Seduce Me With Meringues And Marchpane, Oh Creature Of The Noon

The BMW X2 has managed to attract my attention and it’s not due to the colour.

2019 BMW X2: source

At BMW’s UK website the firm has a set of features it wishes us to be aware of. “With its athletic shoulder line and gently sloping roof line, the dynamic styling of the BMW X2 has a coupé-like character that will definitely grab attention,” they tell us.

Well, yes but at the same time as they have elected to mess with the Hofmeister kink (it doesn’t really have one), they have added a badge to make up for the diminished clarity of the car’s identity. “For true distinction, the BMW emblem has been repositioned next to the Hofmeister kink on the C pillar. Just another case of breaking the rules.” The old saying goes that you should be able to

True distinction: source

tell what a car is without the badges on. And if the car needs badges its identity is not strong enough. Just another case of breaking the rules. I have to take issue with the notion that the badge has been repositioned. There are still badges on the front and back; this is not a repositioned object but an additional one.

BMW claims this is a combination of X-model cues with a coupé-like profile and you have to admit, it’s not coupé-like at all, not in any meaningful sense. It does have doors, wheels and lights but not the hall-mark of a coupé, a mere two doors. I’d argue that the profile is so generic as to be anonymous.

2019 Hyundai Tucson: source

Above is an equally coupé-like Hyundai Tucson for comparison.

Renault Kadjar (c)

Above is an equally coupé-like Renualt Kadjar for comparison.

Adding to the grief, is the solecism of the X2’s body-coloured cladding making an island surrounded by grey metallic trim at the sill. Isn’t that where you’d most want something rugged like, say, metallic grey trim? It’s analogous to having holes in the middle of your elbow-patches to show off the cloth underneath. How about a beer mat with a hole in the middle?

1999 Honda Prelude. That´s a coupé.

You do have to wonder what is a happening in BMW mansions these days. I have also noticed the addition of trim-level badges behind the front wheel-arches. Together with this “repositioned” roundel, BMW looks to be sliding or under-steering around a swerve in the road to brougham-ism. There is an excuse for C-pillar badges if it offers some information that the

corporate badge does not: the Mercedes S-Class V12 badge was something of a statement; 70s Fords had some entertaining badges anouncing trim-levels too. However, BMW used to be a brand where a) you always knew it was a BMW from the gross form of the car and b) badge-deleting was more the name of the game, so the point there was understatement. This C-pillar

Badge delete.

bauble has more than a whiff of the huge label on a designer t-shirt rather than the telling details inherent to the design. To be fair, it’s not a bad-looking car but it is not at all representative of BMW’s hallmark design cues which are more than flexible enough to be applied to new niches.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

39 thoughts on “Seduce Me With Meringues And Marchpane, Oh Creature Of The Noon”

  1. I hadn’t noticed before, but the Hyundai is a dead ringer for the X2, even down to the unusual wheel arch profile. Regarding the X2, I don’t dislike the D-pillar badges and there is a glorious historical precedent for it:

    (Any excuse to post a picture of one of my favourite cars ever!)

    The sill treatment is really stupid and would annoy me every time I looked at the car. Those hexagonal pressings are entirely superfluous, and a incoherent stylistic flourish. At least you can get the X2 with the whole lot blacked out, which improves matters considerably:

    1. The Hyundai came out first, I think. But with these two box vehicles, it’s hard to be original, which is why no doubt BMW stuck its medallions high up on the C-pillar of this 4 door “coupe” at almost eye level, so that jaded onlookers wouldn’t be confused as to lineage. That’s how generic all these vehicles are.

      Yes, I think the Hyundai looks better at everything except the rear view, and in my market it’s literally 60% of the price. For that you get Blind Spot Warning included, which is unavailable at any price on the X2 which actually needs it – every review goes on about the drastically poor rear visibility and rock hard ride for that matter. But in any case, the X2 is merely a restyle of MINI underpinnings, with BMW PR fluff adding the extra thousands they charge for it. Trouble is, in anything but gold and black, and from may angles, the X2 is a bit dumpy looking in my view.

    2. This is my idea of a reasonably decent-looking practical crossover in the conditions we face around my part of the planet. No fake vents front or rear either.

