Ironic, isn't it?
BMW's new Concept 4 has one distinct design feature many consider polarizing: that massive kidney grille. The rest of the fastback design, which heavily previews the upcoming next-generation 4 Series coupe, is more conventional with its sleek and sexy lines. So why did BMW opt for that big and bold front end? Because customers wanted bold: plain and simple.
"In China, the Middle East, and the US, customers would buy even more cars if we'd be even bolder," BMW design chief Domagoj Dukec told us at this year's 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show. "The US market is so strong we could sell anything. We just have to give them the hottest products."
In an ironic contrast, however, it is BMW's homeland that prefers more traditional styling. "I would say just Germany (that wants traditional designs). Europe is not a growing market, but we are a German company so you can't ignore the German market, but you have to follow it. Of course, we know that 60 to 70 percent of our sales come from markets outside of Europe so you've got to go in different directions."
One of those new directions is the Concept 4 and its in-your-face kidney grille. BMW did tell us last year at the 3 Series media drive that the new 4 Series won't look anything like its sedan counterpart and judging by this latest concept, they were absolutely right. Dukec added the Concept 4 is "roughly 85 percent production-ready" and that it also heavily previews the styling of a certain other upcoming all-new Bimmer: the i4.
Before assuming his current design position last spring, Dukec served as chief designer for the BMW i and BMW M divisions, so he fully comprehends the styling attributes needed to make a BMW a BMW. He's also very passionate about BMWs on a personal level and empathizes with traditional German customers.
But business is business, and BMW needs to keep pushing the design mantle forward to satisfy demand in more profitable markets. This approach also applies to new technologies.
"Maybe you'll have some products that are offered just in Europe. But the attitude of Europe and our 'Old World' is behind, not just design, (but also with) technologies like 5G. Anybody who's in this industry or business knows you have to follow other markets (to earn money)."