It seems like BMW‘s design could be heading in a cleaner direction after polarising reactions to the company’s recent vehicle launches.

    In an interview with Top Gear, BMW design director Adrian van Hooydonk said the company isn’t “ignor[ing] the chatter”.

    “We hear it. We see it,” said Mr van Hooydonk, adding that “we also look at our sales figures and they look good”.

    BMW, not including Rolls-Royce and Mini, claimed worldwide sales of 2.1 million cars in 2022, though this is technically down 5.1 per cent year-on-year.

    “We feel that in our job, we need to keep adding new elements to the design, we cannot keep repeating what we have,” added Mr van Hooydonk.

    “Sometimes we have to depart and do new things. The reason for that is we also want to have success in 10 years.”

    Mr van Hooydonk says if a car’s design is well-liked when it’s first revealed, then it mightn’t hold up in the future.

    “Typically the way you do it is you then move the goal posts,” said Mr van Hooydonk.

    “Which means that when you first come out with the car, people are not sure – some like it, some don’t.

    “But then at the mid-life cycle everybody agrees. And then it holds up all the way to the end of the life cycle and probably beyond a used car.

    “We have a pretty clear idea of where we’re going to go, so it’s not like we’re experimenting or throwing things out there to see what sticks. It’s a very deliberate process.

    Mr van Hooydonk joined BMW in 1992 and previously worked under former BMW Group design director Chris Bangle, before stepping into his current role in 2009.

    “I’m the custodian for a certain period of time and I want to do a good job,” said Mr van Hooydonk.

    “Of course we want to build on what is there, which is substantial, but I know that building means adding things, not taking from the bottom and putting it back on top. That doesn’t work.

    “If you look in our history, you’ve seen that we’ve done everything from vertical, very slim, to wide and very low,” added Mr van Hooydonk in regard to the company’s double kidney grille.

    “We feel that the BMW brand has always offered some variation of that, so we can do anything really.

    “But I think in the future is going to be important is our design will be cleaner.

    “We will design the grille according to the proportion of the overall vehicle, or according to the expression that we want to give it.”

    BMW has produced numerous controversial designs in its history, particularly this century, with various versions of its double kidney grille proving polarising.

    Notable examples include the illuminated grille on the likes of the X5, X6, X7, and XM, as well as the self-healing closed-off grille on the iX electric SUV.

    There’s also the chipmunk-esque double kidney grille on the 4 Series range that was then carried over for the i4 electric four-door coupe.

    Jack Quick

    Jack Quick is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne. Jack studied journalism and photography at Deakin University in Burwood, and previously represented the university in dance nationally. In his spare time, he loves to pump Charli XCX and play a bit of Grand Theft Auto. He’s also the proud owner of a blue, manual 2020 Suzuki Jimny.

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