Very few things seem to polarize opinion as much as a change in design, be it in clothing, architecture or automobiles. A departure from the current standard, while considered daring by some, is viewed as sacrilege by most. Yet over time, the new, seemingly outrageous design becomes the accepted norm and we wonder how we ever could have esteemed and even liked the previous fashion. Someone has to make the leap to a new look, otherwise lettermen sweaters and poodle skirts would still be all the rage, Ionic columns would still be considered a worthy addition to any building and big-finned hunks of sheetmetal would still dominate the highways. To put it bluntly: eewww!
Thankfully, there will always be someone willing to push past the norm, to create a new cutting edge and even go beyond it. You may not always agree with the end result (you may even loathe it), but you have to at least acknowledge the effort and appreciate the risk taken to force a change in the status quo.
A common complaint heard from generation to generation is that all the current cars look alike, that you can't really tell one from the other on the road. Well, now you can. Enter Chris Bangle and the evolving look of BMW design. It started with the 7 Series, and was followed quickly by the Z4, the 5 Series and now, the new 6. Love it or hate it, BMW's new design philosophy is stretching the envelope of accepted car appearances. Does it work? For the most part, yes. Will it hold? It's too soon to tell, but my guess is that it will. Three or four years from now, we'll wonder what exactly it was that we didn't like about the new designs. And the one new car that could lead the way is the new 645Ci.
I can hear the cries already, "But it doesn't look like a BMW! It doesn't even have the kidney grilles." Au contraire, it does look like a BMW if you know your timeline. The sloping roof to trunk line evokes the profile of nearly every BMW coupe, from the 3200 CS to the 635 CSi. The long and wide hood plays off the styling of both the 503 and the 850 CSi. And take a look back at the 3.0 CSi and the 3.0 CSL neither one had much of a front or rear overhang. As for the "kidney" grilles (whose kidneys anyway, an elephant's?), they have changed shape numerous times over the years. The one element that probably will cause the most consternation is the rear end and its accompanying trunk lid. Yes, it's a radical departure from previous BMWs, yet it does share the trait with the new 7 and 5, thus connecting it to the BMW family.
The new 645Ci looks the best from the side, especially when in motion. It is very pleasing to the eye, as the sleek silhouette (the coupe is 190.2 in. long, 54.1 in. high) hugs the road in a most sensuous manner-it boasts a very low Cd of 0.29. And the odd-looking trunk lid (it will take a while for me to get used to it) blends in better on the 6 than on the other two new models. The front is pure aggression; having a 645Ci appear suddenly in your rear-view mirror is a daunting experience. Its entire demeanor says "move out of the way, now." As for the rear, well, it is distinctive. Besides, you can't see the back end once you're sitting inside.