Opinion

'BMWs are set to look a lot more interesting'

Editor Graham Hope thinks many petrolheads are tired of the ‘Russian doll’ approach of some premium brands

A few years ago, I asked a leading car designer to tell me which companies he particularly didn’t rate in his field of expertise. His response was immediate and emphatic: “BMW.”

Creating the Ultimate Diving Machine is one thing, but making it look distinctive has not always seemed to be a priority for the German company.

BMW M3 review

But times are changing. In the past few months, the edgy X2 and stunning 8 Series concept have been revealed, to general acclaim. We’ve also seen the X7 concept, which was more polarising but at least demonstrated an intent to be different.

And there is a new head of design, Jozef Kaban, whose CV includes the likes of the Bugatti Veyron and Skoda Kodiaq. At the recent Detroit Motor Show, I was the first journalist in the world to interview him and hear his vision for the brand.

From the outset it is clear that Kaban is a BMW fan, which is encouraging. “The M1 was a very cool car that was on my bedroom wall as a child,” he told me. But Kaban is a realist, too, and knows that BMW’s ongoing sales success means there is no need for an instant design revolution.

Nevertheless, he senses potential for change. “We have a huge spectrum of cars – a big portfolio. There is an opportunity to make the range even more recognisable from each other,” he said. This will please many petrolheads, who are tired of the ‘Russian doll’ approach of some premium brands.

BMW i3 review

He believes more separation makes sound business sense, too. “Similarity is not wrong. But the bigger the spectrum is, the more opportunity you have to talk to more tastes and more people.

“BMW knows if you want to be successful in the future you always have to be ready to surprise.” If he really can deliver on this, it’s going to be fascinating watching him reshape the firm’s range.

Interested in learning more about BMW's history? Then read our interview with Ian Robertson: the Brit inside BMW.

Recommended

BMW to continue with current design direction despite criticism
BMW design
News

BMW to continue with current design direction despite criticism

BMW design bosses aware of “brutal” criticism but will continue to make cars stand out
2 Feb 2021
New BMW X8 to complete brand’s SUV line-up
BMW X8 - front (watermarked)
BMW

New BMW X8 to complete brand’s SUV line-up

The sleek BMW X8 SUV looks set to feature plug-in and M models, and our exclusive images preview how it could look
7 Jan 2021
New 2021 BMW iX electric SUV revealed with 376-mile range
BMW

New 2021 BMW iX electric SUV revealed with 376-mile range

The all-electric flagship BMW iX SUV boasts over 500bhp, 376 miles of range and 5G tech
11 Nov 2020
New BMW i4 set to lead charge of six new electric cars
BMW

New BMW i4 set to lead charge of six new electric cars

The new all-electric BMW i4 is set to boast a range of around 373 miles and our exclusive images preview how it could look
6 Nov 2020

Most Popular

Volkswagen Golf GTI ‘Edition 45’ anniversary model leaked
Volkswagen Golf GTI 'Edition 45' - front
Volkswagen Golf GTI Hatchback

Volkswagen Golf GTI ‘Edition 45’ anniversary model leaked

The Volkswagen Golf GTI will soon get a new special edition model to celebrate its Sapphire anniversary
23 Feb 2021
'If you invest in a Jaguar now, it’s going to look very out of date very quickly'
Electric Jaguar
Opinion

'If you invest in a Jaguar now, it’s going to look very out of date very quickly'

Jaguar's all-electric announcement has editor-in-chief Steve Fowler wondering what future cars will look like from the British brand
24 Feb 2021
New all-electric Hyundai Ioniq 5 arrives to take on Tesla
Ioniq 5 - front
Hyundai

New all-electric Hyundai Ioniq 5 arrives to take on Tesla

The new Ioniq 5 – the first model from Hyundai’s all-electric sub-brand – takes design influence from the 45 Concept and will be offered with two batt…
23 Feb 2021