Whilst the gradual but noticeable growth of the kidney grille on the new BMW X7 and 7 series is something I hope the designers in Munich move away from very quickly, that, in my humble opinion, is not the Bavarian brand's greatest sin over the last two years in terms of car design; That honour, in my opinion, should go to their horrible crime of presenting the aesthetically awesome and exciting 8 Series Concept in the last half of last year and then releasing the relatively generic-looking production version earlier this year.
Now, don't get me wrong; I appreciate that the production 8 is an appealing design, and that many men and women, far more intelligent than myself, worked on this for the best part of a decade. But this seems to be the automotive version of 'nerfing', a gaming term for when a video game maker reduces a powerful characters powers down to a fraction of their former glory. Look at the simple, uninterrupted flowing lines of the concept, particularly on the front hood, and then look at the creased, complicated lines on the production model. One aspect of the designs that is really noticeable when the designs are compared is the low-slung front of the concept giving a shark-like, aggressive look. The posture, the stance, the aesthetic of the concept is so...satisfying, something the production 8 missed.
And whilst I, and I'll assume all of you, know that the outrageous design of the concept was killed off by bean-counters and executives (a.k.a people who don't like fun), it's almost offensive to show such an awesome concept, promising so much, and then delivering a, whilst impressive, aesthetically generic design. And it's that that has been hurting the 8's critical reviews. I quote TopGear magazine's review of the 8;
"It's very competent across the board, but not greatly different from the rest of the BMW range . The people who developed the 8 Series did a very good job. It’s across-the-board competent. The problem lies not in its execution but its concept." - TopGear.com
What we can take that to mean is that perhaps the design (and engine, and interior, and ETC.) of the 8 is just not special enough to really fight it's rivals, particularly the ever-dominant Bentley Continental GTC. You see, the 8 may just be too similar to the 5, which isn't surprising, since the 8 is basically the replacement to the coupe version of that, the 6.
But what really hurts about BMW's whole concept problem? The fact that just under a decade ago, they really delivered on their concepts. Just look at the Vision Dynamic Concept that grew to be the i8, or the concept i3. Both of these came onto real roads, barely unchanged, and in my opinion at least, the i8 was improved. And then we hoped the same would happen with the Z4 and the 8 and it...didn't.
And sure, other car makers do this as well, with the most infamous one being the Toyota FT-1 concept becoming the Mk. 5 Supra. But BMW is a repeat offender, with their Z4 concept, being low, aggressive and just plain awesome, and the reality being just a little...meh.
These cars are, undoubtedly, good to drive. But the fact is i'm less likely to choose the 8, the Z4 or the Supra over their respective rivals because of the concepts, and the subsequent knowledge of what they could of been, if not for some old grey people in suits.
So, a message from all BMW fans to those in Bavaria getting our hopes up and then not fulfilling them;