Original X5 Designer Scrutinises BMW's Two Most Controversial Cars

Car designer Frank Stephenson has now given his thoughts on both the iX and the 4-series, and there's a lot he's not impressed with
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BMW‘s questionable styling antics of late go beyond the galactic kidney grilles. It’s not just motoring hacks and social media commenters who think so, either. Frank Stephenson, the designer who produced the original sketch for the E53 X5 while working under Chris Bangle, has shared his thoughts on the controversial iX. And he has a lot to call out.

Along with the oversized kidney, Stephenson notes the busy nature of the design and criticises the transition from the front to the sides of the vehicle plus the ‘split’ C-pillar. He concludes:

“I want to like this vehicle because I like the idea that they’re pushing the limits of design, but it’s almost a vehicle that’s lost its soul. It’s more like it’s been designed by a product designer than by a transportation designer. It’s not the same profession.”

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The video is a neat follow-up to one Stephenson posted last summer, analysing the new 4-series. As you’d expect, he takes issue with the kidney grilles, which he refers to as “nostrils”. Arguably a bigger problem than the size is the way it fits (or rather doesn’t) with the rest of the car.

“They’ve designed the grille, then they’ve designed the car, and they’ve brought the two together, and they’re not speaking the same language,” he says.

Stephenson, who worked on the X5 and went on to pen the likes of the Ferrari F430 and McLaren P1, is not a fan of the iX
Stephenson, who worked on the X5 and went on to pen the likes of the…

Stephenson doesn’t seem quite as critical of the 4-series as he is with the iX at least, although he does point out plenty of other issues. These include the elements that flank those controversial kidneys. “It’s a little bit confusing: you have one intake or is that seven intakes?” he posits.

With BMW increasingly going for shock value with its designs, the 4-series and iX are unlikely to be the last divisive products from the company. At the very least, that’s good news for any fans of Frank Stephenson’s YouTube analysis…


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