I can’t remember which particular expletive it was that left my lips when first experiencing full throttle in the new BMW i7 M70 - probably one beginning with an ‘F’ preceded by ‘holy’ - but I’m certain it was followed by another one on the second occasion. And on the third, and probably the fourth.
I also several times felt the need to pre-warn the journalist I was sharing the car with on the international launch in Portugal (combined with a drive in the new i5 - stay tuned for that) before putting my foot down, and also felt the need to apologise on the occasions I planted it without letting him know.
There’s a brutality to the M70’s initial throttle response at lower speeds, especially in the boost mode, activated by pulling the left-hand steering wheel-mounted paddle. You only need look at the car’s technical makeup to understand why.
You get the same front motor as the M60, putting out 255bhp, but the rear motor is new, and is good for 483bhp. As is often the way with dual-motor EVs, the total power output isn’t both of those numbers added together, but it is still a rather silly one - 650bhp. Sillier still is the torque output, at 811lb ft.
It’s this figure that matters more in terms of how the i7 M70 feels when prodding the right-hand pedal, as that torque is delivered instantly. So although the 0-62mph time of 3.7 seconds makes the i7 M70 far from the quickest BMW off the line, it’s the one that feels the most savage when taking off down the road.
That’s the key word here - ‘savage’. The response is impressive, but borderline unpleasant, hence the potty mouth it elicits. The M70 is also powerful enough to give a more sustained feeling of acceleration than a lot of other quick EVs, which tend to feel punchy AF for the first second before the linearity of the motors’ response quells the impression of internal organ compaction.
Acceleration can be accompanied by feedback noise courtesy of film score composer Hans Zimmer, which sounds different depending on the car’s mode. ‘Expressive’, for instance, gives a rather atmospheric timbre that genuinely makes you feel like you’re watching a Christopher Nolan sci-fi film.
To go with the extra power, you get a unique tune for the air suspension, and (thankfully) uprated brakes. As standard, the M70 gets rear-wheel steering and active roll stabilisation. With the tweaked air suspension, we did get a sense that the M70 rides a smidge more firmly than the 60, but it’s still a supremely wafty car, and we’d need to drive both back to back to really suss out the differences.
The suspension does a wonderful job of soaking up imperfections in the asphalt, and while the setup is soft, it always feels controlled when negotiating lumps and bumps, quickly settling down each time. There is some body roll, but it’s well-contained, and the rear-wheel steering makes the i7 feel handier than you’d expect when negotiating tight corners.
There’s precious little life in the steering, but hey, that’s par for the course these days. Meanwhile, traction is supplied in abundance, even with all that extra power attacking the rearmost tyres. The car’s good at hiding its weight up to a point - push too far and its bulk will start to make the front tyres get quite unhappy.
In terms of interior ambience, the i7 M70 is superb. Everything feels suitably plush for the price tag, and the ‘interaction bar’ that spans the cabin is genuinely useful, as it’ll do things like light yellow to warn you of hazards. The small control screens for those in the rear are perhaps a tad fiddly, especially for changing seating positions (physical controls for that would have been nice), and they could be better in terms of responsiveness, but that’s probably the only cabin grumble we can muster.
The thing is, all of the things that make the i7 M70 could be applied to the i7 60. And it’s not like the ‘lesser’ i7 slow, developing 540bhp and cracking 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds, and is similarly impressive to drive on a twisty road.
The £160,000 M70, really, is an i7 to give exceptionally wealthy people a chance for bragging rights over all other i7 buyers. Speaking to BMW UK, we get the sense that it’s only going to be bought in very small numbers, with the vast majority of buyers ignoring it in favour of cheaper, lower-powered i7s.
As for how many M70 buyers install a swear jar in the cabin, we can only speculate.