5 Series: "We've already told you, in our July issue, that the fifth-generation BMW 5-series provides class-leading driving pleasure, even if it is not too pleasant for some people's eyeballs. But if you like, or can look past, the handiwork of Chris Bangle's design team....." The Bottom Line: "Drives great, looks....?"
6 Series: "Derived from the new 5-series sedan, the 6-series will reach U.S. dealerships in early 2004 in both coupe and convertible form. The only problem? As this spy photo indicates, it looks like a bloated Pontiac Sunfire." The Bottom Line: "BMW's new coupe has the right number, but does it have the right look?"
7 Series: "The BMW 7-series is a highly controversial car. The automotive press has complained bitterly about its styling, especially the awkward and bulky backpack that it carries just above its rump. More controversial still, however, is the multitasking iDrive." Conclusion: "the BMW demonstrated that ultra-high tech improperly managed is actually a detriment to a great road car with great performance." (The 745Li came in dead last in their comparison with A8L, XJ8 and S430 although its performance figures won hands down).
I personally signed up for an M6 last week, finding the new 5 styling just beyond the pale, but that was before I saw the photo of its rear end.
I honestly don't share your enthusiasm for the new 5 design, but certainly this is only based on photos - plenty of them by now, some shot by BMW themselves - and the response of those journalists who have seen/driven the car in person: Automobile, Car & Driver, Road & Track, Roundel, Car, Top Gear, etc., etc, etc. There seems to be an almost universal opinion as there was for the 745: brilliant engineering, 'controversial' design - and I don't personally want 'controversial', I want 'beautiful and sensual'.
Re the 6 design, I thought it very much better, again in photos, until I saw the rather unflatering rear quarter shot in Automobile (and certainly their uncharitable comments don't help). Hopefully they just caught it at an odd angle.
My only wish is for a simple, unequivocal buying decision for my next car and a healthy and successful BMW able to fund more engineering innovation for their next generation of product.
PS: BMW announced today that sales for the quarter are down over 12% from a year earlier, this despite the new 7 series and Mini introductions. Maybe this just reflects the general economic malaise or maybe they are losing market momentum and share. I fear the latter.
I personally think that the new 3 series is the best looking, or at most the least distasteful, of all the new designs, but I think even that car has the minimalist Ikea interior. Really hat to be so negative, but I used to be excited to see each new BMW design iteration, and now I cringe at them all. The new E60 is pretty cool in the M5 style, however, and, as posted elsewhere, fast makes up for a lot of ugly. I will be looking at the CL55 or CL60 (if it comes here), though. Thought I'd never even consider the Dark Side, but Bangle's arrogance is limitless.