While diesel has largely fallen out of favour in the luxury segment, there is still a niche within this segment that it has a safe home - that of the large luxury SUV.
And while BMW offers up a headline act in its X7 range of the petrol V8-powered M60i, the only other engine option in the company's largest SUV offering is the venerable 3.0-litre twin turbo diesel six in the xDrive40d we drive here.
The big diesel sixes from all the German luxury manufacturers are always silky smooth, super refined units and, of course, BMW’s latest 259kW/720Nm iteration of its six doesn’t deviate from this tradition. A subtle-but-brawny rumble is ever-present when the throttle is pushed down and the hefty wave of torque - that is bulked up by the addition of a 48-volt mild hybrid system - propels you forward at a truly satisfying rate.
And that’s even taking into account that the X7 is big. Like American-big; 5181mm long, 2218mm wide and 1835mm tall, it dwarfs most cars you park it next to, including utes.
And it feels it when you drive it too; not in a lumbering behemoth way - it’s actually remarkably sharp and wieldy for such a large, tall thing - but more in a “Will this actually fit in here?” when you are approaching an underground car park kind of way.
A subtle-but-brawny rumble is ever-present when the throttle is pushed down and the hefty wave of torque propels you forward at a truly satisfying rate.
You are also aware of its sheer size out on the road as well, but only really because you are painfully aware of its width. Otherwise it is surprisingly agile and willing for something that weighs roughly 2500kg, and can actually be quite enjoyable on a spirited drive. Just not on a narrow road.
But to badly paraphrase Spider-Man comics; with great size comes great luxury, and the X7 fulfils this brief with the same effortless authority with which it accelerates by being both massive and impressively luxurious.
No BMW rolls out the dealership without a hefty helping from the options list, and our test X7 was no different, with a healthy $15,800 of options added to its $184,200 starting price, nudging it to a nice, round $200k.
For $200k you expect a lot and, it has to be said that you certainly do get a lot here, particularly with the optional extras jammed in.
While the i7 I drove recently was a densely high-tech car, with screeds of settings buried deep in menus, the X7 scales things back somewhat, with a more traditional approach that will feel instantly familiar to any owner of a relatively modern BMW.
But to badly paraphrase Spider-Man comics; with great size comes great luxury, and the X7 fulfils this brief with the same effortless authority with which it accelerates.
But that does mean it is still rather dense, with a large number of controls taken care of on either the touch screens or via voice control, both of which are actually excellent and easy to get used to, however.
The interior is swathed with the usual mix of high-quality leather and polished trim (either wood or carbon fibre, depending on your preferences), as well as the unfortunate presence of the cheesy fake crystal highlights that have been a blight on recent high end BMWs - some may like the glass accents, but I am not one of them…
The huge size also means plenty of space inside, with the X7 being a full seven seater with 326 litres of boot space with all seats in place. Dropping the third row increases this to 750 litres, while dropping the second row provides a massive 2120 litres.
On the outside, you will have no doubt noticed that BMW has leaned hard into its current styling language with the X7’s most recent facelift, with huge grille, massive 23-inch alloy wheels (the largest ever offered on a BMW) and some aggressively angular headlights that, quite honestly, suit the X7 perfectly; it’s big, bold and totally in your face. You certainly can’t accuse the X7 of not having presence…
The X7 is everything a large luxury SUV should be and, in a sea of very strong competitors, stands tall among them. A massive luxury SUV won't suit everyone, but the xDrive40d sure ticks plenty of boxes for those who it will.
How much is the BMW X7 xDrive40d?
The xDrive40d may be the entry point of the X7 line up, but the X7 sits near the very top of the BMW range, so it lands at a hefty $184,200. As mentioned, the $15,800 worth of options rounds that out to a nice even $200,000 for the example you see here.
What are the key statistics for the BMW X7 xDrive40d's engine?
The xDrive40d is one of only two remaining vehicles in the BMW range powered by the excellent diesel 3.0-litre twin turbo inline six (the other is a less powerful version in the X5). In the X7 the engine produces 259kW of power and 720Nm of torque and drives all four wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission.
Is the BMW xDrive40d fuel efficient?
It certainly is. BMW claims an average consumption of 8.2l/100km under the 3P-WLTP protocol, which is genuinely easy to achieve in the real world and pretty damn impressive for a massive 2.5 tonne luxury SUV.
Is the BMW X7 xDrive40d good to drive?
While it is definitely a large vehicle, the X7 is still a BMW, so excellent driving dynamics are assured. You are always aware of its sheer size and weight, but the steering is beautifully accurate, weight transfer is wonderfully balanced and everything is communicated to the driver in that trademark BMW way. It also has a superb ride.
Is the BMW X7 xDrive40d practical for a large SUV?
Can a vehicle that is more than 5 metres long, 2 metres wide and 1.8 metres tall ever be anything but practical? The sheer amount of room inside the X7 can effortlessly swallow all the passengers and luggage you could throw at it and everyone would still have plenty of room. Of course, that sheer size does make it somewhat impractical when it comes to parking or manoeuvring through tight gaps...
What do we like about the BMW X7 xDrive40d?
It's spacious, superbly comfortable and impressively luxurious. The diesel six is a thoroughly superb engine that is flexible, powerful and surprisingly economical. While it may be polarising, BMW's huge grille/stacked lights look works brilliantly well on the big X7.
What don't we like about the BMW X7 xDrive40d?
While all of the tech is generally straightforward once you get used to it, it can be quite intimidating initially, particularly if you hate touchscreens. The crass lightbar in the dash on the passenger side is unecessary and way too in-your-face for a luxury vehicle. While the sheer size is welcome on the inside, it is a very big bus to live with as a daily driver.