The Grille Isn't The Problem

Illustration for article titled The Grille Isnt The Problem
Photo: BMW

There’s been a lot of talk about the new BMW M3 and M4 and how they may well be the ugliest BMWs ever. That might be true, but these arguments are all wrong. The problem isn’t the tall, vertical grilles, no matter how porky they may look.

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It took a lot of time to come around to this for me. I had to sit with it. Let the BMWs snort over me. Them: piggies. Me: a little truffle in the forest waiting to be unearthed. After some days, they finally rooted me up! Light shone upon me, stinky, beautiful.

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The headlights are the problem. Why are they so angry?

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Photo: BMW

You see, if it was the grilles that were the problem, you could instantly make the M3 and M4 look good if you just made the grilles shaped like other current BMWs. Some have tried this.

It doesn’t work.

It doesn’t work in part because pretty much all modern BMWs have blandly bad faces. Squash down the new M3 or M4's grilles just makes it look like a little BMW 8 Series. The 8 Series is not an attractive car. It is big. It is powerful. It is nicely proportioned. Nothing about that stops it from looking like the grinch. Hell, if I were the 8 Series, I’d be disgruntled, too. Nobody would want to buy me.

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The problem, at the heart of the M3 and M4, is just that the headlights themselves are glaring, glowering, mean-guy squinting. They look irate. They look indignant. They look pissed. Peeved. Petulant. They look like they have a bone to pick. They look like a non-player character in GTA whose car you just hit. They look like a happy person if, instead of being happy, was mad instead.

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Photo: BMW

Why are these two BMWs so mad? What are they mad about! They have the world in front of them. They still come with straight sixes, they still come with rear-wheel drive, they still are practical in their design and not too huge, either.

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Photo: BMW

I have argued before that BMW continues to make the same basic car it has pretty much always made and that the arguments people make about them are not new. I have argued that BMW doesn’t really change, not in the way that people always complain. It hasn’t lost its way.

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But I will. say that something has changed here. The cars have become more aggressive in their styling, and I can’t wait for that pendulum to swing back.

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.

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DISCUSSION

I am not even sure the problem is only the look with BMW nowadays.

20 years ago, as a teenager, I had in mine to one day buy a sweet 3 series (E46 at the time). Fast forward 15 years, when I can afford one, they do not handle like they used to be, their engines are not what they used to be and now their styling is... questionable. Sadly, I do not see how to justify to pay more for a BMW.