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BMW X7 M50d: PH Trade-Off!

Not even the quickest X7 could escape the opprobrium of the forums - so what can we find for half the cost?

By Alex Robbins / Monday, April 22, 2019

It's fair to say that the BMW X7 didn't exactly land on the PH front page to a rapturous welcome last weekend. To be fair, the deck was stacked against it from the moment it was revealed in concept form last year, when that almost offensively large grille, oddly narrow headlights and slab-sided stance were made public for the first time.

On paper, however, the specification of the M50d version we tested might well have tipped the balance in its favour. 400hp, 560lb ft and a 0-62mph of 5.4 seconds lift it into the realms of some of the fastest SUVs out there. And while in the flesh the X7 is hardly an involving or exciting thing to drive, as Sam put it: "When it comes to plush, spacious machines in which to shrink journeys with as few fuel stops as possible, the top X7 certainly offers a lot. And if you're behind the wheel, at least you might be able to forget about those kidney grilles."

Good point. But what if you could forget about them altogether by choosing something else? Something that offers as much space, comfort and outright pace - but for half the price? Well, that sounds like a challenge for Trade-Off - so, armed with our half-price budget of £42607.50 (the extra 50 pence bound to prove decisive, of course), let's have a traipse through the classifieds.

Our first port of call is the Audi Q7, or more specifically, the SQ7. Except... well, it isn't, because even the cheapest, highest-mileage SQ7s don't stretch down below £60,000 at the moment, putting them well outside of our budget. How about a standard Q7 like this 272 S Line instead, then? These Q7s are terrific machines if a seven-seat SUV is what you're after, with a decent amount of room in the rearmost seats and loads more in the front five, as well as crisp, if not involving, handling that's the equal of the X7's.

The downside, of course, is that this 272hp Q7 is no match for the X7 in a straight line. That said, thanks to its 300-ish kg weight advantage, it isn't far off, hitting 62mph only a second later. Throw in the smart interior, comfortable ride and notably better fuel economy, and this looks like a tempting alternative.

What if you'd rather do without diesel, though? Well, in that case there's only one way to go, and it's got a Range Rover badge. This 2014 Sport with its supercharged V8 ought to do the trick. It has the M50d licked on pace, and will of course sound a whole heap more appealing, too. Of course, it's suitably opulent inside, and looks rather classier than the X7.

Trouble is, naturally, while it can match the X7 on pace, it can't on fuel efficiency, its 22mpg combined figure enough to induce a wince in even the most profligate enthusiast. Perhaps you could justify that in light of the saving on the initial purchase price? Mind you, even then the Rangie can't match the X7's seven seats - making it a less than ideal alternative.

On the other hand, this Volvo XC90 T8 would seem to do the job very nicely. For starters, you get a full complement of seven seats. Granted, the rearmost seats in the XC90 aren't quite as spacious as those in the X7, but they're still more roomy than most.

Then there's the performance. Thanks to a fairly hefty boost from its electric motor, the T8 will scoot to 62mph in the same sort of time that the M50d will. What's more, the 2.0-litre petrol engine means if you're not sold on the idea of buying diesel right at the moment, you don't have to.

And as an added bonus, you won't just save money buying this XC90; you'll save money running it, too; because it's a plug-in hybrid, you can charge it up and run it on electric power for short journeys.

The catch? Well there is one, of course, and it's that this particular XC90 is a touch on the leggy side. Despite being only three years old, it's covered almost 50,000 miles, so it's hardly a new car. But it does come with a full history to back up that mileage, and with that in mind, that shouldn't be a barrier to reliability.

Besides, think of the money you'd save. Surely enough to counter any niggling issues that might arise from the XC90's age and prior use. And if that's not enough to convince you, just think: you wouldn't have to live with those grilles, either.


Engine: 2,993cc, straight-six diesel turbo
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 400@4,400rpm
Torque (lb ft): 560@1,200-3,000rpm
0-62mph: 5.4 seconds
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
Weight: 2,460kg
MPG: 31 (WLTP Combined)
CO2: 185g/km
Price: £85,215


Engine: 1,969cc, four-cylinder petrol hybrid
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 320@5,700rpm
Torque (lb ft): 295@2,200-5,400rpm
0-62mph: 5.3 seconds
Top speed: 140mph
Weight: 2,296kg
MPG: 134.5 (NEDC Combined)
CO2: 49g/km
Price: £41,450


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