BMW X7 x-Drive 3.0 - Driven

Article & photos copyright Paul Blank

BMWs reach in the SUV stakes has moved upwards with its largest ever offering, the new X7 range. Built alongside the X5 in BMWs Spartanburg plant in the USA, the X7 is a good fit in the American market where for decades huge pickups have been the best selling vehicles.

The range-topping X7 is available with three distinct powerplants: starting with the 3-litre, 6-cylinder turbodiesel 30d, then the quad-turbo(!) diesel M50d and finally the 4.4-litre V8 petrol engine. None are short on power or torque, the numbers worth stating: 195kW/620Nm; 294kW/760Nm; 390kW/750Nm. All work through a smooth 8-speed Steptronic automatic transmission, with paddle controls which are pretty superfluous in such a vehicle.

The structure of the X7 is larger than the X5, itself not small. Length/width/height are 5151/2000/1805mm.  Its a hefty beast, weighing between 2700kg and 3200kg depending on the version.

On the road it demands a big footprint. Parking, it can be challenging simply due to the sheer size of the X7. It is however, comprehensively equipped with BMWs latest parking assistance systems, cameras, warnings, etc.

In fact, even on the entry level model, the equipment level is lavish. After all, its one of BMWs top models. Passengers feel pampered, with excellent space even in the 3rd row of seats where a 6-footter can sit comfortably. I didnt find the front seats fitted me well, but everyone else who sat in the X7 liked it. Front and rear seats have electronic adjustment, and all folding of seats is powered.

With the third row of seats in use, boot space is negligible, but theres easy capability to make a lot of load carrying space. The boot floor is the highest Ive ever experienced in a vehicle.

BMWs instruments, screens and controls are excellent and being shared across the marques range. All sensible and easy to use systems, though perhaps a bewildering number of options like 9 configurations of colour choices of the interior mood lighting. The Head Up Display with speed zone data is tremendous every car should have it.

The lane departure assistance is far more aggressive than in any other car Ive tested, including other BMWs.

The X7 drives smoothly and with ample performance, even from the torquey smallest engine. The turning circle is commendably small, the steering sharp and responsive. Nobody buys a big SUV for its handling, but the X7 puts up a good show.

The quietness in the cabin is 7-series quality and very impressive.

That brings us to the looks. The X7 certainly got a lot of comments. Few of them positive. Well, in fact, none of them positive. I can understand in the US or China an in-yer-face frontal graphic is an expectation. But theres no beauty to this vehicles styling anywhere. Thats in the driving experience..

Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder - but see beyond the styling and it's a beauty.