Less than a year ago, during the North American presentation of its new X7, BMW just about pinky-swore there wouldn’t be an M Performance version of the SUV. So what are we sticking under the microscope today? Yup, the X7 M50i!
Here are 10 things absolutely positively worth knowing about the 2020 BMW X7 M50i.
#1 - It costs a lot… and the options do too
The MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) of the X7 M50i is $114,050, but the tester I drove carried a sticker price of $134,700. Which meant it was lugging around over $20,000 worth of options, including individual add-ons and three packages. The solo bits were a Bowers & Wilkins (instead of Harman Kardon) audio system worth $4,900, and an optional colour called Ametrine (a variety of quartz often violet in hue), which has been metalized; it runs $1,000.
For $2,000, the Advanced Driving Assistant Package throws in the usual drive assist systems, no surprise there. Fork over another $4,750 for the Dynamic Handling Package and you get a couple of interesting gadgets: Integral Active Steering, which means directional rear wheels and is handy for parking purposes, and Active Comfort Drive with Road Preview, borrowed from Rolls Royce. It acts on the 8-speed Steptronic transmission and the suspension by predicting the condition of the road and of traffic using radar and the vehicle’s navigation system.
Finally, for another $8,000, you get another influx of luxury, though nothing you haven’t seen elsewhere. For instance you get to enjoy ventilated premium leather seating and a massage function for the driver and front-row passenger. Honestly, of the nine items that make up this last package, only three fall out of the ho-hum category. I’m thinking of the Swarovski crystal accents (Volvo has the Orrefors), the perfumer in the glove box (also seen in Mercerdes-Benz products) and the BMW Drive hard drive (like a plane’s black box, sort of ).
#2 - It has its own guts
Assembled at BMW’s plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, the X7 got its M Performance version to begin 2020 – as did the X5, by the way. Now, it’s always worth pointing out that M Performance is not actually a true M variant, though it’s not that far off. Think of it a way station on the road from the regular X7 to an M version.
Thus the X7 M50i can go from a stop to 100 km/h in 4.6 seconds, thanks to an upgraded version of the model’s 4.4L twin-turbo V8. In this version the unit delivers 523 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque, or 67 horses and 74 lb-ft more than the regular X7.
When you consider the M50i works with the xDrive all-wheel drive system and weighs 2,436 kg before anyone climbs in or stuffs luggage into it, that’s impressive power! But it’s also pain-inducing at the pump. If that’s a concern for you, best opt for the X7 fitted with a 340-hp 3.0L V6 engine.
M Performance also means the X7 gets specifically calibrated differential, exhaust and suspension.
#3 - It drives sublimely… but it’s still an elephant
Impressive performance specs aside, are you really going to speed around in this mastodon as you would in a Z4? BMW might be particularly gifted at delivering exceptional interaction between driver and road, it has yet, to my knowledge, figured out how to transform an elephant into a gazelle.
While it does have impressive sprinting capabilities, this X7 is still designed primarily for refined, comfortable outings, and only doggedly determined drivers will push it beyond that. Depending on whether it’s shod in all-seasons or high-performance summer tires, top speed is set at 210 or 250 km/h. Not really enough to change your life as you do the 401 between Toronto and Montreal, say...
#4 - It tows… what the regular X7 tows
Towing capacity changes not one whit with this M Performance version of the X7. With the required towing apparatus in place, you can still pull up to 3,400 kg (7,500 lb).
#5 - It has four intelligent wheels
On a road that presents no challenges, the xDrive AWD system delivers 100% of the torque to the rear wheels, promising outrageous acceleration off the line. And if the system needs to modify the rotating speed of one of the wheels to optimize grip on the road, it can lock the rear differential.
#6 - It’s height-adjustable
The adaptive M suspension of the X7 M50i is of the air type. It allows you to lower the body by 20 mm in Sport mode, or when you're driving at over 72 km/h. Alternatively, if you take your X7 off-road for some fun and games of a different sort, you can increase the ground clearance by 40mm (normally it's at 221 mm). That's a whole 1 mm more than the Subaru Crosstrek.
#7 - It has good footwear
Owners might drift back to the garage after dinner to admire the blue M Sport brake calipers with the M logo on them. The standard wheels are 22-wheel in diameter and fitted with enormous 315/35R22 tires in back (275/40R22 in front). Optional are two-tone 22-inch wheels with all-seasons, sure to deliver a gentler riding experience.
#8 - It’s got the looks
Esthetically, the M brush stroke gives the model large air vents in the front bumpers for better cooling and sculpted side skirts. Inside, it means exclusive steering wheel, gear shifter, cross-stitching and headliner, most decked with M badging and/or special colours.
#9 - It’s shorter than the stretched 7 Series
Believe it or not, the X7 is shorter by 103 mm than the elongated 7 Series car (5165 vs 5268). But the X7 gets its revenge width-wise (by 98 mm) and especially height-wise (325 mm more). The wheelbase of the X7 M50i sits partway between those of the regular and stretched 7 Series limo models.
#10 – It promises hours and hours of fun!
The 6 or 7 seats of this X7 (depending on the configuration of the middle row) are all power adjustable. And we’re not talking here simply of frontward-backward, oh no. For example, a button near the right-side headrest of the middle-row bench (with me on that?) allows for literally raising and folding the right front passenger seat.
In the trunk area (able to accommodate up to 2,120 litres), you can control via your fingertips the rear and middle seats if you want to get a partially or completely flat floor. Getting familiar with all the possible positions and permutations takes some practice!
Now that we’ve properly poked and prodded the M Performance version of the X7, we eagerly await that promised hybrid version – and who knows, maybe there’s even a plug-in on the horizon. Though BMW confirms nothing on that front for now.
Stay tuned as well for our full road-test review of the 2020 BMW X7 M50i, coming in the next few weeks.