BMW X7 SUV - Engines, drive & performance
The BMW X7 has a smooth gearbox and engines that pull strongly
On the road, the BMW X7 feels like a longer and heavier BMW X5, but not by as much as you might think. It's certainly more sporty to drive than a Land Rover Discovery or Range Rover, and while it might not match them off-road, it’s still very capable.
To make this possible, there's certainly plenty of technology in action behind the scenes, including air suspension that can raise the X7 by 40mm above its usual ride height, or drop it 40mm for easier access and loading when parked. Choose the option named 'Integral Active Steering' and the rear wheels can also turn slightly to boost agility and make the X7's turning circle smaller for city driving. You can also tailor the driving experience with the Executive Drive Pro pack (featuring active roll stabilisation) and an Off-Road package that brings four extra driving modes (for snow, sand, gravel and rocks) and new displays for the instruments.
BMW X7 diesel engines
The xDrive30d, capable of 0-62mph in seven seconds, is no longer available as it’s been replaced by the 335bhp xDrive40d. Featuring a 48-volt starter generator and a small battery, it’s classed as a mild hybrid, but the system also provides a boost of up to 11bhp during acceleration. Zero-to-62mph takes an impressive 6.1 seconds. All the pulling power is available from just 2,000rpm too, so this engine is likely to feel even quicker to you than the stats suggest.
Sitting at the top of the range, the M50d is billed as an 'M Performance' model, with 395bhp, four turbochargers and a huge 760Nm of pulling power, which makes it the most relaxing to drive on the motorway and the best model for towing. It can get from 0-62mph in 5.4 seconds, matching the acceleration of the Range Rover SVAutobiography.
Badged xDrive40i, the straight-six petrol is turbocharged and has 335bhp but significantly less pulling power than the top-spec diesel at 450Nm. A 0-62mph time of 6.1 seconds exactly matches the equivalent diesel, while the engine feels refined and powerful. It's not hard to gather pace - despite the X7's significant weight - and the petrol feels ideally matched to the eight-speed automatic gearbox. Seeing as it’s no quicker than the diesel and is far less economical, buying an xDrive40i will be a choice made more with the heart than the head.
The M50i sits at the top of the X7 range and is powered by a twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8 petrol engine that produces 523bhp. This is the same engine that appears in the 8 Series Coupe and Convertible models, a detuned version of the one in the BMW M5.
Even with a 0-62mph time of 4.7 seconds, which makes it the fastest in the X7 lineup, the M50i struggles to live up to its M badge. While it's quick enough to leave some sports cars in the shade, it's not as dynamic to drive as you’d expect, with its vast dimensions making it slightly unwieldy at times on narrow UK roads.
The car's technology is a critical part of the way it drives, with a standard launch control system, a tweaked eight-speed automatic gearbox and an M Sport differential that is capable of sending 100% of the power to the rear wheels. The result is decent handling with a precise and somewhat agile nature, with the grippy chassis and the powerful V8 engine combining to slingshot this huge SUV out of corners.
While the M50i is more capable in corners than a Tesla Model X or a Mercedes GLS, thanks to better composure and less body lean, any attempt to drive it quickly will instantly remind you of its substantial size and weight. It's unable to match the Range Rover for overall driving ability or fun, with a steering setup that's not as precise. It also lacks refinement when compared to the British luxury SUV, with the standard-fit 22-inch alloys upsetting the ride on harsher road surfaces. Even bigger wheels are an option on the new facelifted model.