This is big. Literally. After many years of being ridiculed by many of my friends and myself, the BMW X range of SUVs finally gets a new member that has coloured me impressed. It’s the brand new BMW X7.
I will admit that BMW doesn’t call its big cars SUVs and instead labels them as SAVs (Sports Activity Vehicle) but to the rest of us, it’s pretty much all the same broad category. For BMW the X range began in 1999 with the X5 which was then followed by the X3 in 2004. Following a facelift, it launched the coupé version of its big SUV, the X6 in 2008 and then the smallest version, the X1 in 2009. But just like its German rivals Mercedes-Benz and Audi, BMW doesn’t like to leave any gaps and so it introduced the X4 in 2014 as more of a coupé version of the X3. More recently, at the end of 2017, we were shown the new X2 which is a coupé version of the X1 with sales starting early 2018. Now we have something new, something that was never before built and is not a coupé version of anything else, after almost 20 years since the first BMW X model – the biggest one yet, the X7.
BMW’s latest big car measures in at 5151mm long, 2000mm wide and 1805mm tall with a wheelbase of 3105mm. It’s got a very tall, upright stance with all the chrome accents accentuating the lines and the opulent aura. The first element to notice on the X7 is the ridiculously large BMW kidney grille, the largest ever designed for one of the brand’s models. It’s a love it or hate it kind of design and I’m in the camp that likes the massive grille, and its size is highlighted by the slim design of the LED headlights. The optional BMW Laserlight with adaptive LED headlights makes it look way meaner while also increasing the reach of the beams to a max of 600 metres.
In side profile, the X7’s large windows with the three-part panoramic glass roof flood the interiors with plenty of light. There are three rows of seats for seven passengers as standard with two individual comfort seats for the second row as optional. In both configurations, the second-row seats can slide longitudinally and the adjustments are electric for all three rows. The backrests of the seats in the second and third row can also fold down and up electrically with the buttons located on the driver’s side in the boot. The new BMW X7 gets a lot of boot space – 326 litres with all rows up which increases to a maximum of 2120 litres.
The BMW X7 rides considerably higher from the ground with the biggest 22-inch wheels housed in the rounded contouring of the wheel arches while 20-inch alloys come as standard. The chrome strips around the door sills which extend up to the Air Breathers and are continued in the rear apron add to its elegant stance.
Moving around to the back, the design is broken up by horizontal lines and vertical edges. From this angle, the X7 has a few identifiable design cues from the 7 Series luxury sedan like the slim LED taillamps with a chrome bar bridging the two units. The chunky underguard between the exhaust tailpipe embellishers is not a design element that appeals to me but it may indicate to the car’s mild off-road capabilities.
Underneath the luscious exterior design is a fine example of BMW engineering in terms of the chassis, suspension and drivetrains. The X7 gets the xDrive AWD system with a range of engines – a newly developed 4.4-litre turbo-petrol V8 (X7 xDrive50i: 462hp/650Nm), a 3.0-litre six-cylinder in-line turbo-petrol (X7 xDrive40i: 340hp/450Nm) and a pair of 3.0-litre six-cylinder in-line diesel engines (xDrive30d: 265hp/620Nm and M50d M Performance tuning: 400hp/760Nm). All the engines are teamed up with an 8-speed Steptronic transmission to put the power down.
The xDrive system is electronically controlled for the ideal torque split depending on the driving circumstances and maintains a rear-biased set-up when the X7 is being driven in a spirited manner. If needed, all of the drive power can be sent to rear wheels only. On the M50d variant and on the xDrive50i in conjunction with an off-road package, the X7 is fitted with an M Sport differential for the sporty driving experience to match the car’s performance.
