Happy New BMW 7 Series day, to those who celebrate. Now that the morning’s traditional Airing of Initial Shocked Reactions is over, cooler heads can prevail to really delve into the car’s design. Today, I’m that cooler head, and I’m here to tell you the truth: This car rules.
Like you, I was skeptical before the 7’s reveal. Those early renders looked, to put it kindly, like an eldritch horror made manifest in a lumbering, twisted assemblage of plastic and aluminum. But BMW’s designers not only rearranged those spy-shot details into something appealing, they penned a car that looks better than the outgoing 7. In fact, it’s one of the best looking 7 Series models the company has ever built.
Let’s start with that front end, because that’s what everyone wants to talk about. We’ve got a few key points: The big grille, the split headlights, and the reversal of putting the main headlights beneath the thin daytime running lights. We’ll touch on all three.
First up, the grille. Let’s face it — we’re in the era of big grilles, and we likely will be until they disappear entirely with EVs. But we’re at the point where designers are working with that grille size in mind, and where changing it wouldn’t be a net benefit to the design of the car. Take a look at a smaller grille on the new 7 Series:
Does this really change anything? A grille any smaller than the one in the gif just looks comical (trust me, I experimented), and even at this slightly-shrunken size the dead space around the grille looks… odd, and it doesn’t change the “pig-nose” accusations that so many people lob at modern Bimmers. The big grille fits, it works with the styling. It’s good.
Then we come to the split headlights, which always seem to invite criticism. Even back in the days of the Juke, no one loved having little DRLs sitting above the main headlights. I think I understand the thinking behind this, but we’ll have to get a bit into the psychological weeds to explain why.
This is a first-generation Mazda Miata. It’s a fun, two-seater roadster with pop-up headlights, beloved by enthusiasts around the world. It’s also a sweet boy. Look at that little face — those innocent, wide eyes, the little smile of the grille, even the turn signals look like the car is blushing. This car is shaped like a friend.
If you see the sweet boy in the face of the Mazda Miata, it’s because of a psychological phenomenon called pareidolia. Humans, as it turns out, are really good at identifying faces in places where faces absolutely do not exist, like the front end of a motor vehicle. Our brains read the top-most lights of the 7 Series as eyes, meaning those narrow DRLs start to look like the bad guy from Monsters Inc.
There’s a trick to this, though. A way to rewire your brain, to ignore those topmost lights, and refocus the pareidolia on the great-looking face beneath them. One simple thought, and all your troubles go away.
The DRLs are eyebrows.
Do you see it now? Those hardened eyes beneath a prominent, determined brow bone? The headlights are still the eyes of the 7 Series, and they look fantastic. The little dark accents beneath the lights could be baseball eye black or just a perfect lower-lid eyeliner. Take your pick.
The eyes match up with the harder angles of the grille, but the grille never exceeds the brow — just like the ridge of your nose. BMW’s gotten this wrong before, most notably on late model crossovers, but the company nailed it here. It’s a good face.
The back of the car is, admittedly, not my favorite. If it had merely two steps (trunk to bumper) rather than three (trunk to mid-trunk to bumper) it would lead to a much cleaner appearance. But those tail lights, the prominent Hofmeister kink, and the overall smoothed-over appearance win me right back over. I can’t stay mad at you, 7 Series. Who could?