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BMW Defends Polarizing Concept 4 Design, Massive Kidney Grilles

"It is a sporty coupe, and by definition it has to have a very expressive design," said BMW's design boss.

Reception to the BMW Concept 4 unveiled at Frankfurt last month has been controversial, to say the least. Despite the less-than-positive response, BMW is standing behind the coupe concept and its ridiculous kidney grilles. According to one company design exec, it’s all about giving paying customers what they want and keeping the competition on their toes.

“As a company, you have to keep moving,” BMW design chief Adrian van Hooydonk told Autocar. “The minute you start standing still, you become an easy target. The market is very competitive now, more than ever. But the hardest thing to do is make changes while you are successful. If you are no longer successful, people will immediately start saying you need to make changes, but then you are in panic mode.”


Speaking on the Concept 4 in particular, the BMW designer said, “It is a sporty coupé, and by definition it has to have a very expressive design, and you see that all around the car, not just the front. But there are not that many lines or elements—it’s not a complex design.” In spite of van Hooydonk’s supposed definition for what a sporty coupe should look like, the next 4 Series will succeed a long line of decidedly handsome, restrained, and not-that-expressive two-doors. (See: the much-loved E46-gen 3 Series.)

To the chagrin of old-school, conservative BMW fans, the next 4er probably won’t be the last Bimmer to get an oversized snout and in-your-face styling as van Hooydonk added, “We want to do this for all our cars: we want to have fewer elements, then each element you use plays a bigger role.”

2020 BMW 7 Series, BMW AG

Understandable, especially once you learn that the new 7 Series—another car that’s been mocked for its gargantuan nostrils—has been selling way better than before. “It was part of the brief,” said von Hooydonk of the full-size luxury sedan. “People liked the car, but they said by and large it looks quite similar to the previous one, so why should they buy the new one?”

“Now everyone has noticed and production has ramped up considerably,” proving once again that we are all stupid and the customer is always right.

We’ve reached out to BMW for further comment and will update this story when we hear back.