Whisper, don’t Shout

The author attempts to explain his violently opposed reactions to the design of the 2020 Rolls-Royce Ghost and 2022 BMW 7 Series.

In a comment appended to a recent piece on DTW, a reader asked me to elaborate on why I thought that the Rolls-Royce Ghost works as a design, whereas the latest BMW 7 Series* simply doesn’t. It is a good question, and one I have been pondering. In what follows, I will attempt to explain my thoughts. As ever, I should begin with the caveat that, while there are well understood principles of good design, I have no formal training in that field. Hence, my observations are simply those of an enthusiastic amateur, no more or less valid than any others, so I am very happy to be challenged on anything that follows.

Cars like these, being large and expensive, should offer designers maximum freedom to achieve a result that is as close to perfection as possible, with minimal compromises made, either to cost or engineering expediency. It follows that a pragmatic and less than ideal resolution of a particular detail that might be tolerable on, say, a B-segment supermini, has no place on cars such as these.

Let’s begin by comparing some of those details of each design. The first thing that catches my eye are the door handles. On the Ghost, they are large, heavy and solid looking, and the ‘coach’ door arrangement allows them to form a single strong and confident unit embellishing the flanks of the car. On the BMW, they are small and apologetic, with nasty looking black inserts at their centre that look like holes from a distance. In terms of functionality, which handle would work better in the hands of a doorman at the Dorchester in London or the Hôtel de Paris in Monte Carlo? Arguments about the finer points of aerodynamic efficiency are hardly relevant on cars such as these.

Image: ourautoexpert.com

The next detail I notice is the arc of brightwork that forms the upper DLO line. On the Ghost, it is attached to the car’s cant rail, so it forms a single unbroken sweep from front to rear. On the BMW, it is attached to the door frames, so has breaks above the B-pillar and rear quarter-window. A small detail, perhaps, but one that is better resolved on the Ghost.

Take a look at the rear quarter-window treatment. On the Ghost, the quarter-window is part of the C/D-pillar structure, and the visible area of glass follows the outline of the window closely. On the BMW, the quarter window is part of the rear door and is heavily blacked-out along its trailing edge to cover the frame, which looks rather heavy-handed to my eyes, and is potentially claustrophobic for those sitting in the rear of the car.

Image: hotcars.com

Looking lower down on the flanks, the BMW appears to have sill extensions that are garnished with a strip of brightwork featuring little flourishes at either end, a downward facing ‘flag’ at the front and upward facing one at the rear. The sills also appear to be punctuated with either fixings (surely not?) or side parking sensors (why?)

All of this visual clutter unnecessarily draws the eye down to sill level. A consequence of this is that the flanks look excessively deep, making the DLO look rather squat, like a military gun turret. The Ghost is mercifully free of any lower-body garnishes, and the better for it because its side profile looks much better balanced, even though the ratio of the depth of glass to metal is little different to that on the BMW.

Turning to the front of the car, the BMW features the now ubiquitous ‘nose-cone’ treatment, and this results in the usual problem of creating awkward panel-gaps and additional shut-lines across the front end. Most grievous is the panel-gap between the front wing and nose-cone, which is broken by the trailing edge of the headlamp and changes direction sharply at this point. Apart from dead-front, there is no viewing angle that makes this panel-gap look less than uncomfortable.

Image: press.bmwgroup.com

BMW’s traditional double-kidney grille is now conjoined, three-dimensional and heavily ornamented. It too low on the front-end to add any grace or presence and gives the car a beetle-browed appearance. It is interesting that, while Rolls-Royce has progressively reduced the height and prominence of its grille, no doubt to help comply with pedestrian safety regulations and improve aerodynamic performance, BMW has moved in precisely the opposite direction, making it ever larger and more demanding of attention. It is now far too shouty and vulgar and looks ridiculously out of scale with those (too?) slim headlamps, leaving a large area below and either side of the grille to fill with sundry vents and scoops. Consequently, the front end looks busy, tall and narrow.

In contrast, the Ghost is understated, elegant and neatly resolved, although now slightly less so than the near-perfect 2010 model.

