Why Does Every New BMW Car and SUV Look Like Pumbaa From the Lion King?

  • The BMW XM concept brings big changes and a bigger nose
  • BMW leans into the big grille for style and performance
  • BMW designer Alexey Kezha explains the new kidney grille

Bold and brash, right? Clearly, that’s the direction the boys and girls at BMW are taking with their sportiest M cars. Traditionally, the brand’s car and SUV models have been a little more subtle. Flared fenders, maybe some chrome exhaust tips, and at the absolute most, some loud paint. Now, with the debut of the BMW XM concept, it’s clear the brand’s language is headed somewhere new. Apparently, that idea was borrowed from “The Lion King.”

An M SUV fit for a Lion King star

A side-by-side comparison showing Lion King character Pumbaa and the new BMW XM concept SUV
BMW’s XM concept | BMW, Disney via Getty Images

RELATED: The Small BMW Kidney Grille Is Back for the 2023 BMW 3 Series

So, why exactly would the girls and boys that pen Bimmers push for this bold new direction? Thankfully, we can get some info straight from the warthog’s mouth (it wasn’t “The Lion King”). Well, it’s actually one of the Bavarian brand’s designers, Alexey Kezha, who is in fact a human being. In the case of the 7 Series, Kezha said in a YouTube video that the car’s big ol’ face allowed for a cleaner lower bumper free of the mesh we see on cars like the previous M4 and the legendary E46 M3.

As for the newest M cars and SUVs? Beamer will tell you that decision comes from physics telling them so. The Bavarian brand claims that performance demanded they fit more air into the motor; hence a big snout right off Pumbaa’s face and into the M cars. As for the XM concept, well, we can assume the same logic applied. However, that is a hybrid, and we’re not yet sure what effect that’ll have on cooling and big noses.

Why did BMW make their grille so big?

A BMW M4 and M3 side by side on a German back road
The newest M cars | BMW

If you’re in the “Kidney grille ugly now” camp, we’re sorry. Despite the new 3 Series bearing a smaller grille, the M cars remain unchanged for now. If you like the M3‘s grille, well, enjoy, and maybe see an optometrist. All jests aside, we’re just glad the new M cars are around still, regardless of how they look. The new M3 and M4 models pack 500+ hp, and if you want it, AWD. They’re true performance machines, and clearly, physics decided the look of the new M cars.

Design aside, we commend BMW for that, as well as their continued inclusion of the manual transmission in the M2 and other models. The art of automotive design is filled with criticism, and it’s a tough field to be in. You’ve got to please those seeking change and give a nod to the brand’s heritage with every new design. Cars like the new Acura Integra are a perfect example.

BMW M cars might be garish, but they’re still fast

A Phoenix Yellow F80 generation M4 at an auto show
The last M cars featured vastly different styling | Jean-Marc Zaorski via Getty Images

BMW tries its hardest to do this, merging nostalgia and innovation into one cohesive package. Sometimes it works, as evidenced by the continued success of the previous F80 generation of M cars. Sometimes it doesn’t. And whether it does or does not for the latest crop of BMW vehicles is entirely up to you. We’re just glad they’re fast as hell.

RELATED: The 2021 BMW M4’s Kidney Grille Is Ugly Because Physics Said So