BMW Confirms It's Not In The Business Of Building Russian Dolls

The X1 won't just be a smaller X3, which won't just be a smaller X5, which won't...
By Wallace Castillo

Do you ever get the feeling cars are starting to look a bit samey? Do you struggle to tell the difference between an Audi A4 and A6, a Mercedes C-Class and E-Class, or a Volvo V60 and V90 unless there's something next to it to give you a sense of scale?

Well, BMW's heard you, buddy. Munich knows that designing a car once, then building it in a dozen different sizes and calling it a day isn't going to satisfy your keen automotive taste. And with at least seven cars being revealed this model year — the new 1, 3 and 4 Series models, the refreshed X5, an all-new X7, and the reborn 8 Series and Z4 — that's got to be good news.

Speaking to Aussie outfit GoAuto, BMW design chief Adrian van Hooydonk has said the new cars will "each have a stronger character and identity of their own". To be fair, BMW didn't do a great job of that with its last generation of cars. The X3 and X5, like the 3 and 5 Series, shared a little too much family resemblance for a lot of people's likings.

The new G20 3 Series certainly feels like it's a long way from the X7 — even before we say anything about the latter's crazy kidney grill

It's no surprise many companies end up making cookie-cutter cars, though, according to van Hooydonk. "It’s a trap you can easily fall into because if you have a design that sells well that people like, then you do it a little bigger, a little smaller and you have your Russian doll thing."

We've already gotten glimpses of van Hooydonk's vision for the latest generation of BMWs. The new G20 3 Series certainly feels like it's a long way from the X7 — even before we say anything about the latter's crazy kidney grill. The headlights and bumper are close enough to look like the same brand, but not close enough that you'll be confusing their faces any time soon.

The 3 Series and X7 sit at almost opposite ends of BMW's product lineup, though. The reality of building a sporty sedan and a mammoth SUV doesn't leave you much choice, you can't even try to make them look the same. The difference between the new X5 and, say, the X1, though... well, that's a little less obvious. The real test of this promise from BMW will be the upcoming 4 Series next to the G20 3 Series. Let's wait and see if they really will have "a stronger character and identity of their own".

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