2019 BMW X7 Review – First Drive
Paul Horrell’s First Drive 2019 BMW X7 Review with Price, Specs, Performance, Ride and Handling, Safety, Verdict and Score.
IN A NUTSHELL BMW’s lineup of smart high-tech crossovers goes one larger. Meet the X7, with seven full-lux seats and plenty power and equipment.
2019 BMW X7 30d Specifications (Australian spec)
Price $119,000+ORC Warranty 3 years, unlimited km Engine 3.0L diesel turbo Power 195kWkW at 4000rpm Torque 620Nm at 2000-2500rpm Transmission 8-speed auto Drive four-wheel drive Body 5151mm (l); 2000mm (w exc mirrors); 2218mm (w inc mirrors); 1805mm (h) Turning circle 13.0m Towing weight 2200kg (braked), 750kg (unbraked) Kerb weight 2370kg Approach/departure angles 25.0/22.2 Breakover angle 19.8 degrees Ground clearance 221mm claimed Wading depth 500mm Seats 6 or 7 Fuel tank 80 litres Spare No Thirst 6.6L/100km combined cycle
It’s easy to explain the X7. Just as a 7-series is to a 5-series saloon, so the X7 is to the X5 crossover. Bigger in every dimension, and more luxurious, with plenty of exterior jewellery to bring bystanders’ attention to the fact. You could grill a barbie for a small town on that humungous pair of chromed kidneys.
The size means it can fit in seats for up to seven. To cope with varying loads, it gets air suspension and adaptive damping as standard. That setup also means the chassis can lower and tune itself for fast roads, or raise up for off-roading. Oh and a push of a button drops the height for loading, too.
The first models into Oz are a 30d diesel and M50d triple-turbo diesel.
What’s the interior like?
It’s honestly hard to think of an interior anywhere that better combines practicality, space and versatility with outright luxury. Yeah, you’ll talk about the Rolls Cullinan, Bentley Bentayga and the Range Rover, but they seat only five. Lexus LX? Not so well suspended. The big American SUVs? That too, and nowhere near as well finished. The new-generation Mercedes GLS? As I write this it’s not yet available.
The perceived quality is everything a modern BMW is, but with a touch more lux than anything this side of a 7-series. More surfaces are faced in stitched leather and there are more metallised plastic (quite convincing actually) details. Only the slightly fiddly front climate-control buttons let the side down.
The front seats are BMW’s ‘comfort’ type as standard, which means the upper shoulder region of the backrest hinges independently of the lower half. All the seat adjustments, for all three rows including folding, are electric as standard. They’re properly welcoming.
You can opt at slight extra cost for a six-seat layout with captains’ chairs in the middle row. They’re heated and have recline, tilt and adjustable armrests. Those two rear seats are pretty much as roomy and supportive as the front ones. They also have their own climate zones.
In the seven-seat version the one in the middle of row two would feel a bit cold-shouldered, as it’s a narrower perch over the transmission tunnel. An optional rear entertainment pack gives big screens on the backs of the front seats, and an independent DVD player.
Even row three is OK for adults on a half-hour mission. They too have cupholders, heated seats, power outlets and reading lights and vents. And their own glass roof, with an electric blind. An option pack includes a fifth climate zone for the two people back there.
Behind row three is a 326 litre boot – similar to say a VW Polo’s. So you’d need a roof box if seven of you are going on holiday. A space under the floor holds the luggage blind ready for when it’s in two-row mode.
As a two-row car it turns into a proper SUV for five and luggage: the boot size is now a vast 750 litres. To get that configuration all you have to do is pull a couple of switches. The middle seats slide forward, the rearmost fold into the floor, then the middle ones motor back to the starting position. Takes a while, but zero effort.
The tailgate, a split job, is also electric for both parts. If you’re shoving heavy stuff in there, just press another switch and the air suspension kneels down.
What’s the infotainment like?
It’s BMW’s new-generation system we’ve already covered in reviewing the X5 and 3-series. The main parts are a big central touchscreen. Running across there are tiles of concise info (you can easily pick which ones to display from, say comm, nav, music, trip, weather and more). Touch any of these tiles and get more detailed info and commands.
But if you don’t much like jabbing with a bouncing finger at a screen as the car rides a bumpy road, there’s still the excellent iDrive controller down in the console. That’s an even more appreciated item now that Audi has joined Volvo, Tesla and others in going to touch-only. It’s also better than Mercedes and Lexus’s touchpads.
