BMW has confirmed that it will produce a new, full-size X7 SUV in 2016. It will be the largest BMW SUV ever made, and will be built at the BMW plant in Spartanburg, North America.
Underpinning the X7 is an extended version of the architecture that forms the basis of the X5 and X6 models that are also built at the Spartanburg plant. The big new SUV is set to be a direct rival to the Mercedes-Benz GL-class; its relationship to the X5 the same as the GL’s is to the smaller ML on which it is based. The X7 will be a seven-seater with a proper third row of seats, unlike the X5's rather small third row that eats into luggage space, thanks to a longer wheelbase and extended rear overhang when compared to the X5.
Unlike the X5 that, in some markets, has rear-wheel drive and a four-cylinder engine in base form, the X7 will be offered with four-wheel drive only and exclusively six- and eight-cylinder engines to reflect its premium positioning at the top of an extended range of BMW SUVs.
The announcement of the new X7 was made by BMW boss Norbert Reithofer at a celebration of 20 years of manufacturing at the Spartanburg plant. The ceremony coincided with the start of production of the new BMW X4, the fourth SUV to be built at the plant after the X3, X5 and X6. A new BMW X6 is due to be revealed this year, ahead of sales later this year. X5 M and X6 M models are also built in Spartanburg. To meet expected demand for the X4 and new X7 models, BMW is massively investing in the Spartanburg plant between now and 2016. Production capacity will increase from the current 3,00,000 units up to 4,50,000 units.
BMW has confirmed the X7 will be sold in all of its 'world markets', including Europe, but demand is expected to be strongest in the likes of North America and China. And with the increasing demand for big, full-size luxury SUVs in India, you can bet you'll see the BMW X7 in Indian showrooms not long after its global launch.