BMW is one of the greatest automakers in the automotive world and as such, they make brilliant vehicles which almost all motoring enthusiasts like. Unfortunately, there have been some designs which pushed the boundaries of even the most loyal fans.
BMWs of old are regal and handsome machines which exude sportiness and class. The controversial elements started appearing when BMW’s accountants took over. The first of the terrible vehicles was the E65 7 Series – a far cry from the gorgeous E38 before it. Since then, the questionable designs kept coming, with the E60 5 Series, E63 6 Series and the F45 2 Series Active Tourer – which introduced front-wheel-drive to the mix. Just when we thought BMW had learned their lesson, the F07 5 Series GT launched, resulting in the automotive equivalent to a bloated whale.
BMW may produce some of the best cars on the market, blending sportiness with elegance, but some designs were too much – even for BMW enthusiasts. Here are ten of the most controversial BMW designs of the past 20 years.
10 F45 2 Series Active Tourer
The 2 Series Active Tourer debuted in 2014 and is still in production. It was the first front-wheel-drive BMW model in its entire history, and has the same platform used for the current crop of MINI vehicles.
The first generation F45 lasted until 2021, with the second-gen model showcasing BMW’s new design language – closely relating to the new X1. While the 2 Series Active Tourer isn’t a bad model, it opened the door for other front-wheel drive BMWs – which goes against the brand’s philosophy.
9 E60 5 Series
The E60 5 Series was a bit of a design problem when it got launched in 2003. Where the preceding E39 5 Series was square and regal, the E60 was longer, rounder and had more fashionable headlamps. This design was not celebrated.
Nevertheless, the E60 continued production without much change until it got replaced by the F10 5 Series, which went back to the proper executive design. Ironically, the E60 has aged better than many cars of its time, and these days the design is actually getting praise because of it.
8 G42 2 Series
The current 2-Series is a bit of a difficult car to accept. It does not necessarily follow any of BMW’s designs, and the three-box ratio looks a bit off – with the hood being too long and the trunk too short.
While it looks terrible in photos, it really stands out when seen in person, resulting in a much clearer – and better – design. Still, it is quite controversial when compared to other BMWs and the upcoming M2 does not do the model any favors, whatsoever.
7 F07 5 Series Gran Turismo
The F10 5 Series is a handsome and capable vehicle which brought BMW much success when it was in production. Strangely, they then added the F07 Gran Turismo version – the Gran Coupe variant before it was a thing – and completely ruined the design.
The 5 Series GT is a big, bulbous and ugly car, which was apparently supposed to emulate the feel of a 7 Series, but at a lower cost. It had more legroom and headroom and was primarily sold in China, where customers appreciate these luxuries. Still, it is one of the worst designs in BMW’s catalog.
6 E63 6 Series
The E63 6 Series is an interesting car. Built to be nothing more than a comfortable GT car, the E63 accomplished its task successfully. Unfortunately, it wasn’t exactly what one would call ‘pretty’. Still, the top-spec featured the 5.0-liter V10 from the M5, which was pretty cool.
As Jeremy Clarkson so eloquently put it, “it seems like the designer fell asleep during the design process because the back just suddenly stops.” The E63 is definitely a car which needs some time getting used to. Luckily, it makes for an excellent daily driver.
5 G70 7 Series
The new G70 7 Series has pushed the boundaries of BMW automotive design to the point where motoring journalists can’t decide if it’s brilliant or disgusting. Discussing the design itself leads to a whole debate, but the overall language and silhouette harks back to BMWs of old.
The side and rear of the G70 is great, featuring simple lines and soft creases. The interior is fantastic with the leather and technology – not to mention the massive screen for the rear passengers. It is the front-end design which gets people going – especially loyal BMW fans.
4 I20 iX
Before the G70 7 Series, the most talked-about BMW design was that of the iX. Unlike other BMW electric cars, the iX has a bespoke electric platform and is currently one of the best driving electric cars on the market.
People were put off the exterior styling, as it followed the company’s new front grille design. The iX is quite futuristic-looking, with strong creases and folds, but may be a bit over-designed for what it is. Luckily, it makes up for it with the Hans Zimmer sounds in the interior.
3 G09 XM
The upcoming XM super-SUV is another point of controversy as it is a huge, heavy and overpowered behemoth with a big nose, weird lines and strange interior options. Despite this, the XM will most likely be one of the fastest SUVs on the market, equaling the Ferrari Purosangue in awesomeness.
The XM is the second M-only BMW vehicle, after the original, mid-engine M1 supercar of the 1970s. The XM’s production version luckily looks much better than the concept, and BMW has done a good job of disguising the size of the vehicle. Many enthusiasts are quite excited about it.
2 G82 M4
The G80 M3 and G82 M4 were the models which started the current controversial designs within the BMW line-up. The biggest issue many have with the M3 and M4 are the front grilles, which many have likened to a pig’s nose or a rabbit’s teeth.
While it is different, it doesn’t exactly look bad. The design harks back to the BMWs of old, starting with the 328 of the 1930s and continuing all the way to the models of the 1970s and 1980s. While many dislike the look, it has grown on some and definitely looks better in person.
1 E65 7 Series
The E65 7 Series is probably the biggest controversy in the BMW catalog, as its design was one of the worst in the luxury car segment. What made it so poor was the fact that it debuted after the international success of the E38 7 Series – widely regarded as one of the best.
By comparison, the E65 was too futuristic for its time and had too many issues to resolve. Today, the E65 is one of the automotive designs which hasn’t aged well at all, looking dated and cheap. As a result, you can purchase an E65 7 Series on the used market for next to nothing – making it not only controversial, but unsuccessful as well.
Sources: BMW, BMW Blog