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.
“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.”
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.”