Bye bye BMW?

06 BMW rear endI’ve been taking a walk around the neighbourhood over the past few weeks, and noticed that quite a lot of people have gone for the most recent versions of BMW when replacing their cars. There’s lots of 3s, a few 5s, but the 7 seems to have fallen from favour. I’n not counting the dopey baby one’s they’ve introduced (what were they thinking?) or the specialised toys like the 6s and Zs – there’s not enough of them, and the following doesn’t apply to them anyway.

The reason I titled this observation Bye bye BMW? was down to the fact that I hadn’t actually noticed the steady flow of these new cars into my neighbour’s driveways.

Why? After all, I quite like BMWs and have enjoyed some of their offerings. I recall the 518i left me puzzled as to why such a relatively big car with such a small engine (opening the bonnet and looking in was like looking into an empty metal box, you almost needed a magnifying glass to find the power plant in all that space) managed to move so quickly. Then there were the top end 3s, culminating in the M3, which may be ‘soft’ now, but was an almost unguided missile in its earlier variants, and still remarkably quick, if a bit fatter nowadays.

The problem’s all down to styling. The front has developed, not necessarily for the better, but still holding on to at least a little BMW family style (although Mercedes has moved forward while maintaining a more recognisable house style).

The difficulty comes when you start to look at the rear end of the common models, the 3s and the 5s. They actually look great. I like them, they’re sharply styled and very up-to-date (sorry, the odd stock phrase will creep in), so what’s the problem?

They just don’t look anything like BMWs. They look like Japanese cars, and could just as easily have come out of a Honda facory rather than a BMW plant. (The pic accompanied an article describing the rear as controversial, so even BMW know they’ve taken a chance).

That’s why I never realised the new models had been arriving in the past weeks. I spotted the 6 in the registration. I spotted the new cars, but without looking at the blue and white badge too, just hadn’t taken in the fact that the were Beemers, and had just wandered on past the otherwise attractive backsides facing towards the street.

And that’s a shame.

Well, we’ll just have to wait a few years, and see what the next wave of styling fads bring about. Maybe a retro- look, if we’re lucky.

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