Full of size, full of luxury SUV, the BMW Concept X7 iPerformance, that aims to do battle with the Mercedes GLS, Audi Q7, Volvo XC90 and, crucially, the car that created the segment, the Range Rover, when it moves from motorshow concept to production reality in 2018.
Unveiled several days earlier than planned, thanks to internet image leaks, the X7 is extremely imposing from the outside, thanks to a hugely exaggerated kidney grille and massive front apron air intakes. Yet, inside, the car is a study in lightness and space, thanks in part to a full-size glass roof and minimal clutter, but also because of the interior’s generous proportions, exaggerated further by the way in which each of the seven seats is an individual object, protruding from the floor on a slender shaft rather than as three lumpen rows of leather. It’s remarkable what a huge impact such a potentially small detail can make.
“The [X7] extends BMW’s offering in the luxury class and redefines the concept of luxury for the BMW brand and beyond,” said Ian Robertson, the company’s global head of sales.
Although a genuine, road-going model is due within the next 12 months, because this is a concept, BMW has also been able to pack the car with next-generation technology, such as individual multimedia tablets for personal infotainment, and will use the vehicle as a demonstration of how it aims to accommodate its customers’ increasingly digital and connected lifestyles.
But many of these features are little more than thought experiments or conversation pieces. So, what onlookers should take from the car is its external and interior design language, as the car is pointing firmly to the direction in which BMW is heading visually.
“The Concept introduces the BMW Sports Activity Vehicle DNA into the luxury segment. The new BMW design language employs just a few, extremely precise lines and subtle surface-work to raise the bar in terms of presence and prestige,” explains Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design. “The BMW Concept X7 iPerformance has a luxurious and sophisticated feel to it, thanks to its understated use of forms and incredibly precise details.”
One other major element that is expected to carry over from the concept to the production X7 is the drivetrain. The show car uses a twin turbocharged gasoline engine but one mated to an electric motor and derived directly from the powerplant that makes the i8 supercar amazing yet responsible to drive.
“The BMW Concept X7 demonstrates it’s perfectly possible to combine a large sports activity vehicle with an electrified drivetrain,” said Robertson.
So expect a hugely imposing, hugely comfortable car that will run purely on its batteries around the town then use a combination of electric and gasoline power on the highways for instant acceleration but optimum fuel economy.
As for how the car will line up against the competition, BMW still has time to refine the show car to meet the expectations of its client base. But, regardless of how its exterior styling evolves, if it’s as good under the skin as the 7 Series Sedan then Mercedes and even Range Rover should be worried.