Has the Overwrought Styling Era Run Its Course? Mercedes and BMW Are Beginning To Think So

I’m not going to have to go very far out on a limb to predict that the news I’m about to pass along will be well received in these quarters, giving the perpetual bitching here about all the overwrought styling and accent lines going in all directions on the sides of today’s cars. Mercedes is abandoning much of that, and moving back to cleaner sides and fewer lines, as this refreshed Mercedes A Class hatchback scheduled to be introduced later this year graphically shows. In case you can’t remember what the current one looks like, it’s right after the jump.

And Mercedes isn’t the only one; BMW says their also cleaning up their act. Given that they started it all with their “Bangle Butt” and “Bangle Flames”, that’s saying something. As in: this fad has run its course.

Here’s the current A Class. Obviously its only the side accent/character lines that are going away. But that’s a good start, as these lines on its side have become clichéd.

No word yet from VW, whose T-Roc is still very busy.

It all started in 2001 with the new E65 7 series, which rocked the world. of course it looks mild-mannered and rather handsome today, as the problem with new design directions is our intrinsic inertia. FWIW, I rather liked it quite a lot, although the trunk was a bit challenging. Of course, this was just the start. And Chris Bangle didn’t actually design it; that was Adrian van Hooydonk, although Bangle did inspire and encourage him.

“There is more competition now. The world has changed,” said BMW Group design boss Adrian van Hooydonk. “It’s a faster pace, so our design needs to change faster as well.””We’re going to clean things up,” the BMW design chief promised. “We’re going to use fewer lines. The lines that we will have will be sharper and more precise.” (autonews.com)

Of course the E65 was nothing compared to the real Bangle-mobile of 2001, the X-Coupe. Yeah; that was a bit harder to take, back then. But you probably wouldn’t look twice if you saw it coming down the street.

Regardless of how you feel about the Bangle Era, he was profoundly influential. And it may be a while before it’s over, as Toyota and others are still cranking them out.