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Good, Bad or Ugly - Current and Future styling trends of BMW



  • dbs8dbs8 Posts: 13
    I have made the Pontiac comparison as well.

    I guess the school of thought here is: "If it isn't broken, break it". Ask Coka-Cola how well this works! Risky business for such a successful car maker.

    I think that many people do buy BMWs for their looks and image. They have always been distinctive and tasteful. IMO, the best way to describe the new direction is "Overstyled".
  • bmwmrcbmwmrc Posts: 66
    Couldn't agree more. A new direction or bold direction is one thing. But a change in design to be different is another. This "another" is seriously wanting. If I have to grow to like it, then I'm in trouble. I don't like it now and I suspect I won't like it next year either.
  • manybmwsmanybmws Posts: 347
    around $500 to install in an '03 5-series.
  • bmizbmiz Posts: 4
    I was at my local beemerhaus today to see about giving them back my '03 530i, for an '03 M5.After the M5 ride, I tried an '04 545 6sp.Not thrilled about the looks, but the ride is definitely what this car is all about.More interior room,valvetronic V-8,incredible handling.I-Drive,was not bad at all.After this ride,the M5 was ruled out, and will wait and compare to the long-awaited 645
  • carguy58carguy58 Posts: 2,303
    is the 99 3 Series and thats it. I mean BMW is a luxury brand not a company that builds sports cars. BMW builds the cars to drive their cars to drive like sports cars but to look like sports cars? No. I mean if you want a car that girls check you out for the looks buy a old Pontiac Trans Am, Mazda Miata, or mid to late 90's Mitsubishi Eclipse. I mean the 5 Series is a big car size wise. Its just not meant to be sporty looking on the exterior. The 7 Series is like a full size car 1980's style: the car is not meant to be sporty. Lastly, If you check out a 92-98 3 Series sure its not sporty but it still looks good. Pre-Bangle BMW has always had an understated styling theme to it.

    I haven't been happy with alot of cars styling wise lately from the Germans or Japanese it seems like the Germans and Japanese have switched their styling to get the Domestic Big 3 buyer off his or her "too bland for me" bandwagon. I have two words for the Germans and Japanese: Core Buyer.
  • Please tell me that you were being sarcastic and did not truly mean that a chick would check you out more in a Trans Am, Miata or Eclipse over a BMW 5. Are you kidding me? What kind of chick are you looking for?

    The BMWs are not meant to be sporty? HUH? Are they not the bench mark of Sports sedans?
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    This has to be the best since Kennedy debated Nixon.
  • karmikankarmikan Posts: 116
    Here's a quote from the latest Car & Driver, part of a luxo-mobile comparo in which the 745 came 3rd.

    "Yet the latest luxo crop has become screen dependent, to the point of ruination in the 7-series BMW.

    "It wouldn't be that bad if they changed a few things." That's from the staff's most ardent 745i defender. The majority of us think iDrive, as BMW calls its computer interface, needs a clean-sheet redesign.

    BMW tried to take over control of HVAC, audio, chassis settings, trip info, navigation, etc., with a screen. You make your choices with a single knob that turns, toggles, and clicks; it's a mouse substitute. Worse yet, the company forced ordinary controls into some contortion of the knob thing; for example, you must select the part of the seat you want to adjust by pressing a button, then twist or toggle a knob to make it move. Okay, but what was wrong with the old way?

    In fact, the 745i has buttons and rockers scattered about the dash that let you adjust HVAC and do very basic radio/CD changes without using iDrive. But they're so haphazard in their logic that they only add to the annoyance.

    We've given iDrive 18 months to persuade us. It failed. Now the F is in ink. Fearless prediction: The 745i will take a beating on resale."

  • carguy58carguy58 Posts: 2,303
    No, you miss understood me a little I think I know BMW's are the benchmark for sports sedans. Thats why I said in my last post: "BMW's are meant to drive like sports cars".

    I mean the 5 Series(pre-04) has always been understated and classic looking but has never been an eyecatcher.

    As for getting chicks the Trans AM sticks out like a sore thumb on the road as does the Miata and pre-00 Eclipse. Thats what chick's like: sports car's. I don't drive a sports car because I drive what I want and what is comfortable for me. Sports cars are nice looking but they're cramped in terms of interior room.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,024
    OK, let's steer back onto discussion of cars and not stereotyping the people who like or drive them!


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  • ksomanksoman Posts: 593
    Hostess, please give us some playing ground... just kidding.

