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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Art and Design: Frankfurt 2007 -- BMW X6 , Tall Coupe or Squat SUV?

BMW revealed it's X6 Concept today at the Frankfurt Auto Show, which is widely tipped to be leading to an X6 production model within the year. From BMW's perspective this is fresh territory but some of us still remember AMC's Eagle and what happens when you try to force breed a car and an SUV. Granted the X6 is a fairly well-balanced design, with Wheel arches and lower body-side details reminiscent of the X5 SUV and abundant BMW family design cues. BMW design guru Chris Bangle has been accused of heavy-handedness but cars like the latest 3-Series and now the X6 suggest some mellowing. Details like the hood creases that run into the headlamps and the integrated footplates on the running boards are nicely done.

The trademarked "Hofmeister kink" is in evidence at the rear-quarter windows. The decorative strike plate below the rear bumper is especially silly as this is an unlikely vehicle to ever go off-road. As these neither fish-nor-fowl vehicles go, the X6 is handsome, but the fastback coupe like profile suggests the problem here. Is there a market for this? Most SUV's are bought and used by folks who find minivans to be too redolent of suburban soccer shuttles (though they end up using their utes for much the same task). With even less usable space, and a high rear bumper to surmount when loading the trunk, the X6 may be an answer to a question no-one has asked.

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