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First Drive

First Drive: BMW X7

The story:
BMW has added a new flagship at the top of its SUV line-up, sitting alongside the saloon 7-Series as the aspirational product from the German premium brand.
Category:Large SUV
Key rival:Mercedes GLS
BMW X7 xDrive30d M Sport
MPG:33.6 mpg
On sale:Now

The German premium brands appear to be involved in a never-ending effort to create and fill every conceivable niche, which is why BMW has added a seventh model to its SUV portfolio. And this one sits at the top in every sense of the word, with the X7 coming in above the X5/X6 pairing to sit as a range-topping SUV alongside the 7-Series luxury saloon.

A starting price of more than £70,000 illustrates that this is a car competing with the top-end of SUVs, such as the Mercedes GLS, while it undercuts a similarly powered Range Rover by around £10,000, and is the same distance more than Audi’s Q7.

First Drive-20th September 2019-BMW X7-Image 10The X7 is a full seven-seater, which means that all seven seats can house adult occupants, and it’s big enough that there’s still luggage space beneath the split tailgate (which doubles up as a handy perching ledge).

To drive, the X7 has the impression of a decidedly large car, and feels its near-2.4-tonne kerb weight. It’s not as nimble as smaller BMWs, rocking and rolling in the corners and it feels a heavy vehicle when slowing in particular, but it still has enough punch from our test car’s 265hp diesel engine to propel a full house of seven occupants at a decent pace.

BMW’s latest infotainment system has a very impressive breadth of capabilities, but the connectivity seems to be nearing the limit of what can be easily housed in a car system, and isn’t as navigable or user-friendly as early iterations. But the big digital dashboard is excellent, and the large front seats are comfortable for longer journeys. The electric folding of the five rear seats seems impressive at first glance, but the party trick can frustrate with the time taken to fold/unfold, and won’t always slide the middle row when required.First Drive-20th September 2019-BMW X7-Image 7

Then there’s the small matter of the looks. There’s no getting away from the boldness of the huge grille, which may have been designed with markets such as America and China in mind rather than the more conservative UK. It’s certainly not a car for those that want to avoid being noticed on arrival.

Still, the residual values and efficiency are both good, and the X7 offers the practicality that nothing else in the brand’s range, and not many cars from anywhere else, can offer.

Paul barker

The verdict

Impressive at what it does, but it’s a big beast at a high price with the looks that many may find challenging, especially the brash front end.