    There is an interview with the BMW CEO in today's wall street journal. Though I personally like the styling of the new cars, despite the fact that they seem to be geared for the metrosexuals rather than the masochists in us... anyway, the point is, most of the die hard fans here dont like the new styling and in this article the CEO talks about brand projection and protection... somehow the two dont fit with each other...

    anyway, happy reading and driving
    ksso #0
  • bmwcccbmwccc Posts: 234
    I am a first time chat here but have been reading a lot of your conversations on the 3 series. I was going to buy the 2004 330ci in December but now understand there are some significant changes with the engine, exterior and interior for the 2005 3 Series!
    Does anyone know when they will be introducing this to the U.S.? Will it be all 3 Series models or just the 4-Door?

    Please Help!
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    BMW is really making a mess of things. I don't think I've ever seen such a potentially beautiful car (6-Series) ruined by a single detail, that stupid trunklid!!

  • ddblueddblue Posts: 117
    This has got to be the most controversial design issue in the automotive industry today. Bimmerphiles are at each others' throats, but there are even more who want to get within reach of Chris Bangle's throat.

    I have been trying to take into account Bangle's intention behind his design concept (as I couldn't completely understand the actual execution of it). I appreciate Bangle's goal of taking BMW into a new design era. The motive is good. BMW has carved a significant niche into the sport luxury market. Even those who don't particularly like BMWs will say that they are remarkable works of automotive machinery, especially in the performance department. Mercedes is BMWs primary competition overall (as opposed to the 3 series vs. Infiniti G35, Lexus IS300). No doubt BMW observed the future of Mercedes design and found it evolutionary. Bangle wanted BMW to take some design risks in order to establish a greater presence in the luxury car market and to set the tone for the future of BMW designs--edgy, set apart, even controversial. Some will love it, some will hate it, but no one will be indifferent. This was probably his mindset pre-market.

    Outcome? Different, I believe. I have never seen BMW drivers up in arms like this. It's a mixed bag, though. Just about everyone I talk to says that when the new 7 first arrived, it was just plain nasty but after a time they were convinced it had a strong and handsome presence. It would never be confused for a Merc. In a market niche standpoint, that's positive. But S classes are undeniably good designs, albeit conservative. Ultimately, take a look at who buys them (50+) and you can see that conservative is the better bet. And with the purported 2004 headlight and rear decklid change, you can see who was right. I still think the 7 looks great as a whole concept, despite some design fubards.

    The Z4. I had seen some conservative pre-market sketches. I was hoping to see something along the lines of a modern 507. Oooh, that would've been something. New chassis? Great, I thought. The Z3 needed it badly. Then I saw spyshots of the flame surfaced version. "Ugh, WTF is that???" I said to myself. Many of my BMW friends agreed. This was one bizarre looking automobile. The front was acceptable, the profile with the bisecting line was just plain strange and the rear looked like a pregnant S2000. But I told my friends that it would look better in real life than in the photos, just like the 7. I believe I was correct. The Z4 is a definite head turner. There is nothing in the market today that looks like it. It makes the Boxster look boring (not ugly). It's much more masculine than the Z3. BUT, it's still strange to me. Bangle went for presence, for certain--with less concern over individual styling aspects (the Roundel turn signal is tacky, in my opinion, like a BMW hocky puck glued to the car). But Bangle achieved his goal with this car. You may see some small changes over the next few years to smooth out some edges, but the car is a success.

    The 5. The biggest risk yet, I believe. Everyone agreed that the Z3 needed some real change. The 7, probably less so, but still needed a slightly more aggressive stance. The 5 was the sport sedan benchmark. How do you replace an automobile that was considered nearly flawless by everyone in the industry? The perfect blend of practicality, sportiness, masculinity, elegance, power and stealth. This is where a car should be ideally muscular and refined. Like a lean bodybuilder in a notch-lapel, black tuxedo. He steps into the room, looking superbly crisp and sophisticated but something underneath says, "I could snap you like a twig." This is where BMW went grossly wrong, I believe. They needed to be evolutionary here. Give it a wider stance and accentuate the fender lines a bit. Give it a more pronounced grille without making the front look like a Pontiac. Now the car has too many divergent lines, too many angles that take away from the muscularity and just make it look busy. I look at cars like the Merc E-class. Gorgeous and elegant but not muscular enough. BMW has always been about performance, and their cars have communicated that, with a healthy dose of elegance. The 5, apart from the handling, has departed from that mindset and design execution, in my opinion.

    The 6 is probably the best out of all the new designs. Since it has yet to be released, I can't make any comments on its presence. It is not as muscular as I'd hoped but the lines flow much better than the other designs.

