What’s the best looking BMW of the Bangle era?

What’s the best looking BMW of the Bangle era?

BMW’s Bangle era is probably its most famous or infamous design era. While most BMW enthusiasts have softened their Bangle views, his time as BMW’s design boss has been controversial. Admittedly, as the design boss of any company, Bangle received both too much hate and too much praise since he wasn’t the one who wrote the most designs. Instead, the design boss is like a conductor who leads the orchestra of designers. However, because he was the face of BMW’s design at the time, all cars made during his tenure are credited to him for better or for worse.

Some of those cars looked great. Some not so much. So let’s take a look back at the Bangle era and some of the cars made during his time at BMW to see which one looks the best.

There are a few cars that I really like from the Bangle era, cars that I’ve always liked but have grown to like over the years. One such car is the E90 3 Series, which was initially penned by Joji Nagashima, the same designers who also came up with the Z3. The Z3 was the first BMW to be designed under Bangle’s direction, and it’s also one of the best. The BMW X5 is another car that has aged incredibly well, originally drawn by Frank Stephenson under Bangle. However, the car that I think represents the best of the Bangle era is the first-generation BMW Z4.

The original E85 generation Z4 was designed by Anders Warming and best represented what Bangle was trying to achieve with BMW’s design language in my eyes. I’m not sure Bangle would agree, maybe he thinks otherwise, but I think the original Z4 is the best to come out of that era.

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Looking at the original Z4 today, it still looks as fresh and modern as it did back then, while also still looking like a truly classic roadster. It’s almost proportionally perfect for a sports car, it has a funky (but not overly funky) surface, every line, angle and curve actually leads somewhere and is connected to each other, and despite a ton of interesting design elements there’s nothing superfluous.

Look at the shoulder line running from the top of the wheel arch – the highest point of which is above the wheel, as it should be – through the door and into the door handle. Then the door closing line goes down and dives back to the front wheel and, if you go through the front wheel, into the front bumper and into the hood closing line. It’s all beautifully cohesive and purposeful, making a mockery of modern BMW design, where lines disappear into thin air. On the Z4 there is also a slanted line that starts at the bottom of the front wheel arch and runs backwards to the door, but the tip ends exactly where the door crease and shoulder line intersect.

What about the rear wheel arch? Not only does it give muscularity to the back, but the fold aligns perfectly with the front shoulder line. It is simple and purposeful, but also stylish and unique. If you ask me, this is the best design to come out of the Bangle and one of the best BMW designs of modern times.

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  • June 3, 2023