/ 15 October 2023

BMW X7 M60i is spacious and brisk

P90457426 Highres The New Bmw X7 M60i (1) Min

Luxury SUVs are a dime a dozen, yet manufacturers continue to bring more models to the segment to net more customers and, naturally, more profit. 

BMW is no exception and when it launched the seven-seater X7, it answered the question that many were asking: “When will BMW build something larger than the X5?”

In 2018, the Bavarian marque launched the X7, which took the fight directly to the Mercedes-Benz GLS and thus brought more practicality for larger families, for whom the X5 didn’t quite cut the mustard, by offering, well, more seats. 

Having launched in South Africa in 2019, the X7 managed to plug a hole in Beemer’s product offering at the sharper end of the X model lineup and, while the styling might have initially polarised opinion, I reckon it has become amiable to the beholder. 

And now a cosmetic update has been bestowed upon the model, giving it an even edgier design, thanks largely to the reworked front end that sees new headlight clusters and new air skirts but, overall, it’s distinctly the flagship X7.

The cabin gets the firm’s latest curved instrument and infotainment cluster, while the previous crystal-like gear lever has made way for a toggle contraption, in the interests of decluttering the centre console, and it works. 

The rest of the cabin’s architecture is familiar, meaning high-quality fit and finish and a functional, rather than flamboyant, design language. 

The accessories are well within reach and easily legible, even while on the move. 

All seven seats are sumptuous and electronically operated, with the rearmost easily foldable at the push of a button. 

This being the flagship M60i derivative, the cabin has lashings of carbon-fibre inserts and an Alcantara roof lining, adding a tasteful premium and sporty ambiance.

Thumping under the bonnet is the marque’s much-vaunted 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 that makes 390kW and 750Nm through an 8-speed automatic transmission and xDrive all-wheel drive, channelling it all. 

That engine remains the centrepiece, though, a pearler and purrer of a powerplant that is smooth in operation and has mounds of torque to pull this lumbering SUV with so much conviction that you wonder why you would ever need any more power or, indeed, performance. 

That said, paddling the X7 is easy, thanks to the excellent all-around view from the seat. 

Parking in tight spaces is also a cinch, despite the size of the vehicle, thanks to the rear-wheel steering that tightens the turning circle. 

On-road manners are exemplary and the electronically operated self-levelling suspension means the X7 wafts along effortlessly with few road imperfections permeating the cabin, even with the 23-inch and 315/30-section rear tyres on our test car. 

Its serene disposition on the road is welcome in a car designed to transport family and its paraphernalia in absolute comfort.

However, this X7 has a performance streak — the flick of a few switches and a twitch of your right toe, and Bob’s your uncle. This thing doesn’t hang around when asked to gallop. It typically lifts its nose from a standing start or when you bury your right foot while on the move. 

It summons all those 390kW and 750Nm in one fell swoop as you reel in the horizon and give those pesky hot-hatches a proper wake-up call as you woosh past them, family and pets in tow. 

Under launch control, this thing romps off the line with such vigour that it flicked my smartphone from the charging tray. 

But it is the fact that the acceleration doesn’t abate that leaves you stupefied. Unless you are packing more power at the traffic light showdown, best steer clear of taking on this one, lest you get your ego bruised. 

The X7 is undeniably fit for purpose — carrying seven people in comfort and, in this M60i version, those jaunts will be fleetingly fast for the most part.