Feb 20, 2009
There was a time when BMW was accused of reproducing the same design theme while only varying the length, thus giving rise to the phrase used in the title. Don’t get me wrong, having owned an E36 3 series coupe and allowing myself unsavoury thoughts about the E38 7 series and an E34 M5 (which were the groß-wurst and uber mittel-wurst to my 3 series würstchen), the Ercole Spada/Claus Luthe BMWs were beautifully resolved vehicles that I still look longingly at. The strong visual link between the cars was always part of the appeal.
Chris Bangle changed that, with the 3, 5 and 7 all adopting distinct design themes. The concept of a highly unified family look seemed to have disappeared with the other proponent of the sausage concept, Mercedes, also pursuing inconsistent design themes across it’s ever-expanding range.
BMW stablemate, Rolls Royce, has done us proud however and fans of strictly evolutionary design can rejoice. The image you see above is not of the gargantuan Phantom but of the slightly less enormous 200EX concept that’s to be revealed in Geneva. Looking at the rear 3/4 view, even I had to do a double take. Perhaps, once appreciated in real life, the relative scales of the cars will be a signifier but as far as the photos are concerned, the 200EX is the Lincolnshire Chippolata to the Phantom’s whopping Cumberland.
We know that people associate a strong family identity with feelings of longevity, stability and depth of experience (both of those producing the vehicle, and the experience one has with the vehicle), all qualities that are highly valued in the premium market. From a strategic design perspective, Ian Cameron and his team have made a safe bet that, market conditions notwithstanding, will attract customers by enabling them to attain the Rolls mystique in a Phantom-lite package. Those A8600 iLs are starting to look even more boring…
(Images courtesy of Rolls Royce Motor Cars Ltd)