By Gunnar Heinrich | IMG via YouTube
DRAMA. Intensity. Crumple zonage.
It never occurred to me that when I drove the ’09 (F01) BMW 750Li, that there was the potential of high velocity impact. I didn’t want to really, such as it is a painful premise even in theory.
Of course accidents can happen and if/when they do it’s nice to know that the car maker’s got your back…along with everything else.
From this footage via BMW TV, the 7-Series driver and passengers would benefit from probably the best impact protection this side of a Mercedes S-Class. Notice how in an offset frontal, the roofline past the A-pillar doesn’t even appear to have a crease.
That long bonnet’s got the job covered, danke.
- Paul Street’s Milestones Film for BMW China
- From upper left: 502 (1952-1964) |E23 (1977-1986) | E32 (1987-1994) | E38 (1995-2001) | E66 (2002-2008) | F01 (2009 – )
- Streetlight Films known for car adverts and special film segments for Top Gear
By Gunnar Heinrich | IMG via Street Films
YOU have to admire Paul Street’s craft.
The British film maker is best known for more commercial works through his production company, Streetlight Films. His company produced Top Gear‘s best segment – you know, the one that featured Jeremy Clarkson at the helm of a Ford first chased by a Vette through a mall and then in a completely disconnected scene – taking part in a mock invasion by landing on a beach with British marines.
You can see why BMW would’ve wanted to enlist such talent to present the new 7-Series to the burgeoning Chinese market. What follows is one fluid sequence of circular motion. We see BMW design theory change through the years; a reflection of each decade.
Tell me, were the late 90s really that boring? And the 80s that loud?
Our point of view is looking at the passage of time from streetside; like watching the action of a clock’s arms pass swiftly along its face from the slim view granted from a profile perspective. This promotional film, for Chinese eyes only, apparently, is whirrling magic.
Perhaps with time, we’ll be able to point to the flaws in such overt use of computer animation. But for now, Milestones work rather nicely.
FIRST impressions are hard to get past, although this Seven will give you reasons to try.
The appearance of this car did not evoke the “Gee I’d like to have one of those,” response. Instead, I thought, “Christ, this thing is giant.” And it makes up for its size – in ugly.
Size is a large part of this new Seven’s stylistic challenge. And this begs the question: when something, anything is overly large isn’t it the designer’s job to help lighten its appearance? Lend it a little grace?
That just hasn’t happened here.
The high beltline actually makes the sedan’s profile look taller and fatter. Why on Earth would BMW borrow this styling element directly from their least expensive car – the One – and use it on their new flagship?
I wouldn’t mind necessarily, but the aesthetic faux-pas looks lousy on the baby Bimmer, too.
Too big is sometimes just that. And the length of the car consists of a mass of cutlines that do nothing shrink this boat, visually. Even this model’s predecessor, portly though it was, somehow managed to look lighter on its feet.
Look, I know how popular it has been in recent years to pick on BMW styling.
On the other hand, perhaps there’s good reason to do so.
Has BMW now become the least homologous line of cars out there? The One and the Seven now look similar and I’m pretty sure that’s not a good thing.
The Six looks like no other car in the lineup, as is true with the Ugly Five and the beautiful Three.
BMW’s rivals have a smart visual continuity in their lineups which makes any Audi look like an Audi and any Benz look like a Benz. Damned If I can say that about BMW’s family.
Back to the Seven. The interior, while clearly well done, is a bit cold in its presentation. It’s sort of fussy industrial, rather than warmly inviting. There are acres of cow, dark wood and shiny metal. And despite all this luxurious gluttony, the cabin still remains uninviting.
All that mass and all that ugly disappear when you drive this car.
Simply put, it’s got tons of power. Just a few minutes in the twisties and you’re left feeling totally comfortable flinging it into and powering out of every turn. You would not find a stick shift out of place here at all, if BMW offered one.
High praise indeed.
The new 750Li provides a terrific, engaging, driving experience that you would never tire of.
But the car does present us with the automotive equivalent of choosing to marry an ugly partner because they’re great in bed. It’d be a thinking person’s move, but still, as thoughtful individual you’d still have to get past that first impression.
Richard Wolf is a Connecticut based architectural designer and owns an E39 gen. M5. We featured Richard in both our BMW Enthusiast and Lime Rock segments that aired on CPTV. In the past, Richard has owned three 7er’s: two E23 gen. 733i’s and one (magnificent) E32 gen. 735i.
Bentley’s elegant hommage to a certain former stablemate at Crewe.
By Gunnar Heinrich
DEFINING what constitutes the C-Pillar (or C-Post) is simple: it’s the bit of metal (or other material) that supports the aft section of a car’s roof and rear windscreen. How automotive designers pen a C-Pillar on a given model will in turn determine much of the car’s structural purpose and overall character.
For this reason, the C-Pillar is something that immediately catches the eye.
The Rolls-Royce Phantom’s C-Pillars are more than two feet in width. Their thickness register to a Victorian method that carriages once employed to obscure the inward view of occupants. Needless to say, it works. It’s so effective, in fact, that mirrors are on the inside walls of the pillars are used to deflect the sense that you might otherwise be riding in a leather padded cell.
The iconic Ferrari Testarossa’s flying buttresses must have taken flight from any of Europe’s gothic cathedrals…
Or perhaps from Jaguar’s XJS coupe. The 2+2 GT was a cat whose sly shape owed much to the two flamboyant arcs that extended from roof to cat eared taillamps.
Benz’s “Pagoda” SL (W113) seems to be hiding the fact that it even has a roof. The last pillar is relatively wide at the roofline then narrows to an improbably thin width where it meets the trunk. “Wispy” seems to be the moment’s descriptor.
The 2010 Mercedes-Benz (C216) CL-Class benefits from a series of complimenting arcs. That the rear windscreen mimics the car’s semi-circular profile glass is a nice visual coup.
The 90′s Cadillac Eldorado or ETC (WTF?) features a retro “rocket fin” that partly cuts through a right triangle. It looks sharp until we consider the uninspired rectangular rear window.
Arguably the most famous and copied series of C-Pillars; here we find BMW’s hoffmeister kink as displayed on the newest 7er. The F01 generation takes the hallmark concept further with a raised edge to the surrounding sheetmetal.
The slightly skewed block that separated the miniscule cabin from the acres of trunk on the Continental is a study in design simplicity.
Bruno Sacco’s proportionally strong yet fluid sheetmetal creates the perfect bow from the stately roofline to the boot of the W126 generation Mercedes-Benz S-Class. This most pleasing shape is lined by chrome and echoed by a lip of plastic window trim in the rear window. Genius.