BMW unveiled its latest model abstraction on Tuesday in Frankfurt, and it’s safe to say that a fair amount of people simply hate the Concept 4. Dissatisfaction seems largely centered around the kidney grille design, which has taken a page out of the iNext playbook to assume a shape that is perhaps best described as buck-toothed and rodent-like. Public consensus seems to agree that the remainder of the car and its design are much more workable, but the rest of the front end, which wears squinted headlights and gaping air inlets, isn’t getting off easy either.

Looking at the above photo and focusing on the kidney grille, it’s not difficult to imagine where design inspiration originated. BMW’s official press release removes any doubt, specifically saying that the new interpretation of the kidney grille worn by the Concept 4 references the designs of legendary coupes such as the 3.0 CSi and prewar 328. Indeed, the vertical orientation of the signature grille layout has historical precedent, but this doesn’t change the fact that it just doesn’t seem to work here—regardless of the fact that it would likely function in housing a myriad of sensors, cameras, and other signal-generating components.

The rear three-quarter perspective is much easier on the eyes, with the Concept 4 looking a lot more like a scaled down 8 Series. The presence of a muscular thoroughbred is expressed in the form of flared fenders and an abrupt but aerodynamic rear end. Slim taillights seem directly influenced by the Eight, and the same might be said about the exhaust and diffusor as well—all good things. The continued massaging of the signature Hoffmeister kink, however, remains yet another point of contention.

Nonetheless, drifting back to the front end, the sculpted lines of the body terminate with a certain lack of grace. They work to form a face with headlights taking the form of squinting eyes, and…the grille. This is by no means the first time that BMW has designed a model with kidney grilles that extend below the bumper line, but to this day people remain polarized by the looks of a 2000 C or 2000 CS, and it wasn’t long before that design was refined into the succeeding E9 coupe, which subsequently achieved near legend status in the hierarchy of BMW models. We would also be remiss if we didn’t mention the more recent concepts like the 3.0 CSL or 328 Hommage cars.

At the end of the day, one cannot fault BMW for wanting to pay homage to its compelling and illustrious past, especially in the face of a rather bleak future as far as the automobile itself is concerned. On the same coin though, it’s difficult to imagine how the company can put out concepts like iNext, which is a key part of forward strategy that suffers from a distinct lack of public interest (for obvious reasons), while also dreaming up ideas like the M Vision Next, which has clear potential for getting drivers excited about the future.—Alex Tock

[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]



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