MUNICH, Germany – BMW previews its plans for a new luxury-class SUV to be positioned above the existing third-generation X5 with the unveiling of the generously dimensioned Concept X7 iPerformance.

Revealed ahead of next week’s Frankfurt auto show, where it is set to line up alongside BMW’s unveiled Concept Z4 roadster, the new 6-seat SUV presages a planned production version of the X7 due to reach North American showrooms during second-half 2018. It offers a choice of traditional gasoline and diesel engines and, as showcased by the new BMW concept, a plug-in gasoline-electric hybrid driveline offering a zero-emissions range of up to 62 miles (100 km).

The styling of the Concept X7 iPerformance links clearly to BMW’s earlier Vision Future Luxury Concept shown at the 2014 Beijing auto show. Its upright stance and taut surfacing treatment give it a clean and contemporary appearance that the German automaker says reflects its take on the modern luxury aesthetic.

“The Concept X7 iPerformance introduces the BMW styling DNA to the luxury SUV segment. The design employs just a few precise lines and subtle surface work,” explains Adrian von Hooydonk, BMW Group senior vice president-design. “It has a luxurious and sophisticated feel, thanks to its understated use of forms and precise detailing.”

Features such as the kidney grille, front air vents, air breather units behind the front wheel houses, brushed aluminum window surround and 23-in. wheels have been intentionally exaggerated on the concept. However, WardsAuto has been told they will be toned down for the production version of the X7 in much the same way the detailing of the Vision Future Luxury Concept was refined before appearing on the current 7-Series.

At 197.6 ins. (5,019 mm) in length, 79.5 ins. (2,109 mm) in width and 70.9 ins. (1,801 mm) in height, the Concept X7 iPerformance is 4.4 ins. (112 mm) longer, 3.2 ins. (173 mm) wider and 1.5 ins. (38 mm) higher than the existing third-generation X5. It also rides on a wheelbase that is 3.0 ins. (76 mm) longer than its smaller SUV sibling at 118.5 ins. (3,010 mm).

The dimensions of the concept are said to closely mirror those of the upcoming production version of the new SUV, which will be produced at BMW’s Spartanburg, SC, manufacturing facility.

By comparison, the Mercedes-Benz GLS stretches to 202.0 ins. (5,131 mm) in length, 78.0 ins. (421 mm) in width and 72.6 ins. (1,844 mm) in height, while riding on a 121.1-in. (3,076-mm) wheelbase. Other rivals include the Range Rover, which runs 196.8 ins. (4,999 mm) long, 87.4 ins. (2,220 mm) wide and 72.2 ins. (1,834 mm) high with a 115.0-in. (2,921-mm) wheelbase in standard form.

Inside, the Concept X7 iPerformance provides accommodation for up to six occupants in three rows of seats. Like the Mercedes-Benz GLS, however, the production version has been conceived to offer seating for up to seven. The dashboard and its controls mark new ground for BMW’s X models, as does its digital instrument display.

BMW isn’t giving too much away about the plug-in gasoline-electric driveline used by the Concept X7 iPerformance, although it confirms it has been engineered to deliver a pure-electric range more than twice that of the automaker’s existing hybrids at 62 miles.

Officials at BMW’s headquarters in Munich, Germany, suggest it will run a similar set-up to the 740e xDrive iPerformance, with a turbocharged 2.0L 4-cyl. gasoline engine operating in combination with an electric motor housed within the forward section of the gearbox housing, albeit with a larger-capacity battery providing a greater range.

In the 740e xDrive iPerformance, the plug-in hybrid system delivers 255 hp and 295 lb.-ft. (400 Nm) of torque.

The upcoming X7 is part of an effort to further establish BMW’s presence in the luxury-car segment under the company’s Number One > Next strategy.

The automaker says the production version of the concept unveiled in Frankfurt will be part of an exclusive club of BMW models that also includes the existing sixth-generation 7-Series and upcoming second-generation 8-Series coupe together with the i8 coupe and soon-to-be-launched i8 roadster.

“The X7 embodies elements of our corporate strategy to grow our presence in the luxury class,” says Ian Robertson, member of the BMW board of management responsible for sales and marketing. “The X family’s new top model extends BMW’s offerings to the luxury class and redefines the concept of luxury for the brand.”

To underline its upmarket aspirations, BMW’s designers have provided the concept of the new SUV with a revised badge. Harking back to the treatment seen on early BMW models, it combines a black-and-white version of the company’s traditional roundel with its name, Bayerische Motoren Werke, written in full.