BMW has come under fire for the over the top design language of its recent models, but maybe there’s a purpose.
Before you come at me with swords and pitchforks, hear me out. Yes, I agree with you BMW lovers that say BMW's beautiful, athletic design language, seen on icons like the E30 3 Series and the E39 5 Series, has been lost. I agree with you when you say the kidney grille has been enlarged beyond recognition and that the sporty coupes we knew and loved have given way to quirky head-turners. But it’s all for a good cause.
Let’s take the most ostentatious BMW for example, the new 7. It might not have the prettiest face, but you won’t mistake it for a 5 Series, would you? More importantly, it’s a front-end that screams opulence, the straight edges, high bonnet-line, long wheelbase, all of it give it a palatial look albeit not a gorgeous one. The 7, as controversial as it is, will look like nothing else on the road and, when you’re spending crores on a mode of transport, that matters. And in the M-spec pictured above, it just looks so mafia.
Next let’s take a look at the other end of the BMW sedan spectrum, the 2 Series coupe. Nope, not the Gran Coupe we get here in India, the proper 2 Series. The kidney grille here is much smaller and wider, there are angular design elements all around and lots of quirky design detailing. The 2 Series looks like a BMW through and through, but nothing like the new 7 or even the 3 or the 5. It looks different.
Another example of this is in the ‘X’ lineup. The entry-level X1 might be outdated in design now, but it still looks like a proper BMW, as do the X3, X5 and the new X7. But neither look too similar to each other, which isn’t something that can be said about model lines from other manufacturers.
Distinguishing between your own model lines is one thing, BMW is also making sure its cars aren’t missed on the road. While some cars from other German manufacturers are incredibly understated and dare I say boring, a bright yellow BMW M4 with its gaping kidney grille will make you look twice. And while it may not strike you at first, BMW has a history of making more in-your-face cars than rivals. Compare the swanky E30 to the subtle Mercedes-Benz W123 from the same time period or the original X6 to any boxy SUV of that era and you’ll get what I mean. Cars with bold designs are etched into your memory. You'll instantly remember the 'angle eyes' of the E60 5 Series, but the image of the competition is fuzzier.
This is why I think BMW is doing a great job with its design. The cars may not be winning any beauty pageants, but they won’t be forgotten for sure and customers who spend lots of money on their cars, more often than not, also want lots of people to know what they’re driving. But then again, looks can be subjective. Right?