By on June 27, 2012

“I wish I came up with that.”

That’s a phrase I said many a morning when the studios at CCS woke up to a bumper crop of new student designs for the week.  Just because you can visualize it doesn’t mean you can make it happen.  Self pity/loathing aside, the 5th generation BMW 7-series is one of those visions in my head that I could never make.  It’s not my cup of tea, and perhaps you don’t like it either.  But the attention to detail (ATD) in this shockingly cohesive Luxury sedan implementation are not to be ignored.


Flow: the 7-er has so much flow that the sheet metal might as well be bursting at the seams with kinetic energy.  Colors and lines literally dance off the light and shadows presented here, with surface tension so well executed I can’t find a line out-of-place.  That said, I think the headlights could be a little higher (or the grille a little lower) to give the 7’s face a bit nicer posture, and the hood cut line should bend downward at the ends to accentuate the bulging hood.

But this nose is remarkably well designed.  Imagine Lincoln’s bow wave grille on this canvas!


Surface tension. Kinetic energy.  There’s something about this machine that pushes all the right buttons, especially when the lighting embellishes the bends and curves.


I tried not to like the BMW Z4-esque flat bumper treatment on the 7-series, but dammit, it looks stunning.  It looks like a top dollar luxury car.  And it literally takes the Z4’s façade to school.


While I constantly and consistently dislike the headlight eyebrows first seen on the E60 BMW 5-series, the frosted glass treatment here is more subtle; befitting a luxury car.  What kills the mood are the marketing messages hidden under the plastic.  Does anyone care about this technology enough to advertise?  No, you don’t advertise at this price point. This is tacky.


Contrasting the flowing energy up top is a rather blocky lower valence with trapezoidal fog lights.  Like a woman with the right proportion of muscle to fat, this totally works.  You need static and dynamic elements together, otherwise any car’s surface is dull and/or out of proportion.


Once again, this one’s got nice curves.  Unlike smaller BMWs, the 7’s prodigious nose helps these forms make complete sense.


Notice from this angle how the curves blend with hard bends and straight lines from the fender.  Proportion Über Alles!


Chrome fender appliqués are bad enough these days, but BMW went and ruined the whole thing with a two piece affair that bleeds over to the door!  The side marker light is necessary, so just frame it in chrome and be done with it.


While the chrome bit flows with the rest of the body, it’s more of a pimple on a rather perfect complexion. Even the yellow marker light is low and long: accentuating the visual presence of the 7-er.


And while tall cowls and pedestrian friendly noses have made the fender-to-greenhouse mating a little complicated, this looks far better than the 3-series we previously reviewed.


More to the point, imagine if the top edge of the hood matched the lower chrome molding on the door glass. Clean.


Much like the Z4-like front end, I really wanted to dislike these door pulls. But they are so well executed, right down to the subtle yet somehow flashy use of chrome!  What you see here is a fine complement to the front end’s fantastic surface tension.


While the side view mirrors do try to do “soft and lean”, they are too big and blocky to speak to the rest of the 7-series.   Some twisted part of me wants to see E36 M3 side view mirrors on this beastie. It’s probably the same part that wishes this body was actually for the next generation Lincoln Town Car.  Panther Love comes in all shapes and sizes, son…


My goodness you have a long…door. Aside from the harsh “divot” in the door’s cut line (thanks to that hard bend), this shot embodies the Grace and Pace we expect from a top-tier luxury whip.  Look out! Someone’s Rolls Royce influence might be showing!


A beautiful DLO (daylight opening) and even the gas door looks cool with the hard crease in it.  My only beef?  Add another curve starting at the base of the door cut line so it “dances” with the wheel well opening.  That’s suitably luxurious.


Surface tension again: instead of a boring blob of a roof, there’s a gentle crease that adds a muscular tone to the package.  Much like the calves of a beautiful woman (or man if the reader prefers, as I don’t discriminate like that), Bavaria got this one so right.  I wish more design firms would remember this point…so to speak.


Finishing the long body side curves are a logical end: the tail light.  Even better, the red thing’s inner curves dance delightfully well with the exterior metal.


Tall and very well organized.  There’s no Cadillac CTS buffalo butt, nor is the Bangle Butt of the previous 7-series (plural) present.  Curves and cut lines are quite harmonious.


Nary a Bangle to be seen!  Also note the gentle and flowing tumblehome to the greenhouse, accentuated by the hard bends at the door handle.  Muscle and curves in harmony.  Lovely.


I could do without the chrome license plate mustache on so many vehicles, but I will say that the 7-er’s addition of chrome backup lights does help integrate the package.  I’d put more chrome (or translucent stuff like the headlights) and ditch the stereotypical bit on the deck lid.


I know this car is very tall, just look at the space between the tailpipes and the Roundel emblem on the trunk!  But still, again, the 7-series masks the bulk so darn well!


