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Showing off in no small way

Jul 08 2019 12:42
Glenda Williams

The BMW X7 is no standard large vehicle by any stretch of the imagination. 

It dwarfs other vehicles – even its large X5 sibling. The latest model in the BMW X line-up is large, sophisticated and sumptuous. 

It’s a combination of 7-Series uber-luxury and X-model versatility.

finweek found out just how many of the finer things in life the swanky colossus delivered in the BMW X7 xDrive 30d, one of two diesel derivatives on offer locally. 

A petrol variant will be available in South Africa in October. 

X-terior

At 1.8m tall, 5.15m long and 2m wide, the BMW X7 is immense. 

But the X-family resemblance is unmistakable. 

Like its siblings, BMW's authoritative design language dominates. 

That includes the signature kidney grille – the largest in BMW history – and wide, low air intake housed in the prominent front end. 

It’s high off the ground with a long roofline, the rear featuring a split tailgate and chrome bar. 

Aluminium roof rails, broad wheel arches and chunky dual exhausts underline an aggressive stance. 

It has massive presence, literally and figuratively.  

Roomy, sumptuous interior

Voluminous exterior dimensions are mirrored internally. 

With seating for seven in three rows of seats, this car can haul far more than just the average family in extraordinary comfort.

The interior virtually replicates BMW’s flagship uber-luxurious 7-Series. 

Two 12.3-inch screens – touchscreen display and fully digital instrument cluster – dominate the cockpit’s dashboard. 

Lavish standard offerings include ultra-soft leather seats, panoramic glass sunroof extending to third-row occupants, satnav, Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system, wireless charging and cooled and heated cup holder. 

Even rear entertainment is provided for by two touchscreens. 

Just about anything can be set to individual taste; driving mode, interior lighting, driving assistance features, display settings, door access, seat comfort and seat row spacing. 

Suspension height, too, can be adjusted.Choice of how you interact with the car is yours – whether through iDrive touch controller, touchscreen, voice recognition or gesture control. 

What I didn’t like was the glitzy glass gear lever fitted in the test vehicle. 

I found it slightly over the top, and the glare when the sun catches it a distraction. 

Happily, the standard offering is leather.

Entering and exiting third-row seating generally comes with physical antics. 

Not in this exclusive titan. 

Flip the back of the second-row seat down and it moves forward and diagonally upwards automatically for roomy access.

In the boot, with its power tailgate, are controls for electronic seating arrangement to accommodate loading, and a switch that lowers the load sill by 40mm to make for trouble-free packing. 

The X7’s towbar, neatly hidden under the car’s rear, appears at the push of a button.

Lowering the level of the suspension – something that can be done with the remote key even before entering – makes getting into this high-off-the-ground vehicle a whole lot easier. 

Business class piloting

As big as it is, it’s a dream to drive. 

It does not feel like a large lug when you are behind the wheel, nor does it handle like one. 

It feels more mid-sized and, for a car as large as this, it is incredibly agile and planted. 

Perfect for long distance travelling, the X7 xDrive 30d’s seats are exceptionally comfortable with pillow-soft headrests, good reclining ability and heating and massage functions. 

And a superbly insulated cabin means an absence of external noise or diesel engine note. On the subject of engines, the turbocharged 3-litre diesel engine is not short on power to haul this hefty 2.4 tonner. 

Mated with an 8-speed automatic gearbox that has been slightly tweaked to deliver even smoother gear changing, it delivers effortless power.

Its level of ride comfort is supreme, courtesy of the X7 xDrive 30d’s sophisticated chassis and automatic self-levelling air suspension. 

Despite this SUV’s substantial size, there’s no body roll thanks to the executive drive-pro system. 

It’s composed, even in the curves. 

And the optional adaptive steering fitted to the test vehicle delivers nimble cornering and enhanced manoeuvrability.

With off-road driving modes for gravel, sand, rocks and snow, this premium heavyweight can take on just about any terrain. 

Selecting xGravel for the potholed and rocky gravel roads included on the route optimised the car for the terrain, among that the automatic lifting of the suspension. 

Easy to forget you are driving over bumpy ground in this SUV.Traction and handling stability is the task of the BMW X7’s all-wheel-drive system, which varies how the drive torque is split between front and rear wheels. 

The electronically controlled rear differential lock also plays its part.

This statement SUV graces the tar and even rutted surfaces with poise, whatever the drive mode. 

Animated driving in sport mode combines more agility from a lowered suspension, tightened steering and enhanced road feedback. 

Engaging sport mode or exceeding 138km/h lowers ride height automatically by 20mm, yet ride comfort is preserved. 

Still, the transition in comfort and smoothness between sport and comfort mode is clear-cut. 

The third-generation heads-up display is larger and features more information. 

And highly sophisticated driver assistance systems enhance comfort and safety. 

Steering and lane control assist, rear collision and lane change warning, lane keeping, cruise control with braking function, and collision and pedestrian warning are standard issue. 

Park assist, which includes rear view camera and reversing assist is also standard. 

Reversing assist is a boon for manoeuvring a lengthy car with a wide girth in tight spaces. 

It stores the steering movements of the section the car drove forward along within a speed of 36km/h. 

It can then reverse the car up to 50 metres by steering it along the same line. 

One merely has to operate the accelerator and brake pedal and keep your eyes on surrounds. 

The BMW X7 xDrive 30d is an exceptionally large car that combines all the elements of a supremely luxurious vehicle with the versatility and agile driving properties expected from an SUV. 

There is no denying it as a status symbol. 

It’s a feast of luxury offerings. 

For those who want to show off what they have in no small way, or wishing to cart around more than half a soccer team in lavish comfort, this perhaps is a car to do it in. 

It will require a good chunk of change, though. 

This article originally appeared in the 4 July edition of finweek. Buy and download the magazine here or subscribe to our newsletter here.

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