GRR

BMW goes big – meet the new X7

17th October 2018
Bob Murray

Now that’s what you call a grille –  the kidney-shaped appendage you see before you is, officially, the largest in BMW history. Which is appropriate for this, one of the largest cars from BMW ever and the new flagship of the of the X-drive SUV range. Revealed today (October 17), meet the new BMW X7.

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We had a taste of what the new luxury seven-seater would be like a year ago when BMW unveiled the concept. With a design that embraced the surprisingly perpendicular – “vertical solidity” they called it – the concept X7 caused controversy, but it’s clear now the production model is less polarising, even though it is still a shock to see a BMW with such a square jaw.

What apart from the imposing design does the X7 bring to BMW’s SUV party? Chiefly space. At more than 5.1m long, it is 265mm (10 inches) longer than the X5,  most that increase being spliced into the wheelbase to make room for the third-row seating. The X7 is also wider and a couple of inches taller than the X5.

So it’s big, if not quite as large as its main seven-seat luxury SUV rival, the Mercedes-Benz GLS. The size brings with it what BMW calls “a fresh sensation of space” for the luxury segment, allowing the designers the freedom to go to town on the cabin.

You can have your X7 in either seven-seat 2-3-2 form or as a six-seater with a pair of individual seats in each row. That’s the comfort option, but in either case all seats are adult-sized and electrically adjustable, and those right in the back come complete with armrests, cupholders and USB ports. The rear doors are wider than the fronts to make getting into the back easier.

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Want to switch from people carrier to load lugger? The second and third row seats fold down to take luggage space up to a maximum of a welsh-dresser-swallowing 2,120 litres. Note, though, that in seven-seat form boot capacity is just 326 litres which is a lot smaller than the five-seat X5’s boot.

Unlike the X5, though, the X7 comes with a Range Rover-style split tailgate with electric opening and closing as standard. Handily it can also be specified with remote opening, while there’s also a button to lower the rear of the car so big loads can slide in (or dogs jump in) more easily.

So there’s practicality here, along with somewhere to sit to change into your wellies, but chiefly the thrust is on luxury. Standard are quality leather, three-section panoramic glass roof, four-zone automatic climate control, heated seats all round, an array of ambient and ‘welcome’ lighting systems and a fully digital dash with huge screens and the new “Hey BMW” virtual assistant.

Optional are details like cooled or heated cupholders and a glass-topped gear selector, along with (thanks Rolls-Royce) a Sky Lounge glass roof embedded with LEDs to recreate the twinkling night sky. For those who want more there’s the Design Pure Excellence and M Sport equipment lines.

A luxury ride should be assured thanks to standard air suspension and adaptive dampers, along with BMW’s regular suite of chassis-control systems. The most nimble handling X7s will feature the active steering and active roll stabilisation package, which is an option. There are driver aids by the bucketload too, including as standard a reversing assistant to take the hard work out of squeezing this big car into small parking spaces.

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Deep windows all round make the most of the view out of this high-riding all-roads limo. And when the road runs out? There’s an optional off-road package which varies ride height by up to 80mm and offers a range of bespoke terrain modes, badged xSand, xGravel, xRocks and xSnow.

You can get the off-road pack on all but the flagship for Europe, the 400PS (395bhp) X7 M50d. Yep, a six-pot diesel. There is a petrol V8, the xDrive50i with 462PS, but that’s not for Europe, says BMW. Still, the M50d has a mountain of torque (760 Nm, 560lb ft) gets to 62mph in just 5.4 seconds, returns up to 40mpg  and comes with (electronic) M Sport rear diff as standard (it’s optional on the others). Rear-biased all-wheel drive is provided by the well-proven intelligent BMW xDrive set-up and all models come with eight-speed Steptronic transmission.

Entry petrol car is the X7 xDrive40i (340PS, 0-62 6.1secs and 32mpg) and entry diesel version is the X7 xDrive30d (265PS, 0-62 7secs and 43mpg). You can bet more engines, including electrified options, will be following pretty soon after the market launch.

The BMW X7 range arrives in the UK in April 2019 with prices starting at £72,155, making it around £12k more than equivalently powered X5s but, more important,  right on the tail of its Mercedes GLS rival.

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