BMW Defends New Designs Saying Company Needs To Keep “Moving”

BMW design boss Adrian van Hooydonk has defended the controversial new design direction adopted by the car manufacturer.

The company’s new design direction, largely dominated by the use of enlarged kidney grilles for the latest BMW 7-Series and all-new BMW X7, has caused a huge amount of debate from the moment the vehicles were launched. Speaking with Autocar, van Hooydonk acknowledged people have strong opinions on the company’s styling.

“I’m not a psychologist but I know BMW is a brand that not only has customers, it has fans. They know our entire design history and have strong opinions on that,” he said. “I don’t think that’s a bad thing, it means we have really connected with these people on an emotional level. Okay, I know that there might be some discussion with fans because they’ve grown to love what you’ve just done and you’re changing it already. As a company, you have to keep moving,” he added.

Also Read: What Would You Call The BMW Concept 4’s Grille? Coffins? Waffle Iron? Beaver Teeth? Have Your Say

Debate about the ever-growing scale of BMW’s kidney grille reached fever pitch at the recent Frankfurt Motor Show following the unveiling of the Concept 4 created as a preview to the latest-generation M4. According to van Hooydonk, making radical design moves is a necessity for a company like BMW otherwise it will be caught napping by competitors.

“The minute you start standing still, you become an easy target. The market is very competitive now, more than ever. But the hardest thing to do is make changes while you are successful,” he said. “If you are no longer successful, people will immediately start saying you need to make changes, but then you are in panic mode.”

Moving forward, BMW wants to design vehicles with fewer lines and exaggerated elements and wants the fewer eye-catching elements it does design to each play a larger role in the overall look of a car.

more photos...
  • Miknik

    I agree, design needs to keep moving. But getting uglier is moving in the wrong direction.

    • Stigasawuswrecks

      They’re moving forward. They just forgot about the brick wall in front of them.

  • Toronado_II

    Audi is the most interresting German’s design for now.

    • Ben


    • alexxx

      Wait what?!

    • Yilmaz Yasar

      Yes audi is inteRResting (meanless word) just like audi design

    • Matteo Tommasi

      Except it’s not?

    • longhorn69

      Audi got the whole Big Grille thing going, remember? And they survived and thrived off it.

    • Toronado_II

      Sorry guys, but I like the last Audi’s design trend (E-tron family for exemple). Their design evolution is good to me. And I found the last Mercedes so boring.

  • Dennis James

    This guy is wrong on so many levels, I don’t even know where to begin with.

    I mean…look at Porsche. Has anybody caught them “napping” in the last 30-40 years ? Also look at Audi, same story. Look at VW Golf, the best sold car in Europe. What are the bold changes in those cars ? None.

    The reality is so obvious, it hurts to see this kind of wrong-ness in a top BMW executive. No wonder BMW has gone down the drain lately, design-wise.

    Actually, “panic mode” is what made BMW adopt weirder and weirder designs lately, and instead of doing better, they just had to replace their CEO because of lack of sales. That’s what panic mode is.

    If you have a good design, march on it and milk all the profit you can get from that success. Great design is hard to do, changing shapes around is not a way to “move” a company further !

    What actually made BMW enter this “panic mode” was Mercedes. They simply got some great designs lately in the C-class, E-class and S-class and they will not radically change them many years from now. It was their luck after many years of mediocre C-class and E-class designs.

    BMW also had great designs in the original X6, the second-gen X5, the 6-series, the Z4, the E46 3-series and maybe even the E90 3-series facelift and especially the E92 3-series coupe on which I spent hour looking at at launch, great designs that could have been evolved instead of being radically uglified to the point no one is looking at them seriously.

    • Ebrahim Saadawi

      Yeah remember that E92? Man now that’s a pretty BMW! I forgot they made such great looking and sexy cars

  • Yilmaz Yasar

    Bigger grill isnt problem. The main problem is upside of grill should be lower than headlamps(imagine that and you will agree with me)

  • Matteo Tommasi

    Just move in ANOTHER direction

    • Ebrahim Saadawi

      Well said!

  • Mr. EP9

    Moving in the wrong direction.

    • Dennis Scipio

      we’ll see.

      • Mr. EP9

        I rather unsee that front end to be honest.

        • Dennis Scipio

          And I rather unsee this comment, i’m just kidding.

  • longhorn69

    Audi got the whole big grille thing going, and we all thought it was the end of Audi. And it wasn’t.

    The whole car’s design need to incorporate the big grille or it looks out of place such as on MMCs.

