Of all X7 variants, the big-seller in this country will be the xDrive30d, which uses a six-cylinder 261bhp diesel engine for a pleasing blend of performance and fuel economy. Push the accelerator and the X7 disguises its heft well, getting you up to motorway speeds with the kind of effortless waft you’d expect from rivals half its size. It’s hushed, too, proving quieter and smoother than the V6 diesel found in the Audi Q7.
If you’re not a fan of diesel, there’s also the six-cylinder petrol xDrive40i, which we found to be blissfully quiet when we wanted it to be, and acceptably vocal when pressing on. It’s impressively responsive and certainly isn’t short of oomph, and – although it can’t match the low-down pull of the diesel – once you hit 2000rpm and the turbocharger really kicks in, there’s certainly no stopping this 335bhp unit.
The most potent engine in the range, though is the M50d diesel, which can propel you up the road with near-explosive power. It sounds good, too; just try not to think about your fuel economy. For most buyers, we agree that the xDrive30d will be the best choice.
All engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic gearbox that shifts gears relatively quickly and smoothly, or you can take manual control using shift paddles behind the steering wheel. There can sometimes be a small delay for it to change down when you ask for brisk acceleration, but this is nothing compared with some rivals’ ‘boxes – yes, we’re looking at you, Q7.
When it comes to ride comfort, the standard air suspension does a good job of soaking up whatever the road can throw at it and even gives the wafty Range Rover a run for its money on the motorway. The X7’s ride is especially impressive when you consider its massive 21in (or optional 22in) alloy wheels. It's not perfect, though – larger potholes can send a small but noticeable shudder through the car, something that doesn't occur in the cheaper Audi Q7.
Much like the X5, it feels pretty agile for such a large SUV; the X7 tips the scales at a whopping 2300kg, but manages to hide its bulk well on twisting UK roads at moderate speeds. In common with other big BMWs, the steering is accurate, smooth and light, flawed only by offering precious little feedback to tell you what’s going on between the front tyres and the road.Up your pace and it does feel a little wallowy and top heavy, but it’s still more controlled than a Range Rover. The Audi Q7 gives a stronger impression of shrink around you, though, and feels more comfortable being hustled along a B road.
Generally, the X7 is pleasant and relaxing to drive, whether munching through motorway miles or negotiating urban traffic. Here, the optional four-wheel steering greatly aids agility at low speeds, turning the rear wheels very slightly in the opposite direction to the fronts for a reduced turning circle.
Head off-road and the X7 can follow in the Range Rover’s muddy tyre treads, especially if you opt for the optional off-road package which provides drive settings to suit different terrains, as well as adding underbody protection. We’d confidently say the X7 can handle rougher terrain than any owner will reasonably ask of it.