The BMW X7 is one of the largest and most luxurious SUVs money can buy
The X7 is BMW’s flagship – large, luxurious and filled with the latest technology. A range of powerful engines are offered and while it’s not the cheapest to run, the X7 drives far better than you’d expect for a car of its considerable size and weight. A Volvo XC90 will be cheaper to own and the Land Rover Discovery is a better all-rounder, but it’s hard to ignore the BMW’s great blend of quality, luxury, high-tech equipment and good driving experience.
23 Aug, 2019 4
The BMW X7 is very large and does not make any attempt to hide it. Its huge grille, broad-sided flanks and slim head and tail lights lend a very imposing presence; whatever your thoughts on the overall design, there’s no denying the X7’s power to assert itself on the road.
The X7’s interior is just as show-stopping and is probably the best reason to buy BMW’s largest offering. Quality is impressive both in the materials used and overall fit and finish; its design focuses on ergonomics rather than design flair but the result is very effective. The Volvo XC90’s interior looks better but can’t match the BMW for fit and finish – the Land Rover Discovery comes closer in terms of luxury, but also lags behind in the quality stakes.
Wood and metal trim are joined by a host of quality leather options to help make your X7 match your tastes. Extended leather trim is standard, as are fantastic power-adjustable seats. Highlights from the options list include the Premium pack, which adds temperature-controlled cup holders, heated, ventilated, massage-function front seats and five-zone ambient climate control with selectable scents.[gallery:1]
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
The X7 features two 12.3-inch display screens, one for the sat-nav and main infotainment functions and the other in front of the driver instead of traditional dials. Both displays are high-res and look very modern; the menus are really easy to use as well, because you don’t have to rely on the touchscreen while driving. It’s useful for entering sat-nav addresses when you’re stationary, but when on the move you can interact using the rotary dial on the centre console. This makes it a lot less fiddly than the systems in rivals that rely on touch inputs.
The feature-packed set-up includes traffic info, gesture control, 3D mapping and Apple CarPlay. Android Auto isn’t available, but wireless charging and a WiFi hotspot are standard. A TV function is available for £1,150, while a choice of Bowers & Wilkins or Harmon/Kardon stereos form part of the £6,000-plus Technology Package, which also adds a head-up display.
BMW has a reputation for making some of the best-driving cars on sale and remarkably this has extended to include its largest, heaviest model. The X7 is not a sports car by any means but is a two-tonne SUV that manages to engage its driver and offer up handling characteristics that go some way to disguise its considerable weight.
Even in entry xDrive30d form there’s plenty of power on offer – peak torque of 620Nm arrives at just 2,00rpm and gives the X7 enough punch for overtaking. What’s more, this engine is smooth and quiet on the move and the perfect match for a luxurious SUV.
Continuing on the luxury theme, the X7 rides beautifully – it’s sprung quite softly for a modern SUV and offers a smooth ride over all varieties of rough British tarmac. The trade-off is body control that’s not as well-controlled as in more stiffly sprung cars – the X7 rolls in corners and exhibits light pitching and rolling over the worst bumps.
Overall the X7 is surprisingly good from a driver’s point of view. The usual BMW traits of well-weighted steering, a good driving position, big reserves of grip, smooth automatic gearboxes and punchy engines means the big SUV is easily a match for the Land Rover Discovery in this department, all the while feeling more agile on the move.[gallery:14]
Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed
The X7 comes with a choice of powerful engines, none of which have fewer than six cylinders. The xDrive30d is the cheapest choice and also the most efficient; its twin-turbo 3.0-litre straight six diesel produces 261bhp while returning up to 33.6mpg. There’s plenty of torque available low in the rev-range so acceleration is decent: 0-62mph officially takes seven seconds, while our tests measured the 0-60mph sprint at 6.7 seconds and 30-70mph at 6.4 seconds. It may be the least powerful engine in the range, but the xDrive30d is more than adequate and is our preferred option.
The more powerful diesel option is found in the M50d – a quad-turbo 3.0-litre straight six with 395bhp. It’s predictably fast; 0-62mph takes just 5.4 seconds and overtaking is effortless – far more so than it should be in such a heavy car. However, unless you really fancy the extra punch and more aggressive looks, the XDrive30d does much the same job for significantly less cash.
There are two petrol options: the entry-level xDrive40i and the high-performance M50i. The former has 335bhp and the latter 523bhp, powered by 3.0-litre straight-six and 4.4-litre V8 engines respectively. Neither will be kind to your wallet but the less powerful xDrive40i may suit lower-mileage users. The M50i gets to 62mph from rest in a faintly ridiculous 4.7 seconds – just one second slower than the BMW M850i coupe that shares its engine.
The BMW X7 is too new to have featured in our 2019 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey but BMW itself didn’t fare too well, finishing in a disappointing 25th place out of 30 manufacturers. High running and servicing costs were highlighted by owners, while 22.3 per cent reported having experienced a fault with their car. We hope that BMW’s flagship SUV will prove to be reliable in the long term, but owners should expect their X7 to be pricey to run.
Euro NCAP is yet to test the X7 but there’s no reason to doubt the car’s safety credentials given the good performance of other modern BMW models. The X7 is loaded with up-to-date active safety and driver assistance systems including adaptive LED headlights, automatic emergency braking (AEB), cruise control, a speed limiter and a driver attentiveness monitor.
