e X7 is BMW’s answer to those who desire 7-Series levels of luxury mixed with the space and practicality of an SUV. BMW did arrive a little late to the party, though considering the Mercedes-Benz GLS, its chief rival, has already moved to its second generation. But, as they say, better late than never so here it is then, BMW’s largest SUV or SAV as BMW prefers calling them.
Much of the discussion surrounding the X7 and its debut revolved around the size of BMW’s signature kidney grille and understandably so. It is massive! Like it or not, though, that grille plays a crucial role in giving it an imperious presence on the road. Besides, rivals like Audi and Lexus have gigantic grilles too so but I suppose it’s specifically the kidney grille in that size appears ungainly to some. Plus, the sleek headlamps, almost too sleek for a car this size, aren’t doing the grille any favours.
The X7 is a rather large car measuring 5m in length and 2m in width at the tape. The 3,105mm long wheelbase is actually more than the standard 7-Series, but about 105mm shorter than the long-wheelbase 7 sold here in India. All this means that there is no shortage of space in the cabin. The X7 packs in three rows of seats and even with the third row up there is space for 326 litres of luggage.
The dashboard, centre console, 12.3-inch all-digital instrument panel, 12.3-inch central screen et al. have been lifted straight from the X5. Passengers occupying the front seats are treated to electrically adjustable seats with more ways of adjusting than you can count on your fingers and heated/cooled cup holders. But the business end of things in the X7 is the second row. BMW will let buyers choose between a 3-seat bench or individual captain seats and we strongly recommend the latter which our test car came with. These seats are electrically adjustable and supremely comfortable, although positioned a touch low. But there is enough room for you to stretch your legs out so that shouldn’t be a problem.
Both second-row occupants get dedicated aircon controls along with vents on the B-pillar and between the front seats, 10.2-inch HD screens accompanied by USB and HDMI ports and headphone jacks and controls for the sunblinds and sunroof. Our only complaint, and it is a minor one, is that the cup holders are placed a touch too low and unlike the ones in the front they aren’t capable of heating or cooling. Accessing the third row is a tad cumbersome, but the second and first row move electrically at the touch of a button to make space for you to clamber on saving you a lot of effort. Space in the third row is decent for two and the sense of roominess is further enhanced courtesy the large quarter glass and the glass roof extending all the way to the third row. And a 5-zone climate control system means that even the ones sitting here get their own temperature setting. Honestly, the X7 has the nicest third row we’ve come across in recent times.
Comfort is the priority, as it should be, and it is fairly evident by the way the X7 performs on the road. The two-axle air suspension with damper control keeps the ride nice and cushy ironing out any imperfections the road throws at it. That said, BMW is a pioneer of sorts when it comes to sporty SUVs and X7 too displays those qualities in case you decide to get behind the wheel. Of course, if you’re looking for driving thrills then you’re barking up the wrong tree, but there is a certain level of agility and sharpness it possesses, especially in Sport mode, you wouldn’t normally expect from an SUV this size.
The xDrive30d variant we got our hands on borrows the X5’s straight-six 3.0-litre diesel in the same state of tune developing 265bhp of max power and 620Nm of peak torque. With a 0-100kmph time of 7.0s, it is fairly quick too, not that it matters all that much. But if you do want more performance, better acceleration from your full-size SUV, then we suggest waiting for the forthcoming M50d variant which uses a quad-turbo version of the same 3.0-litre diesel but outputs close to 400bhp and 760Nm.
Calling the BMW X7 a plus-sized X5 would be a horrible oversimplification of things. Sure, it shares more than a few bits with its younger sibling, but the X7 is much more than just that. If you do insist on drawing parallels with a car then the 7-Series would be a better candidate. It’s very spacious, very luxurious and very comfortable. The size can make it a little cumbersome in cramped streets or tight parking spots but there are plenty of cameras and electronics to help guide you. Besides, realistically speaking, most buyers will be driven around in one so handling it is your chauffeur’s headache. At Rs 92.50 lakh (ex-showroom), the BMW X7 has a lower starting price than the Mercedes-Benz GLS which is priced at Rs 99.90 lakh (ex-showroom). The X7 xDrive30d DPE Signature variant we drove retails for Rs 1.02 crore (ex-showroom) and although it is slightly more expensive than the Merc, it does have an edge over its arch-rival thanks to a slightly longer list of comfort features and second-row captain seats. The BMW X7 is quite easily one of the best luxury cars you can buy for roughly a crore or so.