By now, you already know that BMW is changing its kidney grille design for the 4 Series, the M3 and M4. However, a design element of this new grille design that’s seemed to fly relatively under the radar is the fact that both the BMW M3 and M4 seem to have horizontal grille inserts, rather than vertical ones.

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In all the spy photos and teasers we’ve seen, the normally vertical plastic grille slats that sit inside of the iconic kidney grilles, are horizontal. Which is a unique design choice, considering how radical of a design change the shape of this new grille design already is. If BMW is going to enlarge its grille design to the point of caricature, why also buck the trend of vertical grille slats that’s been around for almost 100 years?

We don’t have an answer from BMW but it seems as if BMW M was trying to lessen the blow of the sheer size of these grilles. Vertically, these new grilles span the entire space between hood and ground. So adding the usual vertical slats may have exaggerated that design and made them seem even taller. Sort of like how fashion people (shows you how little I know about fashion that I call them “fashion people”) will tell you not to wear horizontal stripes if you want to look thin, maybe?

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However, while these new grilles might not look as cartoonishly tall with horizontal slats, they also look even less like BMW grilles. The design is so far gone from the tradition of BMW now, that these grilles just look so alien on the face of a BMW product, especially an M car. There’s nothing objectively wrong about using horizontal inserts in grilles, especially when they’re this tall, but there’s something about it that seems so off.

I went back and looked at many obscure BMWs throughout history to see if any others ever had horizontal grille slats and I couldn’t find any that were purely horizontal. There were a few that had a cross-mesh design, with both vertical and horizontal lines, such as the BMW 327, 328 and the 507, but none that I could find without at least some vertical slats. Which makes the new BMW M3 and M4 outliers in the history of the brand.

I’m not a designer, and I’ll never claim to know more than any designer does, however this new look does seem a bit odd. I think I understand it; so as to lessen the impact of the sheer height of these grilles; but there’s something about it that I just can’t get on board with. What do you fine readers think, about the grille slat inserts, specifically?

[Top Image: Motor1]