BMW Raises White Flag: Gran Coupe Tones Down Massive Grille

Car designers can be stubborn. They have to be. If they design something that isn’t found pleasing or popular, they have to live with it forever. It never goes away. That’s one reason why the really bad decision to make some BMW kidney bean grilles so ginormous continues. It’s like the old adage, “We’ll make for you what we want, not what you like.”

That has been BMW’s attitude toward its out-of-scale grilles. Until now. Pleased forum members at BimmerToday noticed a retreat from BMW. It’s in the form of a gesture on the new 4 Series Gran Coupe to soften the giant grille. 

The BMW Gran Coupe grille is not a huge change, but it is a welcome one

Comparison of a BMW Coupe and Gran Coupe
BMW 4 Series Coupe and Gran Coupe comparison | Bimmertoday

It’s not a huge change, but it is a start. And an admission that BMW needed to do something to tone down the oversized nose on the 4 Series. “Benny” at BimmerToday found two front ends of the 4 Series Gran Coupe and the standard Coupe. Both share the same sheet metal ahead of the windshield. 

With the fog lights missing on the Gran Coupe it simplifies the front end. There aren’t so many elements the eye must take in. Interestingly, if you look real close you’ll see that the extreme bottom of the fascia is cleaned up on the Gran Coupe. The standard Coupe has what looks like reliefs that stop your eyes. 

But these are the minor changes. As you can see, the big change is the blackout of the lower body color around the kidney bean openings. By painting it out it deemphasizes the lower portion of the grille. It visually shortens the height of the grille, though, in reality, nothing has changed. 

A clever and necessary paint detail makes the BMW grille so much more palatable

A BMW logo on the hood of a black car on March 15, 2021, in Munich, Germany
BMW logo | Christof Stache/AFP via Getty Images

No new tooling was needed for this. Just a clever and necessary paint detail change that makes the front so much more palatable. It’s a cheap and visual trick and we’ll take it. But now that BMW has bought some time it needs to make some design and tooling changes to design the grilles in a much more compelling way. 

The idea that the customer is wrong and the designers are right is ludicrous. If something turns off the buyer you’ve lost the sale. That doesn’t make the customer wrong. It makes the detail or design wrong for turning off a potential buyer. 

There are periods in the design process to pause and access what you’ve got

A silver 1999 E38 BMW 740i in a European city
1999 E38 BMW 740i | BMW

Designers are meant to have a good enough filter to be able to project ahead to imagine how inclusive certain designs will or won’t be. It’s not always easy, and that is why there is a team of designers. And, there are opportunities from ideation sketches to the signoff of the design to make changes. 

Car design has no room for arrogance. BMW Design doesn’t need to admit its mistake or plead mea culpa. It only needs to refresh the front end to reflect that compelling, sexy design that makes a BMW a BMW.

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