The E90 3 Series, which will soon be launched in South Africa, is the pinnacle of a design philosophy first adopted with the 7 Series, claims BMW Group design chief Chris Bangle, who hints that the marque’s styling will head into a new direction.
The E90 3 Series, which will soon be launched in South Africa, is the pinnacle of a design philosophy first adopted with the controversial 7 Series, claims BMW Group design chief Chris Bangle, who hints that the marque’s styling will head into a new direction.
The E90’s front end has a strong resemblance to that of the 6 Series, but the trademark kidneys and quad headlights under glass in unmistakably Three. Overall, the E90’s styling, albeit less dramatic than that of its newer stable mates, features elements introduced throughout the range such as the deep swages down the car's sides, and a short-front, long-tail profile. The Hoffmeister kink is still very much in evidence in the C-pillar, but the car’s rear, probably the most maligned aspect of the new Three’s styling, has been described as Oriental by some detractors.
During a recent interview with , Bangle said the E90 “ended the revolution BMW began with the 7 Series, and we progressively evolved on the Z4, the 5 Series, the 6 Series, the X3 and the 1 Series. We now start again from scratch, in preparing for the next revolution”.
In response to a suggestion that the design language that started with the 7 Series achieved its final balance in the E90, the American responded: “With time we all mature. Perhaps we designers have matured. Or perhaps it's the public that is now ready to appreciate this new design language”.
When asked why his designs had been the target of so much criticism from the motoring public, he said: “I don't know, and I don't care. I've been designing cars for more than 20 years and the top management of no other manufacturer in the world is as deeply involved as at BMW…
"(In other words) I didn't sit down one night all by myself and single-handedly change the direction of BMW design,” Bangle added.
However, the American noted that he saw "almost nothing" from other manufacturers in terms of "real and formal innovation… Almost no one has had the courage to take a radically new direction the way BMW has."
‘Seven has broad appeal, dynamic lines’
Four years after the launch of the current 7 Series, Bangle’s signature design has gone under the knife, and, following the trend set by the relatively-conservative Three, the facelifted Seven is decidedly understated and simplifies the car’s design cues in many aspects.
Apart from the muscular bulge in the new car’s bonnet, the Seven, due to arrive in South Africa later this year, has received revised headlights, front air dam and kidney grille. At the rear, body panels have “clearer contours” (BMW speak for less-severe flame surfacing and right-angled panels), a new chrome trim strip, modified rear lights, side-sills and rear airdam.
“The 7 Series was the model that BMW used to celebrate the first 100 years of the car and the passage into the third millennium. It's larger outside, much more comfortable inside, and incorporates the state of the art in automobile technology,” said Bangle.
“Our customers do (like the 7 Series) - very much so. The mission that marketing gave us was very precise: The new 7 Series must not only appeal to the 60-year-old who is driven around by his chauffeur, but it must also win over the successful 45-year-old who wants a large car that's sporty to drive. It also needed to have dynamic lines,” the American concluded.