The days of shotgunning the front seat may soon be over thanks to BMW, which has taken backseat luxury to new levels in its high-tech £110,000 smart car.
MailOnline took a ride in the new fully-electric BMW i7, which has 5G connectivity, interior mood lighting and a super-wide ‘theatre screen’ in the back.
BMW gave me a ride during my morning commute through west London – a welcome alternative to the cramped and temperamental Underground.
BMW i7, part of the legendary Series 7 range, boasts 5G connectivity, interior mood lighting and a theatre screen’ in the backseat
The new vehicle’s proudest feature is the theatre screen, which, at 32×9 inches is really super-wide
BMW i7 Series: Specs
Power: Fully electric
Charging time: 34 minutes
Range: 374 miles
Top speed: 149mph
Acceleration: 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds
The BMW i7 is a new electric variant of the BMW 7 Series, which has been in production by the German automaker since 1977.
According to the firm, the new car redefines luxury ‘with new levels of electrification, sustainability and digitalisation’.
It says: ‘The new BMW 7 Series represents a significant step up from its renowned predecessor, with an innovative specification designed to deliver incredible driving pleasure, unsurpassed long-distance comfort and a cutting-edge digital experience.’
By far its proudest feature is the theatre screen, which, at 32×9 inches, is really super-wide, shaped almost like a slat of wood or a surfboard.
As I sat in the back and watched it fold down in front of me, it initially seemed a bit too close to my face – probably about three feet away – but I quickly got used to it.
Fortunately, passengers can change the aspect ratio from taking up the whole of the screen (32:9) to 21:9 or 16:9, closer to a conventional TV.
The 8K screen, which measures 32-inch by 9-inch, folds out from the sun roof at a touch of a button and streams video from Netflix, YouTube and more
Passengers can change the aspect ratio from taking up the whole of the screen (32:9) to 21:9 or 16:9, closer to a conventional TV
When passengers are done with the screen it turns 90 degrees and nestles snugly in the roof, which is made of glass and lets in more natural light than a normal car
BMW sparks controversy over £15/month heated seat subscription
BMW generated controversy in 2022 when it introduced a subscription for heated seats.
BMW’s service charge £15 per month to turn on heated front seats, as well as an additional £10 per month to switch on the heated steering wheel.
One Twitter user pointed out: ‘Its like buying a laptop with a built in camera and having to pay the PC company every month to use that camera.’
Another added: ‘BMW started selling subscriptions for heated seats in their luxury models. I don’t care how wealthy you are, you’re an IDIOT if you go along with this.’
For safety reasons, the theatre screen won’t activate unless the blind covering the back window is lowered.
Quite rightly, BMW says seeing videos through the window would be a dangerous distraction for drivers in the car behind.
But this means the driver can’t see out the back, so their rear-view mirror is rendered useless when theatre mode is activated and they have to rely solely on the two wing mirrors.
This did have me wondering: is my ride less safe because I’m watching films?
I asked the driver about this and he said that any new vehicle that he’s required to drive takes a bit of adjusting to. I guess lorry drivers have the same issue.
This is all legitimate of course – UK law stipulates that all vehicles must have at least two mirrors that give a view of the vehicle’s rear.
The massive ‘theatre’ display is touchscreen, but can also be controlled using a small smartphone-sized display that’s built into the handle of my passenger door (there’s one on the other passenger side too).
From here I’m able to bring down the theatre screen and select apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, ITVX and more – very much like a smart TV at home.
Although my ride was early in the day, I’m sure a nighttime ride when it’s dark outside would really make it more cinematic, especially with a bucket of popcorn, like a cinema on wheels.
I can only imagine bombing along the motorway with stash of fast food from a service station while watching the newest film on Amazon Prime – bliss.
When I’m done, the screen turns 90 degrees and nestles snugly in the roof, which is made of glass, and lets in noticeably more natural light than a normal car.
Touchscreen displays for controlling the car’s features are built into the handles of both passenger doors
From the backseat, passengers can change the radio station, link up a phone to make calls, close the blinds and more
The control screen in the passenger door also lets me pick different ambient settings, which each shine gentle coloured lights and make soothing noises.
I notice a burst of noise every time my driver puts his foot down on the accelerator – again, something I figure must get quite annoying for him after a while, although he doesn’t seem to mind.
From the backseat I can change the radio station, link up my phone to make calls and close the blinds without activating the theatre screen.
An armrest in the middle has a smartphone charging pad, so I can give my phone a boost of power while I watch a bit of YouTube.
My seat is soft and squidgy and is heated from underneath. I can also control the overall temperature with ‘climate mode’.
BMW i7 can accelerate from 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds thanks to two electric motors – one powering the front wheels and the other powering the rear wheels.
I’ve not been in a fully electric before, and the ride is unbelievably quiet and smooth (perhaps too quiet for comfort, some might say).
At £110,000, the car is clearly designed for wealthy people who like being chauffeured to work
All too soon I’ve reached MailOnline’s offices and have to depart the comfort of the backseat onto the cold London street.
I could definitely get used to being driven to work every morning. Unfortunately, at £110,000, the car is clearly designed for very wealthy people, so it’s back to the tube for me.
BMW is clearly pushing the boundaries of what a car does, and the i7 seems predominantly designed for passenger comfort, but does this come at the cost of driver comfort?
I hope not, because driver comfort is part of passenger comfort too.
Otherwise, the next step for BMW is a bar, full table service and possibly a team of chefs in the boot, for fine dining on-the-go.
BMW unveils colour-changing car at CES 2023 – but says it won’t go on sale
At CES 2023 in January, BMW unveiled a new concept car that flashes different colours.
The BMW i Vision Dee was unveiled at BMW’s keynote address, which starred none other than the Terminator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The electric vehicle sport sedan uses electronic ink to transition between 32 colours, including purple, pink, yellow, white and red.
The body of the BMW i Vision Dee is divided into ‘microcapsules’ – tiny spherical particles with a diameter equivalent to the thickness of a human hair.
The electric vehicle sport sedan uses electronic ink to transition between 32 colours, including purple, pink, yellow, white and red
These microcapsules contain colour pigments that, depending on the chosen setting, are stimulated by means of an electrical field.
This causes certain colour pigments to collect at the surface of each microcapsule, giving the car body the desired shade.
BMW i Vision Dee can also project an image of the driver’s avatar onto the side window, viewable to people outside.
And dimmable windows can also be used to ‘fade out reality’, although this is designed for when the car is not being driven.
However, BMW told MailOnline that the car is just a prototype and that it wouldn’t be bringing it to market.
When asked about the purpose of a colour-changing car, BMW said that it is ‘a vision of the distant future’.
‘At BMW, we are always trying to push the envelope, which also means exploring all aspects of innovative materials,’ a spokesperson said.