Image: press.rolls-roycemotorcars.com

Turning to the rear of the cars, the Ghost is simple and elegant. The tail light units are completely surrounded by the rear quarter bodywork, which, together with the strong shoulder lines, give it a hewn-from-solid quality. The boot lid shut-lines flow down gracefully from the corners of the rear window. That said, I do not especially like the long, horizontal panel-gap between the bumper and rear quarter panel, which starts behind the rear wheel arch. The 2010 Ghost was more neatly resolved in this regard.

Image: evo.co.uk

The BMW’s rear-end comprises a series of multi-layered horizontal elements of varying depths. Again, there is a garnish of bright metal along the bottom edge of the rear valance, drawing unwelcome attention to the depth of the tail and leaving it looking rather tall, narrow, round-shouldered and bottom-heavy. This is a surprising observation to find oneself making about such a large car.

Image: forbes.com

In summary, I think the BMW is simply trying too hard to get attention, appearing rather vulgar and arriviste in comparison with the Ghost, which seems somehow much more comfortable in its own skin and at ease with its position in the automotive hierarchy.

It’s not all good news for the denizens of Goodwood, however: undertaking this analysis has reminded me that the 2020 Ghost is a little fussier and less well resolved than its sublime 2010 predecessor, a criticism I would also level at the latest Phantom.

Just for my own (and, I hope, your) amusement, I spent a while trying to make the BMW a bit less confrontational looking and malproportioned. Here is what I came up with, in each case with the original image for comparison:

Image: the author

At the front, the depth of the kidney grille is reduced. It is now separated into two parts by a vertical strip of bodywork and is detailed much more simply. This allows the number plate to be raised to a more ‘natural’ position. The air intake in the lower valance is shallower and black paint is used to disguise the depth of the valance. Additional driving lights are now fitted in the black holes beneath the headlamps. These changes are intended to reduce the visual height of the nose and make it simpler and cleaner looking.

Image: the author

Changes to the sides are limited to simpler body-coloured door handles, removal of the brightwork trim along the sills and painting the sills black to reduce the apparent depth of the lower bodysides.

Image: the author

The revised rear end features deeper tail lights and removal of the stepped element below them. The brightwork at the bottom edge of the valance is deleted and the lower part of the valance painted black, again to reduce the apparent height of the tail.

I’ll leave others to judge whether or not I have improved matters. In any event, the thinking behind the BMW’s design as it currently stands is just lost on me. Happily, I’m not now and will never be in the market for such a car. It is clearly not intended for the likes of me.

* Photos are of the i7 variant.

Author: Daniel O'Callaghan

Shut-line obsessive...Hates rudeness, loves biscuits.

77 thoughts on “Whisper, don’t Shout”

  1. Truly a case of Andrea Del Sarto’s great aphorism, ‘Less is more’. The competing quote ‘Less is a bore’ by Robert Venturi revealed to be as shallow and vapid as much of the post modern architecture it was excusing.

  2. Good morning, Daniel. I agree that the i7 doesn’t work as a design. Having said that this car is deliberately designed to draw attention to itself, as that is what the Chinese markets prefer. Not my words but a quote from a BMW official.

    I don’t think you have actually seen the i7 in person. The sundry vents and scoops are actually lights.

    Another reason why I think you haven’t seen the i7 in the metal is the door handles. I don’t think the door handles are small at all. I also disagree with aerodynamics not being relevant on a car like the i7. They are. Every manufacturer is trying to squeeze out the last bit of range on their electric offering.

    You don’t have to have the brightwork on the sills. In case you opt for the M-package. It’s hardly an improvement, but I would have expected this in your review. The fixings are probably there because the doors can open electrically and that’s where the sensors are hidden. Yes, BMW did a better job with the Rolls here.

    I suffer from claustrophobia, but I didn’t feel it in the i7. Not in the front or back, that is as long as the cinema screen in the back isn’t used. When it comes down, I feel to close to it, which is a bit uncomfortable, but I don’t have a better solution.

    I think your photoshop made the front better, but I still wouldn’t chose the stacked headlights. The side looks better, but you left the silly shut line in place in the front. Also this car needs better wheels. You cleaned up the back, but it still looks fat.

    I’d rather have an E38.