  2. Hmmm. Thank you for reminding me of the stray roundels. So, yes, BMW has done this silly thing before and now they are doing it again. One could say the 60s and 70s coupes needed some badging as the brand was still getting known. The M1 badges are comedy. Today BMW is a quite well known brand its ID should be in the geometry not the decals. Chiquita bananas have decals for a reason.
    To be fair to BMW, if you can get the car without the daft trim then it´s less of an offense. The moral question is: should designers cater to or pander to customers? If I am being consistent, then, okay, if some want the trim plain and some want it fancy, no harm is done. No great good either (c.f. mock wood trim for car interiors).

    1. I had forgotten where the M1 badges actually came from.

      I think the device makes more sense on Bracq’s 1972 Turbo as an architectural reference, which is almost completely lost in the translation to M1, which makes it appear like a parody.

      Now it occurs to me that Goertz’ integrated the roundel into the side vents of the 508, referenced directly on the millennial Z8, and then echoed on the Z4, neatly incorporating the turn signal repeater and bisected by a slash evoking the bonnet straps of the pre-war 328 as well as a side vent.

      I think what we can learn here was best expressed in the musings of Nigel Tufnel and David St. Hubbins: “It’s such a fine line between stupid and uh… Clever”.

    2. I had always assumed the twin roundels on the rear of the M1 were simply the result of there not being enough depth in the upstand of the “bootlid” to accommodate a single one centrally. You’re never too old to learn something new.

  3. You can add the 507 and Z8 to the list of cars with extra badges on the side. It’s amazing how little historic reference there is in this article… And for what it’s worth: the trim level badges behind the frontwheel arches can be deleted if the customer desires so.

    1. Don’t forget the M1’s spiritual predecessor (engine behind passengers, lateral vents) the 600:

      The Z3 and Z4 had roundels in their front wings, too.
      Never mind the 2002 turbo with mirror image lettering for its model designation on the front spoiler

    2. Guilty as charged, Freerk, but thanks to you and the other human databases we have collecte some historic reference. Do you think though that BMW put the badges there to evoke earlier cars or because without them the side view is too anonymous?

    3. I should have read ahead and not missed your mention Freerk. Dave, thanks for recalling the 600.

      Perhaps we can trace all of these back to motorcycle gas tanks.

  4. BMW is now without RWD and famous six-cylindres. But hey, now you are getting an extralage frontgrill and
    additional badges so it is a lot easier for your neighbour to see why you have paid more for your car than he did.

    But to be honest, i don´t know why these needless BMW extra-badges are bothering me whereas the Maseratis doing the same thing never did. Maybe because they did it with a bit more caution so it did not look like a cheap aftersales part.

    1. Like the Ford C-pillar badge, the Maserati is adding something extra with their side Trident. Perhaps we don´t mind Maserati and Ford doing this because that´s what we expected (past-tense with Ford) and expect (present-tense, Maserati) from those brands. BMW struck a more serious pose. It´s thought provoking that the mainstream brands would probably not do this kind of thing but BMW feels it can. It´s worth pointing out that I respect BMW for a lot of reasons and precisely because I do have regard for the brand that the glued-on roundels are so unwelcome.

  5. The regal looking GXL badge on the Mk1 Ford Granada above was, I suppose, justifiable insofar as it was the topmost trim level available (predating the use of Ghia). However, I wonder what the thinking was behind this flourish on the 1973 facelift of the Mk3 Cortina?

    The “L Decor” moniker, complete with shield and crown, replaced this, rather more unassuming model designation:

    I think Ford was guilty of rather overselling the one-up-from-base trim level with the revised badging, which seems much more American than European, with its “decor” suffix. It struck even the twelve year old me as rather pretentious (although I probably wouldn’t have uttered that word, even if I understood it back then!)

    1. At the time this would have been called OTT. Today I am happy to see it. Is L Decor not a wonderful way to celebrate the extra features this trim level had over whatever was the lesser option.

    2. Haha, Richard, you’re a funny guy!

      ” Luxury” in 1973 probably meant a heated rear window, a dipping interior rear-view mirror and, just possibly, a MW/LW push-button radio.

      Be still my beating heart…

    3. At the time I think L was in fact the basest of the base: there was nothing below it on the Cortina unless there was some fleet market special. As to why the base model should get an L for Luxury, well that’s just badge inflation. L was now the new base so you had to have an Extra Luxury (XL) before you reached the rarefied heights of Grand Extra Luxury (GXL) with its vinyl roof and maybe (be still, my beating heart!) even a radio.

