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2012 BMW 1 Series – Styling Analysis

1-series | June 5th, 2011 by 38
bmw-1-series-design

To open the proverbial can of worms, the styling of the new F20 is controversial (based on the volume of negative tweets seen after the …

To open the proverbial can of worms, the styling of the new F20 is controversial (based on the volume of negative tweets seen after the embargo was broken on Friday). The flanks of the car seem to be following the F0x/F2x styling idioms (more on this later), but the nose and tail seem to be evoking the comments.

Exterior Design

After looking at the Urban Line/Sport Line examples I find that the chrome vertical accents on what I presume to be the Urban Line car to be visually preferable to the shadowline grilles of the Sport Line (and why did BMW decide to use Sport Line, it’s a bit close to Audi’s S Line). But the area of the nose I’m puzzled by is the body colored gap between the grille and headlamps. I’m having to look at it a bit to see if the proportions make sense to my eye. Maybe it has to be seen in person.

One nice design detail in the nose is the use of a grille similar to the new 6er. It is vertical until a few centimeters before the top of the grille and then leans back toward the cowl. Again, the chrome grille will highlight this better than the black grille.

The tail of the hatchbacks seem to be a bit bland – not as much surface development as I’d like (and one of the things I do like about the tail of the E82 1er). But this car is wider, has a slightly longer wheelbase and a bit more overall length the E8x 1ers it replaces. So even though it’s the same height as the current 1er, it may look a bit less upright.

But let’s talk a bit about the common styling elements above and beyond the kidney grilles and Hofmeister kink of the F series cars. Previously, the E series 1er, 3er, 5er, 7er all had distinct side sculpting. That seems to have been resolved in the latest iteration of the 1er, 5er, and 7er. And I suspect you’ll see similar flanks on the F30 3er. What’s BMW up to? Don’t they remember the old saw, “the same sausage in different lengths”? I have a hunch (uninformed) that BMW is preparing the battle space for the arrival of the distinctly different BMW FWD and i models. I suspect they’re going to protect the core RWD products by making them immediately distinguishable visually.

Interior Design

This is a step up in perceived quality from the current 1er. The first thing noticed is that the two main gauges are now round (as opposed to the current 1er), that ties them directly to the rest of BMW’s RWD model line.

There is a more three dimensional look to the IP with surfaces jutting out from others and the chrome trim that highlights the edges of the HVAC and audio controls adds a touch of elegance. It’s also nice to see the cruise control switches in the steering wheel.

The door pulse ‘twist’ echos the twist seen in the center stack of the 6er. And the big nav screen certainly looks much better than the current 1er’s. And color (other than orange) is being introduced into the gauges. This interior is much better looking than the current 1.

We can’t wait to get a chance to go through this car in person.

Update with an image by our reader Javier

  • cash

    BMW’s current designers need new glasses, this is hideous!  The X1, X3 are hideous.  God if they do this to their 3 series they will be in financial difficulties.  

    • Nnnn

      that is a very good point.    If this is the same sausage….

    • Alex

      The X1 and 5er GT are the ugliest BMWs EVER designed, and this is right up there with them. I personally like the design of the X3.

      • tasty donuts

        You may think the X1 is hideous (I don’t), but it’s selling faster than they can make them. As much as we hate to admit, the buying public gets the last vote, and if sales trends are any indication (the 5GT being the obvious exception), they don’t vote with us “BMW enthusiasts.”

  • Tom Cardone

    the interior is done well. i dont even know what to call the exterior..

  • Tom Cardone

    the interior is done well. i dont even know what to call the exterior..

  • Patros

    … just ugly…

  • LMAO

    LMAO that is the ugliest thing I have ever seen. WTF BMW??

  • Tom

    I wish the side rear glass would run along the C-pillar and bring about a smaller the Hofmeister kink. The front grille appears similar (identical) to the current BMW lineup, likely due to the EU crash standardization. It’ll be interesting if BMW can change style in a positive direction while still complying with current crash standards.

  • LexusLVR

    Design analysis? This thing has no design. It’s a monstrosity. Put it out of its misery already. Where was this thing designed? Chernobyl?

    • Nnnn

      “Designed in chernobyl” works on several levels, actually.

  • Nnnn

    “But the area of the nose I’m puzzled by is the body colored gap between the grille and headlamps.”

    That summarizes my feeling as well.

    I think their intention is that the creases above and below the headlight are meant to frame and enhance this aggressive “eye” shape that we first saw in the CS.   The problem is that edge below, that runs in an upside-down crescent through the kinks on the grille slats — it’s totally arbitrary.  It seems like someone said, “dude!  we totally have to use that CS/GC grille design, go make it work” and they tried to make it work as a continuous edge, which happened to coincide with the headlight shape.  