    I fear for the 3. The current E46 design is perhaps one of the best in the automotive industry. I can't see it improving under Bangle.
  • karmikankarmikan Posts: 116
    Thoughtful post. I completely agree that the E39, from a 3/4 front view looks purposeful and slightly menacing (I like your body builder analogy).

    I saw a 6 series at my local dealership about 2 weeks ago. It was black and stunning, I was just smitten by the front and side views. It has a mean, hunkered down look that isn't apparent in photos. Then I looked inside - 5 series and iDrive (aarrggg!). I went around the back and there was this nasty trunk lid that looked even more prominent and misplaced than in the the photos I've seen. I walked away thinking that BMWs current styling theme is just plain weird.
  • The new Z4 looks ridiculous. That compressed back quarter looks flat out ugly and conflicts with long elongated hood. The porportions are bad. The overstyled doors with diagonal style lines don't work. S2000 all over this ugly German experiment in performance and clean functional styling.

    The 7 and 5 series borrow the orginal Lexus GS arching roofline and short trunk but totally butcher the look with hideous rear end treatment, overstyled again. The new 5 front grill is all Pontiac Grand Am. The absence of any body side door moldings is real dumb again. Door ding city. Again, form overlooking function. The interior is another weakness, the dash doesn't flow as before and the look doesn't convey sport and that I-drive is total garbage. The materials are not up to the previous models. Chalk it up as 3 new ugly releases.

    The current 3 series is aging, the G35 coupe is a much more dynamic design and performance to back it up. BMW's gonna have more trouble than it's styling as the all new peformance M35/45 models are coming straight for the 5 series. Lexus's all new 05'GS looks stunning and will clean up in this segment I predict. This is where Lexus will take it next, new dynamic, bold design to match it's outstanding quality.

    The new E doesn't have design presence, it's not bold enough another good car like the Accord but just blends in with the herd. Mercedes interiors all look cheap anyways. Audis new A6 looks it could swallow a person with that huge grill. My fav. designs would be the 91-95 Acura Legend coupes, the 92-00 Lexus SC coupes, the last gen. RX7 clean, and the new 350Z looks mighty fine in silver sporting off those sexy curves.
  • sphinx99sphinx99 Posts: 776
    The 7-series is history's first fullsize sedan that would look better with a tacky aluminum wing.
  • karmikankarmikan Posts: 116
    I regularly read UK car reviews to get a different perpective. Here's part of a review of the E60:

    "The new 5-series is very possibly the most talked about new car of the year. Chiefly this is because the old one was just so utterly fabulous, easily the best car in its class when it came along seven years ago and, astonishingly, still the leader when they pulled the plug seven years later.

    You didn’t have to think when you were looking for a £30,000 four-door saloon. You bought the Beemer and you loved it. But you do have to think with the new one, because the styling is, how can I put this, a bit challenging.

    I’m told that as time passes we will become accustomed to the looks, which manage to be sharp and bulbous at the same time. But that’s like asking a seven-year-old to live on olives because he’ll like them when he’s an adult. In the here and now the 5 is truly gargollic, a symphony of discords and stylistic infighting. And it’s no better on the inside, with acres of extraordinarily cheap-looking plastic moulded into a series of shapes that jar."

    Seems to encapsulate the situation nicely. Buyers used to almost automatically think Sports Sedan = BMW. Now it's no longer automatic because buyers have to overcome the styling hurdle, which is pretty high for some. Time will tell whether or not this will have a major impact on sales. My guess is that it will once the initial new model rush is over.
  • bretaabretaa Posts: 130
    Great post ddblue! Regarding the current 3 series, I think it is an absolutely beautiful, powerful, and classic design. For that reason, I just recently purchased a certified preowned '01 330i over getting a new version of something like an IS300 or G35 that was in my price range. While the E46 design is classic, the Japanese designs tend to be faddish, and will probably look so in about 5-10 years after Lexus and Infinity change their "vision" again (see my long post about this recently in the BMW 3 series forum).

    While certainly controversial (especially the 7-series), I believe that Bangle has succeeded in making his cars look like nothing else on the road while making them still easily identified as BMW's. Look at the current C-Class, for example. It's smoothed over, morphed, evolutionary Mercedes design makes it no more exciting to look at than any other compact car lozenge on the road. I'll often pass a new E or S Class and not even look up. The new BMW designs, while maybe not "beautiful" in the classic sense, are always interesting to look at and have a dynamic aspect to them that makes them look like they are running even when standing still. And again, from 10 or 100 feet away, they are still clearly BMW's. I find the new 5 series especially to be much more arresting in person than in photographs. Like with Cadillac's new designs, it might take a generation or two of models to work some of the detailing out.

