Our spies have snapped the first pictures of a BMW X7 development mule. See the photos inside

Our spies have snapped the first pictures of a BMW X7 development mule.

Caught undergoing testing in Germany, the mule is based on the 2016 7-Series and features a variety of weights to help simulate the added bulk of the crossover. This might sound a little strange but Maserati is using a similar approach to test the 2016 Levante.

BMW has been coy on specifications but the test mule effectively confirms the X7 will ride on the same platform that underpins the next-generation 7-Series. This likely means engines will be shared among the models so expect to see the familiar six- and eight-cylinder options. There have also been rumors about a V12 and plug-in hybrid variant but nothing is official as of yet.

The BMW X7 will be built in Spartanburg, South Carolina and the model is expected to be launched in 2017 or 2018.

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BMW X7 mule spied for the first time