When Chris Bangle became the head of design for BMW, he and his team did a lot of good work. The E46 BMW 3 Series is still among the most handsome BMW sedan/coupes ever made and the Z4 M Coupe is a great looking thing. However, in the mid ’00s, he and his team debuted a few cars that were almost universally panned, such as the E60 5 Series and E65 7 Series. Bangle was practically run out of town for his new-at-the-time “Flame Surfacing” and “Bangle Butt” designs.
However fast forward over a decade and his designs are actually starting to gain newfound appreciation. Many car enthusiasts and critics are starting to come around to Bangle’s work which, now that we look back on it, may have just been too ahead of its time. Especially cars like the E60 5 Series, which is starting to gain some real love in the BMW community.
So that fact got me thinking: will the same happen for he new 4 Series grille design?
Honestly, I wasn’t old enough to really understand the car world when the E60 5 Series came out, as I was only about 14 or fifteen. So I didn’t really know that journalists the world over were mocking it and verbally jabbing Bangle. However, I honestly can’t imagine fans reacting as wildly to Bangle’s designs than they are right now, with he new 4 Series grille.
In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen this level of vitriol spewed at a car’s design before. There are even critics who are typically more complimentary than others ripping on the new 4er. So maybe this is much worse than Bangle’s design but I’m not quite sure fans felt that way back then.
The majority of enthusiasts likely weren’t thinking “Hey, this isn’t so bad. Maybe we’ll get used to it”, because Bangle was practically run out of Munich for his supposed blasphemy. I’d bet few enthusiasts ever thought they’d come around to those designs but now, here we are, more than ten years later and those very designs are gaining traction.
So despite all the hate toward the new 4 Series, I wonder if the years will be kind to it or not. Will BMW be looked back on as a visionary of this time or will the new 4 Series, with its mahoosive grille, be looked at as a big swing and a miss?