Currently reading: BMW continues to defend new styling direction
Product boss stands by “strong characters and bold design,” being "convinced" that it is the right move for the brand

BMW has received “very positive” feedback to its radical shift in styling for certain models including the BMW X7, according to product boss Peter Henrich.

Henrich told Autocar that he was “convinced” this bold styling direction under design boss Adrian van Hooydonk was the right way to go, and that customer data showed it was 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.

P90343761 highres the bmw x7 30d

“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.”

When asked if BMW would apply such radical design to next-generation versions of its traditionally more conservative models such as the 5 Series, Henrich said it was important each model got its own 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 BMW Z4 or X6.”

Designers ditch controversial grille


Read our review

Car review

The BMW 5 Series has been the go-to mid-sized executive saloon, and G30 generation brings 7 Series luxury limo quality to the class, but is it still the best?

Back to top

Inext 0

The unusual grille of BMW’s 2018 Vision iNext, which previews a large electric SUV due in 2021, has been abandoned following feedback, design chief Domagoj Dukec has revealed.

Most of the two vertical bars that separate one kidney from the other made way for the iNext’s arsenal of sensors required for autonomous driving. “We test what works aesthetically,” said Dukec of the iNext, 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.

“The grille is critical, so the iNext, the i4 and the iX3 will get separated kidneys – we spent the money to have sensors that can see through the chrome.”


BMW grille debate should focus on 7 Series, says design director

Car design - the new Mission Impossible?

BMW i EVs increasingly influence design of broader line-up

Mark Tisshaw

Title: Editor

Mark is a journalist with more than a decade of top-level experience in the automotive industry. He first joined Autocar in 2009, having previously worked in local newspapers. He has held several roles at Autocar, including news editor, deputy editor, digital editor and his current position of editor, one he has held since 2017.

From this position he oversees all of Autocar’s content across the print magazine, website, social media, video, and podcast channels, as well as our recent launch, Autocar Business. Mark regularly interviews the very top global executives in the automotive industry, telling their stories and holding them to account, meeting them at shows and events around the world.

Mark is a Car of the Year juror, a prestigious annual award that Autocar is one of the main sponsors of. He has made media appearances on the likes of the BBC, and contributed to titles including What Car?Move Electric and Pistonheads, and has written a column for The Sun.

Join the debate

Add a comment…
julia anderson 11 February 2020

Fantastic design and motor

I have bought a BMW from the best dealers carz4us and i love it

jameshobiecat 22 December 2019

I think what Henrich is

I think what Henrich is saying in a very polite way is that their customers have no taste so they design tasteless cars.
Sitikchai 18 December 2019

BMW has no design direction

BMWs just look either boring or overwrought. Giving the cars bigger and uglier grilles is not design. It's just a company bankrupt of ideas. Among the Germans I have to say merc designs are nicer. More coherent.