  3. Thank you for your design analysis of the new 7, Daniel.
    Your Photoshop amendments definitely are an improvement on the bulky, brash and stylistically uncouth original- although it still wouldn’t tempt me to sign below the dotted line (not that I am in the financial position to do so 🙂 )
    As for your changes to the front end- there are a lot of factors to consider here besides looks. Not only aesthetics but also aerodynamics, cooling, manufacturing costs and certain legal requirements. In terms of aerodynamics, apparently even a tiny change can make a big difference. An example is another BMW, the E38 7 series; the fog lamps below the bumper on each side of the car are slightly smaller on the Diesel powered versions than they are on the Petrol fed ones. Considering the extra costs involved in this, the cooling benefit must have been important enough:

    By the way, doesn’t the E38 painfully expose what has been lost at BMW for many years now?

    1. Which makes me wonder why they didn’t use the diesel fog lamps (as it were) across all models.

    2. The first diesel variant was introduced years after the initial petrol-powered models. I assume that the diesel version was not part of the initial engineering & design brief (remember that work on E38 in earnest began in ’88).

  4. Daniel, thanks for a quick and concise analysis. Apart from the “grille issue” I think we can diagnose the 7er illness as a case of clutter, too much of it.

    Also Freerk’s comment made me think that BMW’s designers and management board aren’t so inept or lacking of taste as we frequently and quickly thought them to be. They are simply playing for a different audience – China.

    1. That’s where these cars sell in the biggest numbers. It does make business sense in that way.

  5. The Ghost is a far better resolved design but then it could be argued that the design has less heavy lifting to do than BMW require from a 7 Series.

    Rolls-Royce require the design to exude understated power and priviledge, it doesn’t need to grab your attention because, well, it’s a massive Rolls-Royce. It already has it. As such they focus on making the details exude confidence and quality.

    BMW need the 7 to say “here I am! Me too! Me too!” It can’t just rely on it’s mere existence and brand recognition at that level. It looks like someone in a M&S suit and garish bow tie next to a man wearing something from Saville row. But at least you looked.

    That so many areas of the design are so poorly resolved is no great surprise given BMWs general output. Even if they wanted to ditch the disfiguring grill they can’t because someone somewhere with undiagnoised cataracts (or perhaps a mole from another manufacturer) has decided to use it on everything, so they are stuck with it.

    Once the heightening effects of the front and rear views were pointed out they kind of made sense. It makes it look more like a crossover, and they sell very well. So maybe that is quite deliberate.

    Good work on the revised images. They do improve the vehicle.

  6. I guess the general idea is that, since about half a dozen years ago, China is the biggest market.

    More so to premium and semi premium brands.

    So, cars are progressivelly designed to their tastes, not european ones.

    Why european and chinese visual perceptions are so different is intriguing and shows the diferences between cultures regarding the meaning of a given form/ shape / detail on the individual/ colective subconscious level.

    That is ‘phenomenology of perception’, I guess, and I never quite understood it.

    So, Daniel, you never had a chance… …though I do agree with your criticism AND with your design improvement proposals 🙂

    Simply, new cars are no longer for us, I’m affraid

    1. As BMW have for many years now produced extended wheelbase models of the 3 series upwards for the Chinese market, involving so many more bodywork pressing changes and costs, why can’t they also have one nose cone for the Chinese, and maybe US, market and a less abhorrent one for elsewhere?

    2. It´s delightful to see a discussion bringing up the term phenomenology.

      “Why european and chinese visual perceptions are so different is intriguing and shows the diferences between cultures regarding the meaning of a given form/ shape / detail on the individual/ colective subconscious level.

      That is ‘phenomenology of perception’, I guess, and I never quite understood it.”

  7. Good morning all and thank you for your comments.

    Freerk, you’re right, I haven’t seen the new 7 Series in the metal, so I didn’t realise that those ‘black holes’ contained lights. This raises the question as to why BMW has made the lenses so dark that the lights are invisible when turned off, creating those ‘black holes’. I was aware of the de-chromed M version, but that loses all the brightwork and looks far too ‘gangsta’ for my taste. Regarding the door handles, again it’s the ‘black holes’ rather than the size that bothers me most. I deliberately didn’t touch that awkward shut-line between the wing and the nose because to fix it properly would require getting rid of the nose-cone altogether.

    Bruno, that’s a valid point about cooling but the existing grille looks to be largely blanked off, suggesting that the heavy lifting as far as engine cooling is concerned is done by the wide grille in the front valance.

