Words and images by Mani Singh Hayer
I was recently given the privilege by the great team at Sytner BMW Leicester to have an X7 for the day. But this was not just any X7, it was the top of the range diesel variant, the mighty X7 M50d.
When BMW released the G07 X7 back in 2018, there were many firsts for this car, particularly on the design front. It was the BMW with the largest BMW bonnet badge ever, it was the BMW that had the largest kidney grilles ever and it was the largest vehicle that BMW has ever built at 5.15m, thus cementing its position at the top of the BMW X family. All of the X7s are built at BMW’s Spartanburg plant in the United States of America.
Upon gazing at the X7, you cannot help but be drawn into the sharp lines and large surface areas of the bodywork which helps create a very authoritative and meaningful purpose, enhanced further by the large kidney grilles. As mentioned earlier, these are the largest kidney grilles to ever be mounted onto a production BMW, which help by adding an almost sense of occasion and presence, without it even moving. Its narrow and sharp headlights design very much draws you into the kidney grilles and with the model I had for the day, it was fitted with the excellent optional laser lights package denoted by the key blue x-design signatures within the headlight housing.
Given that the Mercedes-Benz GLS is the X7’s main competitor (and I have to admit that I have never seen a Mercedes-Benz GLS in person so I am basing my opinion on photos), the X7 looks purposeful and strong in comparison to the melted, cuddly and soft aesthetics of the GLS.
The side profile of the X7 shows a car with high ground clearance (which is adjustable) helped with the staggered optional 22” wheels fitted to this model with colossal 275/40 R22 tyres fitted to the front and 315/35 R22 tyres fitted to the rear, mounted on a set of stunningly and intricately designed BMW style 758i bicolour individual wheels. The side air breather / curtains are also present which helps with better air flow and aerodynamics around the front wheel wells by channelling in air from the front air intakes.
Helping with the side profile, although not visible, is BMWs air suspension with automatic self-levelling, which works brilliantly when transporting an unbalanced heavy load as it adjusts each corner of the car to give the best and optimum balance.
The new BMW rear light signature is present with the L shaped light bars, helping others from behind instantly recognising that “the car in front is BMW” (borrowing that slogan from Toyota!) as well as the excellent use of the split tailgate feature, allowing you to choose how much and which part of the boot you need to open.
The black gloss shadow line options fitted to this model (and most with the M Sport package) really help give it a stealth yet sporty and athletic look.
On the inside, we all know that the 7 Series gets the best of the best when it comes to luxury and quality of materials used, and it's no different with the X7; but, the X7 has the added benefit of practicality thrown in given the use of a third row of seats, providing a total occupancy for 7 people. I should add that the third row comprises of two full size seats with added luxuries not normally seen in the third row such as USB ports, cupholders and even armrests.
The standard specification of an X7 is rather healthy already and too many items to mention here, but with features such as a panoramic glass roof, ambient light packages, parking assist packages (which has cameras and 3D views), four-zone climate functions and Vernasca leather trim fitted as standard, and options like front and rear heated seats, massage seats, comfort seats (super comfortable), window blinds, soft close doors and the sky lounge fitted as options to this model, it all helps to add to that sense of occasion and total refinement, boosting that luxury aura inside are the excellent quality of premium materials used. It really does add to that luxury long haul comfort cruiser feel. Soft touch materials litter the dashboard and cockpit areas, the optional glass crystal gear knob sparkles like a Swarovski diamond, switches and grab handles feel confident and sturdy, the huge displays are clear during both day and night and ergonomically, all of the critical controls are within easy reach of the driver. As is common with most of today’s BMWs, you can change a lot of the settings by talking to the personal assistant by calling out the obligatory “Hey BMW” or use gesture control, or my favourite - use the tried and tested i-drive controller knob when safe to do so. Given the size of the car, the steering wheel is an excellent size and whilst this is a performance diesel, I really like the way that BMW continue to not offer the “square” steering wheels seen in performance Audi’s and Mercedes-Benz products.
This M50d also has the M Sports exhaust fitted and upon firing up the B57S quad turbo straight six 3.0 litre diesel engine, it sounds very tasty indeed, certainly not what I would expect a performance diesel to sound. It also has the M Sport differential and brakes fitted, and Executive Drive Pro where the car actively monitors the road through cameras and navigation and additionally, offers rear wheel steering for better cornering. A very clever piece of technology which helps when driving on the twisty country roads in a car of this size.
The B57S engine fitted to this M50d produces 400BHP and those quad turbos I mentioned earlier are very clever since it uses a combination of two conventional turbos and two variable-vane turbines to help reduce turbo-lag and improve the acceleration delivery for a more progressive acceleration strategy.
Driving this car is absolutely effortless and outstandingly refined. Driving to a nearby castle, I was able to use a combination of quiet A and B roads and at the low rev-range, I struggled to actually tell it was a diesel. When that acceleration or push to the national speed limit was required, the engine made no fuss and I was astonished as to how quickly it reached that speed even in the comfort setting (given the weight and size of the car) with the official figures giving it a 0-62MPH time of 5.4 seconds. Holding steady at 70MPH on the dual carriageways, I could really see how this would be at the top of my list if I was looking for a long-distance cruiser since it eats up the miles easily aided by that high and commanding seating position. Around the twisty bits, I was pleasantly surprised that it was able to corner precisely and I ended up exactly where I thought I would. I say this because this is not something I would have thought of for a 7-seater car weighing over 2.3 tonnes. However, with the excellent X-drive system working in conjunction with the Executive Drive Pro system (i.e., the rear wheel steering most importantly), it all works in union together with it rolling over our very common bumps in the road with no cause for alarm at all (and bearing in mind that the car is fitted with run flat tyres). The team at BMW have done an outstanding job to get it all working in tune.
City centre / town driving was no issues at all given the excellent all-round visibility, large wing mirrors and sharp turning circles.
So, my final thoughts are that if I was in the market for a limousine-esque style BMW, I now have two options. A G11 7 Series variant would be the only BMW on the list but now, its cousin, the X7, would be there too. From the sheer prospect of a practicality point of view, the X7 scores more points given its third-row seating as well as from an engine point of view given that currently, the most powerful diesel in the G11 line-up is “just” a 740d in the UK.
I love the fact that the X7 M50d made my mind think how a car of this size and weight can define some physics with its brilliant turn in abilities which is very much down to the technology embedded in the car. I have to say, well done to the team in Munich for producing something a little different which combines ultimate luxury with ultimate diesel power to create the ultimate driving machine.
My thanks to Richard, Jay and the product genius at Sytner BMW Leicester for the use of their X7.