After enduring this car’s E65 forefather for far too many years, let’s enjoy this lightly Bangled section of surfacing.


Even the drip rail is a stunning piece of integration. Calculus books are jealous.


The third brake light (CHMSL) is eye-catching for all the right reasons.  Then again, for the price, it should be swathed in Alcantara. That would be sweet.


The marker lights don’t quite line up with the tailpipes, but perhaps that’s one reason the rear end doesn’t look especially gigantic: it visually breaks up your sight lines. In a good way.

Thank you all for reading, have a great week.





Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

39 Comments on “Vellum Venom: 2012 BMW 750Li...”

  • avatar
    Good ole dayz

    Sorry, I completely disagree. Starting with Chris Bangle the BMW’s got baroque styling — too busy and overdone — with now cliche’d swage lines, flame surfacing and front ends attempting an anthropomorphic human face resemblance. Unfortunately this (mostly) continues with the new 7.

    Worse still, virtually all of the other manufacturers, lemming-like, have embraced the trend (along with bunker-like cabins with inadequate to the point of being unsafe glass area hindering outward visibility).

    In future decades, the current designs will be derided as the 2000’s reprise of 1970’s tastelessness, albeit this time not involving vinyl roofs, opera lights, fake spare tire carriers and phony wire wheels.

    Two positives with this car, though: in the photos it appears to have honest-to-god side windows (please, please let that signal a new trend), and at least BMW has removed the trunk-lid seam from the side of the vehicle (which was never attractive, but appeared to have been done merely to do something different, the merits of it be damned).

    • 0 avatar

      I too, enjoy the explanation of the myriad of design features in this pregnant bimmer, but can’t actually see the beauty of it in the pictures itself. Lots of nice details, maybe, but the overall design itself is rather blah, and no amount of nice details can mask that.

    • 0 avatar

      If ‘70s cars were Baroque, wouldn’t that make Bangle’s designs Rococo? Regardless, I’m not sure either term is sufficiently pejorative in this context.

      Otherwise, I totally agree with you, including the two positives you mention.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    All those creases help dissimulate gap and flush problems between panels. I checked a 3 series in a mall and was disappointed.

    The current style looks better in the 3 series, specially the front end treatment.

    It seems that in this car they used lower radius in the areas where the body meet the fascias. Still too much considering that even a humble Camry is better in that area.

    I love those brushed aluminum windows moldings. They look REALLY good in the previous gen 3 series. The current Camry has a nicer moldings in that front area you mentioned.

    I’ve seen this car in the street, and doesn’t do much for me. I am more impressed by the new bigger Audis than the big BMWs

  • avatar
    Sgt Beavis

    I don’t always agree with these articles, but I certainly enjoy reading them.

    Thank you,

  • avatar

    I love this series! I feel like I’m getting a free education in automotive design!

  • avatar

    The side view is the worst angle of this car as in many other sedans today. Too plain and slab sided with nothing breaking up the tall sheet of grey metal. Gives these cars a cheap cur rate appearance in my eyes. The rest is okay if a little fussy.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m inclined to agree: The side view is the worst. My biggest gripe is the front doors, and especially the front windows. The doors look too tall, but not long enough from the front edge to the B-pillar. The front windows look nearly triangular because the fast angle of the windshield leads into a roofline that’s still rising when it gets to the B-pillar. Makes me think the car went through the Swedish ‘moose’ test and got its forehead smashed in.

  • avatar
    Speed Spaniel

    Sajeev, I envy your eye. When I look at this design I see pure boredom on wheels. For this price point I expect better.

  • avatar
    Sam P

    IMHO the 7-series has looked horrific since the 2002 E65. The S-class and A8 – especially the A8 – wear their styling better.

  • avatar

    we all know what a taillight looks like, even an side mirror, when you show a car piece by piece it is hard to know what the finished product looks like, in all these pics you have shown i still dont know what the car looks like whole! If I wnt to see a exhaust pipe I would go to my garage & look at my own.

  • avatar

    I think this car looks better in the details than in the whole. The near vertical slope of the nose seems like a very blunt way to handle the new pedestrian safety standards…so to speak.

    Compared to the last 7-series, its is true, the individual flow of the various sections is better, but the mass of the car isn’t disguised very well. I never got that feelnig from the older one, and you never look at the current S-class with the first thought of “That’s a big heavy car”.

    Also not a fan of the rear door shut line. Purposefully awkward for the sake of being awkward. The wheel well is already there, it should follow that curve. You shouldn’t look at the rear half of the car and think that the the door engineer and the suspension engineer were having at it the day the car was finalized.

  • avatar

    I never noticed the C-pillar crease before you pointed it out here! Now I can’t un-see it! As I read more of Vellum Venom articles, I can’t help but think the greenhouse and front fender area are the equivalent of shoulder areas in clothing fashion: Difficult to pull of well, but great rewards when done correctly.

