What is it?
Some 50% of Germans still recall the name Borgward, claims the company that’s been reborn under Chinese ownership, although take the five off the front of the number and you’re likely closer to the amount who remember any of the brand’s cars, or its positioning.
They’ll need to be told, then, that Borgward is now a maker of two SUVs: the Audi Q3-sized BX5 and the larger, Audi Q5-sized BX7 tested here. It’s the model that will spearhead its launch into Europe next year as the first of the new wave of Chinese car makers that plans to do so, starting with Germany in the first quarter of 2018, albeit as a plusher BX7 TS version that was revealed at the recent Guangzhou motor show.
It’ll be the Geneva motor show in March before we get full details of the BX7 that's bound for Europe, but tested in standard form here, the BX7 draws power from a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, driving all four wheels through a six-speed automatic gearbox.
What's it like?
Borgward isn’t holding back in its ambitions. It’s planning a launch price of €44,000 (£39,000) for the BX7 in Germany; that puts it in Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC territory, in each of those car makers' back yards. Never mind undercutting them; it’s setting out to match them and compete on an even playing field.
Borgward claims it has every right to do so, because Germany is its back yard too, given how much of the design work took place in Stuttgart and how many Germans are on the team. It’s of little surprise, then, that Borgward has made a car that looks a lot like the Q5.
Yet Borgward’s effort is not a premium car; that much was revealed even on our short test route, limited to some laps of a circuit and a handling track rather than mixing it with Guangzhou’s congested highways.
What it did reveal was a solid, inoffensive SUV, with neutral handling and decent grip, similar in feel to one of the higher-spec mid-sized SUVs from Korea, such as the Hyundai Tucson or Kia Sportage, although you’d always opt for one of those on price alone, let alone how superior they are to the BX7 in terms of perceived quality.
While the BX7's cabin has some nice, comfy leather seats and a decent infotainment screen, it’s lacking those special touches that makes a Mercedes a Mercedes and not a Hyundai. It doesn’t mean it’s not nice; it’s just not premium.