• What Were They Thinking? Original X5 Designer Roasts The New BMW XM

Frank Stephenson breaks down the styling of the polarising XM and why they got it so wrong. However, he does have a few theories as to why BMW might be doing it

LISTEN 02:16

Who better to critique the styling of the polarising BMW XM than the designer of the original BMW X5, Frank Stephenson. Now Frank has featured some truly unique cars on his channel, but with the XM, he really took his time and waited for the dust to settle to finally give his opinion.

What Were They Thinking? Original X5 Designer Roasts The New BMW XM
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Frank Stephenson was responsible for the design of the original BMW X5 (E53) back in the late 90s

In his latest video, Frank goes over everything that’s wrong with the design of the new BMW XM. The internet has already been frenzy these past couple of years with BMW styling, especially surrounding the kidney grille, that seems to be getting bigger and bigger with every subsequent model that debuts. Then, we have the XM, where it seems that BMW designers were given the ultimate freedom to go to town. Did they go too far with this one?

What Were They Thinking? Original X5 Designer Roasts The New BMW XM
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He goes to the extent of calling the design controversial and confusing given the amount of linework there is

Well, after breaking down the design, Frank explains why the styling of the new XM is so confusing and controversial. He goes to the extent of calling it OTT design, where they didn’t know just where to stop. The proportions are wrong, especially when viewed from the side and there are just far too many elements on the vehicle, vying for your attention.

If you try to compare the front of the car to the rear of the car, they might be cousins, but they’re pretty distant cousins and they don’t really resemble each other in anyways - Frank Stephenson
What Were They Thinking? Original X5 Designer Roasts The New BMW XM
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And for a vehicle that has som much symmetry, he finds it strange that the XM badge wasn’t centered on the tailgate, but was offset to the left instead

There seems to be symmetry no matter what angle you view this vehicle from, except for one element, the XM badge. Heck, there are even two BMW badges on the rear windscreen, similar to what you found on the BMW M1 from the 80s, and the offset XM badge messes with that symmetry. Now I wonder what they were really going for with the XM, don’t get me wrong, BMW is capable of pulling off some great-looking cars even in the modern era. Take their current 8 Series Gran-Coupe, that looks rather smashing.

What Were They Thinking? Original X5 Designer Roasts The New BMW XM
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However, when viewed in profile, the proportions are just wrong, especially the front overhang

Anyway, I don’t want to give away too much about the XM, and I’ll let Frank walk you over the design in the video below, where he also explains why BMW might be doing this in the first place. Spoiler alert, it’s not all bad and there are two aspects about the XM’s design that Frank does like. Any guesses?


Khris Bharath
Khris Bharath
Khris is a classic car aficionado and adores his Jags and Alfas, although he keeps tabs on everything from super exotics like an old EB 110 to the latest from Lucid. Formula One is very close to his heart, and he diligently makes time to tune in for the Grand Prix on Sundays. Khris also loves his road trips and he prefers stick shift over an Auto any day.  Read full bio
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