If you’ve found BMW’s recent design direction with massive grilles – such as on the G11/12 7 Series LCI and the X7, to say nothing about the polarising Concept 4 – challenging to behold, the German marque begs to differ, as it says it has received ‘very positive’ feedback for its significant change in styling, BMW product chief Peter Henrich told Autocar.

Henrich is convinced that the new direction under design chief Adrian van Hooydonk is the right one, adding that customer data showed that the new look has been well received. “This is crucial for success. They want to express something and are not afraid of vehicles with strong characters… so we have decided to focus even more on strong characters and bold design,” said Henrich.

The product chief admits that the size of the X7’s kidney grille drew the earliest reactions when the seven-seater was first unveiled, though actual customers ‘never reacted like that’ and the model has been a success; “It’s sold out for a very long period and people love it,” he said.

Different models will be treated to different design requirements, as the customer base for the 5 Series is said to be different from that of the X7

“There are always people specifically looking for something critical and afraid of something new. But we are very self-confident and will continue,” he added. Will such radical designs continue onwards to future iterations of typically more conservative models such as the 5 Series, however? It is important that each model has its own character, Henrich said.

“Each car has its own positioning. In the early stages of development, we sit down – product, design and engineering – and define the character and the positioning. This is then the base for the design and engineering team. Some cars are more extroverted, more bold than others as they have different messages to transmit,” he explained, noting that customers of a 3 Series, for example, want something different from an X6 or a Z4.

Though BMW appears to be sticking to its guns where aesthetics are concerned, the firm has changed tack somewhat with the even more imposing grille on the Vision iNEXT concept. The grille on the concept vehicle which previews a larger electric SUV due in 2021 has been abandoned after receiving feedback that it ‘wasn’t considered a BMW kidney grille anymore’, design chief Domagoj Dukec said.

“We test what works aesthetically… (and we tried) connected kidneys because of sensors, but we’ve decided not to do it. The grille is critical, so the iNEXT, the i4 and the iX3 will get separated kidneys – we spent the money to have sensors that can see through the chrome,” Dukec said.

What’s your take on the brand’s overall look, dear readers? Do you enjoy BMW’s current styling direction because of, or despite its latest grille designs?