BMW has unveiled a gargantuan new concept SUV ahead of the Frankfurt Motor Show. The X7 Concept iPerformance follows in the footsteps of the Audi Q8 with an expansive interior, bold styling and a modern plug-in hybrid powertrain, most of which is likely to make the leap to a production model next year.
It says concept on the badge, but the X7 is a thinly-veiled teaser for a production car that will launch next year. Just as the 7 Series is bigger than the 5 Series, the X7 will be bigger than the already-large X5. In pictures, it looks absolutely monstrous, with a vertical nose and high sides. The massive windows provide a peek into the interior – ideal, given this is a concept car – while the slim rear lights share their shape with those on the 8 Series.
The most arresting element of the design is undoubtedly the car's massive grille. BMW has been playing around with the kidney grille – a brand staple – for a while now, but nothing could have prepared us for the chromed snout of the X7. It definitely has presence, be that good or bad.
Inside, the iPerformance Concept strips things back to the essentials. The center console is aggressively angled toward the driver, and houses a touchscreen that blends into the 12.3-in screen in the instrument binnacle. Mercedes-Benz has tried to achieve a similar effect with its dual widescreen displays in the E- and S-Class, and Volkswagen Group has the excellent Virtual Cockpit, so it will be interesting to see if BMW pushes the tech into the real world.
Below the screens, there are artfully designed air vents and a walnut-trimmed transmission tunnel. The crystal gear selector could have been lifted from a modern Volvo, while there are conventional buttons for drive mode and the iDrive infotainment system. The design is unusually grounded for a concept car, which suggests things won't change all that much in the transition to a production model.
Rear seat passengers haven't been forgotten, either. There are two individual seats in place of the traditional three-person bench, each of which faces a touchscreen monitor on the back of the front seats. The screens are able to deliver entertainment in the form of music and video content, or act as a mobile office display. Rear seat passengers are able to share content with the main display at the front, backed by a light show designed to signify the flow of information.
All six seats are contained under a giant panoramic roof, and trimmed in lush-looking leather. It's finished in two-tone olive-bronze and white up front, while their seat backs are also finished in leather. BMW says the decision serves to deliver a high-end, luxurious feel, though this is one aspect that may not make it to the production model.
Although it wears iPerformance badging, BMW hasn't released any details about the plug-in hybrid powertrain expected to drive the production X7. At the moment, the plug-in hybrid versions of the X5 and 7 Series are powered by the combination of a 190-kW (255-hp) gasoline engine and an 83-kW (111-hp) electric motor, for total outputs of 240 kW (322 hp) and 500 Nm (369 lb-ft). There's no guarantee the X7 will have the same outputs, and it's likely to be offered with a range of gasoline and diesel engines when it launches in production form, but those figures can serve as a guide nonetheless.
The X7 iPerformance Concept launches at the Frankfurt Motor Show, where New Atlas is on the ground covering all the action. Stay tuned for the latest.