There are many signature BMW design elements
by which you can easily identify a BMW by - kidney grilles, short overhangs, and the classic Hofmeister kink (the counter sweeping 'kink' at the corner of the rear windows).
Named after former BMW Design Director Wilhelm Hofmeister, the Hofmeister kink is described by BMW as giving the window outline a forward thrust while accentuating a further BMW hallmark: rear-wheel drive. It was introduced in 1961 on the BMW 1500. Some would not think that such a simple styling decision would have such wide influence on the history of automotive design, but it has.
As with all great designs, it's been emulated much over the years by other manufacturers. As the NY Times
points out, this was never more evident than at the just concluded NY International Auto Show where some variation of the Hofmeister kink was always in sight. "Nearly all of the four-door cars that made their debuts had rakish roof profiles requiring swept-back C pillars and a sleeker adaptation of the venerable kink."
Why has the kink been so popular? According to the author it's "Because the pillar treatment heavily influences the overall shape of a carís windows ó an important trait that designers call the "daylight opening" ó these kinks can accentuate the horizontal, making cars seem longer. And when framed in chrome, as they increasingly are, they can give a premium appearance even to workaday mass-market sedans."
Here's a look at some of the Hofmeister kink inspired C-pillars on other manufacturer's cars from the NYIAS.
2013 Lexus ES
2012 Hyundai Azera
2013 Nissan Altima
2014 Chevy Impala
2012 Audi A7