Borgward Returns with Crossover SUV

By Jack R. Nerad, Executive Editorial Director and KBB.com on September 16, 2015 4:13 AM

For those of you who were holding your breath waiting for the newest Borgward to be introduced, you are officially allowed to exhale. On the other hand, if you don't remember the Borgward or just plain never heard of it, you have good reason. The venerable German automaker was forced into liquidation way back in 1961, partly in response to a highly critical magazine article slamming the company's business practices. But despite that public black eye, many Germans still have fond memories of Borgwards past, and because of that, a consortium is ready to put the brand back on the road. At the Frankfurt motor show we got a look at just what the first Borgward in 50 years will look like and, despite what you might be thinking, it's not bad, not bad at all.

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Called the Borgward BX7, the crossover is totally bereft of any retro touches except, of course, the diamond-shaped Borgward badge in its handsome grille. The company has substantial plans for it as the lead vehicle of a brand that, it hopes, will quickly climb to a 500,000-unit pace annually. That might be a daunting task in a world filled with car companies, but the BX7 is attractive enough to gain attention in what is already a crowded segment. You probably won't see a Borgward dealership in your neighborhood anytime soon, since the company plans to launch first in "emerging markets and China" and then expects to put vehicles on sale in Germany in about two years' time. There's no specific mention of Borgward sales in America, and it might stay that way.

Innovative plug-in drivetrain

In any case, at about 185 inches long, the BX7 is practically the same size as a Ford Edge crossover, but Borgward says it will be offered in a seven-passenger version, while the Edge totes just five. Among the new vehicle's calling cards are the availability of an innovative plug-in hybrid powertrain, a tech-savvy all-wheel-drive system and advanced connectivity.  The standard Borgward BX7 (the AWD T-GDI model) will be equipped with conventional all-wheel drive and a 224-horsepower direct-injection 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, but Borgward also plans to offer a significantly more powerful and technically sophisticated plug-in hybrid version, offering a combined 401 horsepower from its combination of gasoline engine and electric motor.

The PHEV will utilize the same turbocharged 2.0-liter four cylinder as the base model, powering the front wheels via a seven-speed dual clutch transmission. The rear wheels will be driven by an electric motor linked to the front-axle via an electronic control unit. This intelligent all-wheel drive system uses what Borgward calls a "virtual drive shaft" to signal for rear-wheel torque whenever efficiency, handling or safety considerations require it. Nine operating modes are available to the driver, and they can be activated either automatically or via a rotary/push-button controller in the center console. 

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As if the PHEV version were not enough, the BX7 will also be offered in a sporty TS (Touring Sports) edition that recalls a popular Borgward designation of yore. The rejuvenated brand promises that safety, fuel-efficiency, interior design and infotainment will match the sophistication of the powertrain. While we can't attest to that, we can attest to the fact that the BX7 is a good-looking crossover SUV that strikes us as very mainstream. Whether that is what Borgward fans are looking for remains to be seen, but as the comic once said to the guy who told him "Nice seeing you," we think in Borgward's case "It's good just to be seen." 

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