Color Me Disappointed

I spotted this BMW i3 while walking home from work yesterday. Notice anything unusual about it?

Yeah, okay, the whole car’s a little funky looking, real original there, Don Rickles.

No, what caught my eye were the wheels—notice how the front and rear wheels are pointed in opposite directions. I…kinda like it? It’s a unique little detail that rewards attention; the asymmetry catches the eye, but isn’t blatant enough that it’s immediately obvious as the culprit for causing this otherwise unassuming little space pod to stop you in your tracks. I want to know what it looks like in motion.

I was hopeful that this was a conscious design decision by BMW, not just a mistake at Tire Rack, but a cursory Google image search when I got home dashed my dreams.

Lame. (Photo: BMW)

I’ve been pretty disenchanted with BMW’s general direction for the last several years—not just styling, mind you, and I regard the ambitious and forward-looking i division as a rare (and sadly but predictably aborted) bright spot, so I’m really not trying to pick on the i3. BMWs have never been particularly subtle cars, but they’ve gotten even less so, first with the overwrought and baroque—but influential!—styling themes that Chris Bangle hasn’t quite lived down yet, and more recently (as the styling, at least of the core models, has become so mainstream that it has ossified into complete cliche and revived the one-sausage-three-lengths problem that started the whole megillah in the first place) with the company’s marketing-driven, lowest-common-denominator attempt to corner every possible niche with a soulless clonemobile.

Before this mentality took over, though, BMWs felt more like the products of living, breathing, passionate humans who gave us thoughtful touches like a trunklid-mounted toolkit, who condescendingly installed the worst cupholders they could think up because driving a car is not the appropriate time to enjoy a beverage, and who stubbornly held onto ideas past their sell-by date, like a turn signal stalk on the right hand side of the steering column because, who cares, BMW drivers don’t signal anyway. For a brief, shining moment, these wheels gave me hope that somewhere within BMW there still lurked someone willing to make an idiosyncratic, not completely calculated decision, just for the sheer delight of it.

Oh, well.

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