If you would have a choice, which flagship top-of-the-range BMW would you choose? The rather inconspicuous 7-series sedan or the not so subtle X7? Could latter even be an in-house threat to the traditional limousine? I spent some quality time with both vehicles to find out.

If the flamboyant Bavarian fairy tale king Ludwig were to be alive today, the BMW X7 from his fiefdom would most probably be his favourite coach. The supremely comfortable behemoth is Neuschwanstein on wheels, literally a flying fortress – and the biggest production BMW ever made. With the biggest and boldest show-off kidney grille in the known universe.
The luxurious, comfortable and dynamic 7-series sedan has always been BMW’s flagship car. But parked for instance next to a Mercedes S-Class it unfortunately looks rather subdued and inconspicuous. The new flagship SUV (or SAV, as the Bavarians like to call it) is also luxurious, comfortable and (despite 2.4 tons) surprisingly agile. But to put it mildly, it has more presence. Much more. Originally built for the American market, where the car is manufactured in the Spartanburg factory in South Carolina, it finds eager customers around the world, including South Africa.
The mega SUV is large and long, 5.15m to be exact. But thanks to the same platform not wider than an X5. We know the dynamic qualities of the 7-series sedans for years, but how is the X7 performing on twisty roads?
Well, with standard all-wheel steering and air suspension it is extremely dynamic, while staying outstandingly comfortable. Even with those optional 22inch wheels, which render some cars almost undrivable. The big one is more agile than Range, GLS or Q7. And the braking is amazing: 33.9 m from 100km/h, that’s sportscar territory.
Conclusion: while in the low-key 730Ld you might go unnoticed, in the X7 50d you will be the centre of attention. Your choice. Always remember what King Ludwig would do.

BMW X7 M50d 
Engine 3.0-l. 6cyl. quad-turbo diesel, paired with an 8-speed auto
Power 294kW and 760Nm
Top Speed  250 km/h (electronically limited)
0-100km/h 5.4 seconds
Price R1 908 386
www.bmw.co.za

BMW 730Ld 
Engine 3.0-l. 6cyl. turbo diesel, paired with an 8-speed auto
Power 195kW and 620Nm
Top Speed  250 km/h (electronically limited)
0-100km/h 6.2 seconds
Price from R1 869 800
www.bmw.co.za