Concept cars are meant to be an exercise in free expression, the ultimate “what if” for automotive designers.
Sometimes, this liberation leads to striking prototypes that elicit excitement for the future and reshape the general public’s perception of a brand. Other times, it shows why restraint is necessary in the first place. The BMW X7 represents the latter.
BMW threw every popular design feature available at this SUV then cranked the volume up to 11, resulting in a frustrating mishmash of features for the Frankfurt motor show debut.
Let’s go down the list: razor thin headlights? Check. Oversized grille? Double check. Panoramic sunroof, chrome trim pieces and exaggerated accent creases? Check, check and check.
First and foremost among BMW’s self-inflicted wounds is the front fascia. By stretching the brand’s signature double kidney grille vertically down the entirety of the tall, flat front end, the X7 takes on a look that’s a little too similar to the Bavarian brand’s other luxury nameplate: Rolls-Royce. However, other comparisons have been much less kind, including some comparing it to a buck-toothed beaver or Bugs Bunny.
It doesn’t help that the LED-flecked headlights are so narrow that they take on a squinty, rodent-like appearance of their own.
Large air curtains make the front fenders jut down into a corner, giving the front end an appearance that’s rigid and blocky. Add to the frontal confusion an accent bar that runs the width of the vehicle and curls into the side vents; this look is emulated in bars along the sides and rear of the vehicle. To be fair, these features might work independently, but together, they’re just a bit too busy.
Strip away the excess features and BMW has a well-proportioned three-row SUV, an important piece of any successful U.S. portfolio. Also, it’s worth noting that, should the majority of these design features make it to production as is, plenty of potential customers will be able to look past them once they see the blue and white badge.
Inside, the implausible glass roof can be chalked up to a conceptual embellishment, along with some of the interior technology, such as the ability of rear passengers to share music and articles with one another by swiping their touchscreen or the LED light show throughout the cabin.
Space, both real and perceived, is a key element for the X7, which explains the see-through ceiling. Actual headroom also appears ample and, rather than stuffing in two benches, BMW has opted for four individual seats in the rear, bring the total to six. So, while such a vehicle might lose out on the large family market, it should have enough seating capacity for the majority of luxury shoppers.
There’s good news and bad news about this concept. The bad news is BMW indicates that this version of the X7 is pretty much production-ready. The good news is there’s still time to work out kinks, which most automakers tend to do once they’ve gotten the eccentricities out their systems.