Fashionably late, BMW’s X7 makes a splashy entrance
Words by: Adam Allen
You could almost hear BMW’s dealership network exclaiming exactly that when the X7 began rolling off transporters and into their showrooms. Sick and tired of watching potential customers looking for a three-row luxury SUV flocking to Cadillac and Mercedes Benz stores and plunking down significant dollars on Escalades or GLS models (among others), it couldn’t have arrived soon enough. Sharing its mechanical bits with both the smaller X5 and 7-series flagship, it’s a commendable first effort- such that you’ll have to work hard to dismiss the tired platitude of good things come to those who wait, but that’s likely exactly what those customers and sales folk alike were thinking who chose to bide their time.
Please do not ruin the lovely Ivory White Extended Marino Leather interior.
It’s expected that several letters similar to that effect will be penned, or at least from those parents who specify this colour interior. While black is a better choice to hide the inevitable neglect caused by the whippersnappers, it cannot be denied that our tester’s contrast of colours (the exterior Ametrine paint is exquisite) feels and looks expensive. The confines of the X7 brings many delights to driver and to those occupying the six additional on-board perches. The first thing you notice is something intangible, and that is the incredible serenity this big dog is capable of on the highway. It’s been said that the X7 is quieter than the Mercedes Benz S-Class, and while we cannot verify that empirically we can tell you that a conversation at whisper levels of volume is not only possible, but encouraged, such is the relaxed vibe. From the driver’s seat, the X7 looks very much like the M850i Gran Coupe we had in the Carpages Garage recently- every surface is painstakingly rendered in supple leather and the switchgear and gear lever are either made of knurled metallic or glass, depending on the touchpoint you happen to be running your fingers along. Our tester we equipped with the Premium Package ($8,000) which means it came with a whole bunch of stuff over and above the already lengthy list of standard kit- cooled and massaging seats, Ambient Air (which sets off a fragrance depending on your mood) and a not necessary but very cool Sky Lounge Panoramic Glass Sunroof which is the same idea of what you get were you kitting out your new Rolls Royce Phantom. For families who pooh-pooh minivans and who have the means to spoil themselves, they will be hard pressed to do better than the garden of delights offered by the X7.
This behemoth can really shake a leg.
Don’t let the prodigious size of the X7 fool you- despite its considerable girth and weight it doesn’t mind being asked to play. You’re not going to be pitching this beast from apex to apex, though- the X7 is still, at its core, very much a 7-series with increased ground clearance and we mean that in the best possible way. It positively glides over the worst late-winter tarmac can throw at it, its massive 21” wheels and air suspension shielding occupants from even the nastiest bumps and frost heaves. Actually, we found the default Comfort setting to be a little to marshmellow-y and preferred Sport as the default setting- it reigns in some of the nautical body motions nicely but doesn’t compromise the isolation from the nastiness of the roads- it feels as if it’s carpeting the tarmac beneath you. Sport Plus is fun for a few minutes but doesn’t quite gel with the X7’s overall demeanor as it’s too frenetic. For perspective, the Caddy, Benz and Range Rover are very much luxurious conveyances, but they simply don’t have the bandwidth of the X7 which has an inherent athleticism the others do not. Some of that credit goes to the magnificent, twice turbocharged 4.4 litre V8 that, while motivating a massive 540 kilos more than it did in the M850i Gran Coupe we just reviewed, produces unrelenting thrust channeled through the always excellent ZF 8-speed automatic and then further downstream to the trick electronic differential with torque vectoring and ultimately to the four contact patches. We adore this engine and think it suits the X7 perfectly, although we must admit that BMW’s brilliant 3.0 inline-six will be more than enough for most and is far less thirsty than its V8 counterpart.
What might go wrong?
About that thirst? Yeah, the X7 swills petrol at an astonishing rate. Actually, astonishing is an extremely poor choice of adjective here, because who would be surprised that a vehicle displacing 2,500-plus kilos powered by a 523-horsepower turbo V8 would get dismal fuel mileage? Also, it isn’t cheap. At $134,700, it is more expensive than an Escalade but less dear than a comparably equipped GLS580 and Range Rover respectively. One area where the others have the X7 beaten is the space they offer for 3rd row passengers. The other guys offer relatively palatial accommodations and cargo areas while the X7 feels a little snug.
Should I buy an X7?
As we’ve noted, there exists a healthy amount of choice in a segment that offers its own unique appeal. The Caddy is the most boastful of its bling, the Benz is a cavernous leather cocoon and the Range Rover is timelessly beautiful and immensely capable off-road. All would make an excellent high-end family bus but after spending a week in the X7 we found ourselves growing very fond of it while the others faded from thought. Its combination of seven passenger seating, faultless cruising manners and luxurious trappings will no doubt endear itself to you as well. That the X7 does all those things and still manages to keep its brand of BMW vigor for those times you aren’t schlepping everyone around is enough to vault it to the top of our list, even if it is a little late to the party.
2020 BMW X7 M50i – Specifications
- Price as tested: $134,700
- Body Type: 5-door, 7 passenger SUV
- Powertrain Layout: Front engine/all-wheel drive
- Engine: 4.4-litre twin turbo V8, DOHC, 32 valves
- Horsepower: 523 @ 6,000 rpm
- Torque (lb-ft.): 553 @ 1,800 rpm
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Curb weight: 2,568 kg (5,661 lbs)
- Observed Fuel Economy: 14.6/100km (16 mpg)