Our first glimpse at BMW's upcoming three-row SUV
BMW has been splitting hairs with the many new models and variants it’s introduced over that past few years, but its lineup has lacked one thing the entire time: a large SUV. We’ve known for a while the automaker plans to remedy that with a new three-row X7, and it’s using the Frankfurt Motor Show as the stage to unveil a concept that previews the upcoming SUV—though hopefully not too closely.
The BMW Concept X7 iPerformance incorporates cues from the brand’s other SUVs, but extra measures were taken to accentuate this model’s size. Take the profile, for example. The vehicle rides on very showy 23-inch wheels and has high ground clearance to ensure it “rises prominently over the road,” according to BMW. To further emphasize the X7’s height, the front and rear ends have been made unusually upright and vertical. In front, BMW’s signature dual-kidney grille has been enlarged to comical extremes, to the point where it takes up a majority of the real estate on the front fascia. The massive grille is made from a single, solid piece, however, which is an interesting touch. Similarly tall inlets at the outer edges of the lower front fascia appear to route “air-curtain” flow across the tires and back out the even taller air extractor elements just aft of the front wheel openings. Like everything else on the concept, those openings are very upright and make the prominent side accents look less like a “hockey stick” than they do on the 7 Series.
The concept isn’t all bad, though. The headlights are slim and use laser technology, including in the dual “X” lighting elements within each housing. The taillights are also slender, and there’s a matte silver bar that’s partially integrated into the lamps that connects them and spans the width of the rear liftgate. BMW says that horizontal bar will be reserved for its top luxury models going forward. Giant side windows and a huge panoramic sunroof with a distinctive Y-shaped supporting structure lend an open, airy feel to the cabin. Inside, you’ll find contrasting materials, plushly carpeted floor, and sumptuous quilted leather seats. Passengers will also find unequaled connectivity with screens for all six seats to make the X7 a haven of infotainment and productivity as they prefer. Using gesture controls, occupants can share a song to the central playlist or throw content from screen to screen. This interscreen flow of data is visualized by “interactive LED choreography” on the doors and instrument panel.
Because it’s a show car making its debut in 2017, the X7 concept of course features an electrified powertrain. BMW doesn’t give specifics, but the concept packs a plug-in hybrid drivetrain featuring a gasoline engine using BMW’s TwinPower turbocharger tech—perhaps similar to the 2.0-liter turbo I-4 hybrid setup available in the X5 and 3 Series. It’s unclear if that will make it to production, but you can definitely expect BMW’s line of turbo-sixes and twin-turbo V-8s to be offered when the X7 arrives. You can also expect to see the general shape of this concept reflected in the production version, though show car touches like the laser lighting in the headliner, wispy door frames, and Swarovski glass accents in the center console and steering wheel aren’t as likely to make the cut. As big as this concept is, the third row looks tight. We expect the production vehicle to more equitably divvy up the legroom between the second and third rows.
The X7 will ride on the same CLAR platform underpinning the 7 Series and will be built at BMW’s U.S. plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina. We’ll have to wait until the production X7 makes its debut sometime during the coming auto show season to see how close it is to this polarizing concept. However it ends up looking, we’ll see the X7 on sale next year as a 2019 model.