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In-depth reviews

BMW X7 SUV - Engines, drive & performance

The X7 feels sportier than you might expect from a hulking SUV, with a range of powerful engines

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4.2 out of 5

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Engines, drive & performance Rating

4.0 out of 5

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.

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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

Reflecting how diesel models are falling out of favour with buyers, the X7’s diesel engine range has been slimmed down to just one model: the 352bhp 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; 0-62mph takes an impressive 5.9 seconds. All its 720Nm of pulling power is available from just 2,000rpm too, so this engine is likely to feel even quicker to you than the stats suggest.

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Once sitting at the top of the range, the 395bhp M50d has been discontinued for 2022. With four turbochargers and a huge 760Nm of torque, this made it the most relaxing to drive on the motorway and the best model for towing. 

Petrol engines

Badged xDrive40i, the straight-six petrol is turbocharged and has 376bhp but slightly less pulling power than the xDrive40d diesel at 540Nm. A 0-62mph time of 5.8 seconds slightly  beats 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. However, seeing as it’s barely 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 M60i 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.

With a 0-62mph time of 4.7 seconds, the M60i is the fastest in the X7 lineup and while it may not match full-fledged BMW M cars for outright performance and handling, it’s better than you might expect for such a large car. The X7 is powerful enough to beat a Porsche Cayman at the lights, plus it boasts well-weighted steering and generally manages to keep body lean in check on twisty 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.

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Richard is a former editor of Carbuyer, as well as sister site DrivingElectric.com, and he's now Deputy Editor at Auto Express. Having spent a decade working in the automotive industry, he understands exactly what makes new car buyers tick.

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