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Some vertical, some horizontal: BMW’s big grilles are here to stay - report

Large BMW grilles, like the one adorning the new 4 Series, are here to stay.

Large BMW grilles, like the one adorning the new 4 Series, are here to stay.

Published Oct 11, 2021


Munich - When it comes to car design, few topics are as widely debated as BMW’s modern styling language, and more particularly, the huge grilles that we’ve seen on some of its latest products, such as the BMW 4 Series and the iX electric crossover.

But will the controversy cause BMW to tone things down a little with its future models? That certainly doesn’t appear to be the case, according to recent statements made by BMW’s design boss. In an interview with BMW Blog, Adrian van Hooydonk hinted that the oversized kidney grilles would only become more prolific in future.

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“We want to spread it out a little bit more: vertical kidneys on some cars, horizontal on others,” Van Hooydonk told the publication. “We want our customers to be able to recognize the BMW in the rearview mirror, not just as a BMW but also, after a while they know what BMW that is.”

Some BMW products will get horizontal grilles like the one we see on the latest 2 Series.

This of course means that BMW will also be looking to differentiate its various models to a greater degree, in the process avoiding the “one sausage, different lengths” philosophy that its rival from Stuttgart has often been accused of.

“We want each of our products to have a stronger character of its own because each of our products has different competitors,” the design boss said.

But what else can we expect from BMW’s future designs?

In the aforementioned BMW Blog interview, Van Hooydonk said that we can expect simplified shapes with “fewer and reduced” lines, while the lines that were used would be sharper and more meaningful.

Smoother shapes, like we see on the BMW iX, will become more commonplace.

“We are now working on cars for 2025 and beyond. And [the design] will continue to evolve. We want to keep these strong characters. And, yeah, the brands I think will develop faster now. With BMW i, we started a cleaner form language for the electric cars and now that electric is going to be part of the core of the brand, of course, you’ll see that the design of the i products will begin to influence the core of the brand so it’s going to be a cleaner look,” Van Hooydonk told BMW Blog.

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But not everyone in the industry agrees with BMW’s approach. Last year Jaguar’s design head Julian Thomson hinted that BMW had gone too far with its bold frontal designs. “I feel some of our competitors have gone really overboard in trying to overemphasise the brand, the face of the car, and in a fairly crude manner in a lot of cases,” Thomson told Car Throttle. He also reiterated that Jaguar would never “torture metal” in with faces that “only a mother could love”.

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