This is BMW’s flagship for those who want more. More luxury, more space and more tech. As the name suggests, the BMW X7 is an SUV from the same mould as the firm’s range-topping 7 Series saloon. We’re testing it in most popular xDrive30d M Sport guise. At £74,695, it’s not cheap, so can it back that up with ability?
Well, the cabin feels of a quality that fits the price, plus there’s plenty of space. After all, this is the biggest BMW ever. In fact, in the third row it feels as if there’s at least as much legroom as in one of the X7’s closest rivals, the Land Rover Discovery.
As in the Disco, all the seats slide and fold electrically, so there’s no lumbering of levers and sliding of seats – just press and wait. Once the middle seats have slid forward, access is pretty good, too.
Legroom is also generous in the second row, because you can slide and recline the seats to get comfortable, and there’s lots of space and adjustment to help you do so. The X7 feels vast – and the numbers reinforce that impression. There’s 326 litres of boot space in seven-seat form (as much as in a family hatch), 750 litres in five-seat form (100 litres more than in an X5) and 2,120 litres with the second and third rows folded.
Realistically, that’s enough room for pretty much every occasion, but we have one issue with the interior. While quality is great and there’s loads of tech (more of which in a moment), it feels derivative and is too reminiscent of lesser BMWs. It doesn’t quite have the special, individual edge of a Range Rover’s cabin, for example.
The 30d powertrain, however, is as good as ever in this biggest, heaviest SUV. It has 261bhp and 620Nm of torque, and can take the BMW from 0-62mph in 7.0 seconds.
It’s the torque that’s most important here, because that peak is available from just 2,000rpm. The 3.0-litre straight-six turbodiesel feels more potent than you might expect it to, propelling the X7 at somewhere between a waft and a hurl – accompanied by a pleasant, deep rumble.
Progress is easy and effortless to tap in to, helped by the slick eight-speed gearbox. This has to be one of the best automatic transmissions available; it’s responsive, but always smooth. Refinement is excellent, too. Even on big wheels, road noise is kept in check and there’s almost no wind whistle.
Standard air suspension means the X5 rides acceptably as well. You can sense the mass over higher-frequency bumps because the rear axle sometimes feels a little jagged in its reactions, but mostly it’s smooth and sophisticated in Comfort mode. There’s little point selecting Sport, though.
The X7’s dynamics in a straight line are solid, and it really isn’t bad through bends for a big, 2,370kg SUV, either.
It doesn’t feel much larger than an X5, while the steering is a nice weight and well synced to the size of the car. It’s also fast enough to give decent agility (helped by the £1,195 rear steering), which is matched by solid body control. The dampers restrict roll respectably, but don’t compromise comfort too much – again, with the proviso that you’re not in Sport mode when it comes to the latter.
This huge BMW feels much more dynamic than a Discovery or a Range Rover, and while even with the £2,595 xOffroad package it might not match them away from the tarmac, our test showed it would go pretty much as far as you’d want to push it off road.
This is only the start of the tech. M Sport trim gets BMW’s Live Cockpit Professional, with a digital dash, keyless operation, four-zone climate control (five-zone is an option), cruise control and all-round parking sensors with a reversing camera. There’s also Apple CarPlay, a WiFi hotspot, connected services, adaptive LEDs, 21-inch alloys and sportier looks with gloss black trim. It’s well kitted out, then, but so it should be for the price.
There are semi-autonomous driver aids, extra safety tech (AEB is standard), laser headlights and rear-seat entertainment packages available if you’d like to further upgrade the technology on offer.
BMW’s latest infotainment system impresses; it’s easy to use, is responsive to your inputs and looks great. This is one of the main factors that, together with the space and impressive efficiency, should make the X7 easy to live with. We’ll find out soon if that makes it better than its rivals.