A prototype for BMW's next-generation 7-Series has been spotted for the first time.
The tester is for a battery-electric version that's likely to feature some styling elements distinct to the rest of the 7-Series lineup, like a sealed-off grille. It may also have a unique name, such as i7.
2023 BMW i7 spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien
There's a lot of camouflage gear to hide the true shape, particularly around the C-pillar to mask the latest take on BMW's signature Hofmeister kink. There is also a rearward facing camera mounted to each of the front fenders, perhaps hinting that the side mirrors may be replaced by a camera-based system in some markets.
At the front, the headlights (still makeshift units) and grille sit low, resulting in a look reminiscent of the much-loved E38 generation. The protruding, shark nose design meanwhile looks to have been inspired by the Pininfarina-styled Gran Lusso Coupe concept from 2013.
BMW Pininfarina Gran Lusso Coupe
The resulting design should be much grander and more dynamic than the somewhat staid look of the current G11 7-Series.
Underpinning the vehicle will be an updated version of the current 7-Series' CLAR platform which is flexible enough to support multiple powertrain types. For the electric 7-Series, BMW will use its fifth-generation battery and electric powertrain technology which debuted this year in the iX3 SUV sold overseas.
BMW fifth-generation EV technology
The technology supports batteries with up to 120 kilowatt-hours of capacity, or enough for up to 400 miles of range. BMW's battery partners include CATL, Samsung SDI and Northvolt.
The powertrain meanwhile will rely on modular drive units that combine the electric motor, transmission and power control unit into a single housing. Three of these drive units developing over 720 horsepower combined motivated the 5-Series demonstrator BMW unveiled last year; two powered the rear wheels independently, allowing for torque vectoring control, and one powered the front pair. Such a system allows BMW to scale power output and add all-wheel-drive capability for individual models by simply adding or subtracting powertrain modules.
BMW fifth-generation motor system
Other powertrains destined for the next-gen 7-Series should include mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid setups, with the biggest internal-combustion engine likely to be a V-8. Sorry, V-12 fans.
Look for the next-gen 7-Series to arrive in 2022 as a 2023 model. The battery-electric i7 should be available at launch.