BMW: You Will Learn to Love It

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By now, many will be aware of the new BMW front grille design, whether that be you’ve seen it yourself or you’ve seen the abundance of jokes about it online. Whatever your prerogative, BMW’s larger-than-life kidney grille designs are here to stay.

At BMW design, Adrian van Hooydonk, is well-aware that the newest designs have been causing controversy. However, he believes that people will soon come round to the idea, describing it as ‘cleaner’ and explaining it will eventually be admired over time.

Van Hooydonk believes that making such drastic design choices and creating uproar, was exactly the German company’s plan.

BMW’s Chairman Oliver Zipse admitted in an interview soon after the release of the new 7 Series, “Of course it was our plan, otherwise we wouldn’t do it,

BMW M3 Touring 2023. Photo courtesy of BMWblogs.

“If you want to change design, any step into the future that is perceived as new will be controversial automatically, there is no such thing as a future-orientated design without controversy.

“That’s the trick: to have controversy and the outcome is ‘I want to have it’ and ‘I like it”, and of course it is a plan.”

All around the world, BMW fanatics and design experts alike have been very vocal about their thoughts on the new design, from the new M3/M4 duo to the new 7 Series, no model is safe.

The ‘controversy’ marketing technique comes from a very old tried-and-tested example from BMW in the early 2000’s.

In 2001, the much-anticipated E65 7 Series catapulted into the luxury world of cars, replacing the E38 7 Series. At first, the E65 was brutally criticised by the public and loyal BMW owners but soon came to outsell its predecessor by 343,100 cars to the E38’s 310,000.

The debate over the E65 continued on for years even after the cars initial launch, which is exactly what BMW wanted to happen.

Zipse admits, “I want controversy, if we don’t have controversy (in the early design process), I already know it’s too easy.”

“Out of the controversy you get engagement. You get people thinking about it and thinking about alternatives.”

BMW also explains the other reason for their bolder design choices is that it is due to newer M3 and M4 models needing more air intake. The newer inline 6 motors are able to generate significantly more power with proper air and fuel intake. Thus, the controversially large kidney grille is born.

BMW 7 Series 2023. Photo courtesy of BMWblogs.

In order to provide space for this large front grille, the nose of the car must become bigger too. However, they also claim that this is done as a tribute to older beamer models such as the 328. Despite such reasoning, the M4’s face lift has not been well-received.

Jack Reilly, a long-time BMW lover and owner of a 2009 M3 shares his opinions on the new beamer designs, “I’m not a huge fan, but BMW have definitely set themselves outside of the norms of current design by creating such bombastic designs,”

“With every generation of BMW design language there has always been a lot of criticism towards it. Back on Top Gear for example, Chris Bangle was slated for his design of the M5, and that car seems to have actually aged quite well.”

Zipse emphasises the same point, explaining that despite newer models receiving such backlash from the public, the sales say otherwise. The difficulty with this approach, however, is that the German brand can only know their designs have been a success once a car has been put on the market.

Zipse explains, “We start with designs many, many years earlier, and the decision for which design to go with is many years before.

“Especially, the i7 is very unusual for BMW. It will never be a mass market car; it will only be a super minority of people who will sit in that car. The majority of people will never sit in that car.

“it only must be appealing to the customers who are in that segment, not anybody else.”

BMW have also received criticism for not taking advantage of design mechanics that can be manipulated by smaller engine sizes in EV’s. in comparison, other luxury companies have created EV’s with no grilles whatsoever, instead bringing low-line noses into the equation.

Jack Reilly shares his opinion on the electric beamer’s, saying, “Electric vehicles are not something personally I associated with BMW, but I suppose it is an unavoidable move.”

BMW have the same attitude towards the design of their electric cars as they do non-electric; the design depends more on customer tastes than what every other brand is doing.

Zipse expands, “The most important thing when you create a car is customer needs, especially in that (luxury) segment.”

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