First drive in the new BMW X7

The BMW X7 has arrived in South Africa! This, despite the 16.7% decline in the premium car segment. But BMW, always up for a challenge it would seem, will continue to expand their footprint in this struggling segment. In fact, we will still see six high-end models arrive this year, some of which include the 8 Series Convertible and Coupe. According to BMW, these are the most sophisticated cars the German brand have ever built.

Will the BMW X7 sell? Well yes. The 29 pre-orders have already been delivered to very happy customers around South Africa. And there will certainly be more where that came from. This is luxury on another level. A level I aspire to. Even if people mock the big-ass grille up front.

BMW X7 grille
Big-ass grille


The X7 really has been the butt of many a joke because of this larger grille. Jokes such as, “You keen on a bring-and-braai?” or as one of my followers remarked, “Tell it to close its lips otherwise it will get bugs stuck in its teeth.” Hahahaha. That one really made me laugh. But I must be honest, in the metal, it didn’t stand out to me as something to be ridiculed. I like that it has that presence that says, “Boom! Check me out!”


BMW X7 side

The new BMW X7 is a big bugger. It is 5.1m long, 1.8m tall and has a wheelbase of 3.1. It is, after all, the head of the BMW X model family. And speaking of families, the X7 is aimed right at the family who enjoys a bit of a road trip. Seven seats are standard but you can opt for the six-seat set up instead – that means two in the front, two in the middle, and two at the back. This six-seat configuration really makes it feel like “business class on wheels.”

The only issue with the road trip idea is that if you have a bum on every seat, there ain’t no luggage going in the boot. With all seats up you are left with 326-litres. That converts to space for my small carry-on bag and my driving partner’s small duffel bag and not much else. But ag, hook a Venter trailer up to the back and a way you go. I think this is one of the few times I would take the riding comfort and luxury over the practicality. The seats take comfort to another level.

BMW X7 interior
How fancy pants?


In a very unlike BMW move, the brand has tried to keep the optional extras list to a minimum. Basically, from the get go you are in for a car that has just about everything your heart desires. Don’t get me wrong, there are still many an option to ensure you spend a pretty penny, but you won’t have to fork out extra for things like LED headlights or 21-inch wheels. Laser lights and 22-inch wheels, on the other hand, will cost you extra. And don’t mention the R65 200 it will cost you for the Bowers and Wilkins Diamond surround sound system.

To keep things simple, BMW offers two main packages, namely Design Pure Excellence package and M Sport Package, and a couple of exclusive packages for those who really want something truly unique. Where BMW is shining with this X7 is with the wide arrange of driver assistance systems that all come standard. This includes the Driving Assistant Professional and Steering and lane assist systems. With Park Assist Plus with assistant, the X7 will recall your previous parking maneuver and then perform it for you, with your hands off the wheel. Yislaaik, how lazy are we as drivers becoming? But I love it!


At launch you can choose between three engines, namely the M50d with its 294 kW and 760 Nm, the xDrive 30d with its 195 kW and 620 Nm, or the M50i with its 390 kW and 750 Nm. All engines are mated to the eight-speed Steptronic which has been slightly modified to ensure quicker gear shits. It is most noticeable in the engine I would choose for myself, which is the M50d. It is just power! Ok it is not the M50i, but it is more than enough. You won’t require any more power to overtake or make it up an incline quickly. It is just a dream to drive. Don’t be greedy when you don’t need to be, I say.

We managed to take the X7 off-road and what I can tell you is that this beast eats gravel up for breakfast. I hate that saying, but it describes exactly what I felt driving this car off-road. If I wasn’t driving and my attention was focused on the screen in the back headrests, I would never have known we were on gravel. It was only over the rocky terrain you could feel those low profile tyres. But overall, what an absolute pleasure to take off the beaten track.


Well that depends, do you have R1.5 million to spend? And do you require more space than, say, the BMW X5? This is the top of the top when it comes to luxury and I think I was expecting a higher price tag for what you are getting. It is a beautiful machine and one that most families could only ever dream of owning. But one can dream, can’t they? Perhaps you want to wait for the Mercedes-Benz GLS to arrive, but yoh, this X7 will be a tough act to follow. I say don’t wait, buy it!


BMW X7 30d       1 554 500

BMW X7 M50d    1 853 200

I’m Julz, South African motoring journalist with a passion for cars and a questionable sense of humour. I am not your average motoring journalist, and this is not your average motoring website.

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