THERE IS little doubt that the Range Rover Vogue is the favoured child of the farming fraternity – it has presence, it has power and it has comfort. But could it be about to lose its place at the top of the tree?

BMW's new X7 is a beast of an SUV that more than matches the Vogue in stature – it's 5.1m long by 2m wide and stands at an imposing 1.8m in height – and the German maker is no slouch, either, in the comfort department given it's long history as a luxury car maker.

But it is maybe the X7's attention to detail that really makes it stand out – though I'm not so sure that the jewelled cut glass gear-shift doesn't look a bit tacky. That wee gemstone sits within the centre console beside the truly brilliant BMW concept, the i-Controller which, once you get the hang of it, is a superb operating system that gives full control over all of the main functions.

The X7 has a starting price of just above £70k, which is well within, or even under, its main target, the Solihull-built Vogue. But this price escalates fairly heftily as you move up the spec' range and the M50d, for instance, will set you back £108,300.

But you get a lot of bangs for your buck. If you think of the sumptuous 7-series pumped up to SUV size, then you'll get a flavour of what the X7 is all about. It also has a Vogue-beating seating option of a third row of seats, which can be configured to three rows of two, or in football parlance, a 2:3:2 line-up.

Given the worrying stats on Range Rover's reliability – which are mainly put down to software 'issues' – the German maker's X7 could stand up well, given a proven range of engines and transmissions, plus its proven i-Controller set-up. It is a past master of new technology and connectivity.

First impressions from the outside is that this is a SUV that means business. There is nothing effete about it ... it has presence. It's more rugby player, than ballet dancer!

It has clearly sculpted lines and a nice touch is that the rear doors are actually bigger than the front doors, which makes launching into either of the two rear seating arrangements a lot easier than you would imagine. Roof rails and chrome trim strips also set the X7 off.

But it is inside where the BMW X7 shines. The dash is quite daunting, but logical with it. However, you may need to enlist the help of a teenager to make the most of its capabilities because it does take ‘connectivity’, via the phone and internet, to a giddy height.

Standard-fitment is BMW's Live Cockpit Professional, which includes a control display and fully-digitised instrument cluster – each with a screen diagonal of 12.3-inches. That all means there's a lot of voice activated functions and a lot more can be downloaded – but while it can be almost turned into a personal office space, this is still all about the drive ... and it does that with aplomb.

But it's not just a simple as selecting 'Drive' mode, there's also 'Sport', 'Sport-plus' and 'Sport Dynamique' to choose from, but you'd need to be really on some kind of mission to opt for anything other than the bog standard one. Confusingly, BMW has named it's two diesel power ratings on the car's nomenclature as the 30d and 50d. That's nothing to do with the engine size, as they are both one and the same straight six three-litre motor – the difference is in the tweaking.

The 30d has 265bhp on tap, while the 50d is not so much tweaked, but wrenched via the efforts of a quadruple turbocharger set-up – two large and two smaller turbos – up to an electrifying 400bhp when the 'Sport' setting is engaged.

This means the sportier offering can propel the X7's 2.5 tonnes from zero to 62mph in under six seconds, which is quicker than the diesel Range Rover Vogue (though the five-litre V8 petrol is marginally faster). BMW also has a petrol variant, the 40i, but it's hard to see why anyone would buy that as it is thirstier and less potent.

An interesting feature is the three rows of seating, with the third row having two full-sized seats, including a space between them, complete with cupholders and armrests integrated into the side panel trim for added comfort.

The second row usually includes three seats in a conventional rear-seat bench configuration, although two 'captain's chairs' are an optional extra, and they come with integrated armrests, comfort cushions and cup-holders extended from the front centre console.

In both the standard and optional set-up, the second-row seats have some adjustment back and forward, plus backrest angles, which, like all other seats have electric controls. The backrests in the second and third rows also fold down electrically, and for the third row of seating there's some control from the rear door area – which is a two section split tailgate, powered of course.

This means that the boot capacity of 326 litres increases to 2120 litres when the backrests in the second and third rows are folded down. Also, making loading and unloading easier, the standard air suspension allows the car to be lowered at the touch of a button from the boot (or via the display key or rocker switch within the centre console).

Standard fitment is an electrically-operated panoramic glass roof, which can also be partnered with an optional electric sun blind. This also has what BMW calls 'Sky Lounge' – LED lighting which can illuminate more than 15,000 graphic patterns on it to generate a display reminiscent of a starlit sky.

Four-zone automatic climate control is standard, but customers can opt for a five-zone automatic climate control system with separate control panel and additional air vents for the third row of seats. Your can even get the option of infusing the interior with eight individually selectable scents – Brut 33 is not one of them!

Interior lighting selection is fairly bewildering and most people won't fiddle too much with that, but what will be configured with will be an excellent 10-speaker hi-fi that's standard – though those with more demands can get a Harman Kardon surround sound system with 16 speakers, or a Bowers and Wilkins outfit with 20 speakers and 1500-Watt amplifier.

The rear-seat passengers can use both their own media sources and those available in the front compartment. A navigation map and BMW ConnectedDrive services can also be accessed from the rear seats.

BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system is part of the standard eight-speed Steptronic transmission and these link with Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) for some nifty handling. A M Sport differential is fitted as standard on the BMW X7 M50d, which is aimed at reducing understeer and does make handling on corners that bit sharper.

Drivers can adjust the X7's ground clearance when off-road driving. At a push of a button, there's a two stage raise of up to 40mm above the norm.

An 'off-road' package is available for all in the range, apart from the BMW X7 M50d and it features its own special graphics in the instrument cluster and display. It has an extra button on the centre console for selecting four driving modes – xSnow, xSand, xGravel and xRocks.

Given the size of the X7, a welcome standard feature is the parking assistance mode, which includes a rear-view camera, though various cameras around the vehicle work together to create a 360° image of the vehicle and the surrounding area on the dash display. You can even call up a three-dimensional live image of the vehicle and its immediate vicinity on a smartphone.

Many in-cab functions can also be accessed via the 'Hey BMW' voice-activated software. For instance, saying 'Hey BMW, I’m cold' will prompt it to adjust the temperature inside the car accordingly – it even learns as it goes along.

So ... it all sounds good for the farming user but will it usurp the Range Rover? Well in many ways it should, but the fact that the UK-built machine is rated to tow 3.5 tonnes and the BMW has a measly 2.6 tonne rating could sway the decision on whether to go for one or not. If you don't tow with it ... then that's another matter!