Think of the worst grilling you've ever copped. The BMW X7's grille is the size of that – actually, it's slightly bigger.
You'll probably hate me for saying this, but I reckon it looks good. And, on top of that, I think you can never have too much grille on a big bus like the all-new 2019 BMW X7.
While the BMW X5 can be had with seven seats, it's not a proper luxury seven-seater in the way a Range Rover would be if you could have one with seven seats. The X7 aims to build on the offering from the X5, but add smatterings of luxury to the mix.
On paper and in images, I didn't think the X7 really hit the brief. It simply appeared to be a bloated X5 without a distinct focus on luxury or space. But, that all changes when you see it in person.
Kicking off from $124,900 (plus on-road costs) for the BMW X7 xDrive30d, the M50d tested here currently tops the range with an asking price of $171,900 (plus on-road costs).
The entry-level makes it $7000 more than the equivalent X5 model, and I've got to say it's worth every single penny. While that gap grows to $20,000 between the X5 M50d and X7 M50d, I'll explain why that's less of an issue later on in the copy.
In person this is an imposing beast. It measures in at 5151mm long (229mm longer than the X5), 2000mm wide (4mm narrower than X5) and 1805mm high (60mm higher than X5). More importantly, it sits on a wheelbase that's 130mm longer than the X5 (3105mm).
All of these points culminate in a pretty big car in person and on the road. Those extra dimensions serve a purpose, though. As soon as you open the driver's door, you're greeted with an upmarket interior finished with meticulous detail that offers expansive leg and head room in all three rows.
The first row features soft-touch materials on every surface, and in the case of our test vehicle, optioning the BMW Individual Merino leather package extends that leather to virtually all visible surfaces, including the dashboard or door touchpoints.
Then there's the beautifully crafted crystal gearshifter that's central to the cabin. It brings an added air of elegance to the cabin with all of these touches helping separate this from the X5.
The only disappointing thing worth calling out is the requirement to option the brushed-steel finish to the steering wheel buttons. Without this option box ticked, you're left with pretty drab looking (in comparison to the rest of the cabin) plastic buttons.
We're also not sold on the premiumness of piano-black finishes. They may look great on day one, but simply look at them the wrong way and they'll be covered in smudges and fingerprints before you know it.
iDrive 7.0 is fitted to the central 12.3-inch infotainment screen that also includes touchscreen functionality and gesture control (a feature you could certainly live without).
While Apple CarPlay is standard, it kind of ruins the whole iDrive experience, and you will find yourself never really using it because iDrive does such a good job of managing things.
That brings us on to the sound system. While a 16-speaker sound system is standard, the optional $7900 Bowers and Wilkins 20-speaker sound system will blow your socks off. It's a cracking sound system that also features metallic speaker covers that are backlit for further effect.
Ahead of the driver is another 12.3-inch display that features the vehicle's critical information, trip computer, and allows further configuration to customise the full suite of items on display. It's supported by a head-up display that's projected ahead of the bonnet. This is one of the better systems on the market with a large display full of useful information. It too can be configured to display more or less detail as required.
You'll even find American-friendly features (I say that because you see stuff like this often fitted to American market cars) like heated and cooled cup holders. You may think it's an entirely pointless feature, but try getting in and out of the car on a freezing day for a video shoot with a slowly cooling cup of coffee (I know... First World problem).
Another great feature (in addition to the bird's eye 360-degree camera) is the reverse assistant. With one click of a button it's able to trace the last driving manoeuvre. Sounds pointless, but consider how hard it is to sometimes extract a car from a narrow one-way street or a tight gap that you've managed to enter. It will retrace your exact steps to remove the car from its squeeze.
Leg and head room in the second row are excellent thanks to the longer wheelbase and electrically adjustable second row. It offers stacks of toe and knee room, along with a centre armrest that folds down and includes a set of cup holders.
Audio connectivity and charging throughout the cabin come in the form of USB-C, which future-proofs the cabin for the onslaught of devices that will gradually move to the new standard.
The third row is where the X7 gets really interesting. Not only will it comfortably fit kids, the third row will easily accommodate adults thanks to the clever configuration of the sliding second row.
