Biggest BMW Yet, Driven In The Land Of Excess
evo India|May 2019

…and home of everything oversized. Big Macs. Big Cokes. Big skies. And big SUVs

Sirish Chandran

That grille. Good lord, that grille! What were BMW’s designers thinking? Have all sense of proportions and aesthetics been sacrificed at the altar of American and Chinese tastes?

BMW’s press handout says, like as if we were blind to the fact, that the X7 has the largest kidney grille in BMW history. And it is that grille that will dominate every conversation about the Range Rover and Mercedes GLS rival. It shocks and awes. It is bold, blingy, brash and in-your-face. It polarises opinion on the Interwebs. And in the land of Trump, where it is built and which will be its biggest market (after Trump’s favorite sparring partner, China) it actually blends in!

Everything is oversized in America. A regular Coke is a bucket. Unless you’ve been starving for days, I challenge you to wipe out a regular burger. On freeways clogged with Ford F-150 pickups (the best-selling vehicle in the USA), Chevy Suburban SUVs and rapper spec Cadillac Escalades, the X7 rocks a sense of proportion and understated elegance that is rarer than a sensible word out of Trump’s mouth.

Sin City to the City of Angels, via Death Valley

Las Vegas is what Dubai was modeled on. If you thought there was zero taste and only bling in the Middle East, oh man, Vegas is absolutely decadent. All that nonsense in the Hangover movies, there’s very little in the way of exaggeration. People come to Vegas not just to let their hair down but their pants too. It is the home of debauchery. We went to what they call the old quarter of Vegas and the street side party was what ends marriages. I bumped into a nun who’d forgotten to button up; there was not a pole left unmolested by dancers of the very flexible variety. And in the midst of all this, the X7 gets the thumbs up.

I’m not kidding you, we had people pull up and pepper the X7 with praise. As the sunlight glints off the Sphinx, Eiffel Tower and all the bling-y buildings, the X7 actually looks fit for the purpose. It works well, in a city where blending in is not part of the agenda. It looks expensive. It is what a high-roller would, erm, roll up in to bomb his credit card. It works.

And on the inside too, it’s lovely. The layout is familiarly BMW but the quality, materials, luxury, everything is the best I’ve seen on any BMW. The days of analog dials and needles are long gone and the X7 gets the digital cockpit that we first saw on the X5, allied to another 12.3-inch display above the center console. The screen is touch and gesture-enabled, there’s Siri-like “Hey, BMW” voice commands for everything, there’s a pad to scribble on, but if you’d like to go old school, there’s still the iDrive controller to navigate through the menus. It might sound over-complicated but it is the most intuitive system of all its rivals. And with CarPlay and Android Auto operated via Wi-Fi you don’t need any cables to connect your phone to the X7.

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