BMW’s X-series are always a little bit better to drive than other SUVs. It’s all down to the suspension, which is the only thing that can mask the weight of the vehicle in a corner. First, there was the X3, which was remarkably car-like to drive. But people noted that the decent handling came at the cost of ride quality. That’s why the new BMW X7 has air suspension all-round.
The previous flagship BMW SUV was the X5M. It was fast because it could do 0-60 mph in 4.3 seconds. That’s just four-tenths of a second slower than a Bentayga, and a whole second faster than the quickest Audi Q7. The X5M was fast, but anyone who wants a fast car would be better off in a light Jaguar F-Type. So BMW has decided to be practical and built a family car out of their SUV. But there is a problem – it’s the American definition of a family car. That’s why the first thing you’ll notice about the new X7 is that it’s colossal. This is the new flagship SUV for the automaker, and it is the larger for it.
It has 7 seats and most of them are great to sit in. You can have the middle row as two separate captain chairs or one wide split-folding bench. The third row has some of the usual third-row niggles. There is no centre armrest, and the seat is a bit low for slightly taller people. But the third row gets its own sunroof and there is enough leg and head room. The air suspension makes sure you don’t spill your tea back there. The middle row is luxurious and electrically adjustable. You do get a cup holder in the six-seater version, but it won’t hold cognac flutes, and is located so low you might hit it with your foot. The full-panoramic sunroof makes it quite relaxing back there and the headrest pillows really make it hard not to fall asleep.
The X7 can be had with three petrol engines and two diesels. There is the base-line X& xDrive 40i, with 335 hp and 332 lb-ft. That little turbo inline-six can leap to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds. The 50i and M50i both have 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8s. The M50i is nearly as quick as the X5M, taking 4.5 seconds to get to sixty. The two diesels are also interesting – a single-turbo inline-six which needs 7 seconds to get up to 60 mph, and a quad-turbo version of the same engine which makes 561 lb-ft of truck-like torque.
The BMW X7 isn’t really German. The German idea for a good family car is the Beetle. The X7, like all X-series cars, was born in Spartanburg in South Carolina. That explains the big grille which looks like the swollen snout of a bee-stung dog. If you can get over what this is and who it is for, the X7 really is a King of the road!