The BMW X7 has been confirmed for the Australian market as Munich’s rival to the forthcoming Audi Q8 and Mercedes GLS-Class. The biggest SUV BMW's made yet, the X7 will be a dedicated seven-seater and sit on a lengthened version of the current X5/X6 SUV platform.
Speaking to Wheels at the launch of the second-generation X6, the head of product and planning, Shawn Ticehurst, said that he is extremely keen to see the seven-seater SUV.
“We’re very excited about the X7,” he said. “We still don’t know much about it yet … but it will be a great addition to the line-up. We’re looking forward to seeing it.”
Set for an international premiere in 2017 ahead of a global rollout during the following year, the X7 will be manufactured in South Carolina, USA, alongside all of the brand’s other crossovers bar the German-made X1.
While the X5 has long been available with seven seats, it’s more of the 5+2 configuration that doesn’t offer significant accommodation for adults, limiting its carrying capacity to children.
The X7 will have a longer wheelbase than the X5’s (which is 2933mm) and will stretch the X5’s 4900mm length to around 5100mm.
Reports suggest the X7 will be similar in concept to Mercedes-Benz’s philosophically similar GL-Class/GLS-Class seven-seater flagship, which is basically a stretched version of the M-Class/GLE-Class SUV – with the main difference being that BMW won’t fall into the confusing badge trap like its Swabian compatriot.
Why is the Bavarian brand bothering with such a beast? SUV sales continue to boom globally, with dealers in the US, China, Russia and the Middle East crying out for a properly spacious seven-seater X-series crossover.
2015 is already shaping up to be big year for the large luxury SUV segment, with the arrival of the second-generation Volvo XC90 and Audi Q7, as well as the GLS-Class facelift.
BMW chairman Norbert Reithofer announced the coming of the X7 last March, along with news that the US Spartanburg plant is undergoing a US$1 billion upgrade to help boost production from 300,000 to 450,000 units annually. The facility is currently the largest exporter of US-built vehicles in the world.
Alongside the evergreen X5, the other X-series models currently built there are the X3 and its X4 SUV Coupe spinoff, as well as the last two generations of X6.
Speculation is also building that the X7’s XXL underpinnings and possible relationship with the all-new G01 7 Series out at the end of the year may also spawn a Rolls-Royce offshoot.