Is There a BMW X7 M Coming?
The new X7 pushes BMW into the full-size luxury SUV Octagon. An X7 M would print money and fight for the title.
BMW first broached the idea of an SUV corresponding to its 7-Series sedan in 2001, not long after the watershed X5 alerted product planners to easy gold in them thar hills. Fourteen years of vacillation followed, but the BMW X7 is now chiseled into the manufacturing calendar for 2017 as a 2018 model. The most reliable bits of speculation predict it'll have three rows of seating, brim with oodles of tech, employ liberal use of lightweight materials, and offer a range of engines, from a turbocharged inline-six up to the 6.0-liter V12 in the 760iL. Tenuous predictions include a plug-in hybrid version, another with the 3.0-liter triple-turbo diesel, and prices starting around $60,000 in the U.S. (For reference, the X5 starts at $54,700, the competitor Mercedes-Benz GL starts at $64,550).
The BMW X7 will ride on the Cluster Architecture found in the new 7-Series flagship, differentiating it from the coming Rolls-Royce SUV, which will have a bespoke aluminum spaceframe. Globally, X models comprise 25 percent of BMW sales; the company expects 40 percent of its U.S. volume this year will come from X. So the brass in Munich is taking its entry seriously, investing a billion dollars into the Spartanburg, South Carolina, plant that that produces the X3, X4, X5, and X6, and will field assembly of the X7.
Company CEO Harald Krüger adds that he's also "taking an in-depth look at the additional potential of this highly attractive segment.” That means further expansion of the M product range and the M Performance portfolio, which has us thinking: Does BMW intends to exploit the “additional potential” by turning the X7 into an X7 M?
In the U.S., only the X1, X3, recently introduced X4, Z4, and 7-Series do not have M counterparts. (The latter, however, does have the Alpina B7 to serve as a proxy.) We wouldn’t be surprised if any of those other models get legitimate M versions, while M Performance trims for those small crossovers is low-hanging fruit. An M7, however, would make singular sense; the upper reaches of the SUV segment have become central banks for manufacturers, printing money in quantities large more easily weighed than counted.
Look no further than Mercedes, and its bruising AMG GL63, which starts at over $120k. That means there’s profitable precedent. And if BMW is considering a new 8-Series based on its appraisal of S-Class Coupe profit margins, using an X7 M to break into a segment where there’s even more money looks like another run of easy gold.