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BMW design boss defends radical styling direction

Autocar logo Autocar 09/10/2019 Lawrence Allan
a car parked on the side of a building: Adrian van Hooydonk: "As a company, you have to keep moving" © Autocar Adrian van Hooydonk: "As a company, you have to keep moving"

BMW’s design boss has again defended the brand’s controversial new styling direction, continued in earnest by the recently revealed Concept 4 Series Coupé.

After it was unwrapped at the Frankfurt motor show, Adrian van Hooydonk was asked about the polarising views of BMW’s recent design debuts.

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He told Autocar: “I’m not a psychologist but I know BMW is a brand that not only has customers, it has fans. They know our entire design history and have strong opinions on that. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, it means we have really connected with these people on an emotional level. Okay, I know that there might be some discussion with fans because they’ve grown to love what you’ve just done and you’re changing it already.

“As a company, you have to keep moving,” he continued. “The minute you start standing still, you become an easy target. The market is very competitive now, more than ever. But the hardest thing to do is make changes while you are successful. If you are no longer successful, people will immediately start saying you need to make changes, but then you are in panic mode.”

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Describing the 4 Series specifically, van Hooydonk said: “It is a sporty coupé, and by definition it has to have a very expressive design, and you see that all around the car, not just the front. But there are not that many lines or elements – it’s not a complex design.

“We want to do this for all our cars: we want to have fewer elements, then each element you use plays a bigger role.”

FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 10: Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President at BMW Group Design, speaks while standing next to the new BMW Concept 4 Coupe (in red) during the press days at the 2019 IAA Frankfurt Auto Show on September 10, 2019 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The IAA will be open to the public from September 12 through 22. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images) © 2019 Getty Images FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 10: Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President at BMW Group Design, speaks while standing next to the new BMW Concept 4 Coupe (in red) during the press days at the 2019 IAA Frankfurt Auto Show on September 10, 2019 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The IAA will be open to the public from September 12 through 22. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Van Hooydonk did acknowledge, however, that it was the recent facelift of the 7 Series flagship that was the most visually distinctive – and there’s a good reason for that.

“It was part of the brief,” he said. “People liked the car, but they said by and large it looks quite similar to the previous one, so why should they buy the new one? Now everyone has noticed and production has ramped up considerably.”

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