    And yes, I too would far prefer an E38:

  8. I like your work in the BMW, however I think the extreme appearance of the current car simply allows the maker to produce facelifts easier down the line, as it’s hard to imagine the car getting worse. Your revisions are probably BMW’s end game in around 2027. As to the RR it’s far too ordinary looking. That grille looks silly and the side profile is ruined by that C pillar arrangement. It could be an Audi. And on that note I would suggest that Bentley as usual is a nicer choice.

    1. “…it’s hard to imagine the car getting worse.”

      Chapeau, Simon, this has to be the quote of the week!

      As far as I can see, the primary function of each new BMW is to make us realise that its predecessor wasn’t so bad after all! Take a look at the 2015 G11-generation 7 Series (in its original small grille form) to see what I mean:

      It now looks like the epitome of restraint in comparison with the latest offering.

    2. Have you seen the current Ghost in the metal yet? It’s a beautifully balanced design and doesn’t look remotely like an Audi.

  9. In the piece I mentioned that I thought the 2010 Ghost was even better resolved than the 2020 model. Here it is:

    Perfectly simple, simply perfect.

    1. Is it though? Did they really have to muck around with the shape of the classic Rolls Royce radiator grille? As seen on the Silver Shadow, Silver Spirit, Camargue and Seraph. Why do the vertical vanes have to be recessed?, is it an attempt to compensate for flush mounting the grille into the fascia, as if it’s some sort of 2D graphic device? Why go away from the approach of a fully formed 3D symbol, handmade with entasis and proportions and all those other things that thousands of column inches have discussed over the last hundred years. Why give all that up for a second rate rounded corner monstrosity that looks like it’s been pressed out of thin aluminium like a heater surround or a tin plate toy. Even Lincoln or the Chinese makes could do better.

    2. Hi David. Much as I like the Silver Shadow, I try to avoid the “they don’t make ’em like they used to” mindset in analysing current designs. I imagine there are compelling passenger and pedestrian safety requirements that dictated Rolls-Royce’s move away from the formality of the Silver Shadow’s front end. The only fair comparison for the 7 series is with another current and similarly sized car in the same market segment.

    3. I agree with you Daniel that the 2010 version is much better than the current car – it’s far more original and distinctive in the way it interprets core RR features and details such as the grille, lights and looks tauter and much smaller. The current car could be a Toyota Century

    4. Oi! The Toyota Century is a fantastic machine! By all means, it is very, very Japanese, true. But this is not at all wrong in my book. Shame they keep them for themselves.

    5. Hi onemoretime, I completely agree with you and I am a fan of the Century too, I just think a Royce should look like a Royce, not like a Toyota, however wonderful that Toyota may be. That is all.

    6. The integrated Parthenon grille was applied in order to underline that Ghost wasn’t merely some shrunken Phantom, but a less formal, somewhat more athletic choice for the driver-owner. Accordingly, the grille introduced on the two-door Phantom derivatives was included in Ghost’s design.

      Of course, that visual hierarchy has since become obsolete, as the entire RR range features integrated grille designs of some sort.

  10. Might I add the 7 series or i7 comes in one size. There no longer is an L-version. This is the only version we get, which is, if I recall correctly, larger than the previous L-version. The business cases for a smaller version simply wasn’t there, according to the same BMW official I mentioned in my first comment.

    1. It’s a 5.4m car these days. Clearly, this is no product aimed at the European market at all.

  11. Couldn’t agree more with the general conclusion of the article.
    To put it bluntly: The Rolls seems to emulate the Lancia Flaminia Berlina from 1957, while the BMW seems like a tarted up Skoda Superb of the second generation!😏

  12. Thank you for a great analysis Daniel. I’m new here, I discovered DTW earlier this year and look forward to reading each morning.

    Looking at the released sketches for the i7 (albeit realising many of these were created after the fact for publicity purposes), they all show the brightwork around the DLO unbroken, with no shutlines. The broken version on the production car smacks of something that looked great in a sketch but was either not fully considered at concept stage, or compromised at a later stage of development.

    Regarding Chinese markets preferring more ostentation, is that the whole story, or is it more and more just something that European manufacturers claim? Many Chinese marques are now producing concept and production cars which are much cleaner and more cohesive than the i7. The NIO ET7, XPeng P7 and GAC Time concept spring to mind. Design Field Trip had an interesting article in May of this year questioning whether European manufacturers were pushing the big grilles in order to display their “heritage” credentials, and even using “the Chinese market demands it” as an excuse for their continuing design aberrations.

