- Powerful dynamic looks with performance to match
- Genuine seven-seater with ‘real’ space for two in the third row
- Beautifully styled interior and packed with tech
- Pricey compared to alternatives
- It feels like a giant to drive, especially on narrow lanes
- Styling is really aggressive
BMW has certainly proved it has the X factor with the introduction of its flagship X7 model. It’s a larger-than-life luxurious seven-seater that’s very big on style and performance.
Customers can choose from punchy petrol or diesel engines and there are three trim levels called standard X7, M Sport and M50d/M50i. As is the way with all premium carmakers, customers can fully personalise their vehicle with a whole host of optional extras and specific packs, but these do come at quite a hefty price.
The X7 looks imposing from any approach and the interior is very upmarket and packed with all the latest technology.
On The Road
We tested the X7 in M Sport trim powered by a 340hp six cylinder 3.0-litre diesel engine delivering 700Nm of torque. The car could complete the 0-62mph sprint in 6.1 seconds and maxes out at 152mph. That’s not too shabby for a car weighing in excess of 2.5 tonnes.
The acceleration through the slick eight-speed automatic gearbox is nicely timed and there are steering wheel-mounted paddles for added driver engagement. In addition, drive modes called Sport, Comfort, Eco Pro and Adaptive alter the mannerisms and responses of the car with the Sport mode sharpening up the gear change timings, braking and steering.
However, measuring two metres across and more than five metres in length, the X7 is a large car to drive, especially along narrow lanes or in busy town centres. Thankfully, there are all manner of sensors, cameras and even a self-parking system to make life a little easier.
The X7 also features mild hybrid technology as standard on all models except the M50i. Kinetic energy that is gathered during braking or coasting is converted into electricity and stored in an additional battery. This energy is used to supply electric systems on the car and also support the combustion engine. It is a feature that works away in the background without being noticed while driving.
One glance in the direction of the X7 and its dimensions would suggest that the ride, handling and refinement levels would not be great. But that would be the wrong judgement to make as the X7 is deceptively nimble for its size and delivers a well cushioned ride with relatively soft suspension.
Despite its somewhat aggressive styling, the X7 certainly scores highly when it comes to driver refinement and ride comfort with the air suspension system doing a great job of smoothing out any bumps and dips along the way.
In Comfort mode, the X7 cruises effortlessly at 70mph eating up the motorway miles and feels like its gliding along – it really is that comfy. And even in Sport mode, when the responses are sharpened up considerably, the vehicle remains composed.
The steering is beautifully weighted with plenty of driver feedback and the straight-six model is deceptively agile in busier city centres too, although three-point turns may extend to five-point turns due to its length!
With ample grip thanks to BMW’s intelligent xDrive all-wheel drive system, that sends added traction to whichever wheels need it, the X7 can be pushed hard into sweeping bends with confidence and there is little sign of body movement.
Our test car was riding on 22-inch alloys that looked the business, but were also a nice match. If I were to be ultra-critical, it can be a little floaty at times but smaller 21-inch wheels would sort that.
The X7 shows off all the Bavarian carmaker’s latest design language with the main focal point being the very distinctive and much larger grille. The deep bonnet seems to go on forever and there are tinted windows to keep A listers out of the view of waiting fans.
The car certainly has a muscular design with its M Sport exhaust system, roof rails, huge bumpers, full length sunroof, sweeping light clusters and 22-inch jet black wheels.
Moving inside, the interior is pure quality through and through with the finest leather upholstery, soft touch surfaces, smart chrome-effect trimmings and ambient lighting.
The driver-focused cockpit is packed with technology and boasts a smart 12.3-inch infotainment screen with features accessed via BMW’s iDrive controller dial plus keys for fast access to certain systems such as the navigation and media.
Creature comforts are plentiful and include sat nav, full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a pitch perfect Harman Kardon sound system and even two TV screens with headsets in the second row.
The seats feature full Merino leather upholstery and can be power-operated and heated to fend off the winter chill. An optional extra worth mentioning is the Sky Lounge panoramic glass sunroof costing £760. This employs a light graphic with more than 15,000 lighting elements to create an atmospheric ambience, especially in the dark. Quirky, but nice.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
Finding the perfect driving position inside the X7 is a simple process with powered seats and plenty of adjustment on the steering wheel. Then it’s just a case of taking stock of all the on-board technology at your disposal in the driver-focused cockpit.
The BMW Live Cockpit Professional is included as standard and that brings with it the likes of a 12.3-inch touchscreen, a 12.3-inch digital display behind the wheel, DAB radio, BMW Emergency Call and plenty more besides.
