BMW Answer to the Mercedes-Benz GL: the BMW X7

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BMW has confirmed that it will produce an X7, which will represent much more than a long wheelbase X5 with seven seats. X7 will represent the flagship model for the BMW’s range of X off-roaders. Set to be launched towards the end of the decade, around 2018, the new car should cost starting around 125.000 euros.

The announcement came as part of a ceremony at the BMW’s Spartanburg factory in South Carolina, celebrating 20 years of production in the USA. Chairman of the Board, Norbert Reithofer said: “With the BMW X7, we are developing another larger X model, which we will be produced in our U.S. plant for our world markets – once again underscoring our commitment to the U.S.”

Rivals for an SUV larger and plusher than the BMW X5 are few and far between in Europe, but the X7 will be taking on models like the Mercedes GL, the long wheelbase Range Rover and the future Audi Q8. There’s more demand for X7-sized cars in global markets like the US, though, where you can count models like the Infiniti QX80 and Cadillac Escalade among its competitors.

BMW couldn’t confirm which platform the X7 will use, but it makes sense for it to use a tweaked version of the one underpinning the 7-Series next generation, which is due to arrive late in 2015 and our spy-pictures of a 7-series prototype, with added weight on roof and bonnet, confirms just this. As BMW begins to introduce aluminium and carbon fibre elements into its platforms – a process thought to start with the future 7-Series – we could even see an X7 that weighs about the same as the smaller X5.

The engines will be six-cylinder, V8 and V12, with a development of the eDrive plug-in hybrid system, due in the X5, also likely to be offered. The announcement of the X7 also adds strength to the suggestion that Rolls-Royce will build an SUV. Just as the Ghost borrows a lot of mechanical components from the 7-Series, the new X7 could donate parts to a Rolls-Royce-badged SUV.

The rumours said that BMW is planning to use the architecture and the electronics of the X7 for the first SUV in the history of Rolls-Royce. This way, BMW wants to share the cost for both models and to obtain maximum profit from this new platform.

BMW also had the intention to build a bigger X5 named X7, in the past, but  those plans only showed an X5 with a longer wheelbase and without an independent design, at that time. Some years ago, that long X5 was even built, but its design, with longer rear doors, was rejected by the BMW board.

Now, the X7 will have an independent design, seven seats and will be more luxurious and more expensive than X5.