    Thanks again for such a fantastic ongoing resource, I could become lost in the DTW archive for days.

    1. Hi Ceri. Thank you for your kind words and welcome to DTW. We’re delighted to hear that you enjoy what we do here.

      I think there’s certainly something in what you say about perception vs reality in Chinese market tastes. Only yesterday i spotted this, the new MG7:

      I think it’s a great looking car, and no gargoyles either!

    2. Ceri: that’s the comment I wanted to make, thank you! I probably read that at Design Field Trip as well, to be fair. At the very least, Chinese tastes are more varied than the European brands let on (at least the ones using the “we’re building it for China” excuse, Peugeot et al seem a lot less keen on that phrase). Many of the “howlers” we’ve seen were simply because of a lack of experience or available materials/technologies. In a similar vein, some “interesting” cars were produced in South America, as well as some very nice ones. I’m still quite keen in this Renault from Argentina:

      Like many parts of society, BMW gives off vibes of being in some deep psychosis, talking about conventional notions of beauty being outdated in this new age and similar. That’s willfully deceiving yourself, or at least that’s how it reads to me. You can certainly get new perspectives on beauty, but the fundamentals stay the same.

      Obviously, the double stacked headlights of the 7 are meant to make the thing look truly premium:

      Daniel: that MG’s a fine car, apart from the front, which looks a bit “gape-ey” to me. Your Photoshops improve the car as far as I’m concerned, especially the sides, although the whole thing remains a bit ungainly.

    3. Tom V: That Renault is lovely, I’ve never seen it before.

      As for BMW, their designs have appeared somewhat directionless for a good while now. I’m not a fan of many designs from the Bangle years but at least there was a semblance of purpose to what they were doing (i.e. breaking the rules wide open). But once there are no rules there’s always the question of what to do next…

      Daniel: Thanks for the warm welcome. The grille on the MG is maybe a bit much (perhaps the low angle shot doesn’t help), but the design is pretty sleek, cohesive and, from what I can tell, well resolved. How about an article covering some of these nicer Chinese cars in the future? (realise I’ve only just got here so it’s probably a bit rich of me to be suggesting new articles already!)

    4. Hi Ceri, that Renault has a complicated history: it was originally built by AMC (American Motors) and based on the Rambler American. When, after a few permutations, Renault finally bought the operation to form their Argentinian outpost, they continued building it. It was the last rear-wheel-drive Renault branded car for a long time (specialty projects like the 5 turbo aside).

      Here’s more on the Torino (amongst other things):




      About the lack of direction in car design: it’s pretty clear to me that manufacturers are (justifiably) highly uncertain about the future, what with new technologies and regulations all up in the air. That impacts their design.

  13. I’m surprised no-one’s picked up on how similar the split front lighting arrangement on this 7-series is to the Citroën C4 Picasso or C4 Cactus. It’s practically identical.

    I think the question of what a BMW 7-series should be has always been a difficult one because BMW are renowned for their compact and mid-range sporting saloons. At least they used to be before the nonsense of the past few years. The 7-series was too big to be properly sporty and could never compete with an S-Class, Rolls or Bentley on luxury and sheer presence.

    I’m going to go against the DTW grain here and state that although it’s beautifully restrained compared to the monstrosity presented today, the E38 suffers for looking like an enlarged 3-Series. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class never used to look like an upscaled smaller model. The W126 and W140 were clearly in a class of their own.

    1. The W126 clearly looks more like a W201 than an E38 looks like an E36 or E46. I don’t see that as a problem, though. I don’t think an E38 was meant to compete with a Bentley or Rolls either. The W140 outsold the E38 (406,710 excluding the coupe against 340,242, roughly a 6 to 5 ratio), so I think BMW did well with the E38.

      I would agree that the W140 is unlike any other Benz, just as well, as it was fugly back then. I have to admit it has grown on me, but only very little. I wonder too where they have all gone too. I see a W126 or E38 more often than the W140.

  14. I think one thing that’s come out of the discussion here is that designers are actually more constrained when creating luxury vehicles than one might imagine at first. Granted, it’s possible to charge the plutocrat for more expensive fittings and solutions than the hard-pressed buyer of a base model Gol or Palio. But with that freedom arguably comes greater, or at least different, constraints: the buyers have heightened expectations, and one of those expectations is that their transport should reflect their sense of aesthetics.