    My favorite styling elements on the car are the headlights and the taillights, although brake LEDs in the taillights seem to be arranged like a flippant afterthought, placed wherever they found some extra space between the light pipes.

  • avatar

    Nice to see a car that you say does everything right as far as attention to detail. While I may not like the overall look of the vehicle, it doesn’t strike me as a bad looking vehicle either.

  • avatar

    I enjoy these articles, but I despise when someone uses the word “literally” when they clearly mean the complete opposite. Nothing was literally “taken to school.”. The word is “figuratively.”

    I don’t like seeming pedantic, but great writing should, IMO, properly use and support the language. Incorrect usage in publication will lead to more incorrect use by the general population. They may not know better, but if you take yourself seriously as a writing professional, it IS your job to know better.

    This message has been brought to you by “I CouldN’T Care Less,” and “just because flammable and inflammable mean the same thing, that does not mean that regardless and ‘irregardless’ are synonyms. Or that the latter is even an actual word.”

  • avatar

    while certainly not as offensive as an e65/66 (really not that hard to be), this car still looks bloated and stuffy to me. It has none of the elegance and presence with a hint of intimidation (in the right color) that I traditionally associated with BMWs. This is not just a BMW problem – I think the current generaiton S class suffers from the same fate. It seems only Audi among the Germans know how to make a full size luxury sedan that both looks good and maintains the brands character. This car is probably one of the best looking Lexus’s ever. Long live the e38!

  • avatar
    Vance Torino

    You know what would be awesome on new cars, like maybe something to cushion the blow of a low speed impact without having massively expensive damage to lights, grille, hood, etc. maybe up to say, 5mph with only cosmetic damage?
    I would call them “bumpers.”

  • avatar

    I think the new 7 is the best looking 7 series ever!!

  • avatar

    Surface tension. Kinetic energy. Don’t you mean flame surfacing?

  • avatar

    I love the big square mirrors. I wish it had the X5 mirrors.

    I remember being affronted when the F01 came out. It was the taillights. But I guess it’s conservative in all the right places.

    Can’t wait for the new S class!

  • avatar

    This comes off as a scholarly critique of the emperor’s new clothes. There is nothing good about this mishmash of discordant shapes and gaudy ornamentation. The cluttered shapes also cause uncomfortable cut lines that ruin reflected light lines and create the illusion of random panel gaps and badly repaired crash damage. Perverse garbage.

  • avatar

    Here in the ATL, this is the Housewives chariot of choice. If I was a BMW marketing type & I saw one of these in the parking lot of Whole Foods with two baby seats in the back, I’d offer to buy it back on the spot. I used to be a little awe struck when I would see one of these (supposed) “masters of my own destiny” vehicles come wafting by, but no more.

  • avatar

    Both the Kia Optima (22k) and the Audi A6 prove good, coherent design is still attainable.

    I own a 3er wagon, and would call it many things except good looking.

    • 0 avatar

      Sadly as a fellow e91 owner, I completely agree with you. It rises to ‘ok’, though I think the wagon is the best looking of the 3-series bodies. It has some good angles, but too much muchness in the detailing. Luckily you cannot really see what it looks like while driving it, and the drive is sublime.

      I like the look of the F31 much, much better.

  • avatar

    The (otherwise beautiful) Audi A7 makes the same mistake in the Fender-Greenhouse-Hood-APillar mating-joint area.

    Looks a terrible kludge.

  • avatar

    ‘Subtle beauty’, similar to that of my Achieva coupe.

  • avatar

    Sorry, I don’t feel that there’s anything attractive about this car. It’s a styleless whale. The rear looks like an old Korean car and the nose looks tacked-on. Visually, this car lumbers down the road like a fat kid on a skateboard. The S-class is sportier and the A8 is more conservative. Both are more stately than this.

  • avatar

    I prefer Jaguars when you start talking about this kind of money. I understand the appeal of the big BMW’s but eh.. I’d rather have a Jag, it’s just classier.

  • avatar

    When a design needs to be explained to be appreciated, well…

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    “Irrefutable proof that beauty (or lack thereof) is in the squinted, 20/400 eyes of the beholder.”

    That is gold!

  • avatar

    I really enjoyed this!
    and would love a critique if an earlier..say 1997 740iL and your thoughts on it.
    Painful or not.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • 28-Cars-Later: *faint
  • Corey Lewis: The excessive holdout was the gawky D-body Imperial!
  • 28-Cars-Later: Well at least it got a fair amount of use and wasn’t wasted.
  • 28-Cars-Later: Damning with feint praise right there.
  • mikey: The entire 58 G.M line up never really appealed to me. That being said. If I had to pick the best looking of...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber