Spoiler alert, in case it’s needed: anyone that didn’t like the BMW X7 beforehand is unlikely to be converted by this G07 facelift. They may well become more vociferous in their views, actually, given the bolder and brasher face. While it never seemed like the original model struggled for visual impact, this new X7 - with the much slimmer lights either side of what might be an even bigger grille - makes its predecessor appear borderline unassuming. BMW says the update “emphasises the car’s upright stance and reinforces its road presence”, which is surely in no doubt - if this appears behind you, you’re going to move over, terrified the four horsemen are here with the apocalypse in the boot. Then again, who’s buying an X7 to blend in? For its fanbase, the facelift probably makes total sense.
Happily, there was never any doubt regarding the quality of what you got inside the big BMW, and, to the disappointment of the chasing pack, this is where the latest model can claim to be even better. The big change is the BMW Curved Display, which is being rolled out across the range and really does the business as something both to look at and to use. It’s a cleaner, more contemporary appearance than before, the gigantic slab of screen - 12.3 inches for the driver, 14.9 for infotainment - feeling genuinely futuristic even when it seems like everything comes with big digital displays these days.
Crucially the X7 has retained the usability that’s generally a given for BMWs now, with a chunky iDrive dial, familiar drive mode buttons and - pay attention, VW - screen controls for ventilation that actually work. If you’re going to ditch buttons, this is the way to do it. As with the outside, traditionalists may prefer the old way, but this is undoubtedly one of the more successful transitions away from conventional switchgear. Many cars heavily reliant on screens have you pining for a simpler set-up, but not here. Elsewhere fit and finish is beyond reproach, and sat like the captain of a great craft in the sumptuous, commanding driving position isn’t without its familiar ego-stroking appeal.
Nor is the output of the engine room you can call upon. BMW calls this flagship X7 the M60i, the upgrade from the previous M50i denoting the inclusion of a 12hp/147lb ft mild hybrid system. And even more weight, it must be said, with a DIN figure now at 2,600kg, up from 2,455kg, yet with the same 530hp/553lb ft as before. Still, those numbers remain more than adequate, the twin-turbocharged V8 hurling the X7 to 62mph in less than five seconds. On paper, the MHEV bit means a saving of up to 15g/km and 1.4mpg from before. Which means you do wonder why they bothered.
But, boy, what an engine. If not exactly a modish powertrain even with the MHEV attached - the all-electric iX M60 review is coming soon - then a mightily effective one. The 4.4-litre unit is good enough for use in a Range Rover, after all, so it can’t be half bad. Beyond some initial hesitancy from the new eight-speed auto that doesn’t feel like progress (in any sense) and little discernible input from a mild hybrid system, it’s a V8 and gearbox double act that’s hard to fault. That mountain of torque is there almost before the tacho has begun its ascent up the screen, and the outright power makes a few more revs seem worthwhile. The eight-pot soundtrack, if not exactly authentic, is a nice accompaniment to progress as well. Not that it’s a constant companion; that the V8 can go almost unnoticed is among the X7’s biggest strengths. It’s so smartly calibrated and ruthlessly effective that you can simply carry on making indecently fast progress without a care. Or raise a racket, if you must.
Officially, this new X7 M60i benefits from retuned electric power steering, with the option of a ‘more sporty or more comfort-oriented response’, though this would really need a back-to-back drive to establish a meaningful difference. From here, it feels as before, which is to say a little more connected than something like a Q8, if not such a joy to turn as something like a new Range Rover. BMW hasn’t made any substantial changes to the X7’s chassis, at least not for this M60i model. And on this experience - a more extensive test is coming - there’s precious little need to. This might very well be BMW at its most enormous and controversial (save for the XM), but it still feels like a big Bimmer to drive.
Coming fairly fresh from the latest Range Rover Sport is revealing. A comparison between a 350hp diesel and 530hp V8 isn’t strictly relevant (even though just £3k separates them before options), but the experience is probably even more disparate than might be expected. The Sport is a very measured, balanced, mellow, and satisfying thing in its own way. The X7 has more attitude and energy - a factor of its billing, sure, but a surprise nevertheless when you consider its heavier kerbweight. Plainly this is not a seven-seat M240i, but anyone with experience of other M Performance cars will recognise some familiar cues. Integral Active Steering - rear wheels-steer in BMW speak - has a pronounced effect, really shrinking the X7 for the driver on the way into a corner yet never feeling unnatural. And huge tyres on the back axle - a 315-section Pirelli P Zero on a 22-inch rim - has allowed its maker to send more power in that direction, knowing the traction afforded by the rubber.
As a result, says BMW, ‘the vehicle’s character moves noticeably closer to that of a classically rear-wheel-drive car’, which is certainly one of the more courageous press release claims, but you can see what they’re getting at. Even with that Stormer Handling Pack, the Land Rover didn’t feel as authentically rear-biased as this. Despite the best efforts of the genre, the X7 drives like a nicely sorted (if heavy) front-engined, rear-drive car.
Most of its customers probably won’t give a hoot that it achieves a passable impression of a sports saloon, but for those who know their M cars by engine code, it’s nice to know that BMW’s commitment to making its products - no matter how vast or funny looking - enjoyable to drive hasn’t wavered. The X7 would likely have been snapped up were it merely a big, blundering SUV, so it’s to BMW’s credit that it’s not. In fact, the whole M Performance lineup - cars like the M240i, M340i, i4 M50 and so on - have been discreetly but undeniably impressive over the past few years. You could argue that transferring even a modicum of that trait to a 2.5-tonne SUV is every bit as laudable as making an EV appealing. Particularly one that also remains this serene, luxurious, and accommodating when required. Again, that won’t matter much to the firm’s diehard fans - or indeed anyone unimpressed by the notion of proliferating Range Rover clones - but with its vast, swanky new interior and finely judged drive, the latest V8 flagship is good enough to win over anyone left on the fence.
SPECIFICATION | 2022 BMW X7 M60i
Engine: 4,395cc, twin-turbocharged MHEV V8
Transmission: 8-speed auto, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 530@5,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 553@1,800rpm
0-62mph: 4.7 seconds
Top speed: 155mph
Weight: 2,600kg (DIN)
MPG: 21.9-23.3 (WLTP)
Price: £103,655 (price as standard; price as tested £115,615, comprised of Ultimate Pack (M Carbon Side Mirror Caps, Sky Lounge Panoramic Glass Sunroof, Rear Side Window Blinds, Ventilated Front Seats, CraftedClarity Controls, Travel and Comfort System, Ambient Air, Five-zone auto air-con, Front Massage Seats, Driving Assistant Professional, Bowers&Wilkins Diamond Surround System) for £11,000 and Carbon Fibre Interior Trim for £960)
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