What's the used BMW X7 4x4 like?
There is a distinction between making an entrance and making an impression, but no one seems to have passed the message on to BMW. When the firm launched this new premium seven-seat luxury SUV, the X7, in 2019, it was obviously eager for it to stand out from the crowd, and so it gave the already gargantuan car a grille so large you can actually see it from the moon.
Luckily, there is more to the car than just the way it looks, and the X7 lives up to its grand exterior with excellent driving manners and a comfortable and opulent interior. In bold terms, though, it’s huge, being nearly 5.2m long and six feet tall, and it weighs in at just under 2.5 tonnes.
The car was originally introduced with three choices of engine, two of which were diesel-fuelled but neither of which lasted long before they were replaced. So instead of a range comprising 30d, 40i and M50d derivatives, as it was originally laid out, later models come as an X7 xDrive40i and a 40d, both of which develop 335bhp.
At the very top of the X7 range, meanwhile, where once there was the aforementioned and remarkable quad-turbo diesel M50d, there is in later models an xDrive M50i, which becomes one of the most powerful seven-seat passenger cars money can buy, even though it burns petrol and not diesel like its immediate predecessor. There’s also an M Performance version, with its 523bhp twin-turbocharged V8 and piffling 4.7sec 0-62mph acceleration claim.
As for trims, there’s a simple choice of two different levels. Every X7 is positively loaded with kit; air suspension, four-zone climate control, and heated front and rear seats are all standard. As ever, though, there’s an M Sport model that adds sporty cosmetic touches and upgraded brakes, with the M50d and the M50i standing alone as trim levels in their own right, adding a limited-slip differential on the rear axle to increase cornering traction.
On the road, the 261bhp xDrive30d has plenty of performance. Push the accelerator and this huge SUV disguises its bulk well, getting you up to motorway speeds in the kind of effortless manner you’d expect from something half the size. It’s a civilised engine, too. If you opt for the six-cylinder petrol xDrive40i you’ll find it serenely quiet when you want it to be, and nice and snarly when you’re pressing on. What’s more, it’s impressively responsive, even at the very bottom of the rev range. The most potent engines in the range, though, are found under the bonnets of the M50d and M50i. In the M50d, it’s a diesel engine that can propel you up the road with near-explosive force and doesn’t sound too uncouth in the process, although it’s noisier than the xDrive30d.
When it comes to ride comfort, the standard air suspension does a fine job of soaking up whatever the road can throw at it, and it even gives the Audi Q7 a run for its money on the motorway. Unlike the smaller X5, the X7 really feels its size on winding roads – particularly narrow ones. Turn the steering wheel and the nose takes a moment to react, leaving you wondering if you’re going to plough straight on. Fortunately, the X7 does change course – although there’s lots of body lean when it does so.
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 manoeuvrability at low speeds by turning the rear wheels very slightly in the opposite direction to the fronts for a reduced turning circle.
Head off-road and the X7 will tackle rougher terrain than most buyers will reasonably ask of it, especially if you opt for the optional off-road package; this provides drive settings to suit different terrains, as well as adding underbody protection.
Where its interior falls down on showiness, the X7 makes up for on quality. Every surface you look at or touch simply screams quality and craftsmanship, and this lends its interior a truly upmarket ambience. Infotainment is something of an X7 speciality, thanks to BMW’s latest 12.3in iDrive system. It can be operated through an extremely responsive touchscreen, the intuitive rotary-dial controller or even by using BMW’s voice control system. On top of those, there’s gesture control to adjust the volume, skip music tracks or change radio stations, although you do feel a bit silly wafting your hand around to activate it. With so many easy interfaces, all the key infotainment functions can be used safely while driving.
Of course, the X7 has masses of interior space. It’s tall and airy up front, and so wide that the driver could almost feel like they’re in a different postcode to their front passenger. There’s also plenty of room for those on the second-row seats to stretch out and, with no shortage of head, leg or shoulder room, even three adults sitting side-by-side will be relatively comfortable. There’s even dual-zone climate control for the second row and heated seats for the outer passengers. The seats can be moved forwards and backwards electrically in a 60/40 configuration, and can be folded in a 40/20/40 split.
The X7 also matches the Q7 and Mercedes GLS by offering a third seating row as standard, and it’s seriously roomy, too – far more so than the Audi Q7’s or even that of the Land Rover Discovery. Even a couple of six-footers will fit comfortably enough.
As for the boot, the X7 retains the smaller X5’s split-folding tailgate layout, whose lower section flips out to serve as a handy perch when taking off muddy wellies or similar. There’s space for a couple of suitcases even when the third-row seats are in use; in five-seat mode there’s a huge boot.
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