BMW's new i3: Did they try to make it ugly?

BMW unveiled the i3, its entry into the electric car market.

Is it just me or did they deliberately try to make the miniature electric car version of the famously bad Pontiac Aztek?

I don’t find the shape itself unattractive. I’d have to see one in person or at least in motion to decide. The paint job in the link you provide is a crime against humanity though.

when aerodynamics is a primary concern, there are a limited number of shapes that work for a passenger vehicle. The Chevy Volt is a good example; people loved the concept car but were griping when the production vehicle basically looked like a Prius. Bob Lutz said that the Volt Concept would have been more aerodynamic if it was driven backwards.

Uh-huh. Tesla did just fine avoiding the ugly.

The familiar Prius/Insight/Volt/Leaf shape is good for maximizing aerodynamics and usable interior space. The Tesla doesn’t really have the latter concern.

Why not? (note: that’s the Model S in that picture)

It says: “The consistently sustainable design of the BMW i3 makes it the perfect vehicle for urban environments in the megacity…”

The design looks very reasonable and appealing for a city car. It maximizes interior space and minimizes external size, and it’s still reasonably aerodynamic. The Ford C-Max hybrid has a similar shape (but larger).

The Tesla S is a much bigger 4 door sedan; larger cars naturally look more sleek because they are longer, but not taller. (In fact, smaller cars tend to be taller because that’s a good way to increase interior space.)

Could someone please explain to me how the i3’s notch in the body behind the passenger doors increases fuel economy? Or how the two-tone design is more eco friendly?

I mean, blah. The Volt, Prius, and others are great designs compared to that turd.

If you mean the windows on the rear doors being taller than the ones on the front doors, it’s probably to improve rear visibility. Which I think is a very good thing - most modern cars have horrible rear visibility.

Those are windows, so you can see out your blind spot when you’re backing out of a diagonal parking space, turning, or changing lanes. I heartily endorse this.

Granted, it doesn’t make it any more attractive, it’s still a fugly little SUV. It’s just marginally safer that way.

Who cares what it looks like? When you’re inside the outside doesn’t matter. When you’re outside why would you stand around and look at your car?

Electric vehicles aren’t nearly advanced enough to sacrifice function for form and still be affordable (although at 41k this isn’t that inexpensive), so why not just make the thing work, then tack on a couple of styling cues to make sure it’s isn’t just a Prius with a BMW badge?

Unless you’re buying an electric car as a fashion statement, in which case you have more play money than I do and might as well complain about trivialities as you are probably used to having all your most fleeting whims attended without delay and are thereby spoiled beyond belief.

Oh, and the Aztek was horrible for reasons other than ugliness. If only the disaster had been confined to aesthetics.

It’s a city car. Who cares about aerodynamics when it will probably never go faster than 45 mph?

And who needs a $41,000 putt-putt?

Why would people want to buy something that looks like crap? Why would a car company invest huge sums to produce an ugly car, knowing of the commercial failures of the Aztek, the Edsel, and the god-awful Prowler?

If you want to wear a kilt, a poofy pirate shirt, a helicopter beanie hat and clown shoes and talk about how you don’t have to look in mirrors so it doesn’t matter what you look like, go right ahead. But if you start a business to outfit people in such garb, I’m going to ask you what was going through your mind when you thought you could make money by making people look silly.

Come on, the notion that people choosing automobiles for what it looks like is a foreign concept to you? In case you’re honestly not being contrarian, you can refer to JD Powers’ article “Top 10 Reasons Why Car Buyers Choose a Specific Vehicle Model”:

3) Exterior Styling: In recent years, exterior styling has increased in importance among new-vehicle buyers, rising from the fourth-most-frequently cited reason for purchasing to the third-most-frequently cited reason.

One thing you all might be missing: It’s a European car for the European market. Things that look cool and modern to young Europeans look ugly to a lot of Americans (especially middle age and older).

A city car is a car designed to be used primarily (but NOT EXCLUSIVELY) in the city. Also, cities have bypasses and expressways.

Does Hyundai, M-B, and BMW have the same designer? These makes all look the same to me.

Cars are for either transportation or performance. In the case of electric cars optimizing for performance is mandatory if they’re to serve as adequate transportation due to the current limitations of the technology.

The clothing you listed is impractical beyond looking “silly.” It is telling that you are focused on the aesthetic qualities to the exclusion of practical considerations. In fact, I routinely wear ridiculous-looking clothing because it serves the practical purpose of preventing drivers from killing me while I run on the road. I don’t care that I look like an idiot because my actual needs are met. Frankly, if your car is primarily a fashion statement then you are living an insubstantial lifestyle.

Of course not. My point is that people who prioritize exterior appearance over any practical considerations are fools.

And honestly, the thing isn’t ugly anyway. It looks like a small, aerodynamic city car with a couple of nods to aesthetics. I have no idea what people expected the thing to look like given the areo requirements. Certainly not the hilariously impossible concept they released.

And for those who are keeping score, I drive an ugly compact car and couldn’t be happier. Good mileage, amenities, and reliability are all I need. That and a third pedal so I can select my own gear ratios.

You don’t even vaguely understand what is being said to you. Perhaps this judgmental attitude is getting in the way of understanding a very simple, unassailable point: regardless of how utilitarian your tastes are, a business is making a very serious mistake if they do not try to make their products both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

You will note that every car make and model updates its styling every year to appeal to the tens to hundreds of thousands of people who buy them. They are not designing cars to suit your outlying preference for spartanism, because the vast majority of people want to spend their money on things that are useful AND pleasing to the eye.

Besides which, it’s laughable to believe that the i3 was designed solely for performance characteristics. Of course BMW was trying to make an aesthetic statement, and I’m saying it is an UGLY aesthetic statement. How do I know that they were trying to make a statement with the exterior design? Because BMW says so:

And by the way, in case you get the mistaken impression that my comments are anti-electric car just because BMW designed an ugly one, I think the Nissan Leaf is pretty nice (if plain). And if you think I’m bashing small city cars, I think the Smart Car is one of the most exciting car designs anywhere. I think it is really ingenious.