Borgward Isabella: sports car concept, electric SUV reality

Published: 13 September 2017

► Four-door coupe, sliding doors, classic name
► Designer says concept shaped by aero
► Production focus remains on SUVs

The Borgward Isabella concept at Frankfurt 2017 might borrow its name from a gorgeous 1950s German saloon and coupe, but the born-again company says it’s a statement of intent for an all-electric future.

The Chinese/German firm’s first concept car is nothing if not eye-catching, with sliding doors, a suitably OTT interior, and dramatic proportions.

You might not have heard of Borgward, but you have heard of…

The four-door, four-seat coupe’s design is the work of Anders Warming, the man behind the current-generation F56 Mini, who says that it is a ‘modern interpretation of the original Borgward Isabella’. He likes classic cars, and once remarked that he thought his favourite Mini was, in fact, the BMC 1100.

Borgward Isabella concept - sliding doors akimbo

No details of the car were released – because clearly, it’s a styling model – other than it’s a pure-electric drivetrain, and that, ‘aerodynamic excellence and efficiency play a key role in this vehicle, and define it’s flowing shapes.’

So, is this Borgward concept heading for production?

Unlikely. It was surrounded by several examples of the company’s BX7 five-door SUV, an altogether more unremarkable-looking product. So, if the Isabella has any role in the company’s ambitious production plans, then it’s to cast a large halo over these disappointingly boring off-roaders.

Borgward Isabella concept interior at Frankfurt 2017

But the company says that there are some serious plans afoot for Borgward. The company’s cars have been launched in China, and 70,000 examples have already been delivered. ‘We are delighted with our successful start in China,’ CEO Ulrich Walker said. ‘We can now enter the German market.’

Tell us more about Borgward

They do seem serious. The existing SUV will be joined by a smaller BX5 SUV and BX6 sports car, although these vehicles will be launched in the German in petrol-only form, following the BX7’s launch before the end of 2017.

Borgward BXi7 SUV at Frankfurt 2017

The company is based in Stuttgart and says it already employs 5000 people. Work on Borgward’s new European factory is taking place in Bremen, home to the original company. The manufacturer aims to deliver 800,000 cars per year by 2020, before ramping up production to 1.6 million cars annually by 2025.

Walker added, ‘It remains our goal to sell mainly electric vehicles once production commences in Bremen.’

Watch this space.

Click here for the full A-Z round-up of the Frankfurt motor show on CAR magazine

By Keith Adams

Devout classic Citroen enthusiast, walking car encyclopedia, and long-time contributor to CAR