BMW's upcoming seven-seater will initially feature a naturally aspirated engine, rather than the hybrid powertrain of the X7 iPerformance. However, a hybrid variant will come later.
Sitting alongside the 7 Series at the top of BMW's line-up, the car is due on UK roads from February 2019. The first pre-production models rolled off the production line in Spartanburg, in the US state of South Carolina, earlier this year (see pictures).
The X7 has been spotted testing several times in the past few months, offering glimpses of the future SUV's design and scale. Itwill be the largest SUV yet by BMW and adopts a typical SUV body shape with a boxy passenger area and, as the new BMW shots confirm, a flat-faced front end that has been toned down from the controversial styling of the X7 iPerformance. The extra large kidney grilles and slim headlight clusters remain, however.
The production version's styling will be toned down ahead of its sales debut, but its dimensions are expected to be rough the same. This means a length of 5020mm, 2020mm width and 1800mm in height, as well as a 3010mm wheelbase, will all remain largely the same, while the car will be roughly 113mm longer, 82mm wider and 37mm higher than the existing third-generation X5, with a 76mm longer wheelbase.
Beneath the camouflage will be familiar BMW design features, such as halo daytime running lights and kidney grilles. The light bar seen on the X7 iPerformance is not carried over to the production model.
The seven-seat X7 is being developed with the US and Chinese markets in mind, but it was confirmed for the UK by BMW head of sales and marketing Ian Robertson in 2016.
Speaking to Autocar at the New York motor show that year, Robertson said: “We will have some versions that are top-end luxury, as well as more mainstream versions. I can’t talk about pricing now, but given that this car will have all the technology and luxury of the 7 Series, it gives you a pretty good idea of the price point we’re talking about.”
Previously, it was thought that the X7 would be built on an extended version of the X5’s underpinnings, but Robertson said many parts are actually bespoke. “If you put both cars next to each other, the resemblance is small in terms of wheelbase, etc. We’re not going to just extend the wheelbase; it’s a complete new panel cell.”
It is too soon for BMW to confirm which engines will go into the X7, but sources have previously speculated that it will feature a selection of six and eight-cylinder engines, such as the 3.0-litre diesel in 30d, 40d and 50d guises and the twin-turbo 4.4-litre petrol V8 from the X6 xDrive50i. An M Performance model is more likely than a full-blown M version given the car's luxury positioning - it's aimed at the US and Chinese markets - so an equivalent to the M760Li is likely. X7 xDriveM60i badging could be used.
Robertson also hinted that the X7 would use engines from a wide range of BMW models, rather than just the X5 and X6. It will offer the choice of traditional petrol and diesel, along with, as showcased by the X7 iPerformance, a plug-in petrol-electric hybrid driveline with a zero-emission range of up to 62 miles. BMW's plug-in car sales have surged in recent months – a trend that's been in place since 2016, when it “sold more hybrids to the UK in the first two months of 2016 than in all of 2015 put together", according to Robertson.
The X7 will be built at the company's plant at Spartanburg. It will have three rows of seats, making it a rival for the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator in the US and China. It's around 110mm shorter and a little wider than the Mercedes-Benz GLS and around 30mm longer than the Range Rover.
The X7 has been in development since late 2015. The first sightings were of a chassis mule based on a 7 Series. The car, spotted testing in Scandanavia (and shown further back in the gallery), wore weights on its roof to replicate the higher centre of gravity of the future SUV.