    4. We´re talking the skewed world of trim designations. If we think of serving sizes, you might recall a time when you could get “medium” or “large” servings of fries in McDonald`s. I think there was a “small” serving size option which was droppped. That left “medium” as the smallest size, oddly. Perhaps at one point there was a label for base model which preceded L. So there was, the missing base model letter, the L, then DL and GL and GLX.
      Yet…. the whole thing is based on a cod understanding of French “luxe and “de luxe”. Both mean “luxury” (according to Google. Francophones, can you confirm or otherwise).
      This is why the companies have moved away from obvious trim designations and gone for supposedly equivalent pack with more or fewer options e.g Super, Elite, and Trend lines (I made those up).

    5. There was indeed a named Ford trim level below “L”, albeit one only used on the Fiesta and Escort models. In 1976, Ford resurrected the 1950’s “Popular” model name for a base version of the Mk2 Escort. Here’s what I believe to be an original publicity photo for the Escort Popular:

      Bizarrely, the Escort Popular had blacked out window frames and full chromed hub caps, whereas the L trim model made do with body-coloured window frames and little plastic wheel centre caps. So, Ford spent extra money to make the Popular look cheaper!

      Later, the company added an interim “Popular Plus” trim level. The differences between the three trim levels must have been truly miniscule, to the extent that this defeats even my weapons-grade geekery.

  6. I’ve seen a few of these things on the road before, and were one to ignore the fact that this is a BMW, it’s quite an attractive looking car (eg exactly the same way one would switch off one’s brain when watching a standard Hollywood movie these days). I think it’s ugliest from the front.

    I’m surprised that we’re not talking about how the Hofmeister kink has disappeared. Have any of you seen the four door eight series?

    1. Hello Richard, thanks for the lovely article! Indeed you mentioned about the elusive kinks, what I meant to say was that no one else seemed concerned since this was not talked about further in the comments section. Perhaps the two additional badges on the C-pillar was more polarising to most people!

    2. The corruption/abandonment of the Hofmeister Kink is, I’m afraid, old news. The latest 1 and 3-Series are similarly deficient.

    1. thanks for inserting the images into the page. I believe Maserati (either the Ghibli or four door) made this C-pillar popular in recent times, with other automakers following suit. Correct me if I’m wrong =)

  7. OK, let’s get this out of the way first, Bill, I am with you in the CX-5, and the CX-30 is one of the few other SUVs which I find near acceptable. Notable others are the new Evoque and Volvo XC-40.

    I really don’t like the wretched X2, although the X4 is worse. Like Richard, I really objected to the deceit about ‘repositioning’ the badge – it’s the lie as much as the thing itself which is objectionable. It makes you realise that the company must have a degree of desperation about its new car to have to lie about it thus … over such a silly little thing too.

    Good spot about the new 8 GC sharing a rear pillar with the S60. How’s that when BMW feels the need to pass the nod to Volvo!

  8. “Athletic shoulder line” my ass! That shoulder line is as athletic as the rump of a Kardashian. Seriously, do they get paid to write fluff like that? Do they seriously believe even among themselves what they are writing? Or are they just laughing their asses off before realizing they are truly dead inside?

  9. Calling those “coupes” have been really convincing to a lot of non-enthusiastic people. Manufacturers are clearly bending the meaning of this word, so that they can sell more crossovers, since those offer a greater profit today than persisiting with other, more driving-oriented niches of vehichles, it seems.

    Coupe used to be, in my opinion, a word of higher relevance on the car enthusiast glossary. Sad to see it misused, and even worse, perpetuated by car manufacturers and their in-house designers.

    1. Hello Rafael – thanks for stopping by. Why not call them sports coupés and go the whole hog.
      Ingvar – I am not very familiar with Ms Kardashian´s physique but such is her pervasive presence of the mass media I have at least been exposed to images in passing. Is the Kardashian rump just big or is it toned? I thought it was toned.

    2. “Why not call them sports coupés…?”

      Hasn’t that ship already sailed? They are called “SUV Coupés” and that’s what the “S” in SUV allegedly stands for. Here’s an example of an SUV:

      Ah yes, all the sporting intent of a wardrobe…

  10. I think this is also a “coupe”.

    I saw a similar one parked in my neighborhood, next to a Yaris. It was at least 10cm shorter…the OPEL I mean!

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