BMW Design Chief Defends 7-Series, X7 Huge Kidney Grilles, Says It Won’t Expand To Other Models

The large front grille found on the new BMW 7-Series has been shrouded in controversy from the moment the luxury sedan was revealed last year. However, BMW design chief Adrian van Hooydonk has defended the company’s decision to design the 7-Series with such a prominent nose.

During an interview with Australia’s Motoring, van Hooydonk said that he had been hurt by criticism of the grille but insists it was the right move to adequately distinguish the 7-Series from the current 5-Series.

Also Read: The New BMW 7-Series Doesn’t Look Half Bad After A Nose Job

“The briefing we got was to make sure people understood the difference [between the 7 and the 5 Series] and notice it,” he said. “When we launched the car [the 7 Series] it was quite smaller. The feedback we got on that was that people couldn’t see enough difference to the predecessor. On the 7, I understand that people can be shocked. I notice the criticism. I think in a way it’s inevitable. My objective is to do something that everybody likes but it’s not always possible.”

Van Hooydonk believes that much of the criticism about the new 7-Series face has come from Europe, a market where he says buyers of vehicles like this like to slide under the radar and go unnoticed. In other markets, however, such as China and the Middle East, people do want to be noticed and sitting behind the wheel of a BMW with a huge chrome grille like the 7-Series is certainly one way to do that.

“The 7 has always been the hardest to bring the expectations of the entire world into one shape. The customers are very, very different in China, the US, the Middle East and in Europe. In Europe people don’t want to get noticed. They don’t like being asked what they paid for a car and they like things in black like a stealth mode,” van Hooydonk added. “The rest of the world is the opposite. We tried to give the Europeans what they want as well but the strongest market for the 7 is not Europe.”

Also Read: BMW X7’s Grille Comically Dwarfs The E30 3-Series’ Kidneys

And what about the X7’s massive grille?

The BMW head designer also talked to Autocar where he defended the X7’s grille design stating that it was in proportion to the car and smaller than what you find in similar models from other premium brands.”Yes, the X7’s grille is bigger than other BMW’s – but so is the X7 bigger than any BMW before it. That one is in proportion,” he said.

You won’t see the oversized grille taking over the range

Asked if we’d see the controversial design spreading to other (smaller) models in BMW’s range, van  said there are no such plans.  “Don’t worry, I don’t want the brand to turn into an oversized kidney grille brand,” he said. “But I believe we understand the reasons for what we have done with the 7 Series and that the issue will solve itself thanks to evolving tastes in the markets for which the grille was introduced.”

  • Mr. EP9


    • Matt


  • Bo Hanan

    I’d like to know what % of the grille is actually functional.

    • europeon

      It does have active grill shutters on every slit.

  • roy

    So they admit that it is questionable? Having said that, overall I like the exterior of the facelifted version much better that its immediate predecessor.

  • BlackPegasus

    I’m probably in the minority here but I think the new bolder grills adds road presence and distinction from other models. My work colleague bought a beautiful brand new 5 series earlier this year and many of us couldn’t tell it apart from the pre refreshed 7 series. The pronounced grill was needed for the 7.

    • Enter Ranting

      Most of that oversized grille is solid plastic. What happened to form follows function?

      • slither16

        Most grilles are plastic and not always follow function.

  • Matteo Tommasi

    At least he said something reasonable

  • TB

    I really don’t understand what all the ruckus is about with this grill. I think it is proportioned well with the vehicle. Based on the other cars/SUVs they have with a larger grill I think it’s the same logic.

  • Rocket

    Even if I were buying this line of BS, it’s sad that the 5 and 7 are so similar that one has to be made intentionally offensive so that they can be distinguished. There are other ways to distinguish models than just differentiating the grilles after all. That he can even use it as an excuse indicates there’s a deeper issue to be addressed.

  • Marc Gruben

    “Hooydonk” is a perfect generic moniker to describe an oversized, garish grille. Ex: “Look at the hooydonk on that Lexus LX570!”

    • Jhon electron


      • Marc Gruben

        Baby got donk!

  • Ilbirs

    BMW also said some time ago that FWD would be restricted to a few selected models and now we have 1 Series, X1, X2, China-only 1 Series Sedan and all this started with the 2 Series Active Tourer.

    • Belthronding

      this how germans roll,man.
      just say something you would never do and make it after some time like you’ve never said it before.

  • Sovereignty

    BMW has really lost their way with their smallest and largest vehicles.

  • Enter Ranting

    BMW design is an abomination of vulgarity, gimmickry and faux aggression. Slapping a Firebird’s screaming chicken decal on the hood of the 7 Series would be a more subtle way of differentiating it from the 5.

  • Nordschleife

    I’ve stated from day 1 that the grilles don’t bother me and I stand behind that to this day.

  • klowik

    The grille is too big for the sedan but it’s just right for the SUV.

  • fuller

    he don’t have to explain anything massive grille look good and give more personality to the car

    • Knotmyrealname

      You sound like you customer of such car. I bet you want many big grille on all car. Big grille good.

  • MarketAndChurch

    I actually like it on these models.

  • TheBelltower

    “The customers are very, very different in China, the US, the Middle East and in Europe. In Europe people don’t want to get noticed.”

    That’s an absurd justification for an obnoxiously large grille. The cars themselves are status symbols. You don’t need to have a massive horsey looking non-functional brand mark on the front. These large grilles usually look rather junky up close because they are usually really cheap bendy plastichrome with black blanks. They look especially bad after they’ve seen some miles.

    • Knotmyrealname

      He could’ve just said people that live outside western countries have no taste.

  • Six_Tymes

    “It Won’t Expand To Other Models”


    • Aeromann

      Only X8,X9 and maybe the 9 series. ?

  • StrangerGP

    I don’t get the explanation that they’re big cars and need big grilles. All 7 series generations up to E65 had small grilles and it didn’t stop them from looking good.

  • Maykel

    They couldn’t tell the difference between your vehicles because of your lazy Russian Doll design language.

  • onthetrack

    Definitely a large grill! Won’t comment on the X7 but I think the 7-Series would look better by keeping the grill the same width but making the top and bottom no higher or lower than the headlights it sits in between – so a very wide but slim grill, which would be sort of like the 3rd generation E38 7-Series grill. Just my opinion.

    • Six Thousand Times

      A wide but slim grill would take longer to heat up entirely and may not cook evenly.

  • KAG25

    Looks horrible with the huge grills, I am sure tuners will offer a smaller grill kit for them soon.
    Then again, China and a couple other countries will like them for showing off.

    • Six Thousand Times

      Big grills are great when you’re feeding a lot of people.

      • KAG25

        I don’t see any ribs

  • Six Thousand Times

    Maybe offer buyers a choice between L and XXXXXL grilles. Or regular and extra ugly.

  • Aeromann
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