    The problem is that the surface is empty except for that edge, which may not even be visible, depending on the reflections, so you have this triangular region of empty space that’s not doing anything but emphasize the smallness of the kidney grilles, and the triangular shape of the headlights.   The kidney grilles don’t work with the headlamps, they should have been designed so their edges harmonized with the edges of the headlights.

    That crescent-shaped sculpting was a huge error.   I would want to obscure it with as many squashed pedestrians as possible.

    • Nnnn

      The other problem is that that bumper line in the front is completely straight.  They missed an opportunity to break up that space and justify the shapes above it.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UF5HEIXZBHXLS3NB5ADPWROKKQ Chris

    The BMW exterior designers all died in a plane crash and were replaced by monkeys!
    In Rocky tone: “Adriaaaaan!”

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UF5HEIXZBHXLS3NB5ADPWROKKQ Chris

    The BMW exterior designers all died in a plane crash and were replaced by monkeys!
    In Rocky tone: “Adriaaaaan!”

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UF5HEIXZBHXLS3NB5ADPWROKKQ Chris

    The BMW exterior designers all died in a plane crash and were replaced by monkeys!
    In Rocky tone: “Adriaaaaan!”

    • v1p3r

      I laughed my a$$ off at the Rocky bit

    • v1p3r

      I laughed my a$$ off at the Rocky bit

  • IN77

    No, it is not controversial, it is objectively bad and anonymous, and I think the view iswidespread among supporters of bmw.

  • Tom23

    Computer: Design analysis complete.  Analysis result: FAIL

    • MULYONOX

       Computer:Market analysis complete. Analysis result: HANG

  • http://www.facebook.com/henry.sichembe Henry Sichembe

    if even BMW fans dont like this car,then honestly,who will????!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/henry.sichembe Henry Sichembe

    if even BMW fans dont like this car,then honestly,who will????!!!

  • Frederic Nemo

    I have never seen so many negative comments on a BMW or a car’s style ever, perhaps only the late Ford Scorpio elicited so many negative reactions, with the retreat of the model only after a couple of months of marketing. When Bangle showed his first models, it was a cultural shock, but eventually it created a new school of design which still endures and big sales. If I were a BMW top executive, I’d be really worried. Probably people will keep buying this car, because of the quality associated with BMW, but BMW will lose market shares in Europe, because of that styling which everybody deprecates. Finally I am wondering how a styling team can get so encapsulated in their own theories, at a time when there are so many procedures of validation! This is at any rate a good case of auto management. We’ll see the sales figures though…

  • Pingback: 2012 BMW 1 Series – Styling Analysis | labmw.com()

  • Guest

    Seriously chaps !!! 

    I can’t believe how ugly is that new 1 series F20 !!!
    It is probably one the ugliest BMW ever with the previous  E65 seven series !!!

  • LMAO

    Does BMW not know how ugly this car is? I really can’t believe during the huge design process, not one sane German stepped up and said “hey guys, this thing is **** ugly”

  • LMAO

    Does BMW not know how ugly this car is? I really can’t believe during the huge design process, not one sane German stepped up and said “hey guys, this thing is **** ugly”

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AQROVMNG4SJB2CPXK2DUX7TUFE GelatoA

    the skecthes look brilliant, but the car didn’t translate well.

  • Nnnn

    Javier’s 1-series redux is interesting.   I think the headlights are going in the right direction, but they do need to be wedge-shaped and not rectangular;  but with a straight edge, not rounded goofily like the current design.  A slightly smaller inner ring size.   Same bevel angle at the inner corner.

    Not sure about the hood line.   I don’t like those straight lines cutting across a sculpted nose, but putting it so close to the other elements seems to make it more obvious.

    • Dougkeeley

      And the wider grille is much better.  And the lamp’s bevel angle seems to work better there with the angle of the side of the grille.

  • http://twitter.com/meghanne701 Meghanne Foye
  • Jdannilrob

    The photo chop looks perfect. you hit it right on the head…. nailed it. now if BMW will just listen.. 

  • Pingback: 2012 BMW 1 Series: 99g/km + 74mpg + RWD = QED « MR Car()

  • seat

    i’ve always wanted the 1er 5 door hatch here in the US as it was sporty, practical and semi good looking for a hatch…

    regarding the new F20 – let’s just say that i’m glad they are NOT bringing it stateside…it’s HIDEOUS…

  • seat

    i’ve always wanted the 1er 5 door hatch here in the US as it was sporty, practical and semi good looking for a hatch…

    regarding the new F20 – let’s just say that i’m glad they are NOT bringing it stateside…it’s HIDEOUS…

  • E36er

    The rear looks ok to me…
    But the front… utterly ugly!
    Bring back Chris Bangle!!!

  • Mjsfla

    Maybe the front was supposed to be the rear…oops!

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