What do you do when you’re good at making luxury limousines but SUVs are more popular than ever? That’s right; you develop a luxury SUV!
Launched back in 2019, the BMW X7 has split opinions ever since. This car is BMW’s answer to Mercedes-Benz their GLS and that means it’s Bayrische Motoren Werke biggest car ever. How big you ask? Well, the luxury SUV measures 5.15 meters in length, 2.22 meters from mirror tip to mirror tip, and reaches to a height of 1.81 meters. It’s that big that you can fit three seating rows into it, with all three of them spacious enough for adults. BMW has always been worshiped for the way their cars handle, so you can see why a 2400 kilogram SUV splits opinions. I spent four days with the car to form a proper opinion and came out surprised.
Size and how to handle that
Parked outside the BMW dealership, I couldn’t stop myself from giggling when I walked up to the car. Europe and big cars haven’t been a thing for a long time, so the sheer size of the BMW X7 is a new impression my brain had to process. Vincent, a salesman at Kalfsbeek BMW, handed me the ‘smart key’ and showed me some of the highlights of the car, one equipped with the 6 inline petrol version. Minutes later I found myself driving home and already getting used to the size, showcasing how intuitive the drive is. It’s only the seemingly smaller sized traffic that reminds you of this BMW’s proportions. To my surprise, this car fits like the proverbial glove. You’re never uncertain about where the front, back, or any part of the car is. That also counts for parking it, albeit for all the parking aids you’re helped by.
With the realization of the car’s massive size falling from my consciousness, I started to treat the super-sized SUV more and more as a car that isn’t that big or that heavy. Enter the first corner and you’ll be complementing the engineers over at BMW for their work. These engineers have successfully masked the fact that this car weighs nearly two and a half tonnes and towers nearly 2 meters high. How? A combination of software and hardware is used to exercise the dark magic at work here. Huge tires are one of them, with those measuring a massive 315mm on 22 inch at the back! The adaptive air suspension is also a big part of the magic at work, it limits body roll in the corners to an extent that you take roundabouts at speeds you shouldn’t be able to. This BMW X7 wasn’t equipped with the Executive Drive Pro option, a package that should increase handling further. Nor was it equipped with the off-road package.
Oasis with some imperfections
After two days with the car, the first thing I did after getting in was turning on the massage seats, put my coffee in the heated cup holder and play jazz through the high-end audio system (Bowers & Wilkins). This luxury SUV is more comfortable than the average living room. Almost every surface you touch has a quality feel to it. Yes, I used the word “almost” as some parts don’t feel this way. Some harder plastic parts of the BMW X7’s interior stand out because the rest feels so much better to the touch. An unfair contrast we see in more vehicles operating at the top of their segment: one imperfection is magnified because the rest is done so well. This luxury flagship is equipped with several BMW Individual options like the Alcantara roof lining and leather package.
While I’m ‘complaining’ anyway, I’ll point out some more things that the biggest BMW X-model fell short on. It mostly comes down to the infotainment and the digital dashboard. Compared to the competition these don’t offer the same level ergonomics or pixel definition for the screens. With these falling short, I was more than surprised by the quality of the head-up display. It even showed maps rather than just directional arrows, a welcome addition. The last thing I’ll be nagging about is the intelligent driving assistance. Every semi-autonomous adaptive cruise control is obligated to check if you’re still holding the steering wheel as a drive and that’s a problem with wide tires. There’s very little need for steering corrections on the highway, making the system falsely think you’re not holding the steering wheel and shutting off. I found myself rather using just cruise control than the high-tech version.
Drivetrain and conclusion
Powered by a 6 inline petrol engine, the BMW X7 40i I drove enjoyed 340hp and 450 Nm of torque. This power is sent to all four wheels via a Steptronic transmission. A setup that allows this mastodon to hit a hundred kilometers an hour in just 6.1 seconds and pushes it up to 245 KPH. I’m normally someone who likes to use the available power, but remarkably enough the need for that dissipated with this vehicle. There’s such an oasis of calm that I only floored it once or twice during the four days. This also showed in the fuel consumption I managed to achieve: 10,1L/100km with highway and city driving. An impressive feat for a petrol engine in a car with this weight.
Overall the BMW X7 surprised me. I feared I wouldn’t be able to look past the exterior design but that grew on me quickly. I feard it would be too big to use, but it is very useable in everyday life. It even offers 1.5 meters distance between the driver and the third row, making it COVID-19 proof. I was worried about the fact that its air suspension would make me seasick as the Mercedes-Benz GLE did, but it didn’t. The level of comfort and quality the car offers is immense, even reminding me of the Bentley Bentayga I drove back in 2017. BMW has truly made an SUV-sized 7 Series. But the hefty price tag in the European/Dutch market makes its existence here questionable. Prices for the BMW X7 40i start at just a few hundred euros over € 90.000 (without € 31.657,00 BPM). Sales won’t be like in the States but the few Europeans that can afford this car, they will be riding like kings. No doubt about that.
A big ‘thank you’ to Kalfsbeek BMW for handing us the keys to the BMW X7 40i! This specific car is now up for sale if you’re interested.