The SUVs you’ve never heard of: Borgward BX7, BX5 and BX3 under the microscope

Published: 23 November 2015

► Borgward's revival in detail
► Can it possibly hope to succeed?
► An old name for a new plan 

A new SUV brand is being prepared for launch in 2018: Borgward. Never heard of them? You're not alone. It's just one of many forgotten brands, initially ambitious and eventually doomed, from the same mould as Studebaker, Humber or Matra.

But should we take them seriously? What counts is product, and here we have seen worse. Much worse. Okay, the Q5/Macan lookalikes on display at the 2015 Frankfurt motor show were top-of-the-line models boasting leather trim, fancy connectivity and the biggest wheels. But still. The materials looked and felt good, the fit and finish left little to be desired, the design is generic yet inoffensive. 

What is bound to make the difference between rise and fall is the pricing. Although the European debut of Borgward is still almost three years away, CEO Ulrich Walker already told us ‘we won’t be undersold in the segments we compete in.’ 

Borgward: prices and specs

True to their master’s voice, the BX7 (X5-size) is tipped to start at €39,000 (£27k), the 2018 BX5 (X3-size) is going to sell at about €29,000 (£20k), and the most basic 2019 BX3 (Mokka-size) should not cost more than €17,000 (£12k).

Borgward BX7: China's answer to the BMW X5

All three vehicles share the same architecture and the same 1.8 and 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines. So far, so mediocre. But the BX range is not as low-tech as it may seem. Torque is distributed briskly by a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, the top-of-the-line powerplant produces a healthy 225bhp, the Plug-in Hybrid due at launch churns out 401bhp and a combined torque of 479lb ft. 

Borgward quotes a zero-emission range of 35 miles and an average consumption of a faintly ridiculous 125mpg. The lithium-ion battery which hooks up to the motor driving the rear wheels has a capacity of 13.2kWh. Not bad for a newcomer. Next in the green lane is the BX Zero BEV the marque will build in China, predominantly for China. 

Leading edge connectivity

A highlight common to all models is the up-to-date infotainment system featuring a 12.3in touchscreen monitor and an MMI controller. True, at this point Borgward still is a no-name player with no infrastructure and no status. But if the BX line-up is well accepted, those 500,000 units per year suddenly look like a credible target. 

‘Once the brand is established, we can think about the next steps,’ Walker tells CAR. ‘How would you for instance like a modern reincarnation of the Isabella coupe, stylish and exceptionally well made, available in limited quantities yet relatively affordable?’

Could be good. We just wonder how many punters remember the old Borgward. Heritage is good, but only when it resonates with customers...

The old Borgward

By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel