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In recent years, we've learned to be cautiously optimistic whenever a new BMW debuts. If we look at what people are commenting on the Internet, the most vocal ones are always those who criticize the large grille. There's a new hot debate now that the split headlights are a thing, having been previewed last year by the Concept XM. The 2023 X7 facelift and the 2023 7 Series / i7 have it, with the production-ready XM not far behind.

Why do these cars look the way they do? Why does the M3 have the XXL kidneys but not a lesser 3 Series? BMW design chief Domagoj Dukec explained in an interview with Car Magazine why it has taken this radical approach. He says two-thirds of customers want "an elegant and harmonious aesthetic," which is why volume sellers like the 3er and 5er play it safe in terms of design. For the same reason, spy shots of the facelifted 3 Series and next-generation 5 Series have revealed there won't be any drastic visual changes.

2023 BMW 7 Series

Ok, but what about the remaining 33 percent? Dukec says those people want to stand out from the crowd. It's why the 4 Series and the new 7 Series cater to customers who "really want to polarize." He went on to say: "In the past, the 4 Series was just a sporty 3 Series, but these customers are different – they want a more irrational car, and they're willing to pay more for that emotional expression, and to really make a statement."

His sentiments were echoed by BMW Group design chief Adrian van Hooydonk:

"I don't think good design has to polarize but I think the concept of beauty can be polarizing. It comes back to the customer, and if one kind of customer is looking for a beautiful and timeless car, then of course we will design it. But there are also customers looking for something like an X6, which is certainly polarizing – you either hate it or you love it. That approach wouldn't work for a 3 Series or a 5 Series because they sell in bigger volumes, so it's clear you can’t come up with one solution."

Good or bad design, the numbers don't lie. With 2,213,795 cars sold in 2021, the BMW had its best year ever. It's even more impressive once you factor in the microchip shortage and the coronavirus pandemic. The core brand beat both Mercedes (2,093,476 units) and Audi (1,680,512), so they must be doing something right.

Perhaps some sales were lost because of the daring design some cars have, but we'll never know. What we do have are the sales figures and these show deliveries rose by 9.1 percent compared to 2020.

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