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New BMW i7 M70 is company's most powerful EV. Image by BMW.

New BMW i7 M70 is company's most powerful EV
Electric limousine packs 660hp and has a 0-62mph time of 3.7 seconds.
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What's all this about?

Not content with beating its limousine-making rivals to market with an all-electric model in the shape of the i7, BMW has now called upon its M performance division to create a high-performance version, the M70 xDrive. As the name suggests, it's four-wheel drive, and that comes courtesy of two electric motors - one on each axle - that produce a combined 660hp and a massive 1,100Nm of torque.

Sounds healthy, but surely a big, heavy electric limo can't be that fast?

In this instance, those power figures help to overcome the i7's mass. There's no official kerb weight quoted for the M70 yet, but the standard i7 tips the scales at more than 2.7 tonnes, so the M70's 0-62mph time of 3.7 seconds is all the more impressive, and means it's faster than any all-electric M model so far. In fact, the i7 M70 is the second most powerful car that BMW sells, after the recently revealed XM plug-in hybrid SUV.

What has M done to upgrade the M70?

There's a more powerful rear electric motor when compared with the i7 xDrive60, with the M division engineers redesigning the windings of the motor to boost power density while maintaining the same compact dimensions and weight as the less powerful motor. BMW quotes a power density of 2.41kW/kg, which is a 25.5 per cent increase over the xDrive60, and the electric motor makes 456hp on its own. Up front, there's a 258hp electric motor, while the system is designed to deliver instant responses at any speed, not just from a standing start.

As well as the electric motor upgrade, there are M-specific settings for the chassis and suspension. Air suspension with electronically controlled damping and self-levelling and M settings are fitted, while a new shear panel is added between the bulkhead and strut towers to boost rigidity. Rear-wheel steering boosts the car's agility, too.

And for enthusiasts that like some aural thrills to go with this improved performance, there's a soundtrack provided by composer Hans Zimmer that is exclusive to BMW M models.

This is an EV that prioritises performance over efficiency then?

Yes and no. There's an electronically-limited 155mph top speed, but the full 660hp is only available when either the M Launch Control or M Sport Boost functions are activated, so this helps to save energy in everyday use. The drive battery has 101.7kWh of usable energy thanks to its optimised energy density, and BMW quotes a WLTP-certified range of up to 348 miles and energy consumption of 23.8-20.8kWh per 100km.

BMW has also introduced a Max Range mode that can help boost the i7's range in emergencies. The system - which will be added to the whole i7 line-up - limits the car's top speed to 56mph and restricts the climate controls and the functions of the heated wheel and climate seats. When activated, the additional range that the system has recouped is displayed, with an increase of distance between 15-25 per cent possible.

When it comes to charging, the i7 M70 has a maximum AC rate of 22kW, while DC charging has a maximum rate of 195kW. BMW says that 106 miles of range can be added in just 10 minutes via a high-power source.

It's been given a sporty makeover, too?

Indeed it has. There are the traditional twin-stalk wing mirrors and blue M Sport brake calipers are fitted behind bespoke 21-inch alloy wheels, although these can be swapped for black items when upgrading to the optional M Performance package. There are redesigned headlights, while optional crystal LED lights are offered as an option. M badging, a bespoke body kit and black styling touches also feature, while BMW is offering an optional illuminated grille for the first time. Two-tone paint and Frozen matt finishes are offered, while an exclusive Sapphire Black over Liquid Copper metallic is available at the M70's launch.

Inside, there are more M-themed additions, including illuminated door sills, Merino leather trim and M-specific content on the vast curved display. The screen is also home to BMW's latest iDrive 8.5 operating system, which adds QuickSelect, which is designed to put the most important functions in a single level to make access less distracting.

I bet this will all come at a price...

It certainly will, but BMW hasn't announced them yet. The i7 M70 xDrive will hit showrooms in the second half of 2023, but with the current range-topping model starting from 136,325, expect there to be a healthy premium for the new flagship.

Shane O'Donoghue - 18 Apr 2023

2023 BMW i7 M70 xDrive. Image by BMW.2023 BMW i7 M70 xDrive. Image by BMW.2023 BMW i7 M70 xDrive. Image by BMW.2023 BMW i7 M70 xDrive. Image by BMW.2023 BMW i7 M70 xDrive. Image by BMW.

2023 BMW i7 M70 xDrive. Image by BMW.2023 BMW i7 M70 xDrive. Image by BMW.2023 BMW i7 M70 xDrive. Image by BMW.2023 BMW i7 M70 xDrive. Image by BMW.2023 BMW i7 M70 xDrive. Image by BMW.    - BMW road tests
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