The Curved Display we know from the iX. 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. The whole thing is a sculpture in its own right and sits on slender brackets on top of an open-pore matte wood trim. Audio, navigation, Apple CarPlay, and so on live in individual, customizable tiles. 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 is a more efficient way of staying warm in an EV than cranking up the AC.
Beneath the central screen is the Interaction Bar, new on the 7 Series, which has an unsubtle crystalline surface and backlighting and stretches pretty much the width of the cabin. BMW definitely has a jones for crystal at the moment. It takes its color cues from whichever of the My Modes you’ve gone for; red for Sport, green for Expressive, blue for Efficient. Recent BMW Art Car artist Cao Fei has even created a bespoke 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.
The center console is lower and more conventional-looking than in the iX but has the same little (optional) crystal drive controller and other haptic touch points. It’s an easy, swift way to get going and feels satisfying.
As on the iX, you push a button to get out. New on the 7 are 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. In fact, there are four ways to open the doors without touching the door handle. The doors’ gyros and sensors recognize inclines and possible hazards and obstructions, so don’t be alarmed if you can’t get out.
The seats are absolutely magnificent, with multifunctionality and massage programs. The back of the headrests have wood trim with electro-plated accent strips. The (optional) wool cashmere trim is sustainable and looks and feels lovely. Various interior treatments are available for the wood and metals, and there is a vegan spec. The overall effect is as good as a car interior really gets this side of a Bentley, Range Rover, or Rolls-Royce. 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.”
Photograph: daniel kraus/BMW
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. The audio quality is stunning, as it should be for a car of this price and with so many pricey extras. Streaming capability varies according to territory, but I watched some “content” traveling down a twisty road without feeling unwell. The rear and side sunblinds automatically raised, and the panoramic sunroof 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.