in the UK at least, the i7 will not be one of the first cars to feature BMW’s much-complained-about heated seats as a service model, otherwise known as “features on demand.”
Let’s get to the much-anticipated 31.3-inch 8K Theatre Screen, which folds out of a recess in the roof lining, has built-in Amazon Fire TV, and runs Bowers & Wilkins surround sound. An optional pimped version gets you 36 speakers and 1,965 watts of output, with “exciters” in the seat backrests. As you would expect from a car this expensive and loaded with many extras, the audio quality is excellent. Streaming capability varies according to territory, but I watched some “content” traveling down a twisty road without feeling unwell. Automatically, the rear and side sunblinds are raised and the panoramic sunroof is closed. But the screen’s proximity is likely a little too close for some, and it will descend only with the front seats slid forward to a preordained position.