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BMW X7 review: More than a little Xtra

The BMW X7 is a hulking car that combines room with uncanny agility.

BMW's X7 feels like it's crawling when it's running. And run, it does. Rear axle steering makes the big BMW surprisingly wieldy.

Las Vegas

SO annoyingly logical are the Germans that you can guess what a BMW X7 is from its name. That's right, it's like the X5, BMW's first Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV), only bigger and more expensive. No cigar for you.

Or think of it as the 7 Series of SUVs, which is just as logical, as it's dripping with all the things that make BMW's flagship sedan great: loads of space, a cabin so posh it would sound like Liz Hurley if it could speak, and a smooth, omnipotent engine. The X7 rivals the Range Rover (which is ironic since BMW used to own the Rover Group) and Mercedes-Benz GLS.

Why launch a hulking SUV now? BMW sees a growing market for one, Nina McFadden, the X7's project manager, told The Business Times. "This is where customer demand is going," she said. As for customers themselves, they'll be going in spectacular comfort: 5,151mm long and 2,000mm wide, the regal X7 is large enough to be seen from space, and commensurately roomy inside.

It has three rows of chairs, with seven seats as the standard configuration, or six seats if you want something different. The six-seater is also more comfy, says Ms McFadden. Think Business Class, where fewer chairs means less elbow-to-elbow contact. All the seats are manipulated electrically, as they had better be at this price - set aside at least S$440,000 if you want an X7 when it's launched in May. Yet, it isn't space that makes the X7 remarkable, but ride comfort. All X7s have air suspension, and it's used to great effect. The burly BMW rolls serenely over tarmac, as if flattening bumps with its bulk.

Double-glazed windows silence outside airflow, too, so much so that the X7 feels like it's crawling when it's running. And run, it does. Rear axle steering makes the big BMW surprisingly wieldy, while the grippy tyres help it sling through corners at an unseemly pace.

Singapore gets the 340 horsepower xDrive40i model, which readily outsprints its nearest rivals. But this is a car about excess - more size than you need, more cornering ability than you could reasonably want - so an M50i version with the 530hp engine from the M850i could show up eventually. That would be logical, too.

BMW X7 xDrive40i

Engine 2,998cc, inline 6, twin-turbo

Power 340hp at 5500 to 6500rpm

Torque 450Nm at 1500 to 5200rpm

Gearbox 8-speed automatic

0-100km/h 6.1 seconds

Top Speed 245km/h

Fuel Efficiency 9.0L/100km (estimated)

Agent Performance Motors Limited

Price S$440,000 with COE (indicative)

Available May

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