    • Rocket

      There’s big, then there’s BIG. Audi did the former, Lexus and now BMW and Genesis are doing the latter.

    • Stephen G

      The thing is Audis are still nice cars despite the ugly grilles in my opinion. The automobile is a complexity of design elements and they all probably don’t satisfy every buyer. To the average buyer it’s always a compromise to some degree. If you buy a car every couple years it’s not that big a deal, but to someone that likes to keep a car “forever”, it’s more of an issue. As much a I don’t care for the grille on the Concept 4 it wouldn’t stop me from buying one because the design of the rest of the car is so impressive. However I would probably look for a way to change it. Unfortunately, I’m guessing that if the Concept 4 would become a good seller, the folks at BMW (and possibly other companies) may assume that the buyer likes the grille design and adopt it to other models.

  • Rocket

    The words of somebody who knows his company has lost any sense of styling direction. Bold might be trendy, but tasteful will always be stylish whether deemed “hip” or not. Volvo and Jaguar are perfect examples of how to combine modern and tasteful.

    • Rivaldo

      Jaguar have poor sales and loses, Land Rover the same, a good design isn’t enough.

      • Ebrahim Saadawi

        He’s just talking about design not sales. Corollas sell 20x your BMWs, doesn’t mean anything about their design or emotional appeal.

      • Rocket

        You’re suggesting a massive grille would improve things for JLR? If not, then my argument stands.

  • DetrinKD

    I personally don’t mind the grilles on the 7 and X7. But that 4 Concept is atrocious! I am pretty open to risky designs, but it looks like they designed the car and THEN thought, “Hey let’s be bold and make the grille really large!” It does not fit with the design at all. If you’re gonna do big, make sure you do it right, and that 4 Concept ain’t it.

  • slither16

    They do look like kidneys again.

    • paulgdeaton

      Suffering from kidney infection, perhaps…

      • Ary Wisesa

        I love your comment! It should get the title “The Comment of The Day”… 😀

  • Frase

    If they want to keep moving into testing the strength of their brand power through one revolting look after the next, then sure, go nuts. If they want to move into being a company with cars looking as good as they drive, then they may want to have a corporate reshuffling…

  • Bob

    The caucus has spoken.

  • Hot Twink

    You just keep “moving” then BMW. I’ll keep “not buying” your cars until you can design something better looking.

    • illogicalPotato

      It’s okay, I’ll buy em. It looks great.

  • Enter Ranting

    Moving is one thing. Copying the trend toward giant grilles, and covering your cars with FAKE grilles, is the wrong direction, Adrian.

  • fgclolz

    The 4 concept grill looks like an upside down butt! The BMW logo is… nevermind.

  • Zcat

    People who put a truck grille on a nice looking coupe, drink too much beer while taking their acid.
    Once they awake somewhat coherent, then the lame excuses follow.

  • KidRed

    Moving forward does not mean making ugly designs. This moving forward design will absolutely turn me away from BMW. I’ll probably go back to Audi since the new 3 & 4 series designs just no longer appeal to me visually.

  • HawkeyeVG

    Time to put out Adrian Donkeyscarf to pasture

  • Knotmyrealname

    So basically, reading between the lines, he’s signed off on the mammoth ugly grilles (probably foisted on him by the East) – lived through the bloodbath of Frankfurt, and now has to come out and defend the hideous design, because it’s too late.
    But, I’m sure you’ll see test cars driving around in less than a year sporting new front ends.

  • Adam

    “We need to keep moving forward” says the guy who’s been rehashing Chris Bangle’s almost 20yo designs. C’mon BMW, you can do better than that!

  • Bo Hanan

    “Moving” what?…

    • paulgdeaton

      Bowels, undoubtedly…

  • El Howard

    I will by NO BMWs until they offer Android Auto support… they might want to think about how many sales they’re missing because of their shortsightedness.

    • Matt

      So you’re cross-shopping a RAV4 with a BMW?

      • El Howard

        Actually, I’m looking for a plug in Hybrid, so I looked at the i3s rex… until I discovered that BMW refuses to support Android Auto, even though they do support Apple Car Play.

