Hot takes: the world reacts to divisive new BMW 7-series

Published: 21 April 2022

► A chance to reflect on the new 7-series
► How commentators reacted to that nose
► Social media drives polarised opinion

BMW has whisked the covers off the distinctively styled new G70 7-series and all-electric i7 sister limousine – and keyboard warriors across the world have gone into meltdown.

It’s a fascinating example of how social media can polarise debate. Haters stirred up controversy around the design, traditionalists went all misty-eyed for the Beemers of yesteryear and design aficionados reflected on the legacy of Chris Bangle, the last design chief to set the cat among Munich’s pigeons with 2001’s E38.

It’s all very tribal and most observers appear to fall into one of the following camps. Here’s our analysis of the typology of the BMW commentariat in 2022.

1) The official view: ‘forwardism’ is BMW’s messaging on the new 7-series and i7

BMW design chief Domagoj Dukec told CAR in a recent interview how the brand’s customers fall into two broad camps, with two-thirds fond of BMWs with an elegant and harmonious aesthetic. Cars like the 3-series and 5-series are aimed squarely at them. But elegant and harmonious doesn’t, says BMW, appeal to the other 30 per cent. They want to make a statement – hence cars like the 4-series and new 7-series. ‘These individuals really want to polarise,’ says Dukec. ‘In the past the 4-series was just a sporty 3-series, but these customers are different – they want a more irrational car, and they’re willing to pay more for that emotional expression, and to really make a statement.’

Group design boss Adrian van Hooydonk elaborates: ‘I don’t think good design has to polarise but I think the concept of beauty can be polarising. It comes back to the customer, and if one kind of customer is looking for a beautiful and timeless car, then of course we will design it. But there are also customers looking for something like an X6, which is certainly polarising – you either hate it or you love it. That approach wouldn’t work for a 3-series or a 5-series because they sell in bigger volumes, so it’s clear you can’t come with one solution.’

2) The traditionalists: ‘BMWs used to look better’

Naturally, the large-nosed 7-series has spurred many to don their rose-tinted glasses, looking back fondly at the ‘good old days’ of more elegant, understated BMW design. Is this reactionary or a valid comparison? You decide…

3) The conspiracy theorists

When social media provides an instant platform for commentary, you’ll inevitably get the wackier ideas circulating. We enjoyed this one from automotive boss Lawrence Whittaker who wondered if the divisive design might help manage industry supply challenges in the wake of the pandemic and war in Ukraine. Only slightly tongue-in-cheek, we sense!

4) ‘I wish it had a smaller grille’

Naturally, there was a body of keyboard warriors on standby ready to shrink the enormous double kidney grille using the magic of Photoshop. How long until 3D printing enables personal configuration of details like this on actual production cars? Now there’s an idea…

5) It looks better in person!

A common and very reasonable observation of some of the more controversial designs of the past two decades. Several high-profile journalists insist the new Seven looks better in the metal and CAR’s Jake Groves who attended the world debut is among them. Only time will tell: the best solution is to see a new car on local roads among the traffic and road furniture that we’re all used to.

6) The sulkers

For some, the new 2022 BMW 7-series duo was just too much to bear. The angst is felt most keenly from those BMW loyalists who’ve stuck with the brand through thick and thin. The question here is: will Munich attract more buyers than it repels with these edgier designs?

7) ‘It looks Chinese…’

Yes it does. Probably because 70 per cent of new 7-series sales are destined for Asia, says BMW. And fully half of those sales will be in China. Remember: this new model may not be aimed at fitting into the UK high street…

8) Ready, steady, Photoshoppy!

Oh go on then… Let’s admire some more 7-series reworks, as the more creative souls get busy in their home design studios, trying to rework the new 7-series to a more palatable aesthetic. Or just plain taking the mickey in many cases…

Be sure to sound off in the comments below and let us know what you think of the new 7-series

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, motoring news magnet