Here's why the 7 Series and i7 look the same.
BMW's design director, Adrian van Hooydonk, is a man non-BMW owners love to hate. Look at *insert whatever BMW you'd like in here* and how terrible it looks compared to BMW's older, timeless classics. But here's the uncomfortable fact that renders the above argument moot. BMWs are selling up a storm, so somebody must be a fan of Adrian's work.
He recently spoke to Autoblog and explained the thinking behind the design of the new BMW 7 Series and the recently-facelifted X7. As we mentioned when the new 7 Series and its electric counterpart launched, these cars showcase the new design language of upper-echelon Bimmers.
Looking at the spy images of the next-generation BMW 5 Series, it seems to be the cutoff point. Anything above that will have the new 7's face.
Van Hooydonk first cleared up why the 7 Series and i7 look almost identical. We've seen this before with BMW, with the 4 Series Gran Coupe and i4 also being virtually identical.
"We feel that electric mobility is going to happen, but nobody knows how quickly. So, we felt that if we were to combine luxury and electric in one vehicle, that would be beneficial because, otherwise, in the near future, we might force our customers to make an uncomfortable choice," said van Hooydonk. "'Am I modern, do I want to go electric, or do I want a certain comfort and space?' So, that's almost an unfair decision that we don't want our customers to make," he said.
If you look at the pricing structure of the new 7 Series, you'll also note that the i7 and twin-turbo V8 retail for more-or-less the same. This allows BMW to capitalize on more traditional customers while offering something similar for early adopters shopping around in the same space.
As we alluded to earlier, BMW is separating its top-tier products from lesser models.
Van Hooydonk clarified the design intentions for different model lines: "It's not going to be one [design] language applied to all of our vehicles," he said. "Our lineup is quite large right now, so we feel that we need to get these vehicles in character to the specific customers because there are always different competitors in each segment. You could say, in broad terms, that the 7 Series represents that philosophy at the top end, in the luxury segment, but we will do that all across the board."
This strategy is the polar opposite of what Mercedes-Benz is doing at the moment. All of its EQ cars are essentially the same design, albeit in a different size. Merc's main mission is obviously to decrease drag, but both BMW and Lucid have proven that you can have a slippery car without it looking like a hardboiled egg.