BMW 3-Series

FRONT 3/4 VIEW

1. The puffy hood profile is all due to European pedestrian safety standards, still in flux but required to be met. There must be a lot of air between the inner skin and the hard bits, and this round centerline profile gives that, plus good aerodynamics.

2. Unusual for BMW is the extension of the light module all the way to the grille, so that the only painted surface is the separator bar between the twin upper inlets.

3. To transition from the full shape in the center, a whole series of sharp creases and linear surface changes gives character and direction to the overall volume.

4. The famous "kink" of Wilhelm Hofmeister is somewhat toned down in this model.

5. The separation line between expensive-to-tool steel stampings and less-costly-to-tool plastic parts is carried quite high, and in the rear quite far forward, making everything below the cuts easily modifiable.

6. The transition from front face to side panels is expressed by a sharp surface change that does not disturb airflow unduly.

7. The small round lamp is doubly recessed, first in its bezel, then in the trapezoidal corner openings below the bumper strike face.

8. The panel beneath the headlamps carries a sharp horizontal crease softening toward the "kidneys," then reemerging below the license plate as a less severe crease.

9. The lower air intake spreads all the way across the front, modulated by lamps, chrome bars, and variable highlights as the ribbed lower edge rises to meet the descending nose in the center.

10. Slight bends in the upper quarter of their length allow the vertical grille bars to provide a strong horizontal highlight, even in the models with black, rather than chrome, finish.

11. The outer elements of the transverse rib are angled downward, very much like the aerodynamic appendages on Can-Am cars of the late 1960s, for a sporty effect.

REAR 3/4 VIEW

12. More carefully studied subtlety in this dissociated pair of longitudinal creases. The one derived from the A-pillar dies in the deck, while another emerges to carry across the back via the spoilerlike lip.

13. There's a noticeable hollow just ahead of the crease defining the limit of the upper bodywork.

14. Yet another sharp crease, this one delimiting the upper edge of the bumper and sweeping up toward the taillights.

15. An unusual but very nice use of chrome, really low on the rear of the car, below the bumper proper. This negative surface below the lamps seems to be a cliche of the moment, seen on a wide variety of vehicles, from small and cheap to well up in price and prestige, like the Mercedes-Benz SL. It's boring everywhere.

16. The body side bulges outward to meet the wheelhouse, leaving a light-catching triangular surface that adds interest to the clearly not "flame surfaced" side panels.

17. Lining up the door handles along an extroverted rib is another current design cliche of multiple makers. At least the handles are highly apparent.

INTERIOR VIEW

18. A solid indication of a driver's car, the dead-pedal footrest is big and well-placed.

19. The asymmetry of the tunnel is both interesting and highly logical, putting the iDrive controller closer to the front passenger, who has time to fiddle with it.

20. The overhead control panel flatters a driver's ego, letting him or her enjoy Walter Mitty-style airline-pilot fantasies.

21. This heavily textured, driftwoodlike panel is certainly interesting visually, but it's also hard to keep clean.

22. And one wonders how this would feel in the hand. At least the back side is finished smoothly.

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johnweythek
love this style of review but your pic links are mixed up and your list gets off at 18. BOOOOOO for not liking stuff about a 3-series anyway.

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