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Frankfurt show: Borgward Isabella reborn

Flow chart: The Borgward Isabella concept was developed around new design chief Anders Warming’s ‘Impression of Flow’ philosophy, which embodies organic shapes and smooth lines but favours a hi-tech, anti-retro feel.

Classic moniker for sleek hi-tech concept as Borgward lays out future direction


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13 Sep 2017

BORGWARD has referenced its classic 1950s Isabella with a thoroughly modern full-electric high-end sports sedan concept – bearing the same name – unveiled at the Frankfurt motor show overnight.

The born-again Chinese-financed and Stuttgart-based prestige brand, which made a comeback last year after more than 50 years in the wilderness, also announced at the show that it would make a long-awaited return to the German market by the end of this year after having relaunched in China with the BX5 and BX7 SUVs.

There are no moves at this stage for an Australian launch – Borgward is now targeting Europe, the Middle East and South America – and no firm word on whether the Isabella concept previews a forthcoming production model.

However, the low-slung four-door show-stopper has already served its purpose in capturing the motoring world’s attention with its sleek design – the work of former BMW Group/Mini designer Anders Warming, who was hired late last year – and strong potential as a rival for Tesla Motors’ Model S and a swag of other premium electric cars from established and fledgling brands alike.

In other words, if it wasn’t already, Borgward really is back.

Borgward Group AG chief executive Ulrich Walker said in Frankfurt that the brand would launch in Europe with conventionally powered (petrol-engined) models – starting with the BX7 before adding the BX5 and still-to-be-produced coupe-like BX6 – but that “further models which are under development”, with electrification included, would follow.

“Due to the constant customer demand and in order to increase the visibility of our brand and its products, we have decided to initially enter the market with a gasoline-powered version of the BX7 and the BX5,” Mr Walker said.

“However, it remains our goal to mainly sell electric vehicles once production commences in Bremen.” The Bremen plant in Germany is expected to start producing vehicles in 2019.

Borgward has provided few concrete specification details about the four-door four-seat grille-less Isabella concept other than its basic dimensions – it measures 5000mm long, 1400mm high and 1920mm wide – and an overview of its electric powertrain.

The so-called eAWD powertrain has two electric motors – one on each axle, allowing for all-wheel-drive traction (and combining with a fully variable torque distribution system) – that have a total output of 220kW/450Nm and can send the Isabella from 0-100km/h in a claimed 4.5 seconds. Top speed is 250km/h.

The driver can switch between various modes including Eco, Comfort and rear-drive-biased Sport and Sport+.

Developed in conjunction with LG Electronics, the battery offers a driving range of up to 500km, while the charging cycle to 80 per cent capacity is said to take 30 minutes at a fast-charging station. Inductive charging is also available on the concept.

The company insists Isabella is “more than just a vision of a future vehicle concept” and that the reincarnation of the 1950s classic “embodies the future focus of the entire Borgward company with regard to its design DNA and drive technology”.

Mr Warming has wasted no time in developing a design principle dubbed ‘Impression of Flow’ for the concept – and which he says will be valid for all vehicles from the brand in future.

“The carefully co-ordinated body shape with its smooth transitions creates a perfect balance between rounded organic shapes and precise lines,” he said.

“Our aim was to create stylistic synergies between beauty and technology.

“Aerodynamic excellence and efficiency play a key role in this vehicle and define its flowing shapes. We are convinced that a vehicle body through and around which air flows in a perfect way must radiate accessibility, appeal and a commanding presence.

“This is fully in line with the ‘Impression of Flow’ – our Borgward design principle for the electric mobility of the future.”

Borgward says it has achieved revenues of €1.5 billion ($A2.2b) within the past 12 months and has received nearly 70,000 vehicle orders in China since launching the BX7 and BX5.

“We are doing well in spite of the high start-up costs for, among other things, the development of new models and the expansion of our facility in China,” Mr Walker said.

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