By on September 8, 2017

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BMW spent a good portion of this week ensuring the public that it is an aggressively forward-thinking brand with a clear plan for mobility and electrification. However, it took things a step further by letting the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show patrons know it’s offering “a whole new take on luxury” with its X7 iPerformance Concept.

Clearly assembled in a manner designed to embrace futurism and highlight its proposed electrified drivetrain, the X7 is unnecessarily odd-looking. The sculpted body could be handsome, had some designer decided not to accent it with gregarious chrome trim inlayed at right angles. Likewise, the brand’s signature kidney grille seems to have gone off the rails completely. BMW admits the styling aspect “hogs the attention” and urges us to “look at it again” so that we might truly understand the vibrancy and class it exudes.

You’re welcome to humor them, but we found even a fifth look didn’t remedy the situation. The grille remains an oversized eyesore, begging to be toned down. Thankfully, there’s more going on here than an overcooked exterior. The X7 Concept introduces an important third row to BMW’s sport-utility lineup, as well as a plug-in hybridized powerplant with twin turbochargers.

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Additional details on that powertrain are missing, however. We’re expecting something akin to BMW’s pre-existing 2.0-liter turbocharged four-pot hybrid, found on the X5, with a swath of conventional sixes and eights using forced induction. But BMW isn’t willing to admit to anything specific yet.

The interior is a little more straightforward. With three rows offering two seats apiece, BMW promises the X7 will have the most expansive cabin of any vehicle in its 101-year history. Group design chief Adrian van Hooydonk specified that the SUV can also be had with other seating configurations once it reaches production. 

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Second-row chairs will offer the same niceties as the front, including positioning that allows passengers to enjoy the panoramic roof and customizable touch-screens for rear-seat entertainment. Those screens integrate with the ones up front using BMW’s cloud-enabled Connected service.

For the driver, the digital displays include a 12.3-inch instrument cluster and central touchscreen information display in close proximity. Both are oriented toward the operator for a cockpit-like feel, vaguely resembling Mercedes-Benz’s recent efforts.

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Materials used are lavish and luxurious but, as this is a concept vehicle, they might not be worth getting too excited over. There is time for BMW to make changes — which brings us back to the body.

From the outside, it’s not the prettiest of pictures. However, making a gargantuan SUV elegant is a lot to ask of any automaker. The grille is abysmal but, since the vehicle is already so massive, narrowing those inlets could make it look like the turtle from The NeverEnding Story. There’s just so much face there to manage. Similarly, the few lines on the X7 seem to stretch out forever along colossal panels — making the car seem even bigger than it already is. Huge 23-inch wheels help to keep things more proportional in photos, but they’ll do a lot less in the real world.

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We’re not sure what the solution is; we only know that BMW needs to have one. Then again, maybe today’s upper-crust soccer moms enjoy a little vehicular bling.

The X7 will ride on the same CLAR platform underpinning the 7 Series and will be built at BMW’s U.S. plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Production should commence sometime in 2018, setting the SUV up for a 2019 model year debut.

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[Images: BMW]

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