An exceptional blend of artistry, luxury and technology.
That’s how we’d describe the ’23 BMW i7 – one of this year’s Wards 10 Best UX & Interiors winners – in a single sentence.
“Subtly flashy,” is the way one 10 Best judge even more succinctly sums up the luxury sedan.
The i7 had us the second we opened the doors – or, more precisely, the second the doors opened for us. Press a button on the key fob or simply touch the flush-mounted handles and the ultra-luxury sedan opens wide for effortless entry.
From inside the cabin, buttons on the BMW Interaction Bar – a slim, backlit, crystalline, touch-sensitive panel that runs along the lower instrument panel and around to the doors, can be used to trigger the opening and closing. Twelve ultrasonic sensors detect an approaching pedestrian, cyclist or vehicle, alert occupants visually and audibly and prevent the doors from opening until all is clear.
Once inside the i7 your eyes immediately are drawn to the seamless, gently curving gauge and infotainment screen that stretches from driver’s seat to the middle of the dash and the clean, sweeping lines of the tiered instrument panel that wraps smoothly into the doors. It takes a minute to realize the uncluttered look of the IP comes in part from the lack of bulky air vents, replaced by slim, electronically controlled slots that run almost invisibly the width of the cabin along with the Interaction Bar.
But perhaps most stunning of all is the ivory Merino leather and gray cashmere wool fabric that adorn the seats and door inners and provide the capper to the car’s striking, somewhat mid-century-modern, design aesthetic.
Adding pop is the perforated and patterned leather-wrapped center console, Silver Ash Root open-poor wood trim decorating the dash and doors and crystal-like touches to the gear selector and iDrive wheel. The cabin is topped off with an Alcantara headliner and panoramic sunroof.
Of course, luxury no longer is defined solely by fabric and trim; it’s about technology as well. And here the BMW i7 excels. All the automaker’s signature infotainment system features are onboard, including the center-console iDrive controller, hi-res touchscreen, state of the art HUD display with augmented-reality features, gesture controls and BMW’s Intelligent Personal Assistant that responds instantly to natural-speech commands.
The spectacular rear-seat theater puts the cherry on top. Activate theater mode either from the center or rear infotainment controls to deploy interior-darkening window shades, unfold from the headliner the nearly cabin-width screen and allow rear-seat passengers to watch content from some of their favorite streaming services.
“Friends were very jazzed” by the rear-seat theater, one 10 Best judge reports.
Comfort and convenience features also are aplenty in the i7, from heated armrests and massaging seats to the reclining Executive Lounge rear seat that includes a footrest – and there are soft-touch surfaces throughout the cabin. A digital key allows an Apple iPhone to unlock the car and perform other functions.
Our $152,000 tester offered a full complement of safety and automated-driving technology, including the optional Driving Assistance Pro Package with Level 2-plus (eyes on, hands off) highway piloting at speeds up to 80 mph (129 km/h) and BMW’s remote parking assist.
Blingy touches such as the dramatic geometric design of the puddle-lamp light pattern, interior accent lighting and flashy graphics at startup add to the overall user experience, as does the superlative 655-watt Bowers & Wilkins Surround Sound audio system that includes a seven-band equalizer, up to 18 speakers and precision-etched metal grilles.
The BMW i7 not only checks all the boxes with its eye-pleasing design, top-notch materials and state-of-the-art features and functions, it also does what we look for from a Wards 10 Best Interiors & UX winner: It raises the bar.