With X7, BMW ditches the 'very humble' face

The X7 concept, designed to stand out, previews BMW's first large SUV. Photo credit: NEWSPRESS

FRANKFURT -- The massive grille on BMW's X7 concept is meant to draw attention.

After all, BMW is a late arrival to the large luxury SUV segment, and that means the automaker must come to market with something that stands out.

"This is very different from the look-alikes in the industry," said Hildegard Wortmann, senior vice president of brand BMW. "I feel really confident with this car."

The six-seat BMW Concept X7 iPerformance was unveiled Tuesday to journalists at the Frankfurt auto show. It teases the production X7 that will go on sale in the U.S. in early 2019.

The long-awaited X7 expands the brand upward and finally gives BMW a full-size SUV/crossover to match up against rivals. In the U.S., where sales have shifted to light trucks of all sizes, BMW lags competitors such as Mercedes-Benz, which sells about 30,000 large GLS SUVs annually.

The Concept X7 is configured as a plug-in hybrid with an attention-hogging front end boasting an extra-tall vertical kidney grille.

The grille will appeal to customers seeking to stand out in a crowd, Wortmann said.

"Being very humble would be the wrong statement for that sort of car," she said. "If you go into the segment, if you want to be fully fledged in this luxury thinking, the car needs to be a statement because that's what our customers look for. I think the car delivers that."

You can reach Amy Wilson at awilson@crain.com -- Follow Amy on Twitter: @theamywilson

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