Facelifted Range Rover alternative gets mild-hybrid straight six and plenty of dynamic polish

Our first drive of the facelifted BMW X7 in August centred on the M60i. This time we're in the xDrive40i, a model with noticeably less performance but a price that's a good £22,000 below that of its range-topping sibling, at £82,450. 

The visual changes over the original X7 launched in 2019 are quite comprehensive, especially up front, where the big BMW SUV adopts a split-headlight treatment similar to the recently unveiled fifth-generation 7 Series. Instead of single assemblies on each side, there are two separate units: thin daytime running lights, then larger LED main beams with optional 'Laser Light' functionality below. They're set within a newly designed bumper that also includes a reworked kidney grille with optional illumination.

It is a successful mid-life remake, if the aim was to make the X7 more distinctive-looking than before. It no longer looks like a beefed-up X5, that’s for sure. Buyers can also option wheels up to 23in in diameter, although the standard wheels are 21in.

However, the updated X7 also has some significant interior upgrades, including a newly styled dashboard featuring a curved display panel similar in style to the iX's. It combines a 12.3in instrument display and a 14.9in central display for the infotainment functions, and runs BMW’s new ID8 operating system.

The new, lower-mounted dashboard receives revised air vents as well as a light band within the trim element with X7 graphics. The analogue ventilation controls of the older model, meanwhile, are replaced by a rather complex set of digital controls in the central display.

Bmw x7 xdrive40i 13 cabin

Broad front seats with firm support and generous adjustment make the X7 xDrive40i a terrifically comfortable car to drive. A high seating position and a large expanse of glass, including an optional full-length panorama sunroof, provide excellent vision.  

Outright roominess also continues to be one of the X7’s biggest draws, and there’s the choice of a five-, six- or seven-seat layout. It is agreeably versatile and, as you might expect given it counts the Audi Q7, Mercedes-Benz GLS and Range Rover among its rivals, suitably luxurious. In five-seat form, there’s a generous 750 litres of luggage space. With the rearmost seats in use, though, the capacity shrinks to just 326 litres.

Central among the changes to the X7’s engine line-up is the introduction of a new mild-hybrid version of BMW’s turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engine – codenamed the B58 – in the xDrive40i driven here. It adopts a crankshaft-mounted starter-generator integrated into the front section of the standard eight-speed ZF-produced automatic gearbox, endowing it with electric boosting for added performance and engine-off coasting functionality for efficiency improvements. Power and torque are up by 47bhp and 51lb ft, taking the reserves to 375bhp and 398lb ft. The starter-generator alone is capable of delivering 12bhp and up to 147lb ft.

On the road, the X7 xDrive40i’s revised engine is smooth, very flexible and quite punchy. It may lack the vigorous step-off and overall performance of the X7 M60i’s twin-turbocharged 4.4-litre V8, but with mild-hybrid properties bringing a good deal more power and torque than before, the reworked six-cylinder is nevertheless determined and arguably even more entertaining now, revving freely and eagerly up to 6800rpm.

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The standard eight-speed automatic gearbox, meanwhile, is excellent, with a quick and resolute shift action no matter how hard the engine is working. New here for the X7 xDrive40i is launch control and a sprint function that bypasses gears to automatically select the lowest possible gear and higher performance drive modes when the left shift paddle is held. Altogether, there are four driving modes: Personal, Sport, Eco and Individual. 

An official time of 5.8sec makes the facelifted model 0.3sec quicker from 0-62mph than its predecessor, reflecting the added urgency brought by the electrification measures. Punchy, then. But it is also more refined, with truly hushed qualities during constant throttle running in automatic mode on the motorway. 

Fuel consumption has also improved. BMW claims a WLTP average of up to 30.7mpg in Eco mode. This betters the 29.4mpg of the old model.

Bmw x7 xdrive40i 19 front static

Given its outright size and weight, the facelifted X7 xDrive40i is not the sort of SUV you’d expect to excel when driven briskly. Like its predecessor, however, it is pleasingly agile and composed when extended on challenging canyon roads like those we experienced at its launch in Palm Springs.

The basis to the impressive dynamic character is the latest version of BMW’s dual-axle air suspension with adaptive damping and an automatic self-levelling system. It all brings outstanding stability, excellent rolling comfort and an ability to smooth out undulating sections of bitumen. 

The steering, light but precise in the context of these cars, serves to build confidence. It is supported by optional Integral Active Steering, which comes as part of a Dynamic Handling Package. This enables between 3.0deg and 4.0deg of steering angle for the rear wheels, depending on the speed, and gives the big BMW sharp and immediate turn-in. 

With the quick-acting latest evolution of BMW’s xDrive four-wheel drive system, there is also an abundance of grip and impressive levels of traction. Lean is very well controlled during sudden changes of direction, too. Overall, the X7 is a class dynamic act. 

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There are clear limits to how much speed you can carry into corners, though. Even with active anti-roll stabilisation, the handling of X7 xDrive40i is ultimately dictated by the car’s body movements, which despite their progressive nature do eventually elicit heady levels of weight transfer that can build quite dramatically when you are pushing hard.

Around town, meanwhile, the light steering and optional rear steering make the new X7 surprisingly manoeuvrable, although there’s no escaping its size, which will continue to prove challenging in smaller UK towns.

But that much is obvious with anything of the X7’s size. Sophisticated, roomy, comfortable and, by SUV standards, appealing to drive, the X7 xDrive40i remains a compelling proposition and, despite stiff premium brand competition, should continue to prove popular.

The changes brought to the 2023 model give it a more upmarket air with a greater feeling of luxuriousness than before, without taking anything away from its impressively smooth and determined dynamic traits. With its mild-hybrid tech bringing added fuel economy, it is also now a more attractive choice next to the X7 xDrive40d, which has traditionally proven to be the best-seller in the line-up


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jason_recliner 25 October 2022
Cushy, comfortable, cool.
Dozza 24 October 2022

BMW clearly designing cars for the Chinese market. Even if I had the funds to buy one I wouldn't even contemplate it. Fugly

Dozza 24 October 2022

BMW clearly designing cars for the Chinese market. Even if I had the funds to buy one I wouldn't even contemplate it. Fugly