I’ve been a harsh critic of recent BMW design. Cars like the BMW 4 Series, M3, M4, and iX have all been cars that I’ve regularly mocked. Not because I take pleasure in mocking BMW but because I feel those designs have deviated too far from what BMWs are supposed to be. So when I heard that BMW would be making a concept car based on artificial intelligence, and it had a cutesy name like “DEE”, I wasn’t exactly optimistic. However, after seeing DEE, I’m not only relieved that it looks good but I think it should be the basis of the next-generation BMW 3 Series.
Let’s forget all of the DEE tech and focus purely on its looks. Some of the DEE tech is cool, such as the windshield-sized head-up display, but I think most of it is superfluous. Instead, let’s tech a look at why the next 3 Series should look like DEE.
The grille is the most obvious place to start. Since BMW first introduced the kidney grille design, it’s always looked better wider than taller. Making the grille taller increases the visual height of the front end and BMWs are supposed to be sporty, so you want a lower, sleeker looking front end. Look at the M4, it’s one of BMW’s sportiest cars and yet its front end is looks as upright and flat as a G-Wagon’s. It’s a far cry from BMW’s iconic shark-nose front ends.
For DEE, BMW went wide instead of tall. So the grille is more reminiscent of cars like the BMW Z8 and 507, two of its all-time best looking cars. In terms of pure surface area, the DEE’s grille is probably around the same size as the M4’s, which proves what so many critics of the M4’s grille have said since it debuted—its size wasn’t the problem, its shape was. DEE’s grille is far better looking than any of the aforementioned tall-grilled Bimmers. While I’m not so sure about incorporating the headlights into the grille, it’s an interesting design I’m open to if BMW decides to go in that direction for the production car.
Now let’s talk its styling. If you look at the DEE concept from the side, it looks surprisingly familiar. From the first time I saw it, I immediately thought of the E12 5 Series. Its stubby proportions, slanted C-pillar, short rear deck, and—hey, would you look at that—a bit of a shark-nose grille all remind me of the fantastic Paul Bracq-designed 5er. It should also be mentioned that the E12 5 Series was based off of the ’70s Garmisch concept, a car that was designed by the legend himself, Marcello Gandini. So the E12 was created by two legends of automotive design and the DEE reminds me of that car.
The DEE is also just a really fun looking car and, shockingly, looks more like a traditional BWM than anything currently on sale. It’s around the same size as a 3 Series (which is ironically longer than the E12 5 Series) but it has short overhangs, big wheels, upright glass, and a great looking Hofmeister Kink. It’s adorable, sort of like BMW’s Honda E.
I would be happy if BMW added street-legal lights, door handles, and mirrors to the DEE and shipped it as a 3 Series. After seeing so many strange looking BMWs, including the iX and XM, it’s so nice to see a simple, small, reserved design coming out of Munich and one that sticks to its heritage while simultaneously embracing the future.