Take a closer look, walk round it a couple of times and you’re bound to notice the unmistakable hand of Chris Bangle. The look of the new 1-Series is indisputably BMW: for all those sharp angles and ribs, it’s slightly less sharp-edged than other models and boasts the minimal glazing that is very much in the Bangle design tradition.
Half way between a coupè and an estate car, it evokes vague memories of the Z3 coupè, with the same slightly less aggressive tail, longer bonnet, minimal overhangs and steeply raked windscreen. Even so, the new BMW baby delivers a personality that is all its own.
A personality and a role examined by Auto & Design in two separate articles that analyse the car and interview its creator, Chris Bangle, on the state of play in the current BMW range as a whole and on the design revolution that is now well under way, often questioned by critics, but validated by an unending series of market triumphs.
Asked to sum up the present and future of BMW design, Bangle responds with the utmost clarity: “The current trend in BMW design is not just a question of styling, but covers a whole range of aspects that may be grouped under three main headings. First and foremost there is Differentiation. We no longer contemplate a single uniform shape and look that can be stretched or shrunk to fit all the models in our range. Secondly, those differentiated designs are modulated by the specific vehicle’s overall approach, whether it be informally dynamic like the Z4 Roadster or formally dynamic like the 6-Series Coupè or the 7-Series. Thirdly, we achieve our aims either by playing around with the surfaces, on a compact like the 1-Series or by carefully balancing its masses, on bigger models like the 7-Series”.
The article continues in Auto & Design no. 148