Because it manifests a lack of form co-ordination. Let’s take a look at the car from a few angles, see what is there and ask why it can look so wrong.
As we know “The Concept X7 iPerformance introduces the BMW styling DNA to the luxury SUV segment. The design employs just a few precise lines and subtle surface work,” explained Adrian van Hooydonk, BMW Group boss. “It has a luxurious and sophisticated feel, thanks to its understated use of forms and precise detailing.” reports Autocar.
I presume AvH is joking and I am not joking about that. There are more lines on this car than on Samuel Beckett’s face. There is nothing understated and nothing subtle about it – AvH’s comments are pure satire. Of especial interest is the bits about “precise lines” and “precise detailing” which might be an EfL synonym for “sharp”. What could “imprecise” detailing look like? Made of candy-floss? Enough semantics: we can see BMW can’t talk design.
The Concept X7 borrows from the BMW Vision Future Luxury car of 2014. Those borrowings have ended up stretched and moulded to fit a car larger than the X5 and, I suppose, to be hurled like a huge slab of steel directly at the uppermost Land Rovers and Bentley Bentaygas.
The grille on the X7 certainly attracts attention though it is not really, in my view, the big sinner among the greater sinners elsewhere on the exterior.
The real problem lies in the conflict between rounded forms (the wing, the roof) and angular graphics of the grille and brightwork. That grille is not more offensive than the monstrous maw of the Volvo S90:
Well, it is a fair bit less attractive (isn’t it the Volvo that is the subtle one?) but that might be due to context and treatment. That massive double kidney grille looks as if it is affixed and not integrated, yes, but it is also clashing with the softness of the geometry around it. BMW have messed with their grile in a profound way too: it has chamfers and not rounded corners. That’s as big shift in a symbol so weighted with meaning. And at the cost of clashing forms. That’s actually really inept.
The slim lamps are lost – and note they are flush and really need some articulation.
The side view (above) captures a) the missing volume in front mass and b) the ham-fisted brightwork fore and aft of the front wheel. That right-angled shape is stopping what little forward momentum the form might have had. The mark-up is mine (as in all the images), the image is from autoblog.com (thanks, guys).
In this photo stare at the way the bonnet flows down the front wing. That is not sharp. There is a fair amount of softly sculpted activity (too much) on the body side. The angular, pointy hockey-stick shape is wildly at odds with what is around it. I am sure the deletion of this alone would radically alter how the car is seen. On the 2014 Vision Luxury Future car the equivalent feature is angled and much shorter. Even increasing the radius would have helped a lot. But it’s resolutely pointy. Points attract attention as research shows.
The next thing for revision is that softly sculpted activity on the flank that I talked about. It has not worked on the 5 or the 7 and here again is making confusing highlights. The sharp crease in the door does’t gel with the pillowy, curvy flare of metal around the rear arch. Again we find disharmony.
I see this car as failing in the details and proportions. I have not really dealt with the tail lamps: these are in the idiom of high-tech industrial design; the bright work below them shouts over the lamps finessed forms. If you look at the back of the car you would never expect to see what is there at the front.
There are too many ideas pasted over one car. The vast, clumsy grille and the hockey stick belong on some other kind of vehicle. The angular graphics are at odds with the smooth general form.
Is this a committee car, perhaps?
Without a doubt, this is BMW’s first worst design. Previous concept cars have been uninteresting or flawed or often good; this car is quite markedly a black swan for BMW and I’d suggest an urgent re-appraisal where four-fifths of the form on this car were deleted. The car is, at present, “wow” ugly which means that before you have thought about it, you are aware only of aesthetic distress. Disharmony, in short. The Volvo shows how to do large, wide, imposing and do it with style.