    My other thought is that it’s possible too that European manufacturers are struggling to understand Asian markets’ sense of design right now, and in their efforts to do so are producing cars that imitate what they believe to be Chinese preferences in form and line without actually capturing them. The result being vehicles which look ugly to European eyes, and quite possibly don’t quite right to Chinese buyers either. This would be analogous to some of the early export output of the Korean and Japanese industries, which were sincerely aimed at export, but looked a little “off” outside their home market. Whether BMW et. al. can learn as fast as Toyota or Hyundai did is an open question.

    I’d be interested to hear the views of someone who has formal education in design on this…

  15. Obviously the Chinese market remains hugely important to high-end manufacturers, but they surely still want to sell their cars to Western countries. My question is, although Eastern requirements might dictate the architecture, if they really found that their ‘challenging’ styling was affecting sales, BMW and others would surely stump up for some different trim and a subtler Euro/US market nosecone for some of their products, but they don’t. So might it be that the ‘pandering to Asian markets’ case is overstated and that the majority of Western buyers are just like Eastern ones, and either don’t notice or even (if secretly) rather like the styling? And if so, should we not consider that we are actually wrong?

    1. Hi Bristow. You make a valid point. BMW, like any corporate entity, exists to maximise shareholder value and it’s fair to assume those running the business know what they are doing, since it seems to be doing pretty well. Hence, the styling of the 7 Series, which seems to be wilfully repellent, at least to Western eyes, is all the more mystifying.

      DTW is a broad and liberal church and we would welcome a counterpoint in defence of the new 7 Series. Should any of our readers wish to make the case for the defence, I would very much appreciate reading it. As you say, I may simply be wrong in my analysis (and not for the first time!)

  16. Daniel,

    To add to Mr Walker’s comment about less is more.

    The author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote: “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

    1. Perfectly put, Dale, and it certainly applies to automotive design, IMHO.

    2. I believe that’s the approach the Fine Young Cannibals took in their recordings, removing any excess until what was left was very stripped down.

  17. I guess what b0thers me about European as well as North American auto manufacturers changing their entire design aesthetic to supposedly conform to what the Chinese market “wants”…were their products not popular in China with their historically more subdued styling? Did the Chinese not covet an Audi or Mercedes or BMW because of their German design restraint versus some of the insane homegrown Chinese cars being foisted on the market? I would have assumed what made the premium marques desirable wasn’t the fact that a 7-series bears a resemblance to a Citroen front end now, but that BMWs (and Mercedes) were built on a heritage of design consistency. Now they’ve seemed to throw the baby out with the bathwater in a rush to appease what is claimed to be wanted but are losing that link to what made them desirable in the first place.

  18. Hi Daniel, I had my own stab at the 7, but my alterations are extensive (and expensive): I’ve lowered the entire nose, made the KIA tigernose grille – sorry: kidneys a little lower and gave it single headlights. I was under the same misapprehension as you, so I only used the “eyebrows”, but I widened them to make them large enough for true headlights. I also followed you in making the sides less fussy, though body coloured this time. I left the rear alone. The result is quite a different car, so it’s more amusing than educational, but still.

    1. Hi Tom. The plainer flanks, even with body-coloured sills, are certainly an improvement. I like your smoother front end too.

      I wonder if it might be feasible to make the nose cone and front wings in one large, single moulding, eliminating those troublesome panel gaps? I suppose the repair costs after even a minor prang would be prohibitive.

    2. Thanks Daniel, it’s a completely different car like this. Plutocrats don’t care about such costs, surely? 😁 I think it’d be better if they just let the bonnet run all the way to the grille. That way you can have more traditional shutlines.

    3. Agreed, Tom. I can’t think of any ‘nosecone’ design I really like.

      The plutocrats might not worry about repair costs, but insurance companies would take fright and the cost accountants that control company car schemes would strike it off the lists for that reason alone.

  19. Why the bayerische mot.werke new style of radiator slots are somehow rectangular looking? The older style with rounded edges wasn’t attractive? After all this was the marque statement.

  20. Very small headlights Vs a larger grille opening. Unusual door handles. Why not use black mirrors? The back door window kink is not rounded as we would traditionally expect.

