BMW to continue new models with the new styling for the grille

by Mark Tisshaw, Autocar UK 17 Dec 2019

Customers are happy with X7’s big grille, says Henrich

BMW has received 'very positive' feedback to its radical shift in styling for certain models including the X7, according to product boss Peter Henrich.

Henrich told Autocar UK that he was 'convinced' this bold styling direction under design boss Adrian van Hooydonk was the right way to go, and that customer data showed it was being well received.

“This is crucial for success,” said Henrich. “BMW customers are demanding. They want to express something and are not afraid of vehicles with strong characters. They are looking for it. So we have decided to focus even more on strong characters and bold design.

“The design team with Adrian van Hooydonk do an excellent job in designing and defining that character. The feedback received has been very positive. When first shown the X7, people said: ‘How big is the kidney grille?’ But customers never reacted like that and the car is a great success. It’s sold out for a very long period and people love it.

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“There are always people specifically looking for something critical and afraid of something new. But we are very self-confident and will continue.”

When asked if BMW would apply such radical design to next-generation versions of its traditionally more conservative models such as the 5 Series, Henrich said it was important each model got its own character.

“Each car has its own positioning,” he said. “In the early stages of development, we sit down – product, design and engineering – and define the character and the positioning. This is then the base for the design and engineering team. Some cars are more extroverted, more bold than others as they have different messages to transmit.

“The customer is looking for a different type of a car with a 3 Series to a Z4 or X6.”

Designers ditch controversial grille

The unusual grille of BMW’s 2018 Vision iNext, which previews a large electric SUV due in 2021, has been abandoned following feedback, design chief Domagoj Dukec has revealed.

Most of the two vertical bars that separate one kidney from the other made way for the iNext’s arsenal of sensors required for autonomous driving. “We test what works aesthetically,” said Dukec of the iNext, which “reinvented our icons and form language. We connected the kidneys because of sensors, but we’ve decided not to do it. It wasn’t considered to be a BMW kidney grille any more.

“The grille is critical, so the iNext, the i4 and the iX3 will get separated kidneys – we spent the money to have sensors that can see through the chrome.”