The new BMW Z4 Concept is a good, maybe even great-looking car: it has great proportions, some really nice and aggressive detailing, and is finished in a very eye-catching combination of sunset orange and brushed aluminum. But is it a great-looking BMW? Cover the grille, or simply merge the two kidneys into one single item, and many would struggle to ascribe the car to a particular brand – the Z4 blends a lot of cues, many seemingly from other carmakers, making the finished product seem a bit too un-BMW-like for my taste. And while the outside influences could be ascribed to many different sources, there is one concept in particular that the Z4 reminds me of…
The 2003 Vauxhall VX Lightning concept was one of the many spun off the GM Kappa platform, along with the Pontiac Solstice, Saturn Curve and Chevrolet Nomad. In the end, even though it produced its own concept, the VX Lightning was put into production as the Saturn Sky and Opel GT. While the production version retained most elements from VX Lightning, it’s the concept that the BMW most resembles in my eyes.
First, there is the side vent behind the front wheels: it has a very similar size and shape on both cars, and combines with the cutline of the clamshell hood to start a character line that runs across the door and onto the rear fenders (though, of course, this line climbs more steeply on the BMW). Then, there are the flying buttresses behind the seats’ headrests. And finally, the rear lights, which while much more exaggerated from the back on the BMW, look almost identical from the side. All in all I think the VX Lightning is the more attractive car despite being 14 years younger, mostly because of its taut proportions and tiny front overhang, and while I don’t doubt the Z4 Concept will morph into a very attractive production model, I do wish it looked a bit more like a BMW.
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