Two years ago at Frankfurt, Borgward AG showed its first new model, the rather conventional BX7 SUV. Many commentators found it slightly disappointing, in that it seemed like a lost opportunity for a revival German premium brand, but this initial SUV was deemed critical to ensure the company could quickly generate revenues for the parent Beiqi Foton Motor company (so it has proved to be, with over 50,000 BX7 sold in China since going on sale this spring).

So it was heartwarming to see this striking Isabella Concept from Borgward at the IAA, which shows the designers have much grander plans for the brand. The Isabella Concept utilises the modular Borgward ePROPULSION system showcased earlier this year in the BXi7, with AWD electronic control and an electric motor on each axle. The two synchronous motors with integrated converters have a combined output of 220 kW (300hp), and can deliver straight-line figures of 0-100 km/h in 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 250 km/h (155mph).

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This is the first Anders Warming design since arriving in January this year from BMW, and is significant in that it showcases a new design DNA dubbed "Impressions of Flow“ that should serve as the future focus of the entire Borgward company. Most notable is its unusual use of colour and the fact that it does not try to update a retro design too literally. Despite having a full EV powertrain, this is not your typical white i-Car that we’ve become used to seeing on show stands recently either, thank goodness.

Exactly how it will translate into something more orthodox for a production car is going to be interesting to follow, especially the door system and the interior.

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Proportions/Side

  1. The overall shape is a complex composition; there’s a lot going on. “The carefully coordinated body shape with its smooth transitions creates a perfect balance between rounded organic shapes and precise lines” says Warming.
  2. The form is broken up by use of the vehicle's two colours, 'Zeitgeist Blue1' and 'Zeitgeist Blue2'. There’s no conventional beltline, but rather a paint fadeout into the glass surface, like that pioneered by the 1978 Bertone Sibilo. The natural beltline is very high much taller than the usual golden proportion and the design relies on strong graphics to make it succeed. If the car was a single colour, it would look very stubby.
  3. The bold hip-line highlighted in polished aluminium helps to break up the deep bodyside and is the most classical device used on the car. It is the one element that harks back to the original, quite baroque, Isabella coupé.
  4. Likewise, the grey sill extension in the lower door also slims down the side view and feeds your eye to the large 21-inch wheel rims.
  5. Further lines feed the eye to the wheel rims, appearing to embrace them, while other lines hint towards the centre of the wheels. Note how the A-pillar and 2-tone treatment both index with the top of the front wheel rim.
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Front

  1. The "Impressions of Flow“ DNA continues at the front. The dark blue fenders loop around to contain the widely-spaced headlamps.
  2. With no grille, the Borgward diamond logo is the focal point of the front mask. There’s a strong 'vee' form to the front of the car that sharpens its expression and avoids it looking too passive. It feels inherently German too – there’s a touch of VW Karmann Ghia or Porsche here.
  3. There's no easy way to finish the dark blue area extending from the beltline, hence it’s allowed to fade out on the hood in a "graphic tech fade" transition. Up close, the fade is formed from diamond-shaped motifs, as in the logo.
  4. The doors use a complex parallelogram swinging/sliding mechanism to open. The arrangement means there are no conventional door shutlines.
  5. The windscreen is framed with a loop of polished aluminium. It’s another example of soft, flowing surfaces accentuated with hard edges.
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Rear

  1. The most resolved view of the Isabella concept; a highly characteristic rear end, which sets it apart from most luxury sedans only the Porsche Panamera has these kinds of volumes.
  2. The dark blue is allowed to fade out as at the front but the "graphic tech fade" is more controlled – it indexes with the Borgward script on the trunk.
  3. Floating C-pillar adds some extra ‘spice’ – something exotic and romantic.
  4. Polished aluminium hipline dives under the C-pillar and loops back on itself to form the tail lamps
  5. Hard-edged dark venturi hints at clean airflow, also suggest enormous potential power.
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Interior

  1. It’s the highlight of the concept. As on the exterior, there’s a bold use of form and colour, with a magenta twill weave fabric used in combination with ivory-coloured seats. Various ambient coloured lighting is used to enhance the footwells.
  2. The Scarf. The centre console OLED touch screens are formed into two curved overlapping forms, dubbed the ‘scarf’. It’s a refreshing alternative to the dull rectangular forms seen elsewhere at the show.
  3. The surfboard. Main readouts are pushed right to the base of the screen in a curved ‘surfboard’ display so they are closer to the driver’s line of sight. Rear camera displays are mounted at either end.
  4. The IP is comprised of a slim horizontal blade with a concave shelf below.
  5. Rear seats echo the flamboyant sense of the concept. The magenta fabric sweeps down from the seats onto the floor and then up into the base of the front seats.
  6. The sweeping form of the centre armrest continues the “Impressions of Flow” DNA.
  7. Screens fold away into the bulkhead as on an aircraft.
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