With a comprehensive facelift, the BMW X7 is even more compelling than before. Here’s our first drive review of the new 2023 BMW X7 M60i ahead of Australian deliveries.
The BMW X7 has received possibly the most comprehensive midlife update of any BMW to date, endowing the American-built giant SUV with fresh appeal just over three years after it was launched in Australia.
With heavily altered front-end styling, including split headlights and, on the flagship BMW X7 M60i xDrive driven here, an illuminated grille, the X7 now has clear visual ties to the recently unveiled new 7 Series limo.
For the first time on any BMW, buyers can now specify 23-inch wheels, plus the new M Sport and M Sport Pro styling packs bring added dashes of sporting boldness to the exterior by way of unique bumpers, a series of black accents and other touches.
The interior has also been changed significantly. The restyled dashboard features a curved digital panel, like in the iX, matching a 12.3-inch instrument display with a 14.9-inch infotainment touchscreen, all controlled by BMW’s latest iDrive 8 software. The air-con controls, meanwhile, have made way for an unnecessarily complex set of icons on the touchcreen, which are a real chore to use while driving. Roominess continues to be one of the X7’s biggest drawcards.
With the choice of either a six or seven-seat layout, it’s agreeably versatile. With the third-row seats in use, mind you, the boot shrinks to just 300 litres.
Central among the changes to the engine line-up is the introduction of BMW’s latest turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six petrol and diesel engines Each is mildly hybridised by a 48V motor integrated into the eight-speed automatic transmission, this boosting both performance and efficiency.
The xDrive40i petrol will not be initially offered here, instead, Australia receives the xDrive40d that has gained 9kW and 20Nm to make 259kW and 720Nm.
The M60i xDrive succeeds the X7 M50i xDrive and is the first car to use BMW’s S68 engine. A development of the N63, it’s a turbocharged 4.4-litre V8. Output remains the same, at 390kW and 750Nm, but the 48V mild-hybrid system can add 9kW and up to 200Nm under acceleration.
The V8 imbues the X7 with truly effortless mile-eating qualities and a very smooth and collected character, striking an appealing balance of allout performance under more extreme loads and refined civility in cruising. The accompanying soundtrack is rich and entertaining, too, although with such outstanding refinement and excellent noise isolation within the cabin, its deep growl in Sport mode is always a distant delight. The 0-100km/h time of 4.7sec is the same as that quoted for the old M50i, despite a 120kg gain in kerb weight.
Consumption is claimed to have improved, now at 12.2L/100km for the M60i (8.0L/100km for the 40d). The quick and smooth actions of the transmission add to the driving experience, making the most of the performance added by the electric motor. This is particularly noticeable in urban settings, where the M60i manages smooth and muscular stepoff despite its considerable weight.
BMW’s fast-acting xDrive all-wheel drive system ensures that there’s loads of traction. Air suspension with variable dampers affords impressive body control in corners. Indeed, the M60i hides its size well, encouraging you with well-weighted, precise steering.
That said, it’s just as happy to waft along the motorway in taller gears in Comfort mode. With plenty of torque and flexibility from the engine, it’s delightfully calm and quiet at speed. The ride on the 23-inch wheels can get a bit fidgety, owing to its underlying tautness on some surfaces, although the excellent compliance provided by the advanced underpinnings ensures that it’s never uncomfortable or uncompromising, even in Sport.
The changes that BMW has brought to the X7 have made it even more compelling than before. There’s added style and richness to the cabin, while the mild-hybrid tech adds to the driveability and refinement. With new driver-assistance functions, it’s now one of the most advanced cars in its class. Although, of course, it comes at a price from $197,900 before on-road costs.
And as far as big luxury SUVs go, it’s quite engaging, with surprisingly sharp actions and well-controlled handling. Yes, there really is a lot to like. We suspect the xDrive40d will prove a wiser buy from $166,900, but if you want your SUV to have a V8, whether for the performance or the cachet, there’s no reason why it oughtn’t be an M60i.