For enhanced ride comfort, the BMW X7 is equipped with two-axle air suspension with automatic self-levelling which also comes as standard. The car’s dynamic stability control is the brain that manages all the different driving characteristics of this massive SUV and that includes the suspension and handling. When driven quickly if the car goes quicker than 138kph, the ride height automatically gets lowered by 20mm. But if you’re taking it off the smooth highway tarmac, there’s a button in the cockpit to raise the X7’s ride height in two stages to a maximum of 40mm higher than the standard ground clearance. There’s another button but in the luggage compartment that lowers the rear end of the car by 40mm for loading things past the split tailgate more easily.
For a car this size, which is more than 5 metres longs, four-wheel-steering is a must for easy manoeuvrability and BMW’s version is called ‘Integral Active Steering’. There is an extra option called Executive Drive Pro which adds active roll stabilisation to handle the mass of the X7, especially when cornering.
Another SUV-option on the spec list is the Off-Road package. This goes beyond the exterior rugged underguard elements and also features its own special graphics in the driver’s instrument cluster and the central control display. There’s also an extra button on the centre console for selecting four driving modes which allow the car to set itself up in a variety of ways – xSnow, xSand, xGravel and xRocks. These modes can activate the ideal settings for the X7’s ride height, the xDrive system, throttle response, transmission control and corrective inputs from the DSC depending on the driving surface.
After about 10 paragraphs of talking about the new BMW X7’s exterior and mechanical bits, let’s climb into the interiors of this luxury 7-seater SUV. The cabin does look like a fantastic place to be in with all the luxurious and plush materials for the clean yet identifiably BMW interiors. It has two 12.3-inch displays with the BMW OS 7.0 – one for the driver’s instrument cluster and the other a touchscreen Control Display infotainment system that is also the interface for various settings of the X7. The controls can also be operated via the iDrive controller, steering wheel buttons, voice control and gesture control as well. There is also the new personal assistant that can be beckoned awake by saying ‘Hey BMW’ to activate in-car experiences and be a digital butler while you use your hands to drive and keep your eyes on the road. It also has the newest iteration of the BMW Head-Up Display and the vehicle will also get functional updates over the air when released.
The BMW X7 gets four-zone automatic climate control as standard and five-zone control as optional. The options list also includes controls with glass applications, an Ambient Air package for air ionisation and a selection of scents, a 20-speaker Bowers & Wilkins Diamond surround sound system, rear-seat entertainment and the coolest one is the Panorama glass roof sky lounge. That last one has LED light spreading evenly across the glass to illuminate more than 15,000 graphic patterns to create BMW’s own starlit sky and it can all be adapted as desired.
Onto the final talking point for just about any new car, be it a brand-new model or a generation change or even a mild facelift – assistance and safety systems. The BMW X7 has the full suite: active cruise control with stop-and-go function, steering and lane control assistant, lane change warning, lane departure warning, lane keeping assistant, side collision protection, evasion aid, crossing traffic warning, emergency stop assistant, parking assistant with rear camera and reversing assistant. And a few more still.
The BMW X7 will be gunning for their biggest market first and will be manufactured in the USA plant with sales starting from March 2019.
So, it’s comfortable, luxurious, has a lot of modern driving tech and it’s a totally new, really big BMW. The X7 spells trouble for rivals like the Mercedes-Benz GLS and Audi Q7, both of which are pending updates in the coming year. It might even give the Range Rover a run for its money in terms of spaciousness and baller-image when driven around town by rich folks or with serious mobsters and heads of state being chauffeured around in convoys. I imagine it being specced without any of the extra shiny chrome bits or roof rails and completely in black with the exterior trims in gloss black. Scary.
There is still a level of opulence above these luxury 7-seaters, one occupied by the likes of the Bentley Bentayga and the Rolls-Royce Cullinan above it. But with a price of just around $100K, the BMW X7 is a very compelling option.
What do you think of the new BMW X7? Do you agree with us that it’s better than the current GLS and Q7? Share your thoughts in the comments below the gallery. Leave a like if you enjoyed this post and don’t forget to subscribe to The Auto Loons for the all the updates on our latest content.