Luxury electrics on the way

Premium German marques BMW and Mercedes-Benz have unveiled new high-end electric vehicles, and both are heading to these shores.

Revealed as part of its radically styled, all-new seventh-generation 7-series line-up, BMW’s i7 is a fully electric luxury saloon, and could be just the thing to replace our Government’s current fossil-fuelled 7-series ministerial and state cars.

Previous iterations of the 7-series were available in standard and long-wheelbase guise, but this time around there won’t be that choice; all versions will be roughly equivalent in wheelbase to the longer derivative of the current range.

The opening gambit in the i7 line will be the xDrive60, powered by a pair of electric motors (one front, one rear) that produce combined outputs of 420kW and 745Nm of torque. Featuring a 102kWh battery that is compatible with ultra-fast ‘‘supercharger’’ recharging, the xDrive60 has a WLTP-rated range of 625km and sprints from 0kmh to 100kmh in 4.7 seconds.

Along with next-generation charging capability, the i7 will feature an array of new active safety and infotainment technologies. These technologies will also appear on conventional (turbo-diesel and mild-hybrid petrol) variants of the new 7-series.

New Zealand will join Australia and the United Kingdom as one of the first right-hand-drive countries to see the new i7, with the xDrive60 scheduled to make landfall here late this year. It is set to be followed next year by the i7 flagship, the 486kW M70.

MERCEDES-BENZ’S new electric offering, the EQS, is expected to make it to these shores in the first half of next year. Though it is pitched quite differently to the i7 saloon, as an all-electric luxury sports utility, the pair will surely be market rivals for those with big budgets and a taste for high-end EV motoring.

In essence the EV counterpart to the Mercedes GLS, the EQS will join the EQC and EQA as the third member of Mercedes’ Kiwi EV model line. Further EQ additions — the EQB and EQE — are in the pipeline for New Zealand, but even when they have landed, the EQS will be Mercedes’ electric vehicle flagship here.

Like the i7, the EQS heads into triple digit territory with the capacity of its battery pack, which is a 108kWh unit. Three motor choices have been announced at the vehicle’s international unveiling, comprising a 265kW/400Nm single motor for the ‘‘entry level’’ EQS 450, a 265kW/800Nm dual motor system for the all-wheel-drive 450 4MATIC, and dual motor all-wheel-drive again for the range-topping 400kW/858Nm 580 4MATIC.

All three EQS variants have estimated WLTP ranges of over 600km between charges and are supercharger compatible. Seven-seater configurations are available internationally (and may even be standard for New Zealand), and a new array of infotainment and active safety technologies will be introduced with the EQS.

Neither BMW nor Mercedes have confirmed pricing of these pending all-electric models, but private buyers are unlikely to see any change out of $200,000 for what will be flagship electric models for both brands.


Fully electric Lexus

Lexus has revealed further details of its first fully-electric vehicle, the upcoming RZ450e (pictured). The new machine — scheduled for international launch next year, but with any plans for New Zealand release still to be confirmed — will feature a dual-motor powertrain and an estimated single charge driving range of 400km. Lexus has been slower than its mainly European rivals to develop fully-electric models, but is promising a comprehensive pure EV range by 2030.

World award to Ioniq 5

Two months after it was revealed as New Zealand’s Car of the Year, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 EV has scooped the coveted World Car of the Year crown for 2022. The award, which was announced at the New York Motor Show, was accompanied by further trophies for the Ioniq 5 as Electric Vehicle of the Year and World Car Design of the Year.

New Leaf

A facelifted version of the current second-generation Nissan Leaf is due to appear here in the spring. The changes do not extend to the powertrain, but freshen the exterior styling (as pictured), tweak equipment levels, and add a new exterior sound projection to better alert pedestrians and other road users to the presence of the vehicle when it is being driven around town at slow speeds.

Toyota trusted
Toyota has made the top 10 in the latest annual survey of New Zealand’s most trusted brands, ranking ninth in a list of the top 20. Though not making the top 20 cut, Mazda and Honda also featured strongly, picking up high commendations.

Rovanpera wins

Kalle Rovanpera powered his Toyota Yaris GR to a dominant win and consolidated an early lead in the 2022 World Rally Championship at last weekend’s Rally of Croatia. The sensational 21-year old Finn — who is the son of former world champion driver Harri Rovanpera — led from start to finish, and was joined on the podium by Hyundai drivers Ott Tanak (Estonia) and Thierry Neuville (Belgium).

– David Thomson


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