ALTHOUGH volume matters in local assembly to justify the investment in jigs at the plant, the premium manufacturers like BMW have still chosen to assemble their flagship models locally even though the volume may not be large. Local assembly, with the incentives provided by the government, allows them to price their models more competitively than if they were brought in as completely built-up (CBU) models so it is essential to do so in order to grow volumes.
The X7, which is the flagship SAV (Sport Activity Vehicle) of the BMW range, has been assembled since early 2021 (on sale since May of the same year) at the BMW facility in the Inokom plant in Kedah. For 2023, the model – named ‘The President’ by BMW – has received updates which include cosmetic changes as well as more enhanced digitalisation capabilities.
Externally, the large SAV has a new frontal appearance with split headlights that are part of the brand’s new luxury class design language. The twin LED headlights have separate functions, with the upper ones serving as daytime running lights. The front apron has also been revised with more sculpted surfacing and a new double-slat kidney grille design with chrome elements as frames for the central air intake.
At the rear, the 3-dimensional taillights have fresh new internal graphics and the layout has repositioned reversing lights. Another new feature is the glass-covered chrome strip connecting the two taillights, which further emphasises the width of the SAV.
Dimensionally, the X7 has not changed since this is just a mid-cycle update. But it is still a very imposing vehicle, with the high ground clearance placing it high up in traffic. The high seating position gives the driver and occupants a commanding view of the surroundings, one of the reasons why many people like driving such vehicles.
As with recent new models, the BMW Curved Display and Operating System 8 are making their debut, bringing a revision to the interior design. Besides improved connectivity, there’s also a wide range of digital services and assistance systems.
The BMW Curved Display comprises a 12.3-inch Information Display and 14.9-inch high-resolution touchscreen Control Display as a single panel. The instrument panel appears significantly lower with discreetly integrated air vents, while the outer air vents are framed by chrome elements. Further enhancing the premium ambience is the ‘Lindenwood Fineline’ fine wood trim, sport leather steering wheel and M Headliner ‘Alcantara’ anthracite.
The various vehicle systems can be controlled in multiple ways using the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant, multifunction buttons on the steering wheel, BMW iDrive Controller as well as touchscreen and gesture control. The BMW Live Cockpit Professional also includes the BMW Head-Up Display as a standard feature, allowing the driver to keep eyes on the road ahead while being aware of important operating information.
The Ambient Light Strip below the interior trim finisher offers the in-thing in today’s luxury models. The backlighting creates a special appearance of spatial depth with its crystalline looks and prismatic structure. The Ambient Light includes the Welcome Light Carpet for the entrance areas on the left and right, with the Crafted Clarity trim (featuring handmade elements made from cut crystal glass) as a complementary feature.
The X7 now also offers a 6-seater configuration with two individual seats in the second row. The seats have new Sensafin upholstery with decorative stitching. Overhead is the large panoramic glass roof, a feature that was once only available in CBU models. Nowadays, modern manufacturing processes allow sunroofs to also be offered in locally-assembled models.
The large size of the X7 also means generous boot space, with up to 750 litres of volume when the backrests of the third row are flat. As with other luxury models, the rear door is powered for ease of opening and closing, and the sill height is also low enough to make loading easy.
The X7 is one of BMW Malaysia’s electrified models with new mild-hybrid technology using a 48V starter generator. The hybrid powertrain uses an inline 6-cylinder petrol engine with total output of 375 ps/540 Nm. Though weighing over 2,300 kgs, the SAV can get from standstill to 100 km/h in a claimed 5.8 seconds (0.3 of a second quicker than the 2022 model) and continue on to a top speed of 250 km/h.
Standard for the chassis is two-axle air suspension complete with automatic level control. Air suspension allows ride comfort to be provided over a wide range of surface conditions while also maintaining dynamic handling qualities. Additionally, Integral Active Steering provides greater manoeuvrability at low speeds with agile handling in the medium speed range by adding rear-wheel steering.
BMW has developed a wide range of driver assistance systems and the X7, being the flagship, gets the latest and more advanced. These include the Parking Assistant Professional and Driving Assistant which use both a camera and ultrasound to capture imagery and sense the surroundings. The imagery and data is sent to a computer for assessment and if there is a risk of an accident, the relevant action is taken to warn the driver or even act autonomously (eg activating the brakes). One of the assistance systems can also start an automated parking manoeuvre.
The new X7 xDrive40i Pure Excellence is priced from RM654,800 (without insurance) and BMW Group Financial Services Malaysia offers a financing plan with a monthly instalment plan starting from RM7,581 (terms and conditions apply). Besides a 5-Year unlimited mileage warranty, there’s also a free scheduled service programme as well as other benefits that BMW owners receive to make their ownership more enjoyable.