The headline should read “teased again,” as this isn’t the first peek we’ve had of the automaker’s upcoming three-row SUV. Much of the model’s visage was already on display a year ago, when BMW unveiled the X7 iPerformance concept. (It’s funny how the passage of time lessens visual horrors.)
A pre-production model also appeared in a photo taken at BMW’s Spartanburg, South Carolina factory late last year, looking no less grotesque than the concept. This is the real thing, however, and a quick brightening of the above photo shows Bimmer took pains to tone things down.
With the model’s unveiling scheduled for later this month, the image posted to BMW’s Facebook page reveals a much more conventional face than its overwrought predecessors.
The grille outline is not quite as thick and, as per Bimmer’s new design direction, there’s no gap between kidneys. More importantly, the lower fascia shows a clear division between the lower opening and side vents, rather than the wraparound affair seen in the earlier pic. The headlamps mimic those seen on the new 3 Series.
Put together, these elements add up to a less monstrous vehicle than many feared. That said, the vehicle will be larger than any BMW that’s come before. Riding atop the brand’s CLAR platform, the X7 was crafted to perform two important duties. First, the brand desperately needed a challenger to Mercedes-Benz’s GLS; secondly, the influx of cash from this high-priced vehicle is needed to help the automaker move forward with its electrification plans. Yes, a big, brawny SUV is necessary in order to go green.
BMW knows there’s plenty of cash to be found in the large, premium utility vehicle market, and it’s somewhat odd that the X7 took this long to get here. It likely won’t stay the largest Bimmer for long. The automaker has already trademarked the X8 and X9 names, though the presence of an iX7 trademark shows the company intends to offer a hybridized variant at some point.
We’ll learn more about the X7’s powertrain later this month, though it’s almost certain to borrow the inline-six and V8 offerings found in its baby brother, the X5.