On the road

The BMW 5 Series diesel pulls like a train and it's startlingly economical for such a potent engine.

by Richard Bremner

It may not seem obvious, but the flanks of the new BMW 5 Series are intended to mimic the surface of a Zeppelin airship. The crease along the car's waist is a fuselage spar, while the surface below is intended to emulate the tension of a blimp's enveloping fabric. The 5 Series body bears physical evidence of some thinking that, at best, might be termed unusual.

This car is the latest subject - or victim - of the new aesthetic sweeping the BMW range. It was created by US designer Chris Bangle, whose controversial designs are making him the most questioned car designer of all time.

It's not that he has altered the essential form of the 5 Series so much as the detail. The interior is a striking meld of intersecting planes and shapes, but the eye is unable to cope with the resulting visual dissonance.

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