Which performance luxury sedan does electricity better?
The BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class have been duking it out for decades, and now we have a new twist in the saga. Earlier this week, BMW unveiled the i7 M70 xDrive as a new range-topper, the most powerful electric BMW model, and a competitor to the Mercedes-AMG EQS Sedan.
To be more specific, what we have here is the battle of the go-faster electric luxury limousines, an admittedly niche segment, but one that will grow as electrified M and AMG models become more popular. The i4 M50 is already outselling the M4, for example.
Even after moving over to electricity, these two cars remain ridiculously similar. We have dual electric motors that produce silly amounts of power, large battery packs, controversial styling, and, naturally, loads of luxury.
Let's see how these posh, high-powered electric sedans stack up against each other.
Honestly, we're giving BMW top marks in this department just for putting in an effort. New Mercedes-Benz models look the same, especially those under the EQ banner. They all use the same basic shape, and Mercedes adds or reduces the size by 20% to create a new model. The AMG department adds some model-specific items like the faux Panamericana grille, 21-inch alloys, and some gloss black trim, but the truth is that nobody's going to look at it twice.
Mercedes-AMG gets an A+ for making the design as aerodynamic as possible, but the rest of the car receives an F. Those old enough to remember the ridiculous twin-turbocharged V12 S65 will be disappointed with the sedate concave exterior of the EQS.
The exterior of the i7 continues to divide opinion. Some call it ugly; others call it interesting. While we agree the styling is 'out-there,' we've grown fond of it. We saw it in the flesh for the first time a year ago in New York, and it has grown on us since. The sizeable faux grille is still disconcerting, but at least it's proportionate to the size of the car. The exterior color can also make or break this car. BMW's chosen dual-tone for the M70's introduction works quite well.
BMW has done more to differentiate the M70 from the lesser i7. It gains an M Performance Professional Pack, the famous twin-stalk side mirrors, and standard M high-gloss Shadowline trim.
At least it will get the owner noticed, which is what a car like this should do. And it's not as offensive as the current M halo car, the infamous XM.
The AMG EQS's dual electric motor setup produces 649 horsepower and 700 lb-ft of torque, while the Bimmer manages 650 hp and 748 lb-ft of torque. Both cars have an overboost function. Activating the i7's M Launch Control increases the torque output to 811 lb-ft. Mercedes calls their launch control Race Start, which temporarily boosts the output to 751 hp and 752 lb-ft. So the Mercedes has more power, but the BMW produces more torque.
Mercedes claims the EQS will sprint to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds, while the M70 gets there 0.1 seconds later. Both cars are electronically limited to 155 mph.
While these figures are impressive for such hefty cars, the German duo are easily embarrassed by the new-age startups. The Tesla Model S Plaid can hit 60 mph in 1.99 seconds, and the Lucid Air Sapphire posts similar figures.
The Germans also use the same tactics to make the cars feel more nimble. Rear-wheel steering is standard on both, as is an adaptive suspension system tuned by the respective department in charge of producing sportier models. Powerful brakes are a given, as you'd expect for cars weighing roughly 6,000 pounds.
BMW does slightly more, even though it fully admits that it did not want to spoil the relaxed cruising nature of the i7. It also has the obligatory air suspension and anti-roll systems, but BMW also added a shear panel between the bulkhead at sprint strut towers for extra rigidity.
If you are a keen driver, BMW will let you drop the standard 21-inch alloys for 20-inch replacements fitted with high-performance tires.
BMW did not provide interior images of the M70, but there's not much to brag about, at least as far as differences go between it and normal models. That doesn't mean the i7's interior isn't bragworthy, though. The BMW Curved Display gets M-specific graphics, and the left-mounted steering wheel paddle activates the boost mode. It left well enough alone, and the M70 is likely all the better for it.
Somebody at BMW still understands that screens don't equal luxury, even though the i7 still has its fair share of screens. In fact, it has one of the biggest optional screens available in the automotive segment.
The main difference is that the screens don't dominate the i7's interior. It has a 14.9-inch touchscreen with the iDrive 8.5, and you can watch YouTube while charging the car. A second 12.3-inch screen serves as the instrument cluster, and that's it. You still get physical controls, leather-clad surfaces, and exquisite inlays.
In contrast, the Mercedes-Benz looks like it robbed the LCD section of the local Walmart. All AMG EQS models get the Mercedes Hyperscreen as standard, its three separate displays are housed under a single 56-inch piece of curved glass.
As you can imagine, there's a lot going on, but at least it's easy to navigate. The front passenger gets their own display to play around with, and we have to admit that navigating is extremely easy using the large center screen.
Still, we have a sneaking suspicion these screens won't age well. Technology has a habit of becoming obsolete extremely quickly, so it has no place in a car that should still feel plush 10-plus years from now.
The Mercedes-AMG EQS retails for $147,550, while the M70's price remains unknown. BMW will only reveal the price closer to its market launch. Still, we expect it to cost more or less the same as the EQS, give or take a few thousand. Does it really matter that much in this league?
On the subject of what matters, let's be perfectly blunt. In this segment, people want blistering straight-line speed and looks that will get you noticed. Only one car here actually meets both targets.
The AMG EQS is a perfectly lovely electric sedan, but it doesn't look or feel special enough to deserve the AMG badge. BMW's i7 M70 does a much better job of being a showcase for what its go-faster department can do with electricity. Overlayed on what is already the better luxury EV, and it looks like a slam dunk for Bimmer on this one.
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