The 2021 BMW 4 Series is, if nothing else, striking with its enormous, upright twin-kidney grille. And because the trend for car companies the last few years is to apply one design idea across the lineup to build the brand, detractors of the 4 Series design may fear it will spread to other models. Those folks can relax, as BMW's Head of Design Domagoj Dukec specifically said in a media roundtable discussion that this is a design that was specifically created for the 4 Series.
On a broad scale, he explained that with BMW's expansive line of vehicles, the brand wants to start differentiating each model more, giving them unique identities. As such, the design team made sure the 4 Series wasn't just a smaller version of the 8 Series, or a larger version of the 2 Series. He also noted that customers don't just want a different size of one style. As for why the 4 Series is particularly bold, part of that has to do with a design decision that the even-numbered coupe and coupe-like models are to be more expressive and distinct than the odd-numbered sedan and crossover models. The takeaway is that the 4 Series design won't spread to everything, and there will probably be more conservatively designed models in the future, including popular models like the 3 Series sedan.
Another interesting note about the 4 Series styling is that it wasn't influenced by one particular market. Some people have posited that the 4 Series has such a prominent grille because of demand from buyers in China, but Dukec denied that, also noting that China is not a particularly large market for the 4 Series, taking about 10% of the model. Instead, he said the design was meant to be widely appealing for all its markets.
What did influence the design of the nose was a combination of history and desire for design innovation. Dukec noted that BMW has a long history of more vertical kidney grilles, particularly early models that housed tall radiators. As such this 4 Series pays tribute to those cars. But as many modern BMWs have thin, wide twin-kidney grilles, it gave the large, vertical design an opportunity to break the mold, too. Some of the same thought went into the rear pillar design that only seems to hint at the trademark Hofmeister kink. But again, this is just one model, and such bold design will probably only carry over to other select BMWs, if any.