By Robert Cumberford
The last BMW 7-series came in for a heavy load of criticism, both before and after its midlife face-lift. But it sold well and was great to drive, and rivals artlessly copied much of its controversial styling. The newest one is far less provocative, and thus less interesting. Once BMW embraced radical styling, it needed to keep going, no matter what critics said. With its flat sides and straight-line crease below the side windows, the new car actually seems a bit plain. The pure front view is nice, though. Once away from the confines of auto shows, it should still make a positive statement. And be great to drive.
1) Side surfaces swell slightly to meet the wheel openings, a subtle and undramatic effect, as befits a big luxury car.
2) Hard straight line through the door handles, parallel to the ground, is surprising but adds apparent length.
3) The horizontal blade on the front fender and the door is much better than the vertical slots favored by a number of manufacturers.
4) Downward sweep behind the front wheels suggests a classic fender, leads to a light-gathering surface at the bottom of the doors.
5) Longitudinal ribs at the sides of the hood are new, original, and effective in emphasizing the length of the front end, improving the car's overall proportions.
6) The entire roof is classic, traditional BMW-and the better for it.
7) The mustache over the lower air intake is an interesting new feature, making the car seem longer and lower. But there's still a battering-ram feel to the front end.
8) The high grille is projected well forward, good for pedestrian safety and for a stately presence. The inclined, backswept headlamps are sporty and aerodynamic.