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The Third Shark: BMW’s F12 6-Series

July 3, 2011 by Matt


Having owned an example of the original—and still the best—version of BMW’s 6-series coupe, I feel more than qualified to pass judgment on the newly-released F12 (BMW’s internal code for the redesigned 2011+ iteration).

Certainly, I haven’t driven it (nor its predecessor, the E63), so I can’t comment on the dynamics, which I’m sure are impressive, and obviously leaps and bounds ahead of my lowly, recently-sold ’86 635CSi. I can talk about the design, though, an area where they’ve made improvements over the E63—one of the most hideous BMWs in recently memory—but are still falling short in a few areas.

The most notable problem, as Autoblog points out, is the nose. BMW seems to half-acknowledge it isn’t the car’s strongest point, and offer this in the way of explanation:

We’ve been told and retold that the discrepant front end with its schnozzola double kidneys and heavily recessed lights was a solution concocted to satisfy global pedestrian impact regulations.

Be that as it may (and unfortunate, if regulations are the main driver of a design decision), I think part of the justification for the more upright grille was an attempt to get more of the classic BMW forward-swept kidney rake into the profile. Sadly, with the F12, it doesn’t go nearly far enough, and the overall profile is still very lozenge-like and anonymous. Contrast this:

F12 Profile

with this:

E24 Profile

and you’ll see what I’m after. The classic car’s profile has so much more character, especially the swept-forward nose, which is what gave the car its “shark” nickname in the first place. Had it been the first of its kind, I doubt the new 6-series would inspire any nickname so distinctive.

Otherwise, the lines are tidy and handsome if, again, not particularly worthy of a second glance. Vanilla. And another problem is that their current 3-series coupe intrudes on 6-series territory, not only performance-wise, but especially visually. Compare a rear 3/4 view of both cars; the C-pillars and taillights follow very similar lines. The net result is that there’s little to set the F12 apart from even its own company’s model line.

Overall, I think BMW’s made great strides, but at the end of the day, Audi’s A5/S5 is still the high-water mark for German luxury coupes. It wins on style, the determining factor in the big, stylish coupe market niche. And with the improvements Audi has made in the chassis (the A5/S5 is built on their B-platform), it’s probably a wash dynamically as well.

Filed under: Aesthetics, BMW, News


  1. Ben says:

    I have always enjoyed the recognizable look of the shark. Here’s to wishing modern cars had more character and blaming those idiot pedestrians who crossed the street without looking, forcing bumper regulations on the industry. Isn’t aesthetic beauty more important than avaoidable health hazards?

    • Matt says:

      I wish for more character too. Modern cars often just seem like skin (with a few dimples here and there) stretched over a container with the same proportions from car to car. The overall dimensions (height, length, width) may be the same as older cars, but there’s more “stuff” filling up the volume, you know?

  2. Wow that was strange. I just wrote an very long comment
    but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing
    all that over again. Anyway, just wanted to say superb blog!

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