BMW's big grilles, are the tastes of Chinese buyers that bad?

Shaun · Feb 24, 2020 01:56 PM

BMW Concept 4

Remember the BMW Concept 4? Some were surprised, put off, or even amused by it, thinking that it's just a concept. But we'll get back to it in a moment.

Peter Henrich, who is the Head of Product Management at BMW, told Autocar that the feedback from customers about the change in styling on recent models like the 7 Series and X7 has been positive.

BMW 7 Series grille

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It would seem that the bold move to introduce a huge grille on the 7 Series and X7 has paid off then, and BMW doesn't plan to stop there. In 2018, BMW unveiled the Vision iNEXT, which is their vision of the future vehicle.

BMW Vision iNEXT

BMW Vision iNEXT

And as mentioned earlier, we've also seen the BMW Concept 4 and now the leaks for the upcoming BMW 4 Series have been circulating around.

BMW 4 Series leaked

Image from BMW BLOG

It appears the 4 Series is very likely to adopt the huge vertical grille. Perhaps it is targeted at the Chinese market like what many of us have been led to believe.

So, do they really like it? Here’s a poll conducted on Weibo, comparing a rendering of the 4 Series and the 3 Series. Around 10,000 users have voted, with more than two-thirds prefering the more conservative grille on the 3 Series. And to answer the question, no. Almost overwhelmingly so.

4 Series vs 3 Series poll

There is a saying in China about BMW owners, 暴发户, which loosely translates to new money people who aren't very bright. Some have even called BMW's big grille a maxi pad.

BMW Concept 4

BMW Concept 4

It is true however, that the Chinese market likes big grilles. Though only when done right, cars like the Rolls-Royce Phantom, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Audi A8 or the Lexus LS.

Even local manufacturers in China like BYD have incorporated large front grilles on the majority of the models.

BYD Qin Pro

The BYD Qin Pro. Image from Autohome

With large cars like the 7 Series or the X7, the massive kidney grille works as it is proportionate to the size of the car. Putting a large vertical grille on a 4 Series is an even bolder move.

But we'll reserve judgement until we've seen it in the flesh, and more importantly observe how markets such as in China and US respond when it arrives.

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The quest for automotive knowledge began as soon as the earliest memories. Various sources information, even questionable ones, have been explored including video games, television, magazines, or even internet forums. Still stuck in that rabbit hole.


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