BMW has also confirmed the grille on the iNext, i4, and iX3 has been changed.
Featuring significantly larger kidney grilles, the BMW X7 started a new bold direction for the Bavarian carmaker. This was carried over to the BMW Concept 4 and will seemingly be applied to the new BMW 4 Series, M4, and M3 to make them stand out from the regular 3 Series. Not everyone is happy with these styling changes, but BMW has been defending the new design direction, insisting that design language needs to evolve to stay competitive.
In a new interview with Autocar, BMW product boss Peter Henrich is "convinced" BMW's bold styling direction led by design boss Adrian van Hooydonk was the right way to go. Despite receiving some backlash, customer data has also shown the new styling is 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. There are always people specifically looking for something critical and afraid of something new. But we are very self-confident and will continue."
But will this bold design direction carry over to models with more conservative designs such as the 5 Series? Henrich believes it's important that each model has its own distinct 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."
As for the BMW iNext, the grille's divisive design, which had autonomous driving sensors covering most of the vertical bars separating the kidney grilles, will change for the production version. "We test what works aesthetically," said Design chief Domagoj Dukec, 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." Instead, the iNext, i4, and iX3 will get separated kidneys with sensors that can be seen through the chrome.