By now, many enthusiasts have been made well aware of the growing design controversy centering around BMW’s prominent new kidneys, and so have many familiar faces within the industry. Just last week, we discussed German tuner Prior Design’s revised front fascia design for the G8X M3 and M4, which will likely go into production as an aftermarket replacement bumper for the original design in the near future—news that has other industry professionals and journalists from all over the world eager to weigh in on BMW’s new design language.
Earlier in October during a sit-down interview centered around the upcoming M3 Touring (which we won’t be seeing in the States), Top Gear’s Chris Harris revealed why he has grown to accept the automaker’s ostentatious new design language, sparking a brief discussion of industry design trends and why he has decided to adopt a different perspective on BMW’s new styling. He believes that the massive grilles have the potential to grow on the consumer, or more likely, further influence aftermarket renditions intent on “de-uglifying” the Bavarians’ work. While he comes from a place of understanding, Harris clarifies that he still thinks that BMW could have done better, citing that the German automaker was likely influenced by overseas luxury automakers, a sentiment that he shares with American automotive designer and television personality Chip Foose.
Like Harris, Foose has stated that he is disillusioned with BMW’s uncharacteristic treatment of their signature kidneys, arguing that instead of creating a distinguished design, they have fallen prey to the big grille trend that is plaguing other luxury marks like Audi and Lexus, a mundane decision that he contends has led the German automaker to stray from its historical image as a sophisticated and individualistic performance brand.
According to Foose, his aim with this drawing was to make the famous kidneys more stylistic and dignified, creating a smoother styling transition between the F8X generation and the polarizing G8X generation. His strategy was to tackle the polemical front grilles first, reducing the vertical stretch of the kidneys and reducing the overall ratio of grille to front fascia, revising them so that the lower grille is more in focus.
Midway through the line drawing, Foose takes a break from his work to explain why his quarrel lies with the front bumper of the cars in particular. Looking at the evolutionary chart of the M3, he recognizes that the aggressive styling of BMW’s illustrious performance car from previous generations had been undoubtedly BMW with its hard lines and sharp edges—a pattern that isn’t exactly replicated in the sixth generation of the M3. The designer argues that the side profile is the only angle of the BMW that truly captures the M3’s essence, whereas the front and rear mark a departure from the traditional M3 namesake and its design cues. In particular, Foose admits that he is troubled by the rear fender, which has a body line not consistent with any of the other side panels, causing it to the lack fluidity and cohesiveness many of us have come to expect from a BMW side profile.
However, Foose insists that the front bumper is still the issue here—one that he attempts to remedy with numerous changes. Instead of the current horizontal bars, Foose opts for the traditional vertical grille slats, curving the grilles themselves into more of a kidney shape. In an effort to preserve some of the visual weight in the original design, he divides the lower grille symmetrically with the upper grille, giving the illusion of a bigger grille with less visual bulk. Pulling inspiration from the first generation M3 and his reference photos, he then implements rectangular, amber-colored E30-inspired running lights as a finishing touch.
Foose closes by saying that while BMW was trying to be out-of-the-box with their new design, he isn’t quite sold on the new look. “We’ve seen some wild designs from BMW in the past, and we’ve grown to like them,” Foose continues, but “I’ve still got a lot of growing to do here.” He hopes that now, with a revised design, he will have done the new M3 justice, commenting that while the Germans will still “sell the hell out of this car, I think [this revised design] may have sold a lot more.”
What do you think about the Chip Foose redesign of the new M3 and M4 front end?—Malia Murphy
[Photos and video courtesy Hagerty.]