For a change this is exactly a single photo for Sunday. And it’s about a BMW. And it involves the humble author descending the sheer face of whatever it is from which one climbs down.
The image (one of three attempts) captures our old friend the BMW 7-series. They aren’t exactly common in north central Aarhus, where I am domiciled, which might be why it snagged my attention. As I stood somewhere recently in central Dublin capturing this car with all the photographic skill I could muster, two others in black rolled by**. The sighting necessitated that I re-evaluated my opinions on the G11/G12.
Without going back and auditing everything I think I’ve written about BMW in recent years, I can sense I have been mostly dissatisfied and critical. Certainly I still consider the current 5-series to be insipid and very much what they might have launched in 2006 if they had not already had something bland on the market at that point.
With some exceptions such as the neat little 1-series coupé, much of BMW’s output has been leaving me cold enough to don a cardigan. Included in that, until the other day, has been the 7 series, disappointing for almost two decades. I have grudgingly come to accept the facelifted Bangle 7 as being alright. But the 2008-2015 model completely passed me by. I had to check it on Wikipedia. Here it is.
I bet you had forgotten it too.
Set against all of that, this sighting of the current 7 made me think. I had to moderate my views. Why?
It’s a term invented by me which relates to the character of the sculpting of the bodywork. A Rover 75 has lots of it and that lends the car much of its visual interest. A Series III Jag has it too. But here’s the Rover:
The surfaces have variable rates of curvature and are not simply arcs; a Citroen XM has no surface richness, by contrast:
The XM has other areas of interest; the panels though are quite flat. Most of those mid to late 80s GM cars had no surface richness and also lacked much else to distinguish them. Here’s a Celebrity.
Trying and failing to achieve surface richness is what makes a Peugeot 208 look so unsettling:
The current BMW 7-series majors on surface richness in a way that fans of older Jaguars should appreciate. The chrome hockey-stick distracts from this terribly because without it the rather subtly elaborated sculpting of the bodyside is much easier to appreciate. The surface richness is also much clearer in reality than in my somewhat low-res images taken from the sorts of distances that might challenge a spy-photographer.
The small undercut that runs through the door handles is the feature which suggests rich surfacing. It is gone by the time it reaches the rear door handle (this is clever, for BMW) and another shadow/hightlight takes over, connected to the front of the car. The lower door has two light-catchers which really did not need the tinsel getting in the way. Don’t look at the previous 7 as by any standard it is astoundingly cack-handed and ham-fisted.
Allied to the other brightwork (the very pleasing DLO) and the good proportions, this 7-series is rather regal. I wish the front end had been styled after earlier 7s though. It’s not that tidy at all. Still, all things considered, it sums up as a much nicer car than I thought it was.
I have to say that because if I like surface richness and this car has it then I have to like the car. And I do now.
It’s a pity for BMW that Volvo do an even better job of the big, imposing saloon though.
**Probably government cars. Ireland’s government has a lot of real estate in the area.