Currently reading: BMW design boss defends radical styling direction
Adrian van Hooydonk reaffirms commitment to expressive design, as embodied by recent 4 Series Coupe concept
2 mins read
10 October 2019

BMW’s design boss has again defended the brand’s controversial new styling direction, continued in earnest by the recently revealed Concept 4 Series Coupé.

After it was unwrapped at the Frankfurt motor show, Adrian van Hooydonk was asked about the polarising views of BMW’s recent design debuts.

He told Autocar: “I’m not a psychologist but I know BMW is a brand that not only has customers, it has fans. They know our entire design history and have strong opinions on that. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, it means we have really connected with these people on an emotional level. Okay, I know that there might be some discussion with fans because they’ve grown to love what you’ve just done and you’re changing it already.

“As a company, you have to keep moving,” he continued. “The minute you start standing still, you become an easy target. The market is very competitive now, more than ever. But the hardest thing to do is make changes while you are successful. If you are no longer successful, people will immediately start saying you need to make changes, but then you are in panic mode.”

Describing the 4 Series specifically, van Hooydonk said: “It is a sporty coupé, 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.

“We want to do this for all our cars: we want to have fewer elements, then each element you use plays a bigger role.”

Van Hooydonk did acknowledge, however, that it was the recent facelift of the 7 Series flagship that was the most visually distinctive – and there’s a good reason for that.

“It was part of the brief,” he said. “People liked the car, but they said by and large it looks quite similar to the previous one, so why should they buy the new one? Now everyone has noticed and production has ramped up considerably.”


Find an Autocar review

Read our review

Car review
BMW 4-series

The facelifted BMW 4 Series has improved on an already solid proposition but can it hold off the likes of the latest generation Audi A5 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé?

Back to top

Join the debate


10 October 2019

Typically artists defend their work with passion and conviction. Car designers (and not just van Hooydonk) resort to vague descriptions like 'expressive design' and sound like advertising copywriters.

10 October 2019
abkq wrote:

Typically artists defend their work with passion and conviction. Car designers (and not just van Hooydonk) resort to vague descriptions like 'expressive design' and sound like advertising copywriters.

I agree totally. I was talking with the head of one of the best-known brands the other month. The pride, passion and desire for clarity he had was in marked contrast to what I just read. Saying "it's more expressive" is only so much blah-blah. Except the expression made seems to repulse the very fans Van Hoydonk purports to care about.

10 October 2019

I disagree:  it is an expressive design, the appropriate expression in this case being "Yikes!"

10 October 2019

BMW cars do have too many crease lines, so reducing that is a positive move. But that is more than offset by the hideous oversized grille. Audi cars have never looked as good since they went oversized grille a long time ago. Mercedes also look better when their grilles are smaller. Yet all three companies seem intent in trying to outdo each other for overdoing their grilles, much to the detriment of them all. 


Alfa Romeo do the best statement grille, but the area of it isn’t actually that large. Part of why the Giulia is so much better looking than the German equivalents.

10 October 2019

And I love the front as well. It’s got that shark nose, and the large grille enhances it. I hope future M-Sport cars follow this template instead of the current fat upper lip front-ends.

10 October 2019

Lol. Chris bangle has returned!

He will be nashing his teeth after finding out that BMW has declared war on his hideous designs from yesteryear to make even uglier cars. He thought he had the trophy for making the ugliest car brand in the world. Now there's someone else to usurp him!

This line of bullshit from this new designer is wonderful.


10 October 2019

Good to see him sticking to his guns, once you start listening to or even worse reacting to the 'fans' you aren't leading you are following. A good designer will challenge their customers, look how well the Bangle era designs aged compared to the hand wringing when they came out. I genuinely believe that what saved JLR was actively ignoring the 'fans' and instead leading and challenging, just like Porsche did with their SUV range.

10 October 2019

Well he's certainly lost this fan and customer. The new designs are either horrifically ugly or, such as the latest 3 series, downright incompetent.


BMW has lost it.

10 October 2019

Well he's certainly lost this fan and customer.


The latest designs are either horrifically ugly or, in the case of the latest 3 series, downright incompetent.


BMWs used to be easily recognisable from afar. No longer. They are becoming less distinctive not more, because the core design dna has just been replaced by noise

10 October 2019

Look how well Bangle designs have aged? What planet have you fallen off, they are the uliest range on the planet and ages like vineger, certainly not wine.

Tasteless bollocks


Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review