Opt for the Technology package and the X7 gets active cruise, lane-change and departure warning, lane-keep assist with active side collision protection and many more sophisticated systems. It’s easily a match for the safety-conscious Volvo XC90 in this regard.
All BMW models are covered by a three-year, unlimited-mileage warranty as standard. This compares favourably to the three years and 60,000 miles offered by Volvo and matches that offered by Land Rover. The warranty also includes three years of roadside recovery.
BMW offers fixed-price servicing for its models and owners can spread the costs of maintenance. Schemes include BMW Value Service, Fast Lane Service (with a 90-minute turnaround) and Service While You Fly, whereby a participating service centre near an airport can service your car while you travel.
The BMW X7 is a large seven-seat SUV that will happily accommodate large families or groups of executives alike – it’s very spacious inside the large cabin, which in turn only helps to increase its luxurious feel.
Up front, the driver benefits from BMW’s proven ability to create a near-perfect driving position; there’s loads of electrically actuated adjustment in the standard-fit Comfort seats and steering column. There’s a great few out over the car’s long, squared-off bonnet, while all-round visibility is excellent thanks to a huge glasshouse. The standard parking assistance features do a good job of helping out in tighter spots.
Along with the predictably massive boot, interior storage is plentiful – big door bins, a large centre cubby and plenty of cup holders, including for the passengers in the rearmost seats.
The X7 is one of the very largest cars on sale in the UK – it’s 5,151mm long, 1,805mm tall and exactly 2,000mm wide. Parking a car as big as this in multi-storey car parks will always be a challenge, especially given that you’d almost fit a Suzuki Jimny in its wheelbase. The Land Rover Discovery and Volvo XC90 are both a little shorter and narrower.
Leg room, head room & passenger space
The BMW X7 comes with seven seats as standard and unlike some rivals it offers all seven of its occupants a luxurious, spacious journey; it’s not dark or cramped in the rearmost seats. A six-seat configuration is available for just under £300, replacing the central bench with two armchair-type seats. This is a good option if you don’t need the extra seat as access to the rear is improved.
Front and middle-row passengers have buckets of room in all directions, while those in the rear will find little to complain about. There are ISOfix points on the outer two middle seats and two in the rear as an added bonus for large families.[gallery:7]
The BMW X7 has a big boot, even with all seven seats in place. With seven occupants it’ll hold 326 litres, comfortably more than you get in a Discovery or XC90. Fold down the third row and there’s 750 litres – considerably less than the Discovery’s 1,137 in the same configuration. Naturally, all rear seats fold at the touch of a button.
Fold down the middle row and there’s a van-like 2,120 litres to play with. By contrast, the Volvo XC90 has 1,816 litres. However, the X7 can’t quite match the Discovery’s cavernous 2,406 litre boot for outright space. Regardless, the BMW’s boot is well-shaped and perfect for moving furniture and suitcases alike – the loading of which is made easier by a split tailgate.[gallery:9]
The X7 makes for a particularly opulent tow car. xDrive30d models can tow a 2,200kg braked trailer or 750kg unbraked, while the M50d can improves on the braked figure with a 2,600kg rating. All models can be fitted with a tow hitch at no extra cost. The petrol-powered xDrive40i has the same ratings as the xDrive30d, while the M50i has the biggest braked rating at 2,700kg.
Those looking to tow the most weight possible are still better served by the Land Rover Discovery and its 3,500kg rating.
The BMW X7 is not a car that’s likely to be bought with running costs in mind. It’s asking price puts it in the upper reaches of the luxury SUV segment, with only ultra-luxury offerings like the Bentley Bentayga and Range Rover commanding bigger premiums. The entry-level model will set you back just over £72,000; prices climb to around £90,000 for the top-flight M50i and will easily breach the six-figure mark when you start ticking the options.
The most efficient model in the range is, predictably, the least powerful diesel option. The xDrive30d manages up to 33.6mpg on the combined cycle and emits 171g/km of CO2 – not terrible for a car of this size and weight. The M50d also just manages to break into the thirties with its 31.4mpg, though emissions take a hike to 186g/km.
Petrol power brings higher fuel consumption and emissions: xDrive40i models return up to 24.8mpg and 199g/km, while the V8-powered M50i pays the price for its considerable performance with 21.9mpg economy and hefty emissions of 248g/km.
Company car users will have to brace themselves for big bills – all models sit in the uppermost 37 per cent Benefit in Kind percentage charge bracket. Private owners will be liable to pay large first-year VED payments (usually rolled into the on-the-road prices), plus a £320 surcharge on top of the base-rate £145 per year. This will bring road tax bills in years two to six of ownership to £456 per year
Notable by its absence in the range is a plug-in hybrid variant of the X7 – rivals including the XC90 T8 Twin Engine and Range Rover P400e offer this option and can be driven on electric power alone over shorter distances. If you plan to spend most of your time in town, it’s worth considering these alternatives.[gallery:3]
The high-cost theme continues when it comes to insurance, with all models occupying insurance group 50 – the highest possible. By contrast, the XC90 spans groups 38 to 45 and the Land Rover Discovery groups 33 to 42.
Our experts predict that the X7 will retain a decent chunk of its value after three years and 36,000 miles, but the fact remains that those buying brand new will stand to lose around £40,000 over that period to depreciation. Depending on spec, the X7 should hold on to around 51 to 56 per cent of its original value come trade-in time – with xDrive40i M Sport models expected to fare best.