Hurried progress on narrower, twistier cross-country roads doesn’t come easily to the X7 M50i, but the manner in which it conducts itself when pushed on wider, smoother, faster roads is still impressive.
There’s an abundance of grip here – more so than a car of this weight and size has any right to possess, you might argue – while optional four-wheel steering and a helm that’s perhaps a shade light in its weighting but also accurate and responsive all serve to build confidence and shrink the X7 around you. Of course, physics can only be eluded for so long, and even with active anti-roll stabilisation (part of the £2450 Executive Drive Pro bundle) working for the car, there’s a lot of side-to-side movement as you tip the X7 into bends.
That roll is progressively checked so it doesn’t take you by surprise when it arrives, but it’s still entirely possible to adopt what feel like rather hilarious lean angles through quicker corners should you choose to, and to do it without feeling you’re in any way flirting with mishap. The X7 always seems to retain enough wheel travel to avoid any massive mid-corner deflections, so stability remains impressive.
With its sheer size and mass, there’s always a bit of manhandling required to drive the X7 at pace on the road. But the balance this largest M Performance model strikes between grip and agility on the one hand and easy stability and good outright rolling comfort when you’re not rushing it on the other makes it seem both surprisingly dynamically accomplished and unexpectedly appealing to drive.
Tackling Millbrook’s Hill Route at pace in the X7 M50i isn’t a particularly pleasant experience. That’s not down to any shortage of traction. Even when pressed hard, the X7 clings on impressively. It’s more to do with how pronounced vertical and lateral body movements are at serious speeds.
Although these weight transfers remain controlled during quick directional changes, the inertia generated by the car’s sheer mass in these instances is profound. Driving quickly soon becomes quite a physically taxing process as a result. If competitive cruise lining were a thing, this is probably how it’d feel.
Nevertheless, the X7’s traction and stability systems are calibrated impressively. Progress isn’t constantly hampered by a heavy-handed line of software code, so you can carry what feels like serious speed through sharper, off-camber corners without any sudden loss of power or clamping of brakes.