The first prototype of the BMW 7 Series 2023: V8 Cruiser

Although the i7 will get the most headlines when the new BMW 7 Series line-up debuts, don’t forget the old gas version. This 7er remains in the lineup for 2023 along with the EV and comes with a new V8 soft hybrid powertrain. At launch it will be exclusive to the US, and as I recently learned, it should get a pretty significant hit.

BMW gave me the opportunity to try out an early camouflaged prototype of the new 7 Series at its remote test center in Munich. And again, while the electric i7 may still be the biggest attraction for online commentators, the impressive flagship V8 is so good in this early test that it will be impossible to ignore.

Wizardry pendant

The BMW 7 Series is new from scratch, and with it comes a thorough redesign. As with the i7, the style will be … polarizing. Even if the camouflage covers most of the important elements of this prototype, it is clear that the 7 Series will get the same headlight design with horizontal split headlights and a correspondingly large radiator grille as other modern BMWs such as the XM and the updated X7. Luckily, there won’t be big vertical kidneys like on the M3 and M4, so that’s good news.

As expected, this is a big car, but it is even bigger than before. BMW engineers tell me that the new 7 Series is about 213 inches long and has a wider overall track, making a significant upgrade over the previous model. This makes the new 7 longer than alternatives such as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class (208.6 inches) and the Audi A8 (209.0 inches).

Prototype BMW i7 2023 First Drive
Prototype BMW i7 2023 First Drive

New suspension technology helps the 7 Series feel less like a boat on the road. The standard air suspension with adaptive shock absorbers – borrowed from Rolls-Royce Ghost – gives the 7th chic ride, and additional 48-volt active stabilizers provide less body roll. And just like the technology introduced by Mercedes, the 7 Series can anticipate cornering with a curve tilt feature that tilts the body in the right direction to counteract body roll and provide a calmer environment for passengers.

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Full-size firepower

BMW engineers are concerned about the features of the transmission. They just tell me that under the hood of this prototype there is a V8, and as mentioned, this engine will only be available in the US at startup. The most likely and obvious candidate is the ubiquitous 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged BMW V8 with a 48-volt hybrid assistant from the M5.

And this V8 is powerful – it is extremely rebellious for a large luxury sedan, like the 7th series. In particular, in sport mode the throttle response is as fast as an EV, with an explosion of almost instantaneous torque facilitated by a 48-volt hybrid installation and a built-in starter-generator. Combined with the oily V8 gas acceleration, the 7 Series squeaks its tires like a certified performance sedan, and my speaker tells me this thing is up to 60 and more than the comparable S-Class or A8.

The advanced technology under the car helps to squeeze the 7th series around the driver – this car definitely doesn’t feel 17 feet long. Steering is fast and precise thanks to an electric rack with variable ratio, the body remains flat thanks to the active rolling stabilization mentioned earlier, and the addition of steering wheels at speeds up to 3.5 degrees creates a feeling of rear dexterity than its length suggests.

On the highway, the 7th Series confidently glides up to 100 miles per hour. This V8 obviously has a lot of power to deliver at high speeds, with enough torque still on tap at the top of the rev range. A braver driver than me could easily have driven this car for 150 or more. But more importantly, at these high speeds it’s as comfortable as hell; the suspension floats on the sidewalk and isolates the driver and passengers from outside noise.

Jumping in the back seat 7 – another indication of his expert level of comfort. The legroom in the second row is chic – even if the passenger seat is in a normal position, the rear bench is insanely spacious and extremely comfortable. His cousin, Ghost, clearly gave him some good testimony in this regard.

Tons of technology

BMW promises an additional 31.0-inch screen for the cinema, complete with the ability to stream Amazon Fire, in the second row of the 7th series when it goes into production, for the first time for the brand. Unfortunately, for this early test it is not, but sitting in the second row gave me access to some smaller, equally neat technology.

Prototype BMW i7 2023 First Drive

A touchscreen the size of a smartphone is located on the rear door panel on either side of the 7, allowing rear passengers to control features such as climate, settings and sound. The system is controlled by the latest infotainment system iDrive 8, which is making its way from the iX crossover to the 7th series. The iDrive 8 setup consists of two large screens at the top of the dashboard surrounded by a single continuous piece of glass that extends from the driver’s side to the center. The digital dashboard measures 12.3 inches and the central touch screen is 14.9 inches.

Other technologies, such as Level 2 Plus, hands-free control and the latest remote parking assistance system, are also making inroads in the 7th series. I just got a chance to test these two technologies on the all-electric i7 – if you want to read about them, head to this prototype drive.

Prototype BMW 7 Series 2023 First drive

Great V8

The last BMW 7 Series will debut on April 20, 2022, and it will go on sale in the US and other markets by the end of the year. We will find out details such as prices and availability closer to this sale date. But with the all-electric model and plug-in hybrid joining the 7 Series range, there will be no shortage of options on the market for buyers.

But specifically for the US – at least at the time of launch – the V8 soft hybrid may be the most exciting option. It is a sports sedan with a powerful engine that provides impressive dynamics for its size. And on the other hand, the 7th series is a ridiculously comfortable cruiser with ample space for passengers and lots of technology in the second row. BMW must have a winner.

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