It also introduces the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant system that is brought to life by saying’ Hey BMW’ and then asking your questions. This can be used to change temperature settings, programme in a navigation route or finding favourite radio stations. And the range of functions will be increased with regular software updates carried out via a smartphone.
There is a gesture control system that can be used to increase the volume on the radio, accept or decline phone calls and much more. It is a bit hit and miss initially, but good once you get the hang of it. And if you like your music while driving the 16-speaker Harman Kardon system is exceptionally good.
The driver benefits from excellent all-round visibility thanks to the elevated driving position. However, if there are passengers in rows two and three, the vision via the rearview mirror is quite blocked.
Space & Practicality
The X7 is a practical seven-seater car with good access to the pair of rear seats.
Up front there is bundles of space and a trio of adults (of the taller variety) can sit comfortably in the second row without rubbing shoulders. But where the X7 really excels is the pair of third row seats that are truly spacious and have enough room for a couple of adults.
Gaining access to these two seats is made simpler thanks to wide opening rear doors, plus fully powered tilt and fold second and third row seats. Then when they are not needed, they can be folded flat to the boot floor at the press of a button.
The boot is accessed via a powered split tailgate which is handy if you need somewhere to perch while removing muddy wellies. With only the front seats in use, the storage space is vast with a capacity of 2,120 litres. This limit drops to 750 litres with the second row of seats in an upright position or to 326 litres when all seats are in use.
There are a number of convenient storage compartments scattered throughout the car, including a lockable glovebox, a deep central cubby beneath the front armrest, practical door bins with a drinks section, cup holders up front and in rows two and three, a wireless charging pad and a hidden covered compartment by the driver’s right knee.
The X7 can tow a trailer or caravan weighing up to 2.7 tonnes and the all-wheel xDrive system is a bonus when towing across wet or boggy ground.
Premium cars of the X7’s stature do not come cheap especially if you are intent on adding in lots of optional packs. The X7 line-up starts at £77,710 for the xDrive 40d (diesel) model and rises to £95,815 for the M50i (petrol) version.
Our X7 xDrive 40d M Sport model was priced at £80,210 although a number of optional extras saw the final price-tag climb to £91,570.
According to official figures, under the stricter WLTP testing, our car could deliver a combined 35.3-36.2mpg with carbon emissions from 204g/km. This CO2 figure would mean a first year Vehicle Excise Duty (road tax) charge of £1,345 which would drop down to the standard fee of £155 after 12 months.
There are more costs to consider though because owners of cars with a list price above £40,000 pay a £325 supplement for five years. After the five-years have elapsed the car is taxed at the applicable standard rate.
And there are more heavy costs when it comes to insurance too as the X7 falls into the most expensive category - group 50.
Quality & Reliability
BMW has built up a decent enough reputation for producing well engineered cars that are packed with the latest technology and run for thousands of miles without issues.
However, sometimes less can be more and the overload of technical equipment and clever software can backfire at times. In fact, in recent years, the manufacturer has dropped down the table in customer satisfaction surveys which is a worry. But only time will tell how good the X7 is.
Clearly the vehicle would be more than capable if taken off road and put through its paces, but in all honesty few owners will venture far from the Tarmac apart from towing their luxury caravans onto and off an upmarket camp site. It is well equipped to deal with anything Mother Nature throws in its path though so a severe weather snap won’t pose any problems.
The interior of the X7 boasts a good mix of high-quality luxurious materials and practical wipe clean surfaces. And all the switchgear is sturdy and, along with the nicely upholstered seats, should certainly pass any longevity test.
For added peace of mind the BMW X7 comes with a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty.
Safety & Security
Although the BMW X7 has not been tested for a Euro NCAP safety rating, it should be as safe as houses as it is packed with safety tech and driver assists systems as standard. In addition, the smaller X5 received a maximum five-star rating and the bigger sibling carries many of the same safety features.
There is autonomous emergency braking that alerts the driver when a pedestrian, cyclist or other vehicle is in the car’s path, braking if the warnings are ignored.
There is traction control, anti-lock brakes, adaptive LED headlights, a driver alert, run flat tyres, tyre pressure sensors, Isofix child seat anchor points, remote locking and a full suite of airbags.
Cruise control is fitted as standard and Adaptive Cruise Control is part of the optional Driving Assistant Professional Pack that features a camera and radar-based system that also introduces lane change warning and lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition, crossroads warning and a few other features.
To keep any uninvited attention at bay, the X7 is protected by an alarm and immobiliser.
BMW has certainly laid down the gauntlet to the likes of Land Rover with the arrival of its seven-seat SUV. The X7 is big in stature and very big on performance, practicality and style. It is quite the all-rounder if you’re in the market for a premium SUV with enough space for a five-a-side footie team, plus subs (and their kit).