BMW Concept 4 points the way to next-gen 4-series

Published: 11 September 2019

► Concept 4 unveiled in Frankfurt
► New concept previews next 4-series
► It’s hard to miss that kidney grille!

No, this isn’t a Photoshopped parody of BMW’s current obsession with increasingly large grilles: this is the new Concept 4 and, as you may have already guessed, it’s reputed to give us a glimpse of the next-generation 4-series and upcoming i4 EV.

Quite possibly too much of one, depending on what you think of that grille treatment.

BMW pulled the covers off its two-door coupe concept at the 2019 Frankfurt motor show. Unfortunately, for those present, it subsequently refused to put the covers back on.

What exactly was BMW going for here?

‘Perfect proportions with a clear and precise design,’ according to BMW Group’ Design’s senior VP, Adrian van Hooydonk. The Concept 4 is strewn with crisp lines and angular creases – a departure from BMW’s sculpted wheelarches, round-edged bonnet creases and tapered lights.

The bonnet is long, the cockpit glasshouse is shallow and the rear is stubby – all strong design cues for a coupe. Details like super-slim door mirrors, rear lights with one single fibre-optic light running through them and big, ‘dished’ alloy wheels are all present and correct.

BMW Concept 4 at the Frankfurt motor show 2019 - rear view

All of the bodywork is finished in ‘Forbidden Red’ – a deep metallic colour that’s designed to emphasise the 4’s lines, shifting from a vivid red in the when light is projected on it to near-black.

Yes, but… that grille!

Ah. Yes. It seems that BMW’s designers really are going to town with its famous kidney grille motif. Not content with making it large enough to suck in wildlife on the updated 7-series or new X7, Adrian van Hooydonk and his team have stretched its height as much as it can go now, too.

BMW Concept 4 at the Frankfurt motor show 2019 - kidney grille

It’s not the first time we’ve seen a rat’s teeth-style kidney grille, with the i Vision Dynamics concept of two years ago also pointing to a slimmer but taller arrangement – albeit blanked off. BMW says it’s meant to point to earlier times when its trad design signature wasn’t as large as some cars, like the original 328 and 3.0 CSi.

There are some 3D-effect details in it, too, with chromed hexagonal details in the forefront and grating shaped like a series of joined-up number fours in the background.

How much of this will actually make production?

Don’t expect it to be a copy-and-paste job for the production cars, but expect a lot of the design cues to be carried over. Think of the 8-series; many of the proportions stayed the same from the concept car, even if BMW made it look a little fussier than the Concept 8 of 2017.

BMW Concept 4 at the Frankfurt motor show 2019 - surrounded by crowds

Will the 4-series and i4 be more of a design departure from the 3-series? We’ll have to wait and see. We’ll be talking to BMW at the show about the new car, so stay tuned for more updates.

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By Jake Groves

CAR's staff writer, office Geordie, gamer, lover of hot hatches