BMW brand chief designer Adrian van Hooydonk doesn’t object to the term “polarizing” when referring to the controversial designs of BMWs.
“All our designs have polarized the market in a way that have sold better than the previous model,” he says. “That’s a good way of polarizing the market.”
But words like “conservative” and “radical” aren’t part of his vocabulary. And many observers feel the new 3 series design looks more conservative than the
7 series, 6 series, 5 series and the Z4 that preceded it. Some thought they looked radical when they debuted.
“Those are not words used by our designers,” he says. “They always try to find new shapes. The words radical and conservative – nobody is trying to do that.”
But the 3 series arrives without the opinion-dividing “Bangle butt” that characterized the 7 series and 6 series, a reference to BMW group chief designer Chris Bangle and to the prominent trunk lids of those cars.
The distinctive convex and concave “flame surfacing” pioneered by the 7 series is present on the new 3 series, but more subdued than other BMW sedans.
Leap into the future
It’s a natural evolution of the 3 series design but a leap into the future at the same time, van Hooydonk says: “The silhouette remains, but the surfaces are now more sculptural.”
Inside the car, BMW offers a simplified version of the iDrive system, which has been criticized often on other models. BMW has announced that new versions of iDrive will feature some “hard buttons” to enable vehicle occupants to switch back and forth between functions such as the radio and CD player without having to use the iDrive menu.
Helmut Panke, BMW CEO, said the use of iDrive-style systems by other manufacturers vindicates BMW’s approach.
He cited the next-generation Mercedes-Benz S class, arriving in September.
Panke said: “The approach of not offering an extra hard key for every function will be central in the future.”