The number 7 in the badging of Geely’s utility vehicle will soon be a direct reference to the amount of seats. The GX7, which is also on the cards for South Africa, will be gaining an extra row of seats, increasing its passenger capacity to seven. It will also become a full-blown SUV with all-wheel drive models to compete with vehicles such as the RAV4. The seven-seater is expected to be 4540mm long, 1835mm wide and 1700mm tall with a wheelbase of 2661mm. CHINA'S SAFEST SUVThe GX7 was the automaker’s first utility vehicle and made its world debut at the 2012 Beijing auto show. The new model earned a great deal of attention when it earned a 5+ star rating in the Chinese new car assessment program and became known as China’s safest SUV.Here in South Africa the company has has opened a research and development centre at its Midrand, Gauteng, offices to evaluate new models to be launched on local soil. Henri Meistre, managing director of Geely South Africa, said: “Geely has over the last two or three years gone from strength to strength, significantly improving its products. “We experienced that in the local market as well, where would-be buyers look at our new products with new eyes, realising the quality influence of designers and engineers from Volvo and other international companies now in the Geely stable.”The GX7 is powered by a choice of two petrol engines – a 1.8 and two-litre – but new 2.4 petrol and two-litre diesels are expected later in 2013. The vehicle in normal guise is expected to make its South African debut in a year or so (2014-2015), including the front-wheel drive, full SUV with AWD and the future seven-seater versions.