    Interestingly, I have more problems with the interior design direction than the exterior (lets forget I-Drive for a sec). I love my 330i's enveloping, driver oriented cockpit. I'm not as fond of the current 5 and 7's open air, dramatic sweep away from the driver. I think the color and pattern issues still need some work as well. However, in the 5, 7, and Z4, the material quality and solidity of feel are beyond reproach, especially in the 7. Regarding I-drive for a sec, let's just say I think it should be an option and be integrated like Audi's popup-screen unit.

    That's about all. Any opinions?

  • ddblueddblue Posts: 117
    I'd have to agree with you about the interior. Though I feel the 7's interior design is much more handsome than the 5's. I sat in the 5 recently and noted that the lines and shapes were simply not harmonious. Granted the E39 interior needed some work, but it was more driver oriented than the E60's. I was hoping that the new cockipit would be more ergonomic. It definitely is, but it loses the driver focus and becomes more of an aesthetic jumble to appeal to the opulence snobs. The sweeping door handles have got to go. They look ridiculous.

    I bet you'll see some front and rear end changes to the 5 after the first year.

    Hold on to your E46!!! It'll be gorgeous in ten years.
  • ddblueddblue Posts: 117
    Steve Spence writes in the latest issue...

    "It's still very nearly the perfect driving machine. But BMW's ship has run up on a styling reef. It's not htat this body is ugly per se; it might even look good on, oh, a Volvo chassis. But the problem is it has landed atop a previously perfect BMW. When an automaker reaches the pinnacle of styling--as BMW did in the '90s with its line of elegant, muscular, dynamic cars--it is then faced with an awful dilemma: We can't stand still, but where do we go from here? Looks like BMW's taken up with a den of New Jersey hairdressers. The 530 is overwrought, show-offy, all flaring creases and scooped-out panels--so un-BMW. Quick, somebody find a clean sheet of paper!"

    Couldn't have said it better, myself.
  • bretaabretaa Posts: 130
    I too read the C&D article and felt that quote was a little over the top. I continue to believe (hope?) that this styling theme just needs some refinement. Again, I saw a CTS on the road the other day and still noted how jaunty it looks from some angles, but the newer SRX is quite stunning on the road, and gets the look more "right." I'm hoping the 7 series refresh (and eventual 5 refresh) will accomplish the same task. The '06 3-series sketches on the web look quite good...

  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    Shame on Steve Spence for bashing the great state of New Jersey and its fine hairdressers. They have good restaurants, the best gas prices, and I am very pleased with the manner in which I am coiffed.

    What he should have said was this:

    "Looks like BMW's taken up with the artists who created Beavis and Butthead."
  • saugataksaugatak Posts: 488
    "Looks like BMW's taken up with the artists who created Beavis and Butthead."

    glah, this is a sad day when we are debating (even in jest) whether the right comparison for the new 5-series is NJ hairdressers vs. beavis and butthead.

    reminds me of a quote posted by someone on the X3 board who had held off for 1 year on a new car purchase to see the X3. going only by memory here, i think he said:

    "i looked . . . i saw . . . i cried. i waited a year for this?!"

    Also, designman, have you ever seen beavis and butthead? They look like they were drawn by NJ hairdressers, so essentially you and the C&D guy are saying the same thing.
  • carguy58carguy58 Posts: 2,303
    Whats wrong with my state's hairdresser's?

    Thank you for somebody defending New Jersey. On a side note I hope that gas tax doesn't pass. I doubt it will.

    As for Infinti Nissan is into being different. Lexus got too bland to me with the 98 GS and 02ES. I more of an Acura man personally than a lexus or Infinti man though.
  • bretaabretaa Posts: 130
    I'll defend New Jersey as well. Get past the Turnpike, and it is actually, in many areas, a gorgeous state.

    Isn't BMW's US headquarters in NJ, or am I remembering this wrong?

  • x021627x021627 Posts: 152
    montvale I think
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    Yep, that's close enough... MB is in Montvale, BMW is in Woodcliff Lake... practically in each other's yards near the NY border. New Jersey has good incentives for business. And yes, it quite a beautiful state, just like the other 49. Having to share a fence with NY and offering mostly industrial vistas near its NY borders it often takes the brunt of lot of humor. It's OK though... Jerseyans are cool, tough and confident... they can take it.
  • irnmdnirnmdn Posts: 245
    Last chance to buy a decent looking BMW
This discussion has been closed.