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BMW’s largest vehicle yet arrives in the UK to crown the brand's SUV line-up. Is it any good to drive?
  • First Drive

    BMW X7 xDrive30d M Sport 2019 UK review

    BMW’s largest vehicle yet arrives in the UK to crown the brand's SUV line-up. Is it any good to drive?
  • First Drive

    BMW X7 2019 review

    Vaster than our road networks need, but undeniably capacious and finely furnished with it. Brisk and defter than most seven-seaters but no sports SUV
Simon Davis
13 April 2019

What is it?

You will have probably formed your own opinion about the way the new BMW X7 looks by now. It’s possible you will have also heard how some of those larger-than-life design cues (you know what I’m referring to) have been introduced to appeal to customers not just in the US but also China and the Middle East. Following this simple logical progression further, you might also have come to the conclusion that motorists in those particular markets lack taste somewhat. But, you know, horses for courses and all that.

Anyway, the X7 is the newest member of BMW’s line-up of luxury cars. The firm will tell you to think of it as a 7 Series that can go off road, as opposed to an X5 that has grown quite a bit larger (at 5.2m long, 1.8m tall and 2.0m wide, it’s now the largest car BMW has ever built). 

Nevertheless, its relationship to its smaller SUV sibling remains a fairly close one: it sits on the same modular Cluster Architecture (CLAR) platform, uses a similar eight-speed automatic transmission, is available with BMW’s Off-Road package, comes with full air suspension as standard and shares the same line-up of 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines. Unlike the X5, however, it comes with seven seats as standard.

While the X7 will be offered elsewhere with a mighty V8 engine, in Britain the 394bhp, 560lb ft, quad-turbocharged (yes, four) M50d represents the top of the range. There’s also a 335bhp 40i petrol, while the 30d - which is expected to account for some 60% of the X7’s UK sales mix - develops 261bhp at 4000rpm and 457lb ft between 2000 and 2500rpm. 

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M Sport trim adds features such as 21in alloy wheels and a sportier bodykit to an already impressive roster of standard equipment that includes Merino leather upholstery, four-zone climate control, a 12.3in infotainment system and heated seats in all three rows. All up, our X7 xDrive30d M Sport test car starts at £72,630.

 

What's it like?

One benefit of driving the X7 is that from behind the wheel, you don’t actually have to look at it. But to write off this flagship BMW purely because its design is challenging would be a touch unfair. 

In all honesty, there’s really very little about the manner in which the X7 conducts itself on the road that’s likely to upset you. But then there's little about its dynamic character that will really get your blood pumping, either – which is unsurprising, given the fact it weighs nearly 2.4 tonnes and is the size of an average bungalow.

Despite its vastness, it’s actually a car that’s relatively easy to place on tighter stretches of Tarmac. Even on the twisting, narrow B-roads that made up our Scottish test route, the occasions where you would instinctively breathe in when faced with an oncoming lorry were few and far between. A good part of this is down to fairly serious visibility. Admittedly, the rear screen seems a very long way away from where you sit, but the view out is commanding.

To say the X7 handles outstandingly would be a stretch, but there is a subtle athletic undercurrent present. Given its sheer weight and inertia, its willingness to respond to changes in direction are actually pretty confidence-inspiring, as is the amount of grip it generates when pressing on. There’s quite a lot of obvious body roll through corners, and you do need to concentrate while directing the X7 into bends, but it arrives in a reasonably gentle fashion. You can feel it loading up the outside wheels as you add on lock, and when it all becomes a bit too much, the resulting understeer is gentle and controllable.

Set in Comfort mode, it indeed rides comfortably yet doesn’t feel loose or prone to float over crests. The 21in alloys don’t cause much in the way of questionable secondary intrusions, either (although the same can’t be said of the optional 22in rims). Sport mode tightens things up, but in a car this size, such a feature seems a touch redundant.

The 3.0-litre inline six, meanwhile, doesn’t lend the X7 an incredible turn of outright pace, but it does provide a wealth of torque to get this gargantuan SUV up to speed in reasonable time. It’s a smooth powertrain, too: step-off is nearly seamless, while the 'box deftly swaps cogs as and when is required.

And while it’s highly likely that the only off-roading most X7 owners will do is parking on the kerb, a shout-out here is warranted. A locking differential and the Off-Road package allowed our X7 to tackle some impressively rugged terrain despite being fitted with summer rubber. A pinch of salt might be required here, but our guide seemed genuine when he said the X7 was as good over their off-road course as the Range Rovers they usually run. We're inclined to believe him.

