Text and photos by Kap Maceda Aguila

ITS PULSE-QUICKENING price tag of P9.29 million helps assure exclusivity, and that’s justifiable for a vehicle that’s nicknamed “The President.”

Superlatives abound for the first-ever X7, which now also takes its place as the flagship SAV (sports activity vehicle, BMW parlance for SUV) for the Munich-headquartered premium automaker. It’s the largest, most luxurious, most well-appointed of its all-terrain portfolio.

Launched recently in Makati City by SMC Asia Car Distributors Corp. (SMCACDC), official importer and distributor of BMW, the X7 “brings a fresh sensation of space to the luxury segment, thanks to the impressive open expanses and top-class design of its interior and its state-of-the-art equipment features. At the same time, the advanced powertrain and chassis technology of the X7 ensures it offers all the off-road prowess, excellent ride comfort and agile on-road handling for which SAVs are renowned,” according to a company release.

In a speech, SMCACDC President Spencer Yu said the vehicle is “set to shake up the full-size premium sport utility segment (and) marks the culmination of creating the biggest and most luxurious BMW sports activity vehicle to date.” He revealed that the X7 will “come standard with a five-year, 200,000-kilometer bumper-to-bumper warranty,” an offering which is becoming a key component in the company’s local onslaught.

BMW appears to be exceptionally bullish about its X line. Group Asia Managing Director Christopher Wehner reported H1 2019 sales growth for key SAV models. X2 sales hiked by 19%, the X3 by 67%, and the X4 by 71%. Even the X7 already moved 13,555 units by the end of June — less than three months after its global launch. All told, BMW sold more than 467,000 SAVs. For the first time ever, Mr. Wehner continued in his speech, BMW vehicle sales breached the one-million mark for half a year (1,075,959).

He admitted to Velocity that he sees the market preference for X models carrying over into the rest of the year. “Yes I think this will be a stable trend because for many customers, the SAV has a lot of advantages. You have lots of space, lots of functionality, a high seating position which is comfortable. You don’t have disadvantages. We offer the latest technologies — the kind we have in our sedans,” Mr. Wehner said. “It’s now a worldwide trend (that) started in the US. Nowadays, in nearly all countries in Europe and Asia, you’ll see a shift from sedans to SAVs. This is why the SAV segment is as strong as it is with 43% of our total sales.”

Mr. Wehner said that X7 “is proof that BMW continues to push boundaries.” It stretches 5,151mm, is 2,000mm wide, and stands 1,805mm, with a wheelbase of 3,105mm.

An exceptionally large kidney grille dominates the front of the X7 to give it a formidable presence, not to mention easy identifiability as a BMW vehicle. Illumination is provided by LED fog lights and BMW Laserlight headlight technology, “offering a high-beam range of up to 600 meters and can be easily identified by the blue X-shaped elements inside the headlights.”

The vehicle is marked by large windows, high ground clearance, and roofline. On its rear are horizontal lines, slim LED lights and a two-section split tailgate for easier loading and unloading.

Hefty 21-inch light-alloy wheels are fitted with run-flat tires.

The large SUV is a roomy, three-row seven-seater, affording even third-row passengers comfort and convenience. They can settle into full-size seats complete with armrests, cupholders and USB ports. All seats can be adjusted electronically. Cargo capacity can range from 326 to a voluminous 2,120 liters.

On the lone trim of the X7 here are BMW Individual Extended Leather Trim “Merino” Upholstery, five-zone automatic climate control, an Ambient Air package, Panorama glass roof Sky Lounge, CraftedClarity glass applications, a Harman Kardon surround sound system, Rear-seat Entertainment Professional system, Luggage-compartment Package, and ambient lighting including the Welcome Light Carpet.

The BMW X7 xDrive30d is motivated by a robust 3.0-liter TwinPower Turbo in-line six-cylinder diesel serving up 265hp and 620Nm. It is mated to an eight-speed Steptronic transmission with BMW xDrive — BMW’s intelligent all-wheel-drive system for “optimized efficiency and rear-biased setup.”

Chassis technology is standard, featuring Adaptive Suspension with electronically controlled dampers, and air springs at both axles. The vehicle’s ground clearance can be varied by up to 80mm with either the press of a button or by using the BMW Display Key.

BMW says the X7 bears a “comprehensive array of driver assistance systems” in aid of comfort and safety: six air bags, anti-lock brakes, dynamic stability control, dynamic traction control, hill descent control, and Active Protection. The last feature closes windows and tightens seat belts when the system detects an accident about to happen. Meantime, “integral active steering helps improve road safety and comfort by turning the rear wheels slightly when needed, and adjusts the weight of the steering feel for optimum maneuverability.” Cruise control with a braking function is standard, as well as Parking Assistant Plus, which “offers a range of functions including Park Distance Control (PDC) front and rear, together with rear view camera and surround view.”

Also standard in the X7 is the BMW Live Cockpit Professional — comprised of a fully digital cluster and a control display, both with a diagonal measurement of 12.3 inches with Navigation fitted as standard. Apple CarPlay is supported, together with Bluetooth and USB connectivity.

The BMW is manufactured and assembled in Spartanburg, Orlando. When asked to compare it with the X5, Mr. Wehner replied, “The X5 is more compact, even if you can get it with seven seats, too. The X5 is easier to handle, but not as comfortable in space. The X7 also gets air suspension for a more comfortable ride… It has a lot more presence and status.”