Are BMWs beautiful again?

Are BMWs beautiful again?
The Concept CS is said to herald BMW's new design direction. Tim Pollard ponders the new look



'Beauty is back!', says the front cover of the new, July 2007 issue of CAR Magazine. We had quite a few fights in the office over this one. Forward-looking and sleek as the Concept CS may be, can it really be called beautiful? Aren't aesthetics judged by the beholder, rather than the editors of your favourite car mag?

After much debate, we went with the coverline. If you read Gavin Green's 11-page think piece, photographed so stylishly by Gus Gregory (above), you can make your own mind up. But there is a new mood in Munich's design studios, as BM's creative top dog Adrian van Hooydonk develops the controversial style crafted by his predecessor Chris Bangle. He uses words like 'sportiness' and 'elegance' and, yes, 'beautiful'. Hardly epithets you'd ascribe to the edgier flame-surfaced creations of the past five years like the original Bangle 7-series.

The new look is all about adding emotion to the sculptural look of BMW's current range. We can expect to see details like the shark nose survive into production, plus the usual BM signifiers like the kidney grille and Hofmeister kick in the rear windowline. But the new generation will be less shocking, vows van Hooydonk. The CS points to a new, more elegant family look. And let's hope there's a little beauty added to the mix as well.

Will they succeed? I happen to think the Concept CS is a striking car and a step in the right direction. Not beautiful, to these eyes, but quite a looker nonetheless. Let's hope some of its energy and charm will rub off on today's range. Ugly ducklings and all that...