New BMW X7 vs Audi Q7
The Audi Q7 is one of the very best all-rounders you can buy, but BMW is out to better it with its new X7. So, which luxury seven-seater deserves your £75k?...
BMW X7 xDrive 40d M Sport
- List price - £74,815
- Target Price - £73,606
The X7 promises more luxury, more space and more tech than any other seven-seater.
We’ve had statement watches, statement suits and, if you’re Patrick Bateman, statement business cards. But what about statement SUVs? Well, according to BMW, its new X7 is the closest you’re going to get. From its massively imposing – some will say distasteful – grille to the ‘7’ moniker that hints at kinship with the luxurious 7 Series limousine, every part of the X7 has been designed to make an impact.
The striking design is said to reflect the tastes of the American and Asian markets, where the X7 is hoped to sell in big numbers. But how will it fare in the UK? Well, on paper at least, it has a lot going for it. Based on the same underpinnings as the smaller X5, it promises both sharp driving dynamics and impressive straight-line performance, despite having a third row of seats that’s spacious enough for fully grown adults.
And with buyers increasingly opting for top-of-the-range trims, the luxuriously equipped X7 should prove popular; a digital instrument display, adaptive LED headlights, a wi-fi hotspot and massive 21in alloy wheels are just some of the highlights. And that’s before you get into the optional semi-autonomous driver aids and rear seat entertainment packages.
Performance, ride, handling, refinement
On paper, the Q7 and X7 are pretty evenly matched; each weighs more than two tonnes, is powered by a six-cylinder 3.0-litre diesel engine and uses an eight-speed automatic gearbox. So you can imagine our surprise when the Q7 clocked a 0-60mph time of just 6.3sec, versus a still respectable but less exciting 7.5sec from the X7.
However, you don’t buy one of these cars for the traffic light grand prix. You buy one for effortless motoring, and that’s where the X7 carves out an early lead. Put your foot down at the same time in both cars and you’ll find that the X7’s gearbox is quicker to react, shuffling down a handful of ratios in an instant and enabling the car to surge forward. The Q7’s, meanwhile, is slow-witted in the extreme and dithers for a second or two before choosing a gear – something that’s hugely frustrating if you want to pounce on a gap in the traffic.
While the Q7 accelerates with more force, it’s also more vocal. The X7’s engine, on the other hand, is practically silent at a cruise, as well as noticeably better at isolating you from its vibration. Factor in minimal wind noise and virtually no road noise (the Q7’s colossal 22in wheels create a bit of a roar) and the X7 is an ideal long-distance tourer.
But what if you drive more on British country roads than French autoroutes? Well, there’s no hiding the fact that the X7 is a fair bit bigger than the Q7, so it’s harder to place in town and on tight B-roads. And whereas the Q7 seems to shrink around you when you drive spiritedly, with its more accurate steering and tighter body control, the X7 always feels a little wallowy and top-heavy. We know handling isn’t a priority for most in this market, but it’s worth noting that the X7 isn’t the ‘ultimate driving machine’ you might be expecting.
At lower speeds, there’s little to separate the two cars. Even on the Vorsprung’s 22in wheels, the Q7 delivers a relatively smooth and comfortable ride along most urban roads, although it’s worth noting that cheaper versions with their smaller rims are comfier still.
The X7 isn’t all that far behind; potholes and the like send small but noticeable shivers through its body, but then its suspension conducts its business in a quieter manner than the Q7’s. The two are similarly smooth on the motorway, and overall among the most comfortable luxury SUVs. .
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