Open the boot and you're presented with a set of buttons that allow one-touch configuration of the seats. You can either configure the cabin into a maximum seating mode that erects the third row, or a maximum boot space mode that folds the third and second rows to offer maximum cargo space.
Unlike some seven-seaters in this segment, with the third row in place you can still cater for 326L of cargo. Opt for maximum boot space and that figure increases to 2120L. Getting in and out of the third row is very easy, with one button moving the seat out of the way for easy access.
So, if you're going to fork out over $170,000 for a seven-seat SUV, you're going to want it to perform well also. The M50d version of the X7 features a 3.0-litre quad-turbocharged diesel engine that produces 294kW of power and 760Nm of torque, consuming a combined 9.0 litres of fuel per 100km (on the WLTP cycle).
It's a meat-axe of an engine given it pushes peak torque out from 2000rpm and will sprint from 0–100km/h in just 5.4 seconds. The engine is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and constant all-wheel drive, sending torque through 275mm-wide tyres at the front on 22-inch alloy wheels and 315mm-wide tyres at the rear on 22-inch wheels.
The package is super smooth with silky torque delivery in any gear you decide to prod the throttle in. It also rarely hunts through gears, able to lean on its torque curve to extract the most it can without constantly looking for the right gear.
Beneath the skin is self-levelling air suspension with adaptive dampers. Despite the 22-inch alloy wheels, it rides surprisingly well in and around town. It handles speed humps and cobblestones well, but hit anything with a little too much speed and it can unpleasantly crash through the cabin until it settles.
The incredibly wide tyres don't love country roads, with the width of the tyres causing it to catch road breakaways and parts of the road that fall away. This requires constant minor steering wheel inputs to correct the vehicle's line, which can get a little tiresome on a longer drive. It's only really something you notice on country roads, but it's worth keeping in mind if you opt for the bigger wheels.
We also managed to score a giant nail through one of the rear tyres. While we wouldn't normally point this out with cars that we review, it's worth calling out here because we had to go through the experience of changing the tyre.
The jack that comes with the car is small and the air suspension requires it to almost fully extend to lift the wheel off the ground. There didn't appear to be a suspension lift lock to prevent the chamber from fully extending.
The space saver also needed to be inflated to a little over 60psi when attached to the car – given it only comes with around 30psi preloaded. That meant driving slowly and cautiously to the nearest service station to inflate the tyre before driving at a maximum 80km/h.
Luckily, I had somebody to help lift the spare into the boot, because it's virtually impossible to lift on your own given how heavy it is (315mm wide on a 22-inch rim).
Anyway, not really a negative of the car, but worth pointing out if you're stuck needing to change a tyre in the middle of nowhere.
Find yourself a set of corners and the X7 handles better than expected. The adaptive dampers work with driver-selected modes to alter throttle sensitivity, ride firmness, and the level of body pitch through bends.
It's not going to set the world on fire, but feedback through the steering wheel is good and it's an easy beast to manoeuvre and place on the road, despite its size.
If you're planning on towing with the X7, it can be optioned with a tow package capable of hauling up to 3500kg with a braked trailer. This option is a factory-fitted item, so if you fail to select that option when ordering, the maximum local towing capacity with a braked trailer is 2700kg.
During our week of driving (with a skew towards highway driving), we managed to record a combined fuel economy figure of 10.2L/100km, which is about on par with the expected combined claim.
Australia's luxury car brands are still stuck in the dark ages with a three-year, unlimited warranty offering. But the upshot with BMW is the upfront service plan that covers 5 years of servicing (or 80,000km) for $2150.
The BMW X7 M50d exceeded our expectations, but there's one issue. That's the BMW X7 xDrive30d. The more affordable (by a margin of $47,000) X7 xDrive30d delivers an incredibly punchy six-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine that pushes out 620Nm of torque and moves from 0–100km/h in 7.0 seconds flat.
It features virtually the same interior, and if you spend a few thousand dollars on options, it'll feel just as premium as the more expensive M50d. At that price point, there isn't another seven-seat luxury SUV we would buy. BMW really has nailed it.