For the best part of the past year, my daily driver has been a BMW 3 Series saloon. It is a fine-looking car for the simple fact that it has nice proportions, no fussy lines and an overall coherence to it. Many a time I have turned for another admiring glance after parking it.
The latest generation of BMW design arrived with the 7 Series a couple of years ago. That car was okay but not pretty, a bit brash in places and not worth an admiring glance back across the car park.
It’s hard to make a big saloon graceful, I’m sure, yet the 7 Series has some elements that look like they don't need to be there, such as the styling feature running along the bottom of the sides and one too many lines at the rear end. Surprisingly (in a good way), that look scaled down nicely to the 5 Series last year. However, we’ve just seen what happens when it's scaled up: the new X7, which is on display at the Frankfurt motor show.
There are many infinitely more design-literate people than me who I’m sure can explain why I’m wrong (not least those from BMW's design department), yet the X7 simply doesn’t look right. The front appears to have two big Rolls-Royce grilles stuck next to each other, with some awkward large holes at the bottom of each side that jar with the angles.
It’s the same on the side: those big vertical stuck-on pieces of brightwork create a right angle, with one stuck along the bottom that is at odds with the heavy creasing in the body sides. Then those odd holes return either side at the rear. It just looks wrong.
Along with the more interesting-looking 8 Series, the new X7 is supposed to be the BMW that allows the brand to play at an even higher price point. BMW might know how to design a £30k saloon, but I’m far from convinced that it can scale up to an SUV that might find itself costing £100k in certain guises.