BMW has received “very positive” feedback to its radical shift in styling for certain models, including the X7, according to product boss Peter Henrich.
Henrich told our sister publication Autocar UK 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 a vehicle with strong character. They are looking for it.” As a result, the senior vice president of BMW product management says that the brand has decided to focus even more on bolder designs and strengthening the character of every model.
“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,” he said.
When asked if BMW would apply such radical design to next-generation versions of its models that have been traditionally more conservative – such as the 5 Series. Henrich said it was important each model got its own unique 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 Z4 or X6,” the BMW boss claimed.
On a related note, design chief Domagoj Dukec spoke about the BMW’s 2018 Vision iNext – a concept that previews a large electric SUV due in 2021. Dukec said that the two halves of the iNext's kidney grille were connected, and the vertical bars were replaced, to make way for the sensors required for autonomous driving. “We test what works aesthetically,” said the design chief, which “reinvented our icons and form language.”
However, BMW has decided to scrap the new grille design for the production car. “It wasn’t considered to be a BMW kidney grille anymore,” he stated. “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.”
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