BMW X7: A design for strife
WE have previously had occasion on these pages to lament BMW's descent into the depths of design despair, writes William Scholes.
Once synonymous with elegant, restrained and well proportioned vehicles, the German marque nonetheless seems increasingly determined to churn out cars that are as bland and unimaginative as they are vulgar.
Latest to bob to the surface from the Mariana Trench is this monstrosity, which is the latest version of the X7. If you're not up to speed on BMW nomenclature, the X7 is a sort of large SUV-cum-minibus that exists to make the more familiar X5 look compact.
The mid-life refresh of a model is often seized upon as an opportunity to give it a nip and tuck and generally smarten up its appearance and make it more appealing. Cocking a snook at convention, BMW has decided to throw its considerable resources into making the X7 look even worse - no mean feat, admittedly.
You don't really have to go much further than the front of the vehicle to see how wrong things have gone. Those enormous grilles aren't only as big as farm gates, they also light up - on the off chance passers-by and other drivers haven't clocked your presence.
In profile, the rest of the X7 looks a bit like an old Toyota Land Cruiser. So it's an odd combination of boringly old fashioned and in-your-face obnoxious. The net effect is of the sort of truck that you imagine Vladimir Putin might aspire to.
If that sounds like your sort of thing, then you too can have one outside your dacha in exchange for at least £80,900, with the range topping M60i model breaking the £103,000 barrier.
On the plus side, the engines will be fantastic, the tech top-notch and it will doubtless drive as well as anyone could reasonably expect for something the size of a small house.
But that's to let BMW off lightly. There's really no excuse for making something that is at once offensive and dull.
UNSURPRISINGLY, BMW didn't trouble the final stages of the World Car Awards 'Design of the Year' category.
The top three were Audi's impossibly low-looking e-tron GT, Kia's striking EV6 and sister company Hyundai's retro-futuristic Ioniq 5. All three are electric cars.
Hyundai took the design honours when the World Car Awards winners were announced in New York last week. In fact, it was quite the night for the team from South Korea, with the Ioniq 5 also claiming World Electric Car of the Year and the overall World Car of the Year title.
Kudos to Hyundai (and the other finalists) for taking a risk and producing a fresh-looking, thoughtfully executed and distinctive design in a car market that is otherwise awash with homogeneity or vulgarity masquerading as innovation.