KING OF BEASTS
Hefty enough to rival a tractor yet ludicrously nifty, the new BMW X7 is an almighty force to be reckoned with, finds Neil Lyndon
Neil Lyndon finds the mighty BMW X7 a force to be reckoned with
‘As a matter of fact, I do own the road.’ That proclamation should be on a sticker in the rear window of BMW’s new X7. Such entitlement doesn’t just belong to those who can afford to fork out at least £60,000 to buy the cheapest car in the X7 range (and well over £100,000 for the top spec versions). It also exudes from every inch of the X7 itself. It’s impossible to drive this colossal car on Scottish country roads – such as those around Crieff, where it was recently launched – without feeling that the rest of the world is decidedly beneath your notice.
This first ever SUV version of BMW’s 7 Series is the biggest car the company has ever made. More than 18 feet long and six and a half feet wide, it stands taller than the tips of a Coldstream guard’s bearskin. The M50d version weighs over two and a half tons. Made in America and intended primarily for Texan prairies and Californian freeways, it seemed to occupy as much space as a combine harvester on the back roads between Crieff and Madderty. Lesser cars approaching from the opposite direction were required to cower into the verges and doff their caps.
The X7 also radiates an unashamed pleasure in going over the top in all directions, from its L-shaped rear tail lights to its slim, focussed LED laser headlights which can shine a beam 600m. If the Kardashians ever get their hands on the digital key (itself the size of a mobile phone) to this shimmering block of satin chromes with its sheer glasshouse and its voluptuous swage lines of forged metal, they will ditch their Range Rovers and Mercedes-Benzes in an instant.
All other versions of the X Series – BMW’s designation for the SUV versions of their models – have been more or less restrained in their appeal to self-indulgence. The X7 also makes a nod in the direction of utilitarianism by being advertised as ‘the 7 Series that can take you anywhere’ (and, indeed, its two-axle air suspension system gives it off-road capabilities that are not far short of a Range Rover’s). But the primary purposes of this massive block of hedonism is to indulge its owner in all the luxuries the world affords.
To that end, it is loaded with as much sumptuousness and techno wizardry as Air Force One. The passenger doors, for instance, are wide enough to accommodate seven aircraft-style seats. These seats fold electrically and can be arranged in multiple configurations, and are certainly capacious enough for the larger posterior. Awash with the highest quality leather upholsteries and abounding with expensive finishes and brushed metal highlights, the X7’s interior rivals Bentley’s in princeliness, with five-zone air conditioning and a 20-speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio system to match the Usher Hall.
Its dash is dominated by twin 12.3-inch digital displays, controlled through a simplified version of BMW’s maddening iDrive and includes ‘Hey BMW’, a cloud-based voice service (similar to Alexa) which is like carrying your own personal Jeeves in the car; invisible, discreet and all-knowing. The reversing assistant device remembers the last 50 metres which the car has covered going forward.
Performance is ludicrous, almost laughable. That M50d version which weighs more than a tractor will accelerate from 0-60mph in little over five seconds. The turbocharged straight-six cylinder petrol engine four litre version, which is predicted to be the best-seller, will top 60mph from rest in just over six seconds.
The term ‘best-seller’ has limited application to this car which will be a rarer sight than a Rolls Royce. BMW expect to sell no more than 1,000 X7s a year throughout the UK, so fewer than 100 may come to Scotland. You are thus unlikely to encounter one on the Madderty road, but if it does come along, you’d better be prepared to get out of the way.
The X7 radiates an unashamed pleasure in going over the top in all directions