BMW Should Make Its Kidney Grilles Wider, Not Taller

BMW’s recent concept cars and leaked pics of their new 4 Series all have one very noticeable thing in common: massive, mutated kidney grilles dominating the front end. It’s a striking look, but I’m not so sure a good look, and while I’m all for reducing the grille to its most fundamental, iconic elements, I think there are better ways to go.

Like what I slapped together in a quick sketch up top, there.

Before I go into that suggestion, though, let’s look at this new grille motif BMW is actually presenting, perhaps best shown on the BMW Concept 4:

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My problem with this look is that I can’t see it and not think of this:

The face of the car just feels like a squinty, rodent-toothed naked mole rat, or some similar sort of unpleasant rodent.

It’s not like I don’t get the appeal of the tall kidney grilles; BMW has used that look on some of its most iconic cars, like the 328:

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This grille treatment lends itself well to more narrow, tall designs, and the large headlamps and separate fenders work well here, too. None of these elements are common to a modern car, and as such, the vertically long kidneys have trouble fitting in.

The thing is, BMW realized this decades ago and introduced an alternative kidney variant that effectively rotated the kidneys sideways, forming a wide kidney grille. Arguably BMW’s most beautiful car, the 507, used this method:

This one was Elvis’ car
Photo: BMW
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More modern BMWs, including radically-modernized designs like the i8, used this method as well:

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...as well as the Z4:

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All I’m suggesting is that maybe BMW could employ this type of grille, say, very similar to the one on the Z4, on these new 4 Series designs. I think it cleans up the look an awful lot, and gets rid of almost all associations with a naked mole rat:

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My main concern is that perhaps this look tones things down too much? I appreciate the gut-punch strike of the new, enormous kidney grilles, but I’m not sure how much I want to value shock over something that just looks better.

What do you think? Is this an improvement? Is BMW on the right track with the big-ass kidneys? You can tell me the truth—I deserve it. After all, I said their car looks like a naked mole rat, so I kinda have it coming.

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About the author

Jason Torchinsky

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus • Not-so-running: 1973 Reliant Scimitar, 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!)