Munich - BMW is taking on the Mercedes-Benz GLS, Lexus LX and Ranger Rover in the super-sized premium high-rider market with its first-ever X7 and it’s coming to South Africa in March next year.

In design terms BMW wanted to give the X7 an “authoritative” aura, and by all counts it has achieved that with its comparatively square shape featuring large windows and a long roofline, and wheel sizes ranging from 20 to 22 inches. Oh, and it boasts BMW’s largest Kidney grille ever.

Measuring 5151mm in length and 2000mm width, with a wheelbase of 3105mm, the X7 is 265mm longer than an X5 and sits roughly between the standard and long-wheelbase 7 Series sedans.

Yet the big point of departure here is how it uses that space, with standard three-row seating said to offer comfortable space for seven occupants, those in the back row getting full-sized seats complete with armrests, cup holders and USB ports. All seats are electrically adjustable, and upholstered in Vernasca leather, and even with all of them in place there’s still 326 litres of luggage space behind - about the same as you get in a medium hatchback - swelling to as much as 2120 litres when you start folding seats.

Customers can opt for fancier middle-row seating, replacing the standard three-seat bench with two individual comfort seats that offer the same range of adjustment as those up front.

Ambient lighting is standard along with a three-section panoramic glass roof and four-zone automatic climate control (five-zone optional). BMW’s Live Cockpit Professional, using the company’s latest ‘7.0’ operating system is part of the deal too, comprising a fully digital instrument cluster, 31cm touchscreen and an ‘Intelligent Personal Assistant’ that seeks to make life easier when you shout “Hey BMW”.

As per the X5, South Africans will have two diesel engine options in the form of the xDrive30d and M50d (with various overseas markets also getting 40i and 50i petrol options).

The xDrive30d is powered by BMW’s 3-litre straight six turbodiesel, rated at 195kW and 620Nm and capable of getting the X7 from 0-100km/h in a claimed 7.0 seconds, while the M50d gets a quad-turbo version of that six, pushing 294kW and 760Nm and allowing a 5.4s sprint to 100.

In both cases power goes to the all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox and rear-biased permanent all-wheel-drive, and the M50d additionally gets an M Sport electronically controlled locking rear differential.

A cushy ride is ensured by standard Adaptive Suspension featuring electronically controlled dampers and air springs at both axles - allowing ground clearance to be varied by up to 80mm. As per the X5, an Off-Road Package is optionally available, giving drivers the option of four terrain modes (Sand, Gravel, Rocks and Snow) as well as adding unique interior displays and camera angles for bundu bashing, and exterior underguard protection.

Optional on-road gadgets include Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go, Driving Assistant Professional with steering and lane assistance, Lane Change Assistant and Wrong-way warning, among others.

Watch this space for South African pricing and other relevant details nearer to launch.

IOL Motoring