BMW Shows Concept X7 iPerformance Fullsize SUV Before Frankfurt
Bold Styling, Electrified Powertrain Preview Production Model
BMW’s long-expected fullsize SUV is on its way, at least going off the debut of its latest Frankfurt Motor Show offering. Called the Concept X7 iPerformance, the Mercedes GLS–fighter features a hybrid powertrain, making good on the company’s claims that it would offer a total of 25 electrified models before the year 2025.
Powering the concept is a version of BMW’s TwinPower Turbo gasoline engine, likely a 3.0L I-6 making at least 350 hp on its own. Aided by a plug-in hybrid system (BMW calls it eDrive), the SUV should produce at least 400 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque, and the company promises exceptional performance with zero local emissions thanks to short-range electric-only driving. Based on the performance of the X5 xDrive40e, we’d presume the Concept X7 iPerformance could offer a 20-mile electric-only range, courtesy of a lithium-ion battery.
However, it’s difficult to focus on what’s underneath when the skin of the Concept X7 is so—ahem—bold. Leaked a day early by Bimmerpost, initial reactions to the concept are polarized at best. While the overall shape is appropriate for a fullsize luxury SUV, numerous details detract from , not enhance, the styling.
BMW’s signature kidney grilles are outsized on the X7, likely larger on this vehicle than on any other BMW in history. Bookending those nostrils are two massive intakes below the headlights, with a thin slit running between the two along the front bumper. There’s an unusual piece of brushed metallic trim that cantilevers its way through these auxiliary openings, adding some visual flair, but we think fewer openings and cleaner surface details would better suit BMW’s biggest offering.
As on many modern BMWs, there are vents in the front fenders, but the massive, L-shaped pieces of chrome that trim the fenders of the X7 are poorly integrated into the bodysides. With a hockey stick–shaped character line extending down from the fender vent and a horizontal slash originating above it, there’s just too much going on in the X7’s profile.
The story gets better from the rear, at least somewhat. The squared-off, metal-trimmed rear bumper cover reminds us a bit too much of the 2017 Lexus LX, but the taillights, roofline, and Hofmeister-kinked rear quarter glass restore some Teutonic BMW grace to the styling. The rear three-quarter view is arguably the Concept X7’s best angle, exterior-wise.
There are some good things to say about the exterior, apart from the aforementioned rear view. The headlamps, for example, do an excellent job of updating BMW’s four-element lighting heritage with laser technology, and they look sleek and aerodynamic, echoing the company’s other modern offerings. The sideview mirrors sit on two delicate supports, recalling the company’s legendary M cars. Finally, while the shapes of some of the exterior trim bits may be a bit off, they’re rendered in gorgeous polished stainless steel, a nice change from the chrome that tends to appear on luxury-branded concept cars.
BMW’s vaguely hexagonal interior styling language makes an appearance on the X7, with a very attractive dash and instrument panel design that looks very cohesive. We hope elements of the steering wheel make it to production, as its flared spokes add some show-car flash to what the driver touches the most. The three-section glass roof bathes each row in light, and the seats echo the roof’s honeycomb-like texture with embossed leather. As one would expect from a modern Bimmer, the interior is very sleek and stylish.
BMW says we can expect a production version of the Concept X7 in 2018, with U.S. deliveries happening perhaps a year later. As BMW’s largest offering ever, the X7 will do battle with its German rival, the Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class, as well as the Range Rover, Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Navigator, and aforementioned Lexus LX. It’s also fair to guess loaded examples of the Volvo XC90 and Audi Q7 could compete with base models of the X7, which should start at about $70,000 and max out above $100,000.