What is it?
If you’re familiar with the X7, the arrival of the xDrive M50i should come as no surprise.
It’s the new range-topping petrol version of BMW’s flagship SUV, slotting in above the distinctly milder xDrive40i that’s already on sale here. And seeing as BMW has decided not to create a full-blown M version, unlike with the X5 and X6, it will be the hottest version of the firm’s biggest SUV.
Its status as an M Performance car is shown by a series of subtle styling changes. These include a deeper front bumper with greater structuring and larger air ducts, wider door sills and a new-look rear bumper that houses a reworked diffuser element and larger, trapezoidal, chromed tailpipes. There’s also a range of new 21in and optional 22in alloy designs.
It’s quite a step over those sills but, once you’ve climbed inside, you find a luxurious and commodious cabin that can accommodate seven adults across three rows of seats. There’s certainly no shortage of space.
Unique touches include a leather steering wheel, a gear selector and instrument graphics that are all M-branded. It’s all very upmarket, in keeping with BMW’s more recent attempts to position itself as a luxury brand rather than merely one that focuses on premium qualities.
The M50i is powered by a version of BMW’s 4.4-litre turbo petrol V8 that produces 523bhp and 553lb ft of torque – a considerable 188bhp and 221lb ft more than the 3.0-litre turbo straight six used by the xDrive40i.
As with other X7s, power is sent to all four wheels via an eight-speed torque-converter automatic gearbox, although in the M50i this has been given unique software mapping for sportier shifts in D, S and M modes. Launch control has been added, too. What’s more, the xDrive system receives an electronically controlled M Differential that provides torque vectoring capability for the rear axle.