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Engine options, speed, acceleration and refinement

As antisocial as the concept of a 523bhp 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 in a six- or seven-seat SUV that tips the scales at 2.5 tonnes might be in this day and age, it’s very tricky not to be enamoured by its application in this range-topping X7. This is an impressively multifaceted engine – one that’s capable of delivering thundering performance in one moment and impeccable, creamy refinement in the next.

With Sport Plus mode and launch control engaged, the X7 M50i uses its immense four-wheel traction and rearwards weight transfer to fairly devastating effect off the line. It hit 60mph in 4.8sec and 100mph was surpassed after 11.3sec. It was homing in on 140mph as we neared the end of Millbrook’s mile straight and didn’t show any signs of letting up right up until the point where self-preservation dictated its suitably enormous brakes be deployed. Hard.

X7 can be furnished with wheels as relatively modest as 20in in diameter or as large as 22in. The M50i wears 21in lightweight M alloys as standard, although our test car has been upgraded to 22in Y-spokers

Of course, with a couple of hundred kilograms of extra weight to lug about, the X7 isn’t quite a match for the likes of the Porsche Cayenne Turbo (0-60mph in 3.9sec), or the Range Rover Sport SVR (4.4sec), but it’s quite unlikely that you’ll notice such a deficit on the road.

Chances are you’ll be more amused by the way in which it squats down on its haunches like an Olympic powerlifter, before erupting forwards on a wave of sonorous V8 fury. Indeed, with a wealth of torque spread across quite a wide rev range, this engine’s flexibility is as impressive as its outright pace (30- 70mph in fourth gear took 5.5sec). The dexterity with which its eight-speed transmission swaps cogs while on the move is good, too.

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However, there are a couple of gripes, albeit small ones. The first is fuel consumption. The average during our time with the car was 19mpg, which stings but doesn’t really surprise. The second was an occasional tendency for step-off to be a shade more urgent than you might have anticipated. Hardly a dealbreaker, but you would need to be a bit delicate with your right foot in such instances to avoid making any of your passengers uncomfortable.

Braking performance in emergency stop conditions is very impressive. As with acceleration, the X7’s stability under hard braking is exceptional and it can haul itself to a standstill from 70mph in 45.2m. That’s less space than a Volkswagen Polo requires.

In normal driving conditions, meanwhile, brake pedal progression and feel are both sensibly calibrated for smooth, controlled stops.