It has now been nearly three months since we last discussed the rumors circulating around the new G80 M3, but with new revelations having been released just a few days ago, it’s time to cover the latest conjecture, this time surrounding BMW’s most classic styling feature of all time—the famous kidney grilles. Scheduled to debut at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September, the new generation of the M3 has been attracting question after question from the community, but in recent days we have been lucky to have some of these inquiries answered. We reported previously that the heart of the G80 M3 will be the new S58 M inline six-cylinder engine, and it will come equipped with an xDrive system similar to that of the current F90 M5. CEO of BMW’s M Division Markus Flasch also recently told us that the new M3 may be optioned with three-pedals for the BMW purist, an announcement that many BMW enthusiasts were relieved to hear, rejoicing at the fact that the ability to row your own gears had not yet disappeared from new models for good.

What we still do not know, however, is what the styling of the new M3 will bring to the table, as all prototypes have been carefully wrapped in disorienting camouflage in order to distort body lines and therefore avoid any further speculation. As of right now, we only have the G20 series 3-series and M340i models to look to for comparison, which is proving quite difficult, as the M3 version is still under wraps. But BMW does not leave everything to imagination—in prototype photos online, it appears that the new G80 generation of the BMW M3 possesses a newly designed pair of the iconic kidney grilles. It is this very observation that has the community stirring.

The split, vertically-styled lines of BMW’s grilles have been a defining feature of almost every BMW designed since the german automaker released its first sports car, the 328, in 1936. While grilles remain an understated styling feature of modern cars, they do in fact contribute a lot to the overall lines and aesthetic flow of a vehicle.

The original kidney grille design, seen here on BMW’s first sports car, the 328 Roadster.

BMW’s kidney grilles have been historically significant in the design of past generation M3s, specifically for the likes of the E30 M3 and E46 M3 generations, where smaller kidneys became BMW’s staple, retaining their classic, timeless, and refined aesthetics for years to come.

The timeless aesthetic of the E46 M3 lends itself to the classic design of its kidney grilles.

Frankly, it was not until the F80 generation of the M3 when we began to see a shift in the BMW styling paradigm that we as enthusiasts had become accustomed to. The F80 M3, unlike previous generations, boasted an augmented grille that was accompanied by sharper body lines and supported by a more angular construction, a new approach to BMW’s vehicle design.

The F80 generation of the M3, where we saw BMW experience a paradigm shift from the traditional kidney grille to the new, augmented design.

While this new, aggressive visage has commanded a great deal of support from the BMW community, it has also garnered a lot of criticism, particularly due to the belief that the size of the grilles is too imposing, like stated by BMWBlog, and also because they stray too far from the classic, simplified designs BMW has been known for. However, the reason that many enthusiasts believe the grilles to be imposing is also the same as why others are finding this new styling appealing and, dare they say, even nostalgic. Although the grille design is larger and may look different, the significance of BMW’s signature kidneys remains the same—to command the passerby to stop and acknowledge the German-automaker’s most famous styling cue and unmistakably say “yes, that is a BMW.”—Malia Murphy

[Photos Courtesy BMW AG.]



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