Apple CarPlay is fitted as standard. So your music, SMS, Whatsapp (by voice) and more are handily within reach. Carplay includes Google Maps as well as Apple Maps, so you can chose either of those instead of using the native BMW navigation – though if you do you won’t get junction directions in the HUD.
A row of shortcut hardkeys below the screen allows you to set up direct access to your own frequent commands, such as phoning home, bringing up the tone sliders, or turning on and off the map’s traffic info.
The voice activation system is pretty sophisticated. The final input method, gesture control, is just tomfoolery. Several times in one trip I was gesticulating to my passenger and the bloody system tuned the stereo up. You can turn gesture control off.
The driver’s instruments, as we grumbled before, are silly-shaped polygons rather than BMW’s old lovely legible dials. But then, in a car like this, you’re less likely to be watching the rev-counter than you are in say a 330i. Plus BMW’s brilliant head-up display is standard for Oz-market X7s.
The test car had the optional Bowers and Wilkins-branded hi-fi. It includes tweeters above your head to give a wonderful rich 3d sound.
What’s the performance like?
Because BMW first let the X7 into the wild in the USA, where it’s built, our experience was of the petrols, whereas Oz will get a 30d and M50d diesels. Still, we know the 30d powertrain well, having recently driven it in the X5.
First though the 40i, in case Oz gets it later. It’s a terrifically smooth thing, with enough low-rev torque that you seldom feel it’s stressed. The transmission is smooth in its shifts, and if you open the throttle partway it allows the turbocharger to do its work rather than pointlessly shifting to a lower gear.
Mash the throttle and the six-cylinder sound is sweet on top with a stern undertone, and you move swiftly. But not that swiftly, because this is a big car. Any other $100k BMW wold do better than zero to 100km/h in 6.1 seconds.
The diesel weighs more and has a lower output – 195kW v the petrol’s 250. So its acceleration is 7.0 seconds to 100km/h. Again, not slow. And with more torque, as we noted in the X5 review, it’s smooth, quiet and beautifully mated to the transmission, as well as decently economical.
What’s it like on the road?
This is a car for the long hauls, full of family and gear. So you’re not needing it to be agile. It needs to stay stable on the straights, and it does.
The general cornering behaviour is solid and reassuring rather than sharp and tweakable. That said, it doesn’t roll much and steers with precision. We’re talking about the standard springing here, which is by all-round suspension and adaptive damping.
The M50d gets a pack of extra chassis tech, including an electronically controlled rear diff, active anti-roll (aka Executive Drive Pro), and four-wheel steering. In normal driving it makes little difference, but thus outfitted it’ll deploy its 294kW to go around the Nurburgring Nordschleife in the same time as a V8-engined E90 BMW M3. That’s the winner of the Irrelevant Achievement of the Year Award right there.
More meaningful in the context of the X7 is the ride comfort, which is just superb. It soaks up urban bumps, coarse highways and undulating backroads with equal ability. Mostly the suspension and tyres are quiet as well as smooth. It’s all very cosseting. The ‘comfort mode’ for the dampers allows a little float which your back-seat passengers, glued to their devices (charge points and wi-fi are standard), might find a little sick-making. So switch to ‘auto’ or ‘sport’ mode and the problem goes away.
What’s it like off the road?
There is an optional off-road pack, giving some shielding, and extra programs for the ESP, diffs and drivetrain (xRocks, xSnow, etc). But the long wheelbase limits breakover angle to less than 20 degrees.
Those big tyres are fragile. I caused a deflation just by hitting a motorway pothole. It’s a run-flat, but I wasn’t too confident about driving on. Luckily BMW techs were nearby and had a spare. That wouldn’t happen out of the captivity of a press event.
What safety features does it get?
It’s big and German and made of strong metal. It’s closely related to the X5, which scored NCAP 89 percent for adults and 86 percent for children.
It has four sets of full ISOFIX mounts in the rear. The autobrake system works well, NCAP found, and reacts to vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.
For the Australian market, the X7 gets additional safety features, including blind-spot assist that actively nudges the car back into its own lane if you drift into the path of an overtaking vehicle. Adaptive LED headlights are standard and full surround-view manoeuvring cameras.