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First look: BMW goes large with hulking X7

Imposing X7 outed as BMW’s first upper-large SUV ahead of Q2 2019 Aussie launch

17 Oct 2018

COINCIDING with the full reveal of the first-generation X7, BMW Group Australia has confirmed that the hulking upper-large SUV will enter showrooms in the second quarter of next year.
Although the German brand’s local arm is yet to confirm the X7’s launch line-up, it is expected to mimic that of the X5, which will go on sale in November with an all-diesel range that includes the xDrive30d and M50d, while petrol variants, including the plug-in hybrid xDrive45e, will arrive later in 2019.
Measuring in at 5151mm long, 2000mm wide and 1805mm tall with a 3105mm wheelbase, the X7 is comfortably the largest X-series model yet, with it able to accommodate either a two- or three-seat second row, and a two-seat third row.
When the second row is specified with two full-size comfort seats, occupants have access to the same controls as the front sports pews, while the third row can be entered via the gap between the individual seats. All pews are heated, while the front seats can be optioned with ventilation and massage functionality.
The standard panoramic sunroof extends to the third row and can be optioned with Sky Lounge, which adds LED lights across the glass surface to illuminate more than 15,000 graphic patterns and create a lighting display similar to a starlit sky.
Four-zone climate control is regular fit, but a fifth zone can be added, with it bundling in air vents and a control panel for the third row. The front cupholders can optionally keep drinks cool or warm.
While cargo capacity is a lowly 326L with all six or seven seats in place, it can expand to 750L and 2120L when the power-operated second and third rows are stowed respectively.
With the largest double-kidney front grille on a BMW model yet, the X7 cuts an imposing figure with its front-end width accentuated by pinched, slim LED headlights that are optionally available with adaptive and laser high-beam lamps that extend the lighting range to 600m.
The X7’s boxy silhouette is punctuated by the rear end’s power-operated split tailgate and chrome horizontal bar that connects the subtly L-shaped LED tail-lights – a design element previously exclusive to the 7 Series upper-large sedan. Alloy wheels measure 20 to 22 inches in diameter.
To aid third-row ingress and egress, the doors are wider at the rear than the front, while the overall interior design has been more or less previewed by the new-generation 3 Series mid-size car and X5 large SUV.
The X7’s Live Cockpit Professional set-up draws the most attention, with it consisting of two 12.3-inch displays: a central Control Display and a digital instrument cluster. 
Infotainment is powered by BMW’s Operating System 7.0, while over-the-air software updates will become available over time.
Audiophiles are catered towards with a ten-speaker sound system as standard, while 16-speaker Harman/Kardon and 20-speaker Bowers & Wilkins Diamond surround-sound set-ups can instead be optioned.
A pair of 10.2-inch touchscreens with a Blu-ray-compatible player, two USB ports, an HDMI port and two auxiliary inputs can be added to the second row as part of an optional package that also adds USB connectivity to the third row.
Following its debut earlier this month in the 3 Series, the always-on Intelligent Personal Assistant makes its way into the X7, with it able to control most vehicle functions via the voice prompt ‘Hey BMW’, and predict driver requirements via artificial intelligence.
While keyless entry and start is available using a traditional key fob, owners of Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones can instead operate the vehicle using their device’s Near Field Communication (NFC) technology – so long as its running Android 8.0 software or higher.
Each X7 is specified with either the Design Pure Excellence or M Sport packages, with the former creating a more luxurious look, while the latter adds a sporty edge seen in other BMW models.
Meanwhile, the suspension set-up consists of double-wishbone front and five-link rear axles with air springs and automatic self-levelling. This combination lowers ride height by 20mm when speed exceeds 138km/h in the Sport driving mode.
Integral Active Steering, or rear-axle steering, can be optioned, with it turning the rear wheels in the opposite direction to front ones – depending on speed – which BMW says improves handling and stability.
Active roll stabilisation is also on the options list, with it using electric swivel motors to compensate for body roll experienced during hard cornering and smooth out bumps during straight-line driving.
The X7 is prepared to go off the beaten track too thanks to its optional Off-Road package that adds underbody protection and four off-road driving modes – xSnow, xSand, xGravel and xRocks – that alter vehicle settings while on the move.
Advanced driver-assist systems extend to low-speed autonomous braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, active blind-spot monitoring, cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, speed limit recognition, park assist and driver attention detection, as well as lane-keep, steering and emergency assists.
However, Emergency Driving Assistant steals all the headlines with its ability to bring the X7 to a standstill when the driver suddenly becomes incapacitated due to a medical emergency.
In this situation, a passenger can pull the electric park brake to prompt the vehicle to come to a stop, either in its current lane, at the edge of the road or on the hard shoulder.
When travelling between 70km/h and 100km/h, lane changes can be completed autonomously, while any emergency event results in the X7’s hazard lights turning on and a call centre being told to alert the required services.
Reversing Assistant puts forward a convincing case, however, with it able store recent forward steering movements made at speeds up to 36km/h. This allows the vehicle to steer in reverse for up to 50m along the exact same path at speeds up to 9km/h.
As mentioned, two familiar diesel variants will be available internationally, with the 195kW/620Nm xDrive30d using a 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder engine, while the 294kW/760Nm is motivated by a quad-turbo unit.
Petrol power is provided in the form of the 250kW/450Nm xDrive40i that has a similarly sized engine to the xDrive30d, and the 340kW/650Nm xDrive50i that employs a 4.0-litre twin turbo V8.
The X7’s sprint from standstill to 100km/h stretches from 5.4 seconds (M50d and xDrive50i) to 7.0s (xDrive30d), while top speed is limited to 250km/h for the M50d and xDrive50i but not the xDrive30d (227km/h) and xDrive40i (245km/h).
Claimed fuel consumption on the combined cycle test ranges from 6.5 litres per 100 kilometres (xDrive30d) to 11.4L/100km (xDrive50i), while carbon dioxide emissions have been tested between 171 grams per kilometre (xDrive30d) and 261g/km (xDrive50i).
All X7s are with fitted with an upgraded eight-speed torque-convertor automatic transmission and BMW’s rear-biased xDrive all-wheel-drive system with variable torque distribution.
The X7 will be built at BMW’s plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, which is already responsible for producing the mid-size X3 and X4, and the large-size X5 and X6.
When it enters the $100,000-plus large-SUV segment, the X7 will go toe to toe with the best-selling Mercedes-Benz GLS (802 units sold to the end of September this year), as well as the Lexus LX (277) and Range Rover (223).

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