Is that a face only a mother could love?

Ever since the 2019 4 Series Concept made its debut, BMW’s new design language – namely the massive, vertically oriented kidney grilles – has been a frequent topic of conversation. Now, the 2021 BMW 4 Series Coupe with that very same grille design and, while the design does seem to fit decently with the overall design of the M440i, it looks a little out of place on the lesser models. Outside of BMW essentially saying it doesn’t care what anyone thinks about the new design – it’s here to stay – the company is still trying to justify the design. The latest reasoning behind that grille almost holds water until you look a little closer.

2020 BMW 4 Series Coupe Debut Video

BMW Is Lying To Us All

The 2021 BMW 4 Series Coupe Is Here And BMW Still Fails To Justify Its Ugly Face Exterior
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The nose that you see on the new 2021 BMW 4 Series is essentially the same thing that we saw on the 2019 BMW Concept 4. And, while we have to give credit to BMW for sticking close to the concept, that still doesn’t make up for the fact that the huge grille is, well, ugly. Back in October of 2019, BMW’s Design Boss, Adrian van Hooydonk, essentially told us that he knows best (despite all the negative criticism) and justified the 4 Series’ new look by saying that the car needs to be “expressive.”

”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.”

Of course, he was talking about the Concept 4, but in all reality, he was also talking about the new-gen 4 series and any other model that wears BMW’s bucktooth design. Now that the 4 Series has arrived, BMW’s press release aims to justify the design by saying that it represents the need for engine cooling:

”The large, vertically emphasized BMW kidney grille reflects the significant cooling air requirement of the powerful engine behind the scenes.”

And, that justification almost makes sense until you take a close look at the grille:

The 2021 BMW 4 Series Coupe Is Here And BMW Still Fails To Justify Its Ugly Face Exterior
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Do you see what I see? That grille is, for the most part, completely closed off. And, this is the grille of the M440i – the most powerful of the bunch with some 374 horsepower, at least until the M4 Coupe arrives, anyway. The other point to make here is that the engines available in the new BMW 4 Series are essentially the same in the current 3 Series sedan – a model that doesn’t wear the same face, so the justification, honestly, falls flat on its face.

BMW’s New Kidney Grille Almost Looks Right on the M440i

left right

If the M440i was the base model, Hooydonk’s claim that the 4 Series is a sporty car and needs to be expressive would actually make sense. But, you have to pony up for the M440i if you really want the sporty look. The lesser models (represented by the white model in the slider above) just doesn’t look like it deserves such a massive grille. At least the aggressive design cues of the M440i fit in with the overly large design. On the base model, though, not so much.

The 2021 BMW 4 Series Coupe Is Here And BMW Still Fails To Justify Its Ugly Face Exterior
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On that note, however, I have to admit that BMW did a good job on the 4 Series from the nose back.

The side profile is both sporty and muscular. I can also appreciate that the rear end looks a lot like a smaller 8 Series. Overall, the 4 Series represents a big step forward, but that big grille up front kind of ruins things. Thus far, BMW has been very adamant that it’s not going to step back from the overzealous design while the public has generally criticized it. I’m curious to see how well this plays out over the next couple of years. Will BMW be forced to change the design, or does the 4 series, as a package, bring enough value that we can all overlook what I can only submit as a visual design flaw? Will the new design grow on us and turn out to be a big step forward for the company? Only time will tell, friends.

Robert Moore
Editor-in-Chief and Automotive Expert - robert@topsped.com
Robert has been an auto enthusiast his entire life. He started working cars at a young age, learning the basics from his father in the home garage on the weekends. As time went on, Robert became more and more interested in cars and convinced his father to teach him how to drive when he was just 13 years old. Robert continued working on cars in his free time and learned as much as he could about engines, transmissions, and car electrical systems, something that only fed his curiosity more and eventually led him to earn a bachelors degree in automotive technology with a primary focus on engine performance and transmission rebuilding.  Read More
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