BMW has confirmed that an all-new X7 flagship SUV will join its range in 2018 – and the German brand is plotting a $1bn overhaul of its US-based factory to copy with increased demand.
The X7 will be built alongside the X3, X4, X5 and X6 at the Spartanburg plant in South Carolina, USA. Though the plant currently turns out a whopping 300,000 BMW X-cars a year, that’ll swell by 50% in the next two years, BMW claims. ‘With the BMW X7, we are developing a larger X model, which we will produce at our US plant for our world markets,’ says BMW chairman, Norbert Reithofer.
With 450,000 BMW X-SUVs set to roll out of Spartanburg’s doors by 2018, and global demand for 4x4s on the rise (thanks to emerging markets like China and Russia), it’s no wonder BMW is crowning its range with a seven-seater behemoth aimed at the Range Rover and Mercedes GL.
That’s the BMW X7’s business case, but what’s under the skin?
The X7 will share a platform with the new X5 and upcoming X6, though its wheelbase will be significantly stretched. Six- and eight-cylinder engines will feature, with petrol-friendly markets enjoying a 400bhp X7 45i, and a 500bhp X7 55i.
European X7 buyers are sure to want a diesel alternative: to the rescue comes a quad-turbocharged version of the existing ‘50d’ triple-turbo straight-six. The goliath of a turbodiesel is muted to develop 400bhp and 590lb ft.
Cylinder deactivation and nine-speed gearboxes will help rein in fuel consumption. Insiders also report that the BMW X7 will ride on bespoke suspension, and wear 21in wheels to intimidate lesser X3s and X5s clean off the road.
And what about a Rolls-Royce SUV to fight the Bentley 4×4?
Interestingly, it’s Rolls-Royce that could benefit from the X7 before BMW. The mooted Rolls SUV is thought to use the X7’s platform (much as the Rolls-Royce Ghost rides on BMW 7-series architecture). However, the purported Rolls would ditch BMW power and shoehorn in the Phantom’s 6.75-litre V12, with a possible hybrid V8 also on the cards.
Amazingly, Rolls-Royce is paying special attention to weight saving with its SUV, reportedly using carbonfibre to avoid the car creating its own gravitational field.