I want to like it, but that twin kidney grille is infuriating

BMW is heavily involved at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show with several models making their debuts at the show. The German automaker also brought a concept model to the show, specifically the Concept 4. It’s been established that the Concept 4 isn’t an outlandish concept as much as it is an actual preview of the next-generation 4 Series, as well as future versions of the M3 and M4. Part of that future, at least as far as the next-gen 4 Series is concerned, is the BMW 4 Series Convertible.

We didn’t get to see a roofless version of the Concept 4 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, but thanks to car artist X-Tomi Design, we don’t have to imagine what that concept could look like if BMW actually made it. This is X-Tomi Design’s rendering of what could be the next-generation BMW 4 Series Convertible. In so many words, the rendering is equal parts intriguing and, well, cringe-worthy.

BMW 4 Convertible Concept A Frankfurti Autószalonon mutatkozott be az új 4-es BMW tanulmányautó, ebből készítettem gyorsan nyitható tetős kivitelt. #xtomidesign

Posted by X-Tomi Design on Tuesday, September 10, 2019

I still don’t know what to make of the BMW Concept 4. On the one hand, the concept’s proportions are on the money. There are a lot of carefully planned cuts and character lines that make the concept look fierce, edgy, and properly menacing. You can see them in the hood, the side panels, and the front and rear fascias of the concept.

The thin, almost squinting headlights and the large intakes below make for an impressive one-two design combination, too.

I understand that there should be aesthetic idiosyncrasies in concept models that don’t make it into the production model, but there’s something about the design of the Concept 4 that makes me believe, even hope, that it can translate well into the next-generation BMW 4 Series. It’s a confident and classy take, mixed in with proper aggression. Unfortunately, the Concept 4 has a sore spot, and it’s the same sore spot that you can find in a lot of BMW’s more recent concept vehicles.

For the life of me, I still don’t understand why BMW designers still think that an abnormally large twin-kidney grille is a good design idea. We saw it in the iNext SUV Concept and the Concept X7 iPerformance. Now the grille has somehow found itself in the Concept 4, too.

The BMW Concept 4 Makes It Clear That BMW Has a Grille Problem Exterior
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I don’t know if BMW designers have lost touch with reality — unlikely because the design of the Concept 4 minus the grilles is outstanding — but there is some kind of stubbornness permeating through Bavaria for the automaker to keep dipping into this design despite overwhelming evidence, mostly in the form of negative reactions, that a lot of people hate it. And yet, here we are. The same obnoxious-looking grille looks like it’s here to stay so start thinking about as many “pig’s nose” jokes as you can. There’s a rich source of material for them now.

It’s also with regret that, as much of a fan I am of X-Tomi Design’s car rendering talents, nothing can be done to this rendering to salvage it from the monstrosity that is the large twin-kidney grille. It’s a shame because the rest of it actually looks great. The concept’s proportions look better on the convertible. The long sloping hood works well with the short rear deck.

The top-most character line on the body cuts downward as it approaches the rear fenders, creating the visual of muscular shoulders.
The BMW Concept 4 Makes It Clear That BMW Has a Grille Problem Exterior
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That small detail gets lost when there’s a sloping roof that takes some attention away from it. But in convertible form, it attracts all the attention. The non-kidney grille aspect of the concept’s front section also works well in convertible guise. Perhaps the air intake should be a tad smaller to create a more aesthetic balance, but it’s hard to imagine what that’s going to look like with such a prominent twin-kidney grille taking so much attention away from everything else. Even the paint finish — Forbidden Red — is awesome. But nobody’s talking about it because of that visual eyesore.

Perhaps if BMW showed a bit of restraint, the new grille design it’s forcing on us wouldn’t look so God-awful. The actual design of the grille isn’t bad; it’s just too big. Maybe BMW intended it that way so some of the details inside the grille can be more visible. Take the grating inside the grille, for example. They add a nice depth to the grille with the faceted cuts. And if you look closer, you’ll notice that the grating itself is made up of “small number 4s” that are all joined together. But why don’t more people notice these easter eggs? Because the grille is too darn big that it deflects attention away from what really matters.

The BMW Concept 4 Makes It Clear That BMW Has a Grille Problem Exterior
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What’s really concerning, too, is that BMW seems to have made up its mind with regards to using this new twin-kidney grille design.

By my count, this is the third concept vehicle in the last year that BMW used this new design language on.

Something tells me it won’t be the last, either. I’m still hopeful that saner minds will prevail in the end, but if this trend continues, I’m not sure there will be any turning back on BMW’s part. I suppose let’s just pray for the best.

Further reading

The BMW Concept 4 Makes It Clear That BMW Has a Grille Problem Exterior
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The BMW Concept 4 Makes It Clear That BMW Has a Grille Problem

2021 BMW 4 Series Convertible Exterior Spyshots
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Read our full speculative review on the 2020 BMW 4 Series Convertible.

2018 BMW 4 Series Coupe High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 BMW 4 Series Coupe.

2018 BMW 4 Series Convertible High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 BMW 4 Series Convertible.

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