BMW M2 Competition designer explains his latest work

BMW M2 | May 17th, 2018 by 18
BMW M2 Competition 2018 42 830x553

One of the hottest BMWs this year is the fans’ favorite M2 Competition which was unveiled last month. The update for the compact sportsman is …

One of the hottest BMWs this year is the fans’ favorite M2 Competition which was unveiled last month. The update for the compact sportsman is quite extensive and undoubtedly justifies the new name, especially since the M2, as we know it today, will cease its production. Some of the design highlights of the M2 Competition are the new lower front lip with three vents in it, a mono block kidney grille design, which is not only larger but more angular and sharper, new black exhaust pipes, a black “M2” badge on the trunk and of course, the necessary M mirrors.

Just like the first M2, the improved and enhanced coupe sportsman was penned by Hussein Al-Attar, the young designer from Munich whose work was also seen on the headlights/taillights design of the BMW Concept 4 Series Coupe and the refreshed 6 Series Gran Turismo. To learn more about some of his design choices and thought process on the M2 Competition, we asked Al-Attar for an exclusive interview.

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BMWBLOG: What was the idea behind the new mono-block kidney grille with the thick frame around it? Unfortunately some readers were quick to compare them to those on Kias, so maybe we can go a bit in detail about those new kidneys which are coming across more BMW models.

BMW M2 Competition M Performance Parts 09 830x587

The BMW M2 has always been the closest thing to what our hardcore fans consider a real BMW. It sparks the same kind of feeling in them, that a 2002turbo had sparked in the past. While the original M2, as I stated in our interview back in 2016, only hinted at its heritage in a very subtle way, the M2 Competition took it a step further with a more in-your-face approach. If go back and look at the kidneys of the 2002 (or even the 3.0CSL), you will immediately realize that they are connected in the middle. So what we were doing here was merely hinting at our own heritage and quoting a feature to create a link between the past and the present. And with this, the BMW M2 Competition is kicking off our new kidney design that will be present in the new models, that we’re releasing starting from this year.

As for the thick frame around it, it was necessary to integrate the kidneys seamlessly into an existing geometry that is partially determined by the shape of the headlights and the curvature of the hood.

BMWBLOG: Can you talk about the visual changes at the front and rear, from the lights to the bumpers?

The changes in the design of the new BMW M2 Competition are purely functional. Since we swapped the N55 engine for the more potent S55 engine, the cooling requirements have changed. We needed bigger openings in the front to allow more air to stream through the car to reach the engine and the brake system. We also decided to add parking sensors to the front bumper. So all this lead to the new design that you see today. The current design with its iconic “fangs” has proven to be very successful amongst costumers and fans so we merely wanted to get the technical requirements right and modernize an already popular design with more precision in the lines and surfaces, without really changing the general idea.

In the rear we have a new exhaust system with bigger muffler tips, that hint at the larger engine and the added performance. The M-Performance Parts program include an optional trunk lid with a different design than the standard M2 Competition.

BMWBLOG: Also, what was the reason behind the three slats in the lower part of the front bumper?

Apart from the connected kidneys, the other hint at our heritage are these slats. If you take a look at the 3.0CSL you will see them on top of the bumper just underneath the kidneys. The BMW 3.0CSL Hommage Concept from 2015 showed a modern interpretation of that feature. The M2 Competition shows another one.

BMWBLOG: Why didn’t you make the hood finish just above the kidneys like on the G Series cars? That hood line there in the middle breaks it all visually.

Due to pedestrian safety and insurance requirements, that would be too complicated to lay out here, a lot of factors have to come into consideration when designing a front of a car. Obviously we have to obey these laws and requirements, but we also need to find ways, where the fulfillment of these same requirements doesn’t interfere with our design vision and our brand identity. Putting the hood shutline in that particular position, allowed us to have a much more sculptural design around the kidney area and -most importantly- achieve just the right angle for our famous shark nose design that sets BMWs apart from its competitors.

BMWBLOG: Finally the highly-requested side M mirrors. Was that exciting to be able to work on and give the BMW fans what they asked for?

We take the feedback and the critique very seriously, especially with a car that was developed for the hardcore enthusiasts. We had different priorities back then and it did make sense not to put them on the original M2, but the costumers and the fans were very vocal about the lack of an M-typical design. So we were happy to add them. I also prefer this look to the standard M2.

