Drivers concerned about letting everyone know they have the most high-tech and environmentally friendly 7 Series will be happy to know that BMW has visually distinguished the hybrid. The car will carry eDrive and i badges as well as exclusive blue grille bars and hub covers. And for potential owners wishing to make a personal statement, all the other styling kits available on the normal 7 Series are also available on the hybrid. Speaking of the exterior, know that the laser headlights available in Europe will not make the trip here.
Mechanically, the big Bimmer is propelled by a 2.0-liter inline four coupled to an electric motor to make a combined 326 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. Power is transferred through an 8-speed automatic to either the rear wheels or all four. The electric motor, depending on configuration, can provide between 25 and 30 miles of driving on a full charge. That full charge also comes in under four hours using the standard wall charger, and under three when using the BMW i Wallbox accessory charger. When performance trumps frugality, the quickest 740Le xDrive iPerformance can hit 62 miles per hour in a claimed 5.3 seconds while it's two-wheel-drive counterparts are only 1 to 2 tenths slower.
Drivers will also have a remarkable amount of control in how the drivetrain doles out power. An eDrive button will allow the driver to choose between Auto and Max settings. The former is the default setting that attempts to maximize range, but will engage the gasoline engine at 50 mph or under heavy throttle usage. The latter shifts to electric-only mode and can remain a pure EV up to 87 mph. It will still engage the combustion engine if the driver floors the throttle.
Other features that control power usage are the new Adaptive driving mode and Battery Control function. The Adaptive driving mode is added to the normal Comfort, Sport, and EcoPro modes, and is designed to select the best powertrain and suspension settings based on driver inputs and even based on the navigation route. BMW says this navigation integration can also help optimize efficiency for specific routes. The Battery Control function is another useful feature that will allow the driver to tell the car to maintain the battery charge anywhere between 30 and 100 percent. BMW explains this can allow the driver to use the gas engine on the highway while saving electric power for city driving at the end of the trip. Sharp Chevy Volt owners may recognize this as similar to using "Mountain Mode" to save power.
Outside of these hybrid features, most everything else from the carbon-fiber chassis to the options list are carry-over from the standard 7 Series, but one difference is that all models will come standard with auxiliary heating and cooling. The system will allow the car to precondition the cabin to your preferred temperature using power from either the battery or the main grid when charging. It can also be set with a timer to only activate when you're almost ready to drive.