BMW is deep into testing for the next-generation 7 Series saloon. That's especially true on electrified models, and this interesting video from Carspotter Jeroen captures two different prototypes lapping the Nürburgring. The video says these are hybrid models, but we believe at least one is the all-electric i7.
We've seen 7 Series prototypes quite often at the Green Hell, but i7 sightings are rare. We last saw one in February 2021, and now we have a prototype clearly wearing electric vehicle labels on the doors and boot. We've also noticed all the i7 prototypes have an E suffix on their number plate, so that could be an easy way to identify these heavily camouflaged models going forward. That and a lack of exhaust tips, though plug-in hybrid models also apparently lack visible tips at the back, at least on the early prototypes we've seen.
Gallery: Next-Generation BMW 7 Series and i7 spy photos
Unfortunately, not much has changed visually in the i7 prototype world since February. Placeholder headlights reminiscent of those on the 8 Series are visible in the front, and the taillights still look like placeholders, too. The i7 wears different camouflage on the nose compared to recent 7 Series sightings, with heavier coverings hiding all but the largest details. We do expect the i7 to have a noticeably different face from its internal-combustion sibling, and rumours tell us the EV luxury saloon could boast as much as 650 bhp (485 kilowatts) thanks to a generous battery pack and dual motors driving all four wheels.
As for the other prototype seen here, we suspect it's a proper 7 Series but also electrified as a plug-in hybrid. The camouflage layout is similar to the i7 but this car doesn't carry electric vehicle branding, nor does its number plate end with an E. The camo wrap is doing its job, as we're unable to spot fuel and charging doors on this test car. However, it's just as silent passing the camera as the i7, so we suspect the electric-only operation is being exercised here. Either that, or the new 7 Series hybrid boasts a seriously quiet exhaust system.
Underneath the skin, expect all variants of the 7 Series to gain a significant technology upgrade versus the current car. Previous prototype sightings revealed various cameras all around the car, suggesting a Level 3 autonomous system could be in the works. A glass cockpit of digital screens similar to the i4 Gran Coupe should be the order of the day – we've seen spy shots of the 7 Series interior but it's still early in the process so expect changes before production models hit the scene.
Speaking of which, that likely won't happen for a while. We don't expect a 7 Series or i7 debut until sometime next year as a 2023 model.