Should I buy one?

If you really must have an SUV the size of a small county, by all means buy an X7. If you can see past the design (hell, you might even quite like it), there’s very little about the way it drives that will cause grave concern. The fact that it can genuinely fit seven adults in relative comfort is also a neat trick in a world of so-called ‘seven-seaters’ that can only really take children – and small ones at that – in the third row.

Where the X7 does feel a touch disappointing, though, is inside. Don’t get us wrong, it’s impeccably finished and the materials used are wonderful to the touch. But so too are those you’ll find in the X5. In fact, there’s very little that really differentiates the two, at least architecturally speaking. It’s all a bit too derivative. And in the world of flagship luxury SUVs, a world where you could easily spend more than £90,000 once you’ve added a few options, that seems like something of a missed opportunity.

BMW X7 xDrive30d M Sport

Where Scotland Price £72,630 On sale April Engine 2993cc, six-cylinder, turbocharged, diesel Power 261bhp at 4000rpm Torque 457lb ft at 2000-2500rpm Gearbox eight-speed automatic Kerb weight 2370kg Top speed 141mph 0-62mph 7.0sec Fuel economy 32.8-33.6mpg (WLTP) CO2 tbc Rivals Range Rover, Audi Q7, Mercedes-Benz GLS

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Comments
22

289

13 April 2019

.......a number too far.

13 April 2019

The fact that BMW puts same interior components in different models is not a missed opportunity, it is a rational business decision, an attempt to optimize costs.

What is a missed opportunity is the exterior design, but maybe Chinese, ME and US clients like that oversized cheap-feeling plastic grill, I don't know.

I sat in driver seat of 8-series convertible and there was no space in the back seat, despite the size of that automobile. How is that possible? There is more space in the back seat of 911.

 

13 April 2019
NoPasaran wrote:

The fact that BMW puts same interior components in different models is not a missed opportunity, it is a rational business decision, an attempt to optimize costs.

Up to a point I agree but BMW are taking this too far, every interior looks the same, it’s the main reason I won’t buy one. Audi do some beautiful interiors now, as do Mercedes and Range Rover, why buy this if it’s got similar components to a 3 series?

This model does give Land Rover a problem of sorts. There are customers particularly in the US who want a 7 seat luxury car, where is the one from Range Rover? The Discovery series is not really playing in the outright Luxury space so time to build one?

Oh and yes this car look abysmal from the outside

13 April 2019
TStag wrote:

NoPasaran wrote:

The fact that BMW puts same interior components in different models is not a missed opportunity, it is a rational business decision, an attempt to optimize costs.

Up to a point I agree but BMW are taking this too far, every interior looks the same, it’s the main reason I won’t buy one. Audi do some beautiful interiors now, as do Mercedes and Range Rover, why buy this if it’s got similar components to a 3 series?

Hang on a minute here, the interior designs of top of the line Range Rover, Audi and Merc models are quite similar to their cheapers models too. For instance, the just launched second generation Evoque has almost exactly the same interior and dash design as Range Rover and the Velar. So, it's not just BMW that does this.

13 April 2019

This is one ugle beast its interior is well pretty awful too. Oh well no need to worry  Range Rover you still do the best looking both outside and inside. That cruise ship stance when coming at you is just brilliant ,whereas this BMW looks like a Scania lorry with an over sized over blingled bloddy great farmers agte of a grill . just Gross BMW

13 April 2019
Antony Riley wrote:

This is one ugle beast its interior is well pretty awful too. Oh well no need to worry  Range Rover you still do the best looking both outside and inside. That cruise ship stance when coming at you is just brilliant ,whereas this BMW looks like a Scania lorry with an over sized over blingled bloddy great farmers  field gate of a grill  why so big ? . just Gross BMW

13 April 2019

The only thing going for it is the 7 seats in that market,do not know whyv Range Rover do not do a true 7 seater only an option inthe Sport but probably smaller seats.That front end looks like a hurse and think it could be popular in the funeral business,it is ready mad efor the job .

13 April 2019

...Ooooh, you are awful!

 

And so is this dearie.

Steam cars are due a revival.

13 April 2019

but the ugly stick has now passed to the X7.

13 April 2019

agreed, they knackered that one good

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