BMW's X7 IPerformance Concept Looks Like Three Rows of Stunningly Luxurious Dog Crap

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

BMW spent a good portion of this week ensuring the public that it is an aggressively forward-thinking brand with a clear plan for mobility and electrification. However, it took things a step further by letting the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show patrons know it’s offering “a whole new take on luxury” with its X7 iPerformance Concept.

Clearly assembled in a manner designed to embrace futurism and highlight its proposed electrified drivetrain, the X7 is unnecessarily odd-looking. The sculpted body could be handsome, had some designer decided not to accent it with gregarious chrome trim inlayed at right angles. Likewise, the brand’s signature kidney grille seems to have gone off the rails completely. BMW admits the styling aspect “hogs the attention” and urges us to “look at it again” so that we might truly understand the vibrancy and class it exudes.

You’re welcome to humor them, but we found even a fifth look didn’t remedy the situation. The grille remains an oversized eyesore, begging to be toned down. Thankfully, there’s more going on here than an overcooked exterior. The X7 Concept introduces an important third row to BMW’s sport-utility lineup, as well as a plug-in hybridized powerplant with twin turbochargers.

Additional details on that powertrain are missing, however. We’re expecting something akin to BMW’s pre-existing 2.0-liter turbocharged four-pot hybrid, found on the X5, with a swath of conventional sixes and eights using forced induction. But BMW isn’t willing to admit to anything specific yet.

The interior is a little more straightforward. With three rows offering two seats apiece, BMW promises the X7 will have the most expansive cabin of any vehicle in its 101-year history. Group design chief Adrian van Hooydonk specified that the SUV can also be had with other seating configurations once it reaches production.

Second-row chairs will offer the same niceties as the front, including positioning that allows passengers to enjoy the panoramic roof and customizable touch-screens for rear-seat entertainment. Those screens integrate with the ones up front using BMW’s cloud-enabled Connected service.

For the driver, the digital displays include a 12.3-inch instrument cluster and central touchscreen information display in close proximity. Both are oriented toward the operator for a cockpit-like feel, vaguely resembling Mercedes-Benz’s recent efforts.

Materials used are lavish and luxurious but, as this is a concept vehicle, they might not be worth getting too excited over. There is time for BMW to make changes — which brings us back to the body.

From the outside, it’s not the prettiest of pictures. However, making a gargantuan SUV elegant is a lot to ask of any automaker. The grille is abysmal but, since the vehicle is already so massive, narrowing those inlets could make it look like the turtle from The NeverEnding Story. There’s just so much face there to manage. Similarly, the few lines on the X7 seem to stretch out forever along colossal panels — making the car seem even bigger than it already is. Huge 23-inch wheels help to keep things more proportional in photos, but they’ll do a lot less in the real world.

We’re not sure what the solution is; we only know that BMW needs to have one. Then again, maybe today’s upper-crust soccer moms enjoy a little vehicular bling.

The X7 will ride on the same CLAR platform underpinning the 7 Series and will be built at BMW’s U.S. plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Production should commence sometime in 2018, setting the SUV up for a 2019 model year debut.

[Images: BMW]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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3 of 44 comments
  • Ronnie Schreiber Ronnie Schreiber on Sep 09, 2017

    The fact that it's ugly shouldn't affect its success in the market. VW/Bentley has already proved, with the Bentayga, that rich folks will buy ugly SUVs, as long they announce wealth, it doesn't matter how ugly or vulgar they are (see also: Rolls Royce Phantom). Somewhere, Thorstein Veblen cracks a smile.

  • Jmiller417 Jmiller417 on Sep 12, 2017

    Did Ssangyong buy BMW?

  • Bd2 Probably too late to do anything about it for the launch, but Kia should plan on doing an extensive refresh of the front fascia (the earlier, the better) as the design looks really ungainly.
  • Namesakeone Since I include SUVs and minivans as trucks, I really cannot think of a brand that is truly truckless. MG maybe?
  • Sobhuza Trooper Subaru, they were almost there with the BRAT. --On a lighter note, where the hell is my Cooper Works Mini truck?
  • Mike Evs do suck, though. I mean, they really do.
  • Steve Biro I don’t care what brand but it needs to be a compact two-door with an ICE, traditional parallel hybrid or both. A manual transmission option would be nice but I don’t expect it - especially with a hybrid. Don’t show me an EV.