BMW’s efforts to break the luxury car mould moved into a crucial new phase last week, when its gargantuan new five-door V7 crossover vehicle ventured out on Munich streets for the first time.Autocar’s spied were on hand to catch the earliest mules for the six-seater and, despite extensive disguise on every exterior panel, the bulky profile of the big five-door is clearly visible, particularly in the photograph that shows it sat next to a new-generation 7-series, which the V7 appears to dwarf (see gallery.)
The BMW V7: like a 7-series, only bigger
Due in the UK in 2009, the V7 will be more estate than MPV, and will be aimed at buyers seeking the luxury and road-going manners of a 7-series but in a more practical and roomier two-box bodyshell.Based on the 7-series platform, the V7 promises luxury-car ride and handling rather than the 4x4-derived handling of Merc’s R-Class, which is based on the ML. Rear-wheel drive will be standard, four-wheel drive an option.The design of the V7 is all about interior room and flexibility of use. Its founding philosophy is described in German as “raumfunktionales” or functional space. So the V7 will feature a roomy, five-seat cabin as standard with a three-row version with seats similar to those in the second-generation X5, as an option.The key to the new BMW’s added practicality is an extended roofline and large liftback style rear end. The taller glasshouse and longer rear-overhang than the X5-based X6 promise to make the V7 a good-deal roomier than the coupe-look 4x4.
So just how big is it?
The V7 is said to stretch beyond 5000mm in length and 1900mm in width, which means it qualifies as a truck in the US.At this stage, it is unclear whether BMW will follow Mercedes and offer a choice of long- and short-wheelbases each aimed at the European and US markets. This prototype appears to be based on wheelbase longer than the 7-series saloon parked next to it.Unlike the X6 which will be built alongside the X5 at BMW’s Spartanburg factory in North America from early next year, the V7 will be built next to the existing 5- and next-year’s all-new 7-series at Dingolfing in Germany.This also means the new BMW will receive all the very latest driveline combinations, including a new turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 that’s under development in Munich, in combination with an eight speed automatic transmission.