Before a new BMW model ever reaches the hands of consumers, it has to be subjected to punishment and aging worth many lifetimes as part of a vehicle’s pre-production development, but over a very condensed period as the seventh generation 3-Series nears production.
To ensure that the design and details remain ‘cloaked’ from the prying lens of career spy photographers…and just about anyone with a smartphone, manufacturers spare no expense in camouflaging and disguising their test mules whether it’s in the icy regions of Sweden or the west of the USA.
In the basement of BMW’s Research and Innovation Centre (FIZ) in Munich, pre-production vehicles are kitted out with a made-to-measure and confusingly patterned cloak of camouflage. Applying the black-and-white wrap requires an expert hand and takes a whole working day to complete. Then comes the plastic cladding which distorts the lines and surfaces of the car. The light units, sections of the window surfaces and the brand emblems also get a layer of sticky camouflage.
Likewise, the interior needs to be hidden from plain sight as well. To this end, the cockpit is curtained off with black matting, which the test engineers partially remove at the start of testing and then painstakingly replace at every pause in proceedings, so that no prying eyes can spot or even get a photograph of the displays and controls.
The G20-generation 3-Series is expected to lose its camouflage this coming Paris Motor Show starting 4th October. Let’s hope all the effort to keep BMW’s most important model from public eyes have been worth the while.