I have to admit to loving excess in all things. Therefore, when the latest colossal BMW SUV arrived on my drive, l was not overly surprised to see the tarmac sink under its wheels and the birds take flight from the tree. This thing is huge and has a Germanic presence set to challenge allcomers in the sector – and scare the crap out of Poland!
The X7 is going up against competitors such as the Range Rover SVR, Porsche Cayenne, Audi RSQ7 and Mercedes GLS AMG – this is a tough sector and the BMW will have a fight on its hands. The X7 launched in 2018, and this new facelift model is the fast version with a barnstorming V8 4.4-litre, twin turbo power plant producing 523bhp with a mild hybrid 48V battery that adds a further 127bhp, filling in some of the torque gap. It will hit 62 mph in 4.7 seconds and, considering it weighs in at 2,565kg, or 2.8 tons, this acceleration is astonishing.
The new interior is very smart and the 14.6cm screen running across the dash displays everything required, plus a mountain of items not really required – and that runs into the driver’s dash screen. In all, a very user-friendly dash display with razor sharp graphics. The centre console houses an assortment of buttons, not least the drive modes.
For me, the best setup for town is engine and suspension in Comfort, and the steering in Sport. This gives a great feeling through the wheel whilst not trying to climb over the car in front. If that’s your thing, then stick it all in Sport Plus and hang on. You also have a huge panoramic glass roof, matrix LED lights, air suspension, parking cameras everywhere, and heated and chilled front seats.
The BMW iDrive 8 software is more complex than ever but a tad more accessible, if you pay attention.
This is a true seven-seater, and all seats are fully electric so no strain required to make any of the combin-ation of seats arrangements. The rear tail gate splits in two, much like the original Range Rover. This is a great arrangement as it gives you some-where to sit whilst sorting the kids/dog/dirty boots. And l didn’t know l ever needed them, but l quite like the heated and cooled cup holders.
The engine can be described as monstrous. The exhaust note is full of grunt and in Sport Plus, it will do things that a 2.8 ton car should not be able to do, and thanks to the active roll stabilisation system, differential and xDrive all-wheel drive system, this great mass sticks to the tarmac with minimal corner roll.
Once you fully trust the car, you can throw it into corners that logic – and physics – say you should certainly not be able to. The 23-inch wheels are the largest ever fitted to a production BMW, and they absorb just about everything the appalling UK roads can throw at it.
The elephant in the room of course is the sheer size of this beast. It’s not surprising that the majority (75%) of the sales are in the US, China and Korea as it really is too lardy for the UK roads. Parking is an issue as it will overhang every parking space, and travelling down small side roads caused me to bring the wing mirrors in sharpish and hold my breath.
The mass also reflects in the economy as, with around 21 mpg, it is not exactly frugal and l am pretty sure that with my leaden right foot, l didn’t even get close to that figure – but l was smiling every time l filled it up. For those interested, it is fully ULEZ compliant.
Of course, if you love the car then you don’t really need the earth-shattering performance of the M model as there are entry level 40i petrol and diesel models available from around £80,000.
In summary, this is an astonishing piece of world-class engineering with a superb interior, more performance that you could ever need in daily driving, a real world seven-seater and a joyous place to sit but like me, it is a dinosaur having its last hurrah before the Eco Brigade force us all into anonymous, soulless little electric boxes.
I, for one, will mourn the day we no longer have ‘real’ cars in our lives but then l guess that’s what the old timers said about the horse and cart!