New BMW i7 M70 xDrive unveiled as 651bhp electric super limo
The i7 M70 is the latest entry in BMW’s electric M-lite range, arriving as the company’s most powerful EV
Fully-fledged electric M cars are on the horizon, but until they arrive, BMW is rolling out a series of M Performance EVs to provide a taste of what’s to come. First there was the i4 M50, then the iX M60, and now this: the i7 M70. Built around BMW’s flagship luxury saloon, the i7 M70 uses the firm's most powerful electric motor configuration to date, with 651bhp and an M-derived chassis to suit.
The i7's design is no less divisive in M70 form, with a pair of enormous, illuminated kidney grilles grafted onto the front of its traditional three-box silhouette. Gloss black exterior graphics continue to spread across BMW's performance models, and the i7 M70 is no different with a black front fascia, door mirrors and optional two tone paint finishes from the company's Individual program. Bodywork changes are minimal, with chunkier sills and a deeper rear valance distinguishing the M70.
As ever with BMW's performance limos, the upgrades beneath the skin are more meaningful. The i7 uses a variation of the CLAR platform that underpins most modern BMWs, from the 2-series, 4-series and all the way to the petrol-engined 7-series. For the M70 version, the most powerful eDrive electric motors have been used to create what is one of the most powerful BMW road cars in history.
Specifically, the M70's rear motor has been upgraded from the i7 xDrive60's unit, generating 450bhp on its own. The 254bhp front motor is familiar, and the resulting 651bhp output makes the i7 M70 the most powerful electric BMW yet. Peak torque is set at 811lb ft when using the car's launch control system, which fires the M70 from 0-62mph in 3.7sec. Top speed is capped at 155mph.
With the i7's traction control system integrated into the motor units, the software is quick to react and precisely tuned, says BMW. The chassis electronics work in tandem with M-specific hardware, including redesigned air springs, retuned dampers and a stiffer body shell thanks to a sheer panel between the bulkhead and front suspension turrets. Active roll control and retuned active steering also form part of the dynamic package, along with an M Sport brake setup.
Retaining the standard i7's 101.7kWh (usable) battery pack beneath the floor, the M70 offers a range of 348 miles – 39 short of the xDrive60 – although a new ‘max range’ button configures the drivetrain and HVAC systems for maximum efficiency, increasing range by 15 to 25 per cent. Thanks to 195kW DC rapid charging, topping up for an extra 106 miles of range takes just 10 minutes at a compatible charging station.
The cabin is the same heavily digitised affair we know from lesser models, with minimal physical switchgear and ambient lighting that seeps through transparent panels on the doors and dashboard. The infotainment suite is centred around BMW’s latest iDrive 8.5 system, which combines a 12.3-inch instrument panel with a 14.9-inch touchscreen beneath a curved glass panel. The setup offers M-specific graphics, a virtual assistant and 5G connectivity, but the tech extends to the rear seats with the i7’s roof-mounted Theatre Screen, presenting content to those in the back through a 31.3-inch ultrawide display.
Making its debut at the Auto Shanghai motor show this week, the i7 M60 will be launched worldwide in the second half of 2023, costing from £161,000 – just £860 shy of its chief competitor, the Mercedes-AMG EQS 53.