X7 and 8 Coupe ‘right’ for NZ

The biggest numbers in BMW-dom were unveiled at the Frankfurt motor show – and the NZ distributor likes what it saw.


A PAIR of big boy BMWs that might hit New Zealand within two years have excited the brand’s local arm simply on the strength of their impact as just-unveiled concepts.

Paul Sherley, BMW New Zealand’s head of corporate communications, says the Auckland-domiciled operation is super keen to see the 8-Series Coupe and X7 sports utility wagon on our roads.

The latter, a three-row ‘upper-large’ offering which supersizes the X5 and might yet – according to international media reports - to be joined by a spin-off X8 coupe edition, is likely to show first.

“We expect to launch this model in New Zealand in line with international launch timing,” Sherley says. 

“BMW X cars are a large proportion of our local business, around 50 percent, and X7 would provide a flagship for X.

“The Concept X7 is a new model concept for BMW and is a whole new take on luxury.  It’s very much a luxury-class SAV and really raises the bar in terms of presence and prestige.” 

As for the Coupe? Well, yes, it’s far more niche, of course, but even so: “The 8 Series represents a new and strong design ideas to the brand, and is very much the essence of a BMW coupe … it would certainly be exciting to have this car in New Zealand in the future.”

A clear competitor for not just the Audi Q7 and Mercedes-Benz GLS but also the aged Lexus LX570 and Infiniti QX80, the X7 is built upon the new CLAR platform that underpins the latest 5- and 7-Series sedans and will also be the basis of the next-generation X5.

The concept was displayed in a six-seater format and configured as a plug-in hybrid, though most initial comment ignored those aspects and focused instead on the brash styling, notably the attention-hogging front end boasting an extra-tall vertical kidney grille.

BMW is making no excuse for the latter, say it is intended to appeal to customers wanting to stand out in the crowd. It also says the design brings traditional BMW styling elements into the future. In addition to the massive kidney grille, the X7 Concept takes slimline LED headlights sitting above large lower air intakes.

Other design elements that raised interest were the door handles that sit flush with the body, huge panoramic sunroof, the chrome elements running the length of the lower part of the vehicle and three-dimensional L-shaped tail-lights that meet in the middle of the tailgate.

How different the production version will be is a matter for conjecture. BMW has not said whether the concept’s dimensions are entirely representative of its likely showroom size. The study certainly cut an imposing figure in the Frankfurt show hall.

The current X5 is already no small thing, being 4886mm length and with a 2933mm wheelbase but the X7 would surely have to be larger to accommodate the extra row of seats. Bear in mind that the study runs 23-inch wheels.

Inside, the Concept X7 updates BMW’s familiar cabin design with a 12.3-inch instrument cluster and central touchscreen display, minimal approach to buttons and switches and a new-look centre console set up.

There is a clear focus on luxury with high-end materials throughout the cabin.

The second-row occupants have personalised infotainment with the touchscreen monitors that feature access to digital services and office content. Users can also send a song they want to hear to the vehicle’s music system using touch gesture, as well as send an article to the person sitting next to them.

BMW has not gone into much detail about what is under the bonnet. However, material issued by the brand enforces that the X7 Concept falls under the company’s iPerformance electrified powertrain banner and uses a TwinPower turbo-petrol engine matched with its eDrive plug-in hybridelectric technology.

The production version will likely be offered with the PHEV drivetrain as well as a selection of six- and eight-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, while some reports have suggested an ‘M’ variant could get the 6.0-litre V12 from the M760Li sedan.

Eight-Series’ excitement was elevated by the presence of the M8 GTE, BMW's contender for the FIA World Endurance Championship but also the basis for an M8 road car.

The race car will hit the track well before the showroom-available car is set to reach the road. It is planned to make its competitive debut at the 2018 24 Hours of Daytona in January next year.

On display at Frankfurt in a classically-inspired M Motorsport livery, the M8 GTE teams a twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 with “a nominal base output of more than 500hp (368kW), depending on the classification”, with a six-speed paddle-shifted sequential racing gearbox and a Sachs carbon-fibre clutch.

It is also equipped with a carbon-fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) drive shaft, a limited-slip rear differential, four-way adjustable shock absorbers front and rear, and adjustable anti-roll bars.

Thanks to the extensive use of additional CFRP components, including a composite body and a CFRP outer shell, BMW claims the 4980mm long, 2046mm wide M8 GTE weighs in at 1220kg.

As for the 8-Series concept car? Well, it’s also something of a looker, obviously, and fans will be heartened by the brand suggesting that this see here is likely not far off the final production car due in 2018.

Munich is also talking up the car’s status.

“The number 8 has always represented the pinnacle of sports performance and exclusivity at BMW,” says Harald Krueger, chair of the BMW board of management.

“The forthcoming BMW 8-Series Coupe will demonstrate that razor-sharp dynamics and modern luxury can go hand-in-hand.

“This will be the next model in the expansion of our luxury-car offering and will raise the benchmark for coupes in the segment. In the process, we will strengthen our claim to leadership in the luxury class.”

It is surmised the the 8 Series will ride on a larger wheelbase than that of the current 6-Series, with overall length and width also to increase proportionately, so as to achieve the same kerbside impact as it’s Mercedes’ rival, the S-Class Coupe.

Powertrains are expected to be those used in the 7-Series though speculation is that, rather than employ the 6.6-litre V12 out of the M760Li, the M8 will instead take the new twin-turbo V8 from the new M5.