BMWBLOG: Has the optional carbon fiber roof present any changes in design?

The carbon fiber roof which is now part of the M Performance Parts program does have a different design than the standard roof, but it didn’t have an influence on the design of the M2 Competition.

BMWBLOG: Was it also exciting for you to work on the M2 Competition project after the “standard M2” design? It’s not often you see a designer following up on his previous work and being able to further enhance it.

The M2 became very personal project to me. It was my first car that I designed at BMW, so you can imagine how thrilled I was, when I was asked to do a refreshed version of it. It’s very rare that you get a chance to revisit your first project and redesign it with a fresh look and more experience. It’s like showing your past-self how it’s done!

BMWBLOG: What are some of the most exciting design features of the M2 Competition, as well as the most challenging ones?

Designing a new kidney grill that looks fresh, takes into account all the existing, unchanged parts (eg. headlights the hood) and still fits to the design of the rest of the car. The grill is not only larger, it also sits lower than the old kidney grill, which gives the car an even more concentrated and sporty look. It was very challenging and to pull off, but I’m very satisfied with the result.

BMWBLOG: What exterior color do you think shows best the lines of the new M2 Competition?

Well if you’re going for a pragmatic, I-can-see-every-line kind of appearance, then Hockenheim Silver is definitely the way to go without being too conservative and still having a funky color for your car. The flashiest color that screams M2 is still the Long Beach Blue. But for a menacing look that shows the character of the car, I would still go for either Black or Mineral Grey, if still offered.

18 responses to “BMW M2 Competition designer explains his latest work”

  1. Dustin says:

    Good interview, good answers – I like this guy. He’s done a great job with this car.

    I guess we should have asked if he owns an M2. And what he’s working on next.

  2. emulajavi says:

    Thank you for asking my question about the hood line!

    Apart from the X2….. it seems that on every new car since the 7 Series from 2015 (G11/12), the hood line is properly placed.

  3. ZeroCold says:

    Good informative interview! I like this guy’s styling. I hope he works on the 2020 M3. It needs a more agreesive look for an M car; especially the fenders.
    BTW I appreciate the BMW Blog and the information you guys bring to us. Ignore those stupid posts on the M2 forum about your web site. Nobody is perfect and you guys do the best you can to bring to us more BMW information than anybody else out there. Keep up the good work!

    • Horatiu B. says:

      Thanks, man. Means a lot. We tried to post there to clarify things, but they got deleted and we got banned for no reason. Lots of censorship there.
      It’s funny how we posted the official price and everyone called us liars. A day later, everyone confirms it and no reply to say we were right.

      People forget that we have sources, we reach out to BMW for info, etc. So would never make up stories. If it’s something we don’t know for sure, we would say it’s a rumor.

      • ZeroCold says:

        I read your reply on the forum. Later I was going to reply to it but it was gone. Wondered what happened. That forum can be very negative, especially with the current “civic” vs. “competition” battle going on right now and the trolling of us current M2 owners.

  4. expat says:

    PLS. stop calling “kidneys” kidneys, because they ain´t kidneys any more………

  5. pervertt says:

    Full marks to BMW’s design chief for letting Hussein Al Attar take the credit for his work. All too often these days, it is the design chief who fronts up to the press and claim the new car as his masterpiece.

    • disqus_NdrthOMZ62 says:

      The design chief created 645i/745i & thus Bangle butt. Guess he witnessed the perils of the spotlight 1st hand.

      • pervertt says:

        I’m thinking more about Audi design chiefs like Peter Schreyer and Walter de’Silva. Schreyer puts the TT in his resume, and there’s a YT video showing de’Silva proclaiming the A5 as his most beautiful car design ever. Trouble is, these 2 cars were actually penned by lesser known designers who toiled away in Audi’s studios. The design chiefs may have contributed in some way to the final product, as the business of car design is rarely the work of one person these days. But to swipe all the credit without acknowledging the input of others, that is just dishonest and unethical.

        • disqus_NdrthOMZ62 says:

          Agreed. But I find VAG design so predictable, evolutionary and corporate generic that I don’t know why anyone would claim credit. Have never liked TT &. A5 designer owes royalties to 4 Series Gran Coupe. And now former VAG designers move to Korea & clone Golfs, while engineers are hired from BMW.

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