Lux­u­ri­ous seven-seater will chal­lenge the Mercedesbenz GLS and Range Rover On sale March 2019 Price from £72,155

What Car? - - First Drive - Dar­ren Moss Dar­[email protected]­mar­

YOU’D THINK THAT BMW would be just about done with SUVS, now that it has built up a port­fo­lio of six such mod­els. after all, its cur­rent largest, the X5, com­petes against some of the nest lux­ury ex­am­ples on sale, in­clud­ing our cur­rent cham­pion, the Audi Q7. How­ever, for the buyer who con­sid­ers the X5 to be too small, there’s now an even larger BMW SUV, the X7. Wel­come then, to the class above: the re­ally very large in­deed lux­ury SUV.

How large? Well, the X7 is just a tri e shorter than the Mercedes-benz GLS, at 5.15 me­tres, as well as lower, but it’s wider than both that car and the Range Rover – un­sur­pris­ing when you con­sider that the X7 is de­signed for Amer­i­can high­ways rather than coun­try lanes.

The GLS and Range Rover are the X7’s two clos­est ri­vals, so cus­tomers will be ex­pect­ing masses of space, a re­laxed driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and a suite of driver as­sis­tance sys­tems to ri­val the Star­ship En­ter­prise.

Vis­ually, the X7 stays very faith­ful to the X7 iper­for­mance con­cept car from early 2017. There’s the same mas­sive front grille and nar­row LED head­lights, plus chrome de­tail­ing around the car’s lower edges to em­pha­sise its size and lux­u­ri­ous na­ture (that same de­tail­ing ap­pears on BMW’S 7 Se­ries saloon). Buy­ers will be able to choose from al­loy wheels rang­ing from 19in to a whop­ping 22in in di­am­e­ter.

The X7 comes with seven seats as stan­dard, and un­like the op­tional third row in the X5, which is best re­served for smaller peo­ple, the X7’s should be roomy enough to keep adults comfy on long drives.the sec­ond row can be speci ed with two sep­a­rate chairs in­stead of a three-seat bench, mak­ing the car a six-seater.

En­gine op­tions at launch are one petrol and two diesels, and it’s the en­try-level 261bhp 3.0-litre diesel xdrive30d that’s likely to be the best choice for most. Above that, there’s the 335bhp turbo petrol xdrive40i and the 394bhp per­for­mance-fo­cused M50d diesel – which is tted with an elec­tronic rear dif­fer­en­tial to give it bet­ter trac­tion out of tight cor­ners.all come with an eight-speed au­to­matic gear­box and BMW’S xdrive four-wheel drive sys­tem.

A hard­core petrol M Per­for­mance model could ar­rive later, while a hy­brid and more reg­u­lar petrol and diesel vari­ants are also planned.the X7 iper­for­mance con­cept was a plug-in hy­brid, with a 2.0-litre petrol en­gine and an elec­tric mo­tor, giv­ing it an elec­tric-only range of 62 miles – around dou­ble what’s pos­si­ble in most such cars to­day. This in­crease is likely to be due to the ex­tra space avail­able in­side the X7 to store a larger bat­tery.

Air sus­pen­sion comes as stan­dard on the X7, while buy­ers can spec­ify an off-road pack­age that brings four be­spoke driv­ing modes and ex­tra un­der­body pro­tec­tion.

Stan­dard spec is as gen­er­ous as you would ex­pect, in­clud­ing four-zone cli­mate con­trol, front and rear heated seats, a panoramic sun­roof, full leather up­hol­stery and adap­tive LED head­lights. there’s also a 12.3in dig­i­tal in­stru­ment dis­play and a 12.3in in­fo­tain­ment touch­screen. avail­able driver as­sis­tance fea­tures in­clude blindspot mon­i­tor­ing and a sys­tem that al­lows the car to ac­cel­er­ate, brake and steer it­self on the mo­tor­way.

With prices start­ing from £72,155, the X7 is slightly more ex­pen­sive than the GLS but a com­par­a­tive bar­gain next to the Range Rover, which will cost you up­wards of £80,000.

Plush in­te­rior prom­ises a re­lax­ing driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence Seven seats are stan­dard and tail­gate is split, like X5’s

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