    1. Hi Giorgos. “If you can’t improve something, change it anyway to justify your job.” is a mantra underpinning much economic activity, sadly.

  21. One of the problems one faces when trying to correct what one perceives as faults with any automotive design is, if you do too much to it, you end up with a completely different car that loses the character of the original. Readers might remember that, early this year, I played endlessly with the E65-generation 7 Series and ended up with a plausible Honda Legend!

    This time I wanted the car still to resemble the original quite closely and be instantly recognisable as such, even though there remain elements I dislike, such as the garish bright trim forming the Hofmeister Kink on the C-pillar.

    1. Daniel, despite your best Photoshop efforts (and your skills are quite impressive, no doubt!) you seem to have simply un-facelifted the E65, returning it to the original car while removing the bootlid lamps and a crease or two!

      Yes, it might seem heretical or even hypocritical, but I find the rear of the prefacelift E65 to be at least intriguing and curious; I finally see what Hooydonk/Bangle wanted to imply having the bootlid ‘obscuring’ the main taillight with that curved, sweeping trunk shutline. Tying in the fog lights (?) on the bootlid with the reverse lights and license plate surround gives it a pleasingly industrial quality while evoking the ‘L’ shape taillamps BMW are so known for. Is it just the new one being so bland and ugly, or is the E65 really seeming more and more of a true BMW?

    2. “…you seem to have simply un-facelifted the E65, returning it to the original car while removing the bootlid lamps and a crease or two!”

      Ouch, that’s a bit harsh, Alexander! I spent ages smoothing out all those creases…😁

    3. Hah! No intention of diminishing your efforts, I love the tweaks you manage to produce.

      As an aside, this comparison picture of the generations of 7er in the rear actually makes me prefer the E65 to the F01…have I gone mad? The rounded shape and smaller size imply better continuity with the E38 where the F01 taillight goes its own path with an odd little ‘joggle’ before turning into the ‘L’; it may be a bit more traditional, but it’s not very attractive (to my eyes)!

    4. Alexander, I recall a CB quote where he defends the original E65 rear as “playing with the L” or such, but I can’t find it now.

      However, I hardly understand why it needed defending, after all the impulse engines rightly belong on the saucer section.

    5. May I say that I still prefer the E32 over the rest?
      Maybe that’s because I am old enough to have experienced the E3 which to my eyes lives on in the E32 whereas the newer ones are more related to the fat and clumsy E23.
      Could it be that BMW puts a ribbed black plastic panel between the rear lights of the current contraption?

  22. Hello Daniel

    It was my comment that prompted you to write this piece, so thank you very much for rising to the bait.

    Thanks to your explanation of the Rolls’ styling details I can now appreciate them more (the door handles are wonderful), even if the car as a whole stills screams ‘plutocrat’s luxobarge’ to me.

    I appreciate your criticisms of the BMW’s detailing. I have to say though (sticking my head above the parapet) that I feel that the car is mostly well-proportioned with the exception of excessive front overhang. BUT!!! The nose is simply beyond description! How anyone with an ounce of taste and self-restraint could get into that car with its hideous conk is simply beyond me. I would imagine that ahead of the bonnet’s front shutline the exterior of the car is plastic, so would it have been beyond the wit of BMW to give the car an alternative front end for its non-Chinese markets? Perhaps there is an aftermarket opportunity here…

    Many thanks for a brilliant website, keep up the good work!

    1. Hi Charles. Thank you for your kind words, and your suggestion for this piece, which has initiated an interesting exchange of views. Yes, that front end really is objectionable.

      I seem to recall that an aftermarket supplier was offering a replacement nosecone with a reduced size front grille for the current BMW 4 Series, but I cannot find details of it at the moment.

  23. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this previously on DTW regarding the rear of this new G70 generation of 7er, but its featurelessness and flatness brings to mind the ill-advised C170 facelift that the North Americans got for the Focus instead of the Volvo-codeveloped 2nd gen for the rest of the world.

    To me it’s a bit uncanny how similar they are in employing that horizontal crease to break up what would otherwise be a completely flat bootlid panel and then mounting the license plate on the bumper for no good reason. They even feature similar surfacing in the rear bumper with creases that catch the light and seem to flow nowhere. Most remarkable is that I recall how loud the criticism was for the Focus refresh when it was first released, and all that for a fairly cheap car; how BMW saw fit to commit a similar level of laziness on their new flagship really beggars belief.

