I’m not saying the BMW X7 is big but on a recent motorway journey it was charged the toll for a bus!
Of course this was an error compounded by contactless payment and following a phone call was promptly corrected. I did giggle at the thought of the seven seat luxurious beast being considered a bus – what would the ladies who lunch say? I mean, I nearly spilled my half caff double shot frappuccino!
The Spartanburg (US) built X7 40d on test features a revised diesel engine at its heart aided by a mild 48-volt hybrid system. This modest hybrid assistance helps reduce emissions and deliver improved fuel economy. BMW has, from the middle of 2020, introduced mild hybrid technology in numerous models ‘to provide support and relief for the combustion engine’. Its electrified MHEV set up consists of a 48-volt ‘starter-generator’ that enables particularly intensive braking energy recuperation, it also features an additional battery to store the electricity generated. The 48-volt battery not only supplies the electrically operated vehicle functions, it also makes its energy available to generate additional drive power. BMW says “For this purpose the current flows back to the starter generator, which now takes on the role of an electric drive”. This reduces the load on the engine, allowing it to run as often as possible in an efficiency-optimised load range. The generator also creates an electric boost during acceleration. An additional 11hp goes to support a more ‘dynamic power delivery’ during start and acceleration
No matter what angle you look at an X7 – it is a blocky beast. Surprisingly the very first time I drove an X7 it only took a few moments to get over its bulk. Once inside the large and spacious cabin you are infused with a feeling of contentment usually reserved for owners of full fat Range Rovers. The cabin materials and switchgear all feel very familiar with loads of X5 bits and pieces on view. The iDrive interface, gesture control and HUD head up display are things higher end BMW owners know well. The X7 comes with lots of toys to help justify its asking price. On a few long country runs we came away with most praise for the glorious sound system, and its rich bass end. Also subtle details like being able to adjust precisely where the heated seats deliver most of their heat meant you could hop in with a sore back and get out after a long drive revived (I did!).
The X7 on the open road is a near supreme effortless mile muncher. Our test car had an optional artificially enhanced exhaust note to play with – so under acceleration the car could deliver a nice powerful growl. On Ireland’s twisty and narrow rural roads the X7 can feel bulky, but it goes where you point it and is easily placed in its lane thanks to its near vertical flanks and commanding driving position. The X7’s drving dynamics are adjustable and selectable drive modes can be switched on using little press buttons. The modes do as they say and ‘comfort was perhaps our most selected on long journeys. In comfort it doesn’t deliver quite a magic carpet ride but is very pleasant none the less. Usually in most BMWs I leave the drive mode selection in ‘Adaptive’ that, well, adapts to your driving style.
So no complaints up front. The middle row and rear two seats are electric also and they fold with the press of a button or two. Sadly this indulgent electrified process works very slowly and on a rainy day getting kids or adults swiftly in to the car will frustrate you. Okay so the kids will fire themselves in and climb over any obstacle but not so older passengers who tend to be a little reluctant to climb over seat backs! One of the major pains with seven-seaters is that if you get a puncture you’re goosed. The X7 rides on ‘runflat’ tyres and this is a big plus as it eliminates the need to empty the back of the car to change a punctured tyre!
Our test car, an X7 xDrive 40d M Sport model starts from €133,940 (would you believe the car costs €73K and the rest is VRT & VAT). Our ‘intelligent all wheel drive’ car had a few options like the M Sport Pro Pack, a massive sunroof and electric folding tow-hitch and other bits and pieces (€8,237 or €4,490 pre VRT & VAT) that brought the price up to €142,147. Once your in six figures the car has to deliver more than the sum of its parts and the X7 does a very good job of delivering premium seven seat comfort with sufficient power. Get it while the kids are young so you’ll get the full value over many years of having an MPV SUV!