  • Tumbi Mtika

    Chris Bangle was trailblazing. This is just edgy. I become livid every single time I see that Concept 4. They, for once, had a cohesive design, only to bin it chasing Toyota’s trends. TOYOTA. Is this what we have to expect from the makers of “The Ultima— Nah. I’m not even going to dignify Hooydonk’s designs with that moniker. You are not “moving in a new direction”, you are being swept up by the ugly trends set by lesser automakers when, judging by your supposed “luxurious” air, you should be creating a newer, more refined language for others to admire and emulate. At the very least, you would show that you are above these painfully ugly motifs that dominate the market. I see no reason to buy your products. They don’t look good now, and they will only age much worse. I feel nothing but disappointment in regards to the dilution of BMW as a brand. If you make something for everyone…

  • klowik

    The bigger grille on the SUV looks good but putting it on a sedan definitely looks a bit weird. maybe BMW should shrink it a bit to look better on the 7 series and the new 4 series concept car.

  • benT

    “……..Company Needs To Keep “Moving”…………..”

    A face like that will stop the world…..

    I need to take dump………
    certainly the face has moved my bowels.

  • JBsC6

    Ive never been the biggest fan of BMW. Fine sporting vehicle for sure but just not for me. This new bold styling statement has peaked my interest. Well done bmw.


  • Alduin

    Their new design language is awful. How often do you see any less than 10 years old BMW’s still on the road? Because I sure as hell haven’t. They all fell apart. Maybe they should do two big sideways kidneys on the front grille LOL

  • James Denz
    When BMW built sleek, stylish, sporty 7 Series cars. The latest one looks frumpy and odd.

    • Ary Wisesa

      The E38 is forever the best-looking 7 Series.

    • Tumbi Mtika

      That is gorgeous.

  • enthusia

    Im not necessarily opposed to a bigger grille, and the concept 4 isn’t really all that terrible, I think my problem with it is it has such a striking front end, but the rest of the car is so plain. almost as if they just modified the front end of the production car (which is exactly what they did). Another thing is the grating on the grille, its really unsightly and plastic-y looking.

  • DaruniaG

    This dude is resigned within three years. mark my words.

  • Nordschleife

    I personally think they should stay this course. For all the hatred of it, people will still buy it. We seem to think the commentators on these blogs are the end all be all but it’s really the public as a whole. I personally love a divisive design language and while some are hit or miss, I prefer that than safe. I applaud you BMW. Save for the Z4 I’ve pretty much liked all of your efforts.

  • vaybach khan

    The new grill on 4 series is gonna be legendary in a decade..
    I love new design , except ditching hoffmeister kink..

  • Rivaldo

    The new M4 will have a smaller grill than the concept, the disproportion will be lower.

  • sidewaysspin

    Things are only shocking at first then you get used to them.

  • Vassilis

    Well, they have definitely lost a lot of fans.

  • Gargamel

    1989 M3. The last beautiful car BMW made.

If This Is The 2020 Skoda Octavia Then We’re Glad They Fixed It

This photo published by the Skoda Home forum from the Czech Republic appears to be official.

Is Toyota Readying A Hot, Gazoo Racing-Prepped Variant Of The 2020 Yaris?

The rumored Ford Fiesta ST rival could be known as the GR Yaris.

Google Maps Updated To Alert Drivers Of Speed Traps

The update was first launched on Android, and now iOS device users can also report speed traps to other motorists through Google’s app.

GM’s Baojun 530 Gets Updated For The 2020MY In China

Pricing for the 2020 Baojun 530, which sports a number of design changes and new tech, starts from $11k.

Volvo S60, V60 And XC60 Polestar Engineered Launched In The UK

Priced from £56,105, the 399 HP S60 Polestar Engineered is Volvo’s fastest accelerating car yet, sprinting to 62 mph in 4.4 seconds.

Former Mitsubishi Executive Tipped To Replace Linda Jackson As Citroen CEO

Jackson took over as Citroen’s CEO in 2014 and, although the company did confirm hiring Mitsubishi’s ex head of production, didn’t comment on any leadership change.

McLaren 720S Stood No Chance Against Hennessey’s Corvette ZR1

The tuned Corvette ZR1 has 1200 hp while the McLaren makes do with 710, at least officially, but even so, it managed to put up a good fight.

A Pagani Owner Just Drove Coast-To-Coast In His Huayra Roadster

This Huayra Roadster traveled for three days, adding 3,000 miles on its odo – more than what most others will in a year, if not longer .

Turn Heads With This 2011 Audi R8 Spyder And Enjoy Its V8 And Six-Speed Manual

This R8 V8 Spyder only has 8250 miles on the clock and, with three days left in the auction, the highest bid is $63k.

Alfa Romeo Montreal Vision GT Concept Is Pure Sex On Wheels

The stunningly designed concept brings the styling of the original Montreal into the 21st century in spectacular fashion.