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'Is the BMW iX ugly? Its looks polarise opinion, but it would be boring if we all agreed'

Car design can cause plenty of debate, and editor Paul Barker thinks that's something new brands should learn from if they want to stand out from the crowd

Opinion - BMW iX

I drove a brand-new car last week that we’ll be able to tell you about soon, but it was a real contradiction of a thing, and got me thinking about how much I love cars’ ability to create some kind of reaction.

They can provoke opinions that are so personal, based on individual experience of the brand or model, combined with individual tastes, desires and so much more. Two people can – and frequently do – have vastly differing views on the merits of the same car.

Some polarise less, though. For example, I’m yet to meet anyone who thinks the BMW XM is anything other than awful. But for me, it at least put BMW’s own iX in a different and less strikingly ugly light than I’d first felt. However, I know some vehemently disagree. Which is good, because it would be boring if we all agreed, and debates about cars are fun if you’re a touch geeky about things on four wheels. Plus all of us have a guilty pleasure others may think is ugly, pointless or generally awful, and wouldn’t be seen dead in. But it’s at least interesting.

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This is what the influx of new brands from China and elsewhere haven’t fully grasped so far. I’m yet to see any striking character or flair in any of the cars likely to come to the UK. People buying on price will be relatively easy to convert, but the brands must also appeal to those who want to feel something when they look out of their window. The cars are likely to be cheap, well equipped and have great tech, but why will people care about owning one? That thing outside your house could be your second largest expense after the house itself, so it should make you feel something. Ideally something good! And that’s especially so with the move to electric, where one key emotional component – the mechanics – has been taken out and replaced by something that has a bit less soul.

A key ingredient of success in the future will be the ability to provoke an emotional response that overrides rational decision making and makes somebody want one particular car rather than many other, probably more sensible, choices.

Do you agree with Paul? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section...

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As Editor, Paul’s job is to steer the talented group of people that work across Auto Express, Carbuyer and Driving Electric, and steer the titles to even bigger and better things by bringing the latest important stories to our readers. Paul has been writing about cars and the car industry since 2000, working for consumer and business magazines as well as freelancing for national newspapers, industry titles and a host of major publications.

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