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BMW Australia to expand SUV range

Out there: The Concept X2 not only confirms BMW’s intent to offer a coupe-style version of the X1 but is testing the reaction to some “fascinating new design possibilities” in areas such as its front-end styling.

X7 range-topper, X2 crossover to bolster BMW’s local SUV range by 2019

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BMW logo13 Feb 2017

By ROBBIE WALLIS

BMW Group Australia CEO Marc Werner has confirmed that the seven-seat X7 upper large SUV and X2 small crossover will roll into Australian showrooms within the next two years, bolstering the line-up to include a full suite of SUVs numbered from X1 to X7.

Speaking at the BMW Australia 2017 range day media event, Mr Werner said that it was an easy decision to bring the X2 to Australia, and that the sales of small coupe-style SUVs would justify its arrival.

“From a pure numerical product line-up, it makes perfect sense to launch an X2 between the X1 and the X3, and basically follow the concept of SAV (sports activity vehicles) coupes such as the X4 and the X6,” he said.

“In particular the X4 is going from strength to strength here in the market, if you look at the sales figures which are very, very exciting, and speaking about the success of the X4, I certainly do think that the X2 will be a big success for BMW in the segment.”

Mr Werner did not confirm timing for an Australian arrival for the X2, however a launch at some point next year is likely.

The X2 was revealed in near-production concept form at last year’s Paris motor show, and while technical details are thin on the ground, it is expected to share mechanicals and drivetrains with its X1 sibling, which is based on BMW Group’s UKL platform that underpins the X1, 2 Series Active Tourer and a range of current-generation Mini models.

The X1 is currently offered with a mix of 2.0-litre petrol and diesel engines with front- and all-wheel-drive configuration, starting with the sDrive18d from $49,500 plus on-roads and topping out with the xDrive25i at $59,900.

If the pricing structure of the X4 and X6 are anything to go by, customers can expect to pay a small premium over the X1 for an X2.

Despite their lower volumes compared with their more traditional SUV siblings, the X4 and X6 pair found 1734 and 588 homes respectively in Australia last year.

This is in comparison to 3824 examples of the traditional wagon-styled X3 and the popular X5 with 4181 in the same period.

The most closely-matched rival of the X6, the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe sold 828 units last year, while the X4-baiting GLC Coupe managed a strong 354 sales after only arriving in November.

Meanwhile, Mr Werner also announced that the imminent seven-seat X7 upper-large SUV would be offered in Australia to do battle with the Mercedes-Benz GLS.

The X7 would occupy the space above the X5 and X6 large SUVs, and would become the largest and most expensive SUV in the BMW stable, with a starting price likely to be above that of the base-level X6 xDrive30d which sets buyers back $117,455 plus on-roads.

Mr Werner said the X7 would slot into an available niche for the brand, and that he wished it was available for the Australian market sooner.

“That’s another niche, I want to call it, or another great opportunity for us to further exploit a business opportunity,” he said.

“Arguably this is something we would have liked to have seen much earlier, but it’s the way it is, but the car is coming, and that’s the good news. It’s confirmed for Australia.”

While confirming the car’s arrival, Mr Werner said it is still a couple of years away from landing in Australian showrooms – likely in 2019 – and when it does BMW will be able to cater to the needs of any luxury SUV buyer.

“I think we’ll not only be competitive but we’ll definitely be the benchmark in that segment, and our other products that we have in our model line-up, our range is so wide now that we can cater for whatever the customer wants,” he said.

“And that’s the beauty about being a big player like BMW, is that you can offer such a wide range of cars and really tailor it to the needs of the customers across the globe.”

The key competitor to the X7, the Mercedes-Benz GL/GLS, shifted 1129 units in 2016, and starts at $116,615 plus on-roads for the GLS350d and stretches all the way to $217,615 for the twin-turbo V8 GLS63 AMG.

Oter rivals include the hulking Infiniti QX80, Lexus LX and the Range Rover.

When it does arrive in Australia, the most likely powerplants for the X7 will be a mixture of six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, with a range-topping M-badged petrol V8 variant a possibility.

A plug-in hybrid variant will be offered in some markets but it is unclear if this would make it Down Under.

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