Sure, it looks familiar. It should; this brilliant design exercise was done seven years ago, and traces of its lines and vestiges of its surfaces have turned up on numerous BMW concept and production models since. lines that were superb on the 2006 Mille Miglia concept car or that seemed not to make any sense in the grotesque (but very important) X Coupé were established by this concept, which BMW has finally made public.
I have no idea whether a flexible fabric surface will ever appear on the lower body exterior of a production car, although literally millions of convertibles have been perfectly satisfactory with cloth roofs, so there's no logical reason why not. Yes, hoodlums with knives could do a lot of harm, but most convertibles manage to go to the junkyard with their original tops in place, if tattered. And I suspect this new space-age membrane is made of stuff that's difficult to damage. anyone who has ever tried to cut kevlar cloth to shape knows that some modern fibers are tough almost beyond belief.
What I like most about the Gina is its ability to morph into different shapes as required. When the car's speed changes, the rear spoiler lip can raise or lower, without ugly flaps like those on various Porsches. Airplanes today have collections of articulated control surfaces, spoilers, ailerons, slats, and flaps, but NASA research into smoothly morphing forms has been going on for a long time and seems ripe for exploitation. so why not have that on cars? the "eyelids" on the Gina are simply wonderful; they blink open when the light source is activated and close when lamps aren't needed. Like our own eyelids.
The fluidity of lines and surfaces, both on the body and in the interior, is quite beautiful, and it makes one regret that designers are so often obliged only to hint at such natural shapes in stamped steel and never achieve the organic quality of the Gina's lines and shapes. BMW Group design chief Chris Bangle and BMW Automobiles design director Adrian van Hooydonk have been severely criticized in recent years for some of their work, but they've also been justly praised. i see the staccato performance of the design team as a good sign, proof that they are trying things, not just resting on BMW'S reputation.
This latest unveiling, old as it may be in terms of when it was executed, strikes me as confirmation that BMW design is on the right track for the future. I heartily disliked the messy, complex, and rather disjointed M1 Homage when it was presented at the Villa d'Este last spring, but many of our readers loved it. That difference of opinion is both healthy and desirable, and one can only hope that BMW will continue to excite strong reactions to each and every new product. Personally, I wish the Gina were actually a product, not just a concept.