When you look at the BMW X7, it conjures up several adjectives that one can oftentimes associate with proportion and luxury: excessive, extravagant, extra, extreme, extraordinary – you get the idea… See, you can’t quite help it, because when an X5 is just a mite too ‘everyone has one of those’ for you, the big-X is the next logical choice.
The super SUV is not an entirely novel concept. BMW decided to launch the first in its line-up of super-sizable SUVs internationally in the USA where it is merely known as a, well, SUV. Here in the Republic of SA, though, it’s considered to be big, very big. But even here, it’s not the first of this kettle with the likes of the Land Cruiser 200, the Nissan Patrol that also doubled as an Infiniti QX80 and then, of course, the kryptonite to the super BMW, the Mercedes-Benz GLS that is also bound to make a local appearance in the not too distant future.
At first, it’s rather difficult to wrap your head around the size of the X7. To give you some perspective, it’s 5,151 mm long of which the wheelbase takes up 3,105 mm, while it is 2,000 mm wide and 1,805 mm high. This all adds up to a rather sizable vehicle that has a lot of road presence.
To make it even more arresting, the X7, like its 7 Series sibling, features the newly designed kidney grille that the carmaker is incorporating into its executive series. In the case of the X7, however, it is the largest grille ever fitted to a BMW and yes, it’s huge – by any stretch of the imagination.
The interior, while lavish, is by no means excessive. BMW managed to incorporate just the right amount of luxuries at just the right place to create that well-balanced act of what some might deem the good life.
Like its slightly smaller X5 sibling, the big X is also available with the ‘Crafted Clarity’ crystal gear selector and front cupholders that have both a heating and cooling function. To aid connectivity and the multi-media experience, the BMW Live Cockpit Professional comes as standard and operates on both the 12.3” digital instrument cluster as well as the similarly sized 12.3” centrally mounted display.
Partly utilising the interface is the Bowers & Wilkins Diamond 3D surround sound system that boasts 20 speakers and a 1,500 W output. Furthermore, the overall ambience can be altered with a selection of eight different fragrances that can fill the cabin and six different interior lighting colours.
While we didn’t get to enjoy any of the 15,000 illuminated elements that come courtesy of the Sky Lounge panorama roof during our day-driving stint with the X7, it just adds the finishing touches of extravagance to the cabin.
DRIVING AN XL X
The first thing that was evident when driving the X7 was that, despite its broad-shouldered stature, it didn’t feel its size. Don’t get me wrong, though, it provided a commanding driving position but without any of the usual visibility drawbacks.
It’s also extremely comfortable. So much so that while sitting in the second row (with the optionally available individual seats) I managed to get some work done without so much as sparing a thought that my driving partner was doing the national speed limit on a poorly maintained stretch of blacktop – despite the 22″ wheels that were fitted to our unit. Behind the wheel, though, the near 2.5-tonne weight of the X7 made its presence felt, especially through the gradual sweeps where it doesn’t quite know where to shift its weight.
For now the X7, like the X5, is only available with a single diesel engine that comes with two different specification levels. Under the bonnet of the X7 xDrive 30d lives a 3.0-litre turbodiesel engine that produces a meaty 195 kW at 4,000 r/min and 620 Nm that is available from as early as 2,000 r/min. The M50d derivative, on the other hand, is propelled forwards with the same oil burner with the addition of three extra turbochargers over that of the 30d. The result is 294 kW at 4,400 r/min and 760 Nm at 2,000 r/min.
While both engines offer smooth and eager forward propulsion, with the addition of a gruff six-cylinder soundtrack resonating from the 50d, I maintain that my pick would be the 30d engine when all aspects from power to price are considered. Not at any stage did it feel like it was heaving along the test route with the immense bulk of the big X, while also returning relatively frugal figures.
You can’t quite help but leave awe-struck after experiencing the sheer scale and generosity of luxury that is becoming of the largest SUV in BMW’s portfolio. However, many of what it offers is not unique, or even a novel concept: the X5, for instance, left an impression for introducing the marque’s now mainstay tech revolution locally. The new 7 Series, for me personally, is a better overall executive luxury cruiser. Sportiness? Nope, that would be the forte of the 8 Series.
The X7 has one extraordinary talent, though, and that is to get you noticed in an executive carpark overflowing with cutesy medium-sized SUVs. “Look, everyone, the big boss has arrived.”
Report by DEON VAN DER WALT | Images © BMW SOUTH AFRICA