Currently reading: BMW promises more distinct styling for next-gen models
New versions of the 1, 3, 5 and 7-series will looks more visually different say officials, as BMW plans to evolve its design language
Julian Rendell
2 mins read
24 October 2014

Following the launch of the upcoming BMW M2 in 2015, the firm's designers and engineers will focus their attention on creating the next generation of mainstream models.

The firm plans to evolve the design language of its 1-, 3-, 5- and 7-series models in their next generations to create more visual differentiation between models.

“We want each and every model to have its own little world. We think that’s important in a market where we sell two million cars [BMW, Mini, Rolls-Royce] this year,” said Karim Habib, BMW brand design director.

“We need to maintain exclusivity, and if anything we will make them more separate,” he added.

BMW’s core model range of 1-, 3-, 5- and 7-series models have styling that has developed to give each one a distinct identity, a trend started in the late 1990s under Chris Bangle after BMW was criticised for making small, medium and large versions of the same car.

Today the 3-series, for example, has crisp-edged styling, whereas the 5-series has a softer look.

“Whatever we do must be authentic design, which represents the inner qualities of the car,” said Habib.

“Why edges? With edges you express precision and the 3-series drives crisply, with precision. But the 5-series is a bit more about elegance, with more volume in the surfaces,” he added.

Habib said BMW can use new headlamp technology, particularly that involving high intensity LED lamps, to give each of the saloon cars a more different and individual front-end graphic to build around its hallmark double-kidney grille.

BMW will shortly launch a new flagship 7-series, which is likely to employ slim LED headlamps as its price point can justify making use of the pricey technology.

Slim headlamps would enable Habib and his team to design the next 7-series around a much larger double-kidney grille with a greater road presence.

The price point of the 3-series, however, can’t yet justify purely LED lighting, so the design would need to incorporate conventional technology headlamps.

Depending on how the cost of LED technology develops the 5-series, due for launch in 2016, could go either way. “The LED tipping point is pretty much here,” said Habib.

Get the latest car news, reviews and galleries from Autocar direct to your inbox every week. Enter your email address below:


Find an Autocar review

Read our review

Car review
BMW 1 Series review hero front

A final facelift for the rear-wheel drive BMW 1 Series, as it aims to take class honours from the formidable Audi A3 and the Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Back to top

24 October 2014
The current 3 series is indistinguishable from the previous model, except for slightly different shaped headlights.

When are they actually going to *design* a new model, rather than just rehash the old one with different lights a la MINI?

(Then, when Honda/Toyota/Lexus brings out an attractive new model, the German biased motoring media have the nerve to call them "boring"????)

25 October 2014
Sorry sirwiggum, I don't agree. I'm biased because I have a 3 series, but I didn't buy the old one purely because of the styling (it wasn't conservative, it was just bland and had a whiff of Mk1 Primera/Mitsibushi Carisma about it).

The new 3 has a much better defined front end, lower nose/higher bonnet for crash legislation, very different headlamps and grille. Side surfaces are much more interesting and look "solid", although I'd agree the rear end is a little bland.

The F10 5 series I had before was very elegant in my eyes, but I prefer conservative to fashionable, so that's clearly my taste.

I've had numerous Audi's over the years, and they really do need to move their styling game on though. I don't mind the current styling, but this look has been around so long that I'm just bored of it.

If I discount (no pun intended) the non-premium brands due to depreciation as I buy with my own cash, then you're left with....

Audi - In a styling vacuum at the moment, where they're still good looking, but this styling phase has been around too long now.

BMW - I like most of the current range (1 series nice apart from the front). 7 series tired, but due to be replaced. They seem to be in the right place for new models coming along where the styling will change without getting stale unlike Audi.

Lexus - Styling too fussy for me, and where are the diesel engines? I don't want a hybrid as the economy cannot match a diesel.

Honda - I'm a car buff and I struggle to remember what their saloons look like. Never tried a diesel one, but hated their petrol engines as a road car (I don't want to have to wring my daily car out).

Mercedes - The new C class looks nice, the other models have awkward styling.

Toyota - Have you driven an Avensis? I had a loan car earlier this year, and it looked OK inside and out without being particularly attractive. However it ranks alongside the current Corsa as being utterly miserable to drive - steering, suspension, gearbox, and engine all way below par for the class - not bad cars, but when you know there's better why would you choose these?

24 October 2014
Apart from the i3 and i8, BMW styling is utterly bereft of any imagination, as seems to be the German manufacturer's norm. They have saloon, coupe, estate and suv basic designs and just scale them up and down using a pantograph, or so it seems.

24 October 2014
Putting aside the i models, the only BMW which looks any different to the rest is the 1-Series. However, if AE are to be believed, the next 1 series will look more like the 3-Series.... And is this guy really saying that there are significant differences between the look of the 3-Series and 5-Series?
I'm glad to hear BMW are going to use modern lighting technology and fit slimmer headlight units, though, and I hope other manufacturers (Mercedes in particular) will take note. In fact BMW's own MINI should think about these things, too. The light units, especially at the rear, on the latest models are ridiculously oversized and just look cheap.

24 October 2014
Bring back Chris Bangle.

24 October 2014
It may not be the most exciting, but I like the styling of the 3 series and in particular the 5 series and 6 series gran coupe. They are understated but purposeful and elegant. The 1 series needs a lot of help though.

24 October 2014
Please lose all those horrible creases, the Bangle problem, to achieve a more adult look. The ninja style wheels and the X-box game body style is so childish.
You start off with the basic model made out of soap and leave it in the bath for ten minutes, simple.

25 October 2014
Current BMW styling manages to look bland from a distance and incredibly fussy close up - surely a rare "achievement"

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review