BMW’s new range-topping model, the X7 sets the bar higher for 4X4 capability, spaciousness, comfort and performance.
Bigger is apparently better, at least in the case of SUVs. Case in point: BMW’s new range topping model, the X7.This larger than life vehicle was introduced just last year, setting the bar higher for 4X4 capability, spaciousness, comfort and performance. Measuring 5,151 millimetres long, 2,000 wide and 1,805 tall to say it looks imposing on the road is an understatement.
Controversially, BMW also debuted a different take on the iconic kidney grille. The example on the X7 has a matte aluminum finish and is stretched to almost exaggerated proportions, taking up most of the front fascia’s real estate. On either side are standard adaptive LED headlamps that can be optionally upgraded to the high-tech Laserlight system.
Like all other contemporary offerings in the lineup, Air Breathers behind the forward wheels aid aerodynamics. At the rear, the LED taillights illuminate as thin flat lines, connected by a single chrome strip similar to the previous generation 7 Series executive sedan. As the flagship, one would expect the cabin to be among the nicest found in any BMW. And the assumption is confirmed as spaciousness and appointments are over the top. Firstly there are three rows of seating to accommodate up to seven adults, affording 1,011, 954 and 846 millimetres of legroom, respectively. Optionally, the second row can be converted from three-occupant bench to two individual captain’s chairs.
Darpan’s week-long tester included the $8,000 Premium Package, which adds the Sky Lounge Panoramic Glass Sunroof, ventilated seats with massage function for the front as well as “Crafted Clarity.” The last item adds a Swarovski crystal treatment to the gear and volume knobs, start stop button and the rotary iDrive controller. While spectacular, sunglasses are a necessity in the summer to avoid glare bouncing off shifter.
The X7 features the latest Live Cockpit Professional digital instrument cluster and iDrive 7.0 infotainment system, both utilizing a pair of 12.3-inch high resolution displays and among the most intuitive setups in the industry. Our vehicle had the excellent head-up display equipped projecting important data such as the speed limit, velocity, and navigation instructions directly onto the windshield. Available in xDrive40i and the grade-topping M50i trim, we piloted the latter with the massive 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 under the hood, mated to an eight-speed Sport Steptronic automatic transmission, the same mill used in other M Performance applications in the lineup i.e. the X6 M50i and M850i. Although at 2,568 kilograms the X7 is the portliest of the bunch, the 523 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque accelerate the SUV surprisingly well.
All that mass and grunt comes at a price though — over a week of driving my fuel consumption averaged as high as 19.6 L/100 km mark. The xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive system, M Sport differential and double wishbone front/five-link rear adaptive air suspension (capable of lowering the ride height 20 millimetres when travelling greater than 72 km/h) help the mammoth X7 manoeuvre more like a smaller one. Steering wheel response is quick and accurate, although body roll is unsurprisingly still noticeable given the size of the vehicle.
Parking Assistant Plus makes pulling into spots a breeze too, thanks to multiple cameras and sensors alerting the driver when the SUV gets too close to other objects. The Top View mode gives a top-down perspective helping perfectly align with stall lines almost every time. The 2020 BMW X7 M50i is built in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and starts at $114,050.
Motor: 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8
Horsepower: 523 @ 5,500 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 553 @ 1,800 rpm
Gearbox: Eight-speed automatic
Layout: Front engine, all-wheel drive
Fuel economy: 19.6 L/100 km mixed city/highway (observed)