BMW has a new flagship SUV that pledges to tear up the luxury 4×4 rulebook and redefine all the key areas from performance and quality to spaciousness and off-road capability.
Measuring 23cm longer and 6cm taller than the X5, which is the same width so at least making door dings in car parks thankfully no more likely, the BMW’s 7-seater X7 may come as a surprise to some in light of growing environmental awareness. BMW badly needed an SUV of this size in order to compete comparably with the Audi Q7 and Mercedes GLS, though.
Stylistically, the X7 sports the largest kidney grill ever seen on a recent BMW in proportion terms, ensuring bold road presence in tandem with 3D detailing, Adaptive LED headlights as standard and Laserlights as options. Its silhouette blends boxy and beautiful with plenty of chiseling, taut lines and cavernous wheel-arches, while practicality for this family-focussed chariot has clearly been thought about carefully by virtue of, for example, the rear doors being longer than the fronts to enhance access. The rear is subtly gorgeous with a strong whiff of the 7-Series about it thanks to the chrome bar bridging the slimline LEDs.
The BMW X7’s interior is as luxurious as they come, with all of today’s expected creature comforts from delicious screens and sumptuous materials to the latest entertainment and safety technology. Much elbow grease has been sweated in fettling iDrive to be its most intuitive yet and a lot of attention has gone into the cabin’s general ergonomics. Individual Extended Merino leather trim is standard, occupants bathed in natural light through the three-part panoramic glass roof, which also comes by default. Upgrading the roof to Sky Lounge means a starlit sky mimicked by 15,000 LEDs, while the entry-level 10-speaker hi-fi can be replaced by either a Harman Kardon system with sixteen speakers or the ultimate Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround system for true audiophiles. Kids or youthfully-minded adults can be kept entertained by the optional Rear-Seat Entertainment Professional package encompassing Blu-ray, an HDMI socket and other technological luxuries.
A proper 7-seater with two extra (heated) rear chairs suitable for adults, the BMW X7 is unique in that they’re spaced apart, amplifying the aura of luxury and spaciousness, particularly for occupants of wider girth. For any customers who fancy or require comfort to be maximised, the car can be specified as a 6-seater with three rows of two seats, like Mercedes’ now defunct R-Class MPV. Second-row seats feature comfort cushions, integrated armrests and cupholders and they slide to provide added flexibility, all controlled at the touch of a button.
Boot space from the BMW X7 is impressive, with 326 litres up for grabs even when all seven seats are in use, which is the same size as a family hatchback like a Kia Rio and slightly more generous than a Ford Focus. In 5-seat mode, a whopping 750 litres is provided, while the X7’s total luggage capacity up to the roofline in 2-seat mode is 2,120 litres, cargo and passengers alike kept comfortable by standard air suspension, which also enables the car to be lowered for extra convenience. The X7’s design boasts a split-opening tailgate, a feature that some drivers love.
Despite governments throughout Europe straining to get motorists to embrace electric cars before infrastructures are even ready, the BMW X7 will from launch be sold and leased with good old diesel power at the heart of two of its iterations, the 265bhp xDrive30d and the 400bhp M50d, which packs a colossal, tree-uprooting 760Nm torque and is able to take this bungalow-on-wheels to 155mph in theory, all while averaging 40.4mpg and emitting 185g/km CO2. Although the latter incorporates an M Sport differential as standard, we expect the more frugal yet punchy xDrive30d to account for the majority of sales and lease contracts, though, with 620Nm, 141mph, 43.5mpg, 171g/km CO2 and 7 seconds respectively.
Petrol power will initially come in TwinPower Turbo 6 cylinder inline xDrive40i guise with a 6.1 seconds 0-62mph time, 198g/km CO2 emissions and 340bhp to enjoy, and it’s inevitable that a fruity M version will arrive eventually, hopefully with a throbbing V8 at its core, or a mellifluous V6 at the very least.
BMW’s creations have always been renowned for their agile, engaging handling, even in the SUV realm, and the new X7 is equipped with DSC, intelligent xDrive and double-wishbone front and five-link rear suspension, all sprung on air with automatic self-levelling.
An option called Integral Active Steering determines the direction the rear wheels turn in when making manoeuvring, making lane-changes, parking and tight turns much more bearable, while the Executive Drive Pro upgrade counters road vibrations and adds active roll stabilisation to the mix for an even sportier driving experience.
M Sport models can be set to SPORT, which drops the ride height by 20mm, or to off-road mode, which jacks the car up 40mm. xOffroad, sadly unavailable for the M50d, encompasses xSnow, xSand, xGravel and xRocks modes for venturing onto the rough stuff with a swagger.
On sale from April 2019, pricing for the mighty BMW X7 will commence at a whisker over £72,000 and the car is set to offer all manner of connectivity including Microsoft Office 365 and Skype integration for teleconferencing on the move.
While we don’t envisage many fleets leasing the BMW X7, with police forces’ requirements more than met by the X5, we reckon it’ll actually garner plenty of interest in the personal contract hire (PCH) market, and we certainly can’t wait to see X7s start appearing on British roads.