BMW X7: God SAV the King



The luxury world has never seen anything like the BMW X7. But that’s because BMW never built one before.

SINGAPORE — “Utility” is such a crude word, so it’s only appropriate that BMW’s take on the Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) is called the Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV).

But if the SAV has been an unqualified success for BMW — global X model sales were up by almost a quarter in the first half of 2019 despite a sluggish overall market — then the BMW X7 is the crowning glory of the breed.

In fact, the BMW X7 may take the popular X family to seven models, but its true mission was to propel the SAV concept to new heights of status and luxury. An exclusive chat with some of the brains behind the BMW X7 reveals as much, along with other secrets that explain its success. Here’s what a deep dive into the BMW X7’s world uncovers.

The market was clamouring for the BMW X7

Why build the BMW X7? Because worldwide demand for SUVs is growing, and so is the appetite for luxury. Combined, those two forces provided the perfect opportunity for BMW to create something special.

The BMW X7’s name perfectly describes it

One bit of shorthand for understanding the BMW X7 is to think of it as the X family’s version of the BMW 7 Series. Just as that is the flagship of BMW’s sedans, the BMW X7 is the flagship of the SAV family. “It’s a combination of 7 Series and X model,” says Mr Carsten Grober, BMW Group Vice-President of Product Management. “It’s like a fusion, and it’s about traveling with style, relaxed and having space.”

Defining the BMW X7 so clearly is also why it’s so focused and well-executed. It has a high level of standard equipment, for example, yet also boasts features that aren’t normally noticeable, such as acoustic glass for the windshield that helps to seal out noise and make the cabin a veritable haven of silence — very BMW 7 Series, and therefore, very BMW X7.

BMW started from scratch with the X7

The BMW X7 is not only a BMW without a preceding model, it’s essentially a clean-sheet design. That enabled some fresh thinking about how to approach luxury in a striking way. “Coming from a design point of view, it’s an appealing car, radiating presence,” says Mr Groeber.  “It has the biggest double-kidney grille from BMW ever, precise headlamps, very clear design language and is very upright.” That helps it create a powerful impression on people.

BMW used the finest materials for the cabin to make sure that the BMW X7 not only looks like a luxury car, but feels like one, too.

Technology makes the BMW X7 multi-talented

The king of SAVs might be large, but it’s agile. “You can drive it really sportily, because it has additional features for the driver side: rear axle steering makes a big car feel smaller. It drives like a mid-size sedan,” says Joerg Wunder, the project leader for the BMW X7. “On the other hand, you can have a really comfortable drive, so it’s a combination like what we do with a BMW 7 Series.”

Much of that comfort, he explains, is from the two-axle air suspension, which keeps the BMW X7 perfectly level at all times and give it the ability to deliver firmness for taut handling or softness for a soothing, pillowy ride.

Less (seating) is more

All BMW X7s have three rows of seats, but the most luxurious configuration is the six-seat version, which has two individual chairs for maximum personal space in the middle row. “That’s the top of the top,” Mr Wunder explains, comparing it to the first class section of an airplane where spaciousness is a given.

In fact, BMW briefly examined the idea of making the BMW X7 an eight-seater, but decided it wouldn’t have made sense. “It’s not about putting as many people as possible into the car,” says Mr Groeber. More space for passengers, rather than more passengers, was the ultimate goal. That’s why even the third row offers so much room.

The BMW X7 was an instant success

Publicly unveiled at the Los Angeles auto show in November 2018, the BMW X7 drew a constant flow of admirers. But before it even met the public, a queue of buyers had formed, with BMW collecting more than 1,500 pre-launch deposits for the car. 

That success is ongoing. It “enjoys high demand as segment leader,” said Harald Kruger in his final statement to stockholders as BMW Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

Sporty BMW X7s are on the way

The BMW X7 may be regal and relaxing, but it can also be exciting. The BMW X7 xDrive40i version on sale now, with its smooth, brawny and tuneful TwinPower Turbo engine, is already swifter than its direct competitors and able to reach 100km/h in only 6.1 seconds. But a storming BMW X7 M50i model is on the way, with a 530 horsepower, bi-turbo V8 engine. 

Its ability to thunder to 100km/h in just 4.7 seconds is enough to evoke awe, but like every BMW M Performance Automobile, it has M-specific styling elements and suspension to match the high-performance engine perfectly.

It’s only appropriate that the top model of the BMW X family should itself have a supreme variant, given how the BMW X7 has turned out to offer such a multi-faceted approach to luxury. If the BMW X7 rules the SAV world, the M50i is a king among kings.

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Leow Julen
Leow Ju-Len is a lot older than he behaves. He's been writing about cars for 25 years. Someday he might do it coherently. Ju-Len believes in world peace and V8s, but not necessarily in that order.