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BMW rejects ‘Russian doll’ design

Turning looks: The 3 Series (below) and X7 (left) feature very different designs – a theme BMW is keen to continue.

Next crop of BMWs to offer distinct designs but with a family resemblance

BMW logo26 Nov 2018

BMW Group design chief Adrian van Hooydonk says the next crop of new models, including the freshly revealed 3 Series, will be differentiated by their design, each featuring a distinct look rather than taking a same-again approach for each model line.
 
Six new BMW brand models will be launched in a 12-month period, including the new-generation 3 Series and 4 Series, the X5 and X7 SUVs, the Z4 sportscar, and the upcoming 1 Series, and each will offer a different flavour in terms of its styling.
 
Speaking to GoAuto at the recent Paris motor show, Mr van Hooydonk highlighted the differences between the model lines, but said there would still be a family resemblance. 
 
“Within those six cars we want to pull them also further apart,” he said. 
 
“You will see here X5, 8 Series, Z4, 3 Series – I think you begin to see that while they are part of the same generation of cars, the same form language, they each have a stronger character and identity of their own, while cleaning up significantly also inside and out.”
 
While some other premium car-makers have been criticised for adopting a so-called Russian doll approach where model lines mimic each other’s exterior and interior design, Mr van Hooydonk said BMW actively took the opposite approach.
 
“We wanted to avoid that. It’s a trap you can easily fall into because if you have a design that sells well that people like, then you do it a little bigger, a little smaller and you have your Russian doll thing. 
 
“I think in the last generation (of 3 Series), we were very coherent, very consistent, not yet Russian doll. But we knew we had to move the cars further apart. And I think that’s what you see here.”
 
Mr van Hooydonk said it was a challenge to retain the character and essence of previous generations of the 3 Series, while taking the iconic model into the future.
 
“It can be (a challenge), but in this generation actually we were asked to move the game on quite significantly. Here in every aspect that makes up a 3 Series until today, we sought to create change and to add modernity. 
 
“So the whole design language is now cleaner, crisper. You see that the lines are far more precise. Even details like the Hofmeister kink, very iconic details, are now more faceted and more precise.
 
“Or things like the headlamps, the grille. So, we sought to create change and something that is very precise and edgy in all details. And with that, give this generation of car much more modernity and a bigger step away from the predecessors than the generations before.”
 
Mr van Hooydonk said BMW management gave his team free rein to do whatever they wanted with the new 3 Series design, within the parameters of a three-box sedan.
 
“Actually nobody reeled us in. They said go as far as you possibly can.  But of course you are still dealing with an object with four doors and four wheels. You have certain aerodynamic parameters, you have a certain size you are dealing with. 
 
“We feel that the 3 Series has never looked this modern in every detail. And at the same time, improving in performance, shedding some weight, aerodynamic performance of 0.23, so that’s all the things that you want.”
 
When asked if the sleek design of the new 3 Series puts pressure on a future 4 Series Gran Coupe four-door, he said pressure was a positive thing when it comes to vehicle design.
 
“It’s good if the vehicles put pressure on one another. I never hold back one design team because the other is behind. The task here was to push as far ahead as we possibly can. 
 
“And yes there will be a 4 Series, there will be a 4 Series Gran Coupe. And, of course, there, the task is for that to be even more elegant, even more sporty. But I think we will manage.”
 
Mr van Hooydonk said BMW’s design team had embraced the challenge of designing a number of distinct models and added that the ‘i’ e-mobility sub brand would be another key focus.
 
“I am really happy that we had the opportunity to do six new cars in one year – that’s a rare opportunity. I think we made the most of it. And then on the side we are continuing to push on BMW i, which you could say is a start-up in the walls of the greater company. 
 
“There we are tasked with coming up with solutions for the big questions of tomorrow like autonomous driving. But what we are doing there of course we can then develop the design of the core brand further.”

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