Clearly this design hasn't won everyone over - yet.
Last month at Frankfurt, BMW revealed a concept that heavily previews the upcoming second-generation 4 Series. Called the Concept 4 Series Coupe, its in-your-face massive kidney grille styling was immediately controversial, to say the least. Although the jury is still out, BMW has heavily hinted this design language will eventually expand to other models as well. BMW isn't the first automaker to introduce bold styling and it won't be the last.
Thing is, BMW has an extremely loyal and devoted following and the introduction of such styling could potentially result in a greater negative backlash. But the company's design chief, Adrian van Hooydonk, defended this styling to Autocar because "As a company, you have to keep moving forward. The minute you start standing still, you become an easy target. The market is very competitive now, more than ever. If you are no longer successful, people will immediately start saying you need to make changes, but then you are in panic mode."
This pre-emptive design change, while perhaps controversial right now, is clearly aimed to benefit BMW in the long run. In addition, BMW rightly wants to further differentiate the next 4 Series coupe's design from that of its sedan sibling, the iconic 3 Series.
"It is a sporty coupe, and by definition it has to have a very expressive design, and you see that all around the car, not just the front. But there are not that many lines or elements – it's not a complex design." Design risks must be taken from time to time otherwise the competition will eat you alive, van Hooydonk is essentially saying.
Remember the Chris Bangle era at BMW? His "flame surfacing" design was controversial from the start, but it also changed modern automotive design in general. Competitors were forced to take a bold approach as well. If not, they'd come across as bland.
During our own conversation with BMW brand design chief Domagoj Dukec at Frankfurt, we were told that only Germans didn't like the concept's bold styling. This makes sense to some degree, but Dukec added that a majority of BMW customers outside of Germany – mainly the US and China – want even bolder styling, so the company delivered.