BMW's X7 classily meets the needs of wealthy buyers wanting a super-luxury large SUV and needing to seat up to seven adults. It's essentially a super-sized X5, but it makes far more of a pavement statement and inside, feels very high-end indeed. If you don't much care what the neighbours think - or perhaps even if you do - then you'd probably quite like one.
The brand wants you to think of this as a 7 Series that could go off road, rather than a larger X5. But it does share most with that SUV, including all its engines - there are three. Diesel-haters will want the minority-interest xDrive40i variant with its 335hp in-line six cylinder petrol unit but most will select the 261hp xDrive30d with its six cylinder diesel. Another six cylinder diesel is found in the flagship M50d, this one with no fewer than four turbochargers boosting output to 394hp. All units use the same familiar 8-speed ZF auto gearbox and, as you'd expect at this level of the market, feature full air suspension.
Tellingly, the 'Off Road Package' that provides a locking differential and extra driving modes is only optional. The driver can adjust the body's ground clearance for off-road driving by pushing a button in the cockpit to raise it in two stages up to 40mm above the standard setting. Tarmac is of course this SUV's preferred habitat where it rides with suppleness in 'Comfort' mode and handles with actually quite a lot of verve if you set the 'Drive Performance Controller' to 'Sport'. The commanding driving position helps and it's necessary because otherwise, this car's sheer bulk might easily feel intimidating on narrower roads.
This is, by some way, the biggest car BMW has ever made. In size terms, it's a fraction larger than a Range Rover and a fraction smaller than the SUV that's probably this X7's closest rival, the Mercedes GLS. This BMW is 5.15m long and 1.81m high - compare that to an X5, which is 4.92m long and 1.75m high. There's a full 2-metres of width too. Like the X5, the X7 rolls down the production lines of BMW's US Spartanburg plant.
Inside, you sit high and the rear window seems a long way off. Most of the cabin technology and architecture is predictably shared with the X5 - principally the 12.3-inch digital screens used for the centre-dash monitor and the instrument cluster - and there's a huge part-opening glass roof to flood the cabin with light. There's obviously plenty of middle row space (the centre row slides fore and aft) and even those consigned to the third row seats won't feel too short-changed, though getting to them past the forward edge of the rear wheel arch can be challenging. The standard boot capacity is 326-litres. Drop the two rear seating rows and 2,121-litres of carriage space is freed up. A button in the luggage compartment activates a loading mode that lowers the car by 40mm.
Really exotic super-luxury SUVs like the Bentley Bentayga, the Lamborghini Urus, the Rolls Royce Cullinan and the Range Rover are all very well, but they only actually seat five people. If you want to seat seven with ultimate SUV luxury and you want something a bit nicer than, say, an Audi Q7 or a Volvo XC90, up until now, your only option was the Mercedes GLS. Now though, we think you'll be drawn to this X7.
There'll be plenty of people who'll say that this car is too big for our market. They said that about the Mercedes GLS when it was launched and were proved wrong: they will be again here. Bavaria's most imposing piece of automotive real estate will have a distinctive appeal if you like the brand's cool sporting vibe, have a large family and want the very best. Size matters. But then you always knew that didn't you.Click here to find out more about our BMW X7 range