    1. One idea comes to mind:
      Observing carefully this article first pics, the A pillar and windscreen seem quite similar on both cars.
      Saw from behind, the rear screens seem almost identical.

      Hipothesis: they are the same car underneath.

      Thesis: the BMW is designed this way to disguise this.

      Sinthesys: BMW is selling the same car in two flavours, a stately one and a garish one, covering all costumer desires.

      (Ok, it’s a very long shot… and I know nothing about hypothesis-thesis-sinthesis 🤣)

  24. Extremely late to the party on this one – and it has to be one of the best ever exchanges on DTW. All the questions I would have asked and a myriad more. Thank you everyone and particularly Daniel for lighting the fuse (your original modifications were excellent).

    A final note of frivolity: the single-piece nose cone idea, dismissed on repair cost grounds, instantly reminded me of General Post Office vans of the late-’40s / early-’50s era (Morris Z & Minor) vans which had front wings made from rubber. A rubber-nosed BMW ? Perhaps not…..

    1. The BMW E63’s (6er with Banglitosis) front wings were made from plastic.

    2. The E92-generation 3 Series Coupé also had plastic front wings. I only know this because one parked locally obviously had a whack, which left it with a tennis-ball sized hole above the nearside wheel arch.

    3. A hand beaten by craftsmen plastic front wing with umpteen layers of hand polished paint.

  25. The point about rubber wings was that they sprang back into shape after impact. Plastic tends to crack and is often as expensive to replace as steel or aluminium. Mind you, they did tend to go a bit floppy with age…. as do most things….

    1. That depends on the type of plastic. Renault made the Clio Williams Mk1’s front wings from ‘self-repair’ plastic because they (richtly?) calclulated that on these cars the front would take a blow every now and then.

  26. Coincidentally, BMW has revealed its new M2 coupé with yet another variation on the ‘twin-kidney’ grille:

    At least the two kidneys are no longer conjoined, but is anyone else seeing more than a hint of Dodge in that front end?

    1. Yes, I see that. Reinforced by the first time ever use of horizontal bars in the twin grilles, instead of the until now, vertical bars.

  27. Tom V

    That’s a much better looker than the original. If you take a little more off the bottom of the kidney grilles and it’d be even better.

  28. Another approach may be to ventilate the radiator exhaust air upwards through the bonnet. This would provide an opening which could be utilised for a stylish grille. There are quite a few race cars and modified cars which use this set-up (minus a styled grille feature). If BMW really must have such a large double kidney grille perhaps they could consider using it this way. It could be both functional and be made to look a lot better than what they’ve done to their cars recently.

  29. One idea comes to mind:
    Observing carefully this article first pics, the A pillar and windscreen seem quite similar on both cars.
    Saw from behind, the rear screens seem almost identical.

    Hipothesis: they are the same car underneath.

    Thesis: the BMW is designed this way to disguise this.

    Sinthesys: BMW is selling the same car in two flavours, a stately one and a garish one, covering all costumer desires.

    (Ok, it’s a very long shot… and I know nothing about hypothesis-thesis-sinthesis 🤣)

  30. One idea comes to mind:
    Observing carefully this article first pics, the A pillar and windscreen seem quite similar on both cars.
    Saw from behind, the rear screens seem almost identical.

    Hipothesis: they are the same car underneath.

    Thesis: the BMW is designed this way to disguise this.

    Sinthesys: BMW is selling the same car in two flavours, a stately one and a garish one, covering all costumer desires.

    (Ok, it’s a very long shot… and I know nothing about hypothesis-thesis-sinthesis

    1. No, the two cars, although they do share many parts are not ‘facelifted’ versions of each other. The Rolls Royce is built on an aluminium spaceframe, less suited to the higher volume production of the BMW, which is a more conventional welded pressed steel monocoque. The parts they share would be mechanical or electrical systems. For example the first Rolls Royce Phantoms with the BMW based V12 use the same coil packs and sparkplugs as E36/46 BMWS. The V12 itself has a similar bock but a different bore and stroke to give the bigger capacity, so a different crankshaft and pistons. Likewise, the ZF transmission is largely the same, but with (more expensive) added features on the RR.

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