Monday, March 2, 2015

Styling Crime: BMW i3

Ugly cars do sell nowadays, though not necessarily in large numbers.  Even though they've been marketed in the USA since the spring of 2014, it wasn't until early January of this year that I finally encountered BMW's new electricity-powered i3 here in Seattle.  I found the styling horrible, yet a pack of international journalist voted the thing winner of World Car Design of the Year for 2014, as this link attests.

As I've mentioned more than once on this blog, automobile styling is in what might be called a Baroque or Rococo phase of the pendulum swing along the complexity versus simplicity design continuum.  The i3's styling is little more than a melange of clashing details crammed onto a too-small body.  The only reason I can think of why it won any awards at all has to do with politically correct worship of electric vehicles.  Had it been conventionally-powered, the i3 likely would have been considered some kind of joke like the Nissan Juke.

Below are images of i3s I found on the Internet.  The car I saw differed in that it had fore and aft amber reflectors curving near the wheel openings; any other detail differences were obscured by the visual clutter.


Because it's a BMW, the double grille motif is preserved even though the purely battery powered car has no radiator.  An optional gasoline-powered auxiliary motor can be had, but I don't know where its radiator is placed -- I'll guess below the front bumper.

Aside from the pure wheel openings, I cannot find any coherent or appealing styling theme or detail set on the i3.  For that reason, I won't attempt to mention all the problems.  However, two of the worst are (1) the rear door area window shape and side shaping, and (2) the rear quarter window and surrounding body panel shaping: illogical in every way.

The i3 features what was termed a two-tone paint job back in the 1950s.  The hood, part of the lower side panels and most of the back face are darker here than the main body color.  The inclusion of the basic color on an oddly-shaped rear strike panel is poorly placed.  I assume the intent was to reduce the slab effect of a monochrome rear, but that would have been better accomplished by having the hatch door be body color and the bumper area dark -- the usual styling convention.  Apparently BMW styling staff considered the Old Switcheroo to be a "creative" solution.

1 comment:

Antonio Sanchez said...

It is even uglier from the back !! Maybe BMW designers stayed at the Oktoberfest too long !!