The Controversial Case of BMW’s Grille: Is Bigger Always Better?

BMW, the German luxury automaker, is known for its elegant yet sporty designs. For decades, its signature kidney grille has been a defining feature, but recent iterations have left enthusiasts divided. The once-modest grille has transformed into a bold, oversized statement, and the debate rages on: is bigger always better, or has BMW taken this design element too far?

The Evolution of BMW’s Kidney Grille

The kidney grille has been a part of BMW’s identity since the company’s early years. It was introduced in the 1930s and has gone through various changes over time. For decades, the grille maintained a moderate and balanced size, subtly enhancing the car’s aesthetics without overpowering the design. However, recent models, particularly those in the 21st century, have witnessed a significant shift in grille size.

The Bigger is Better Argument

Proponents of the oversized kidney grille argue that it’s a bold and distinctive design choice that sets BMW apart from its competitors. They suggest that the larger grille exudes a sense of power and presence, which aligns well with the brand’s image of performance and luxury. In this perspective, the grille symbolizes BMW’s willingness to push the boundaries of design.

Moreover, they claim that the bigger grille serves a functional purpose by allowing more air intake for the engine, contributing to better performance and cooling. Some also argue that the grille’s size complements the growing dimensions of modern vehicles, maintaining a sense of proportion.

The Backlash

Critics of the enlarged grille take issue with what they see as a departure from BMW’s traditional design language. The kidney grille was originally a symbol of balance and harmony in the design, and the recent increase in size disrupts that equilibrium.

One of the most significant criticisms is that the oversized grille can look disproportionate, dominating the car’s front end and diverting attention from other design elements. This has led to the nickname “BMW’s bucktooth grille” among some detractors.

Brand Identity vs. Modern Trends

The debate over the kidney grille’s size raises broader questions about brand identity versus the need to adapt to modern trends. BMW has traditionally been known for its clean, classic design language, which has garnered a devoted following. The recent changes in grille size have some worried that the brand might be losing its heritage in the pursuit of modernization.

On the other hand, BMW, like all automakers, faces the challenge of staying relevant in a rapidly evolving automotive landscape. New technologies and materials are changing the way cars are designed and built, and design elements need to evolve accordingly. The bigger grille may be an attempt to meet new safety and aerodynamic requirements.

A Lineup of Controversy

The controversy over the grille size extends across BMW’s entire lineup. Models like the BMW 4 Series have generated significant attention and mixed reactions. Even the upcoming BMW iX, an all-electric SUV, features a large, controversial grille.

One of the most notable examples of this debate is the BMW M3 and M4, which departed from the traditional kidney grille design more than any other recent models. The choice to enlarge the grille on these high-performance M models surprised and polarized enthusiasts.

Function vs. Aesthetics

One argument in favor of the larger grille is that it offers enhanced functionality. A bigger grille can provide more cooling for high-performance engines and improve aerodynamics. This practicality aligns with BMW’s reputation for building the Ultimate Driving Machines.

However, the question remains whether practicality should always take precedence over aesthetics. Enthusiasts often choose BMW for its distinctive design and connection to the brand’s history. The challenge lies in finding a balance between form and function.

Public Perception and Sales Impact

The design of a car is often a significant factor in a buyer’s decision-making process. BMW’s grille controversy might have a tangible impact on sales. If potential customers are divided or turned off by the grille design, it could lead them to explore other brands.

BMW faces the challenge of navigating public perception while staying true to its design principles. Striking the right balance is essential for maintaining its market position.


The debate surrounding the size of BMW’s kidney grille highlights the enduring tension between tradition and innovation in the automotive industry. While some argue that bigger is better, and that the enlarged grille symbolizes progress, others believe it risks altering BMW’s distinct brand identity.

BMW’s journey in addressing this controversy will be closely watched by enthusiasts, consumers, and the automotive industry. Whether the kidney grille continues to grow, returns to a more moderate size, or undergoes further evolution, the legacy and future of this iconic design element will play a significant role in shaping BMW’s image and success in the years to come.

Posted in: BMW

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