For a car with such a glitzy, gargantuan exterior, you might be surprised by the X7’s rather low-key interior design; it can’t match the latest Mercedes products with their eye-catching all-in-one widescreen displays, or the sheer technological opulence of a Range Rover. However, where it falls down on showiness, it makes up for in quality. Luxury abounds in every material you touch and lends a truly upmarket ambience that outstrips the plainer Audi Q7, even when that car is in top-spec Vorsprung guise.
In terms of layout, the X7 is near enough a carbon copy of the X5 or 8 Series' dashboard, with special touches – such as the knurled finish to the infotainment controller and a rather ostentatious (optional) crystal-glass gear selector, which does an excellent job at refracting sunlight directly into your eyeballs, to remind you that this is BMW’s flagship SUV.
Infotainment is something of an X7 speciality, thanks to BMW’s latest 12.3in iDrive 7.0 system. It can be operated through an extremely responsive touchscreen or an intuitive rotary dial and helpful shortcut menu buttons, or even through BMW’s voice command system, which operates like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa. On top of those, there’s gesture control to adjust the volume, skip media tracks or change radio stations, although you do feel a bit silly wafting your hand around in attempts to quieten it down. With so many easy interfaces, all the key infotainment functions can be used safely while driving.
Our only reservation is that there are rather a lot of menus and sub menus to navigate your way around. It seems a bit mean, too, that the standard Apple CarPlay is only free to use for one year – and Android Auto isn’t available at all – especially considering the Audi Q7 gets both bundled in as standard. A subscription fee also applies after three years’ free use of BMW’s ‘Connected Services’ real-time traffic information. On such a costly car, this all seems rather stingy.
Meanwhile, ‘Live Cockpit Professional’ is the name given to BMW’s 12.3in digital instrument cluster, which is standard across the range. It’s great at putting the most relevant information behind the steering wheel, including the sat-nav map or radio information. It can be enhanced even further if you opt for the head-up display, which projects info like speed and navigation instructions onto the windscreen. All things considered, BMW’s iDrive infotainment system is still the best in the business.
Behind all this, you’ll find a typically high-set SUV sitting position with electrically adjustable heated front seats that are effortlessly easy to fine-tune to your taste. Massage functionality is also an option.
While visibility has no notable flaws, a car this bulky can present a few manoeuvring challenges, so front and rear parking sensors, a plethora of all-round cameras and even a self-parking system all come as standard. BMW ‘Laserlight’ headlights are available at extra cost and use laser technology to create a brilliantly bright light.