New BMW CEO Oliver Zipse poses with the Concept 4, a car that heralds the styling direction of the 4 Series Coupe. Picture: REUTERS
New BMW CEO Oliver Zipse poses with the Concept 4, a car that heralds the styling direction of the 4 Series Coupe. Picture: REUTERS

A radical new look for the next 4 Series coupe could be on its way after BMW pulled the covers off its Concept 4 at the Frankfurt motor show.

The Concept 4 has been clearly conceived to accustom people up to the iNext’s controversial buck-toothed grille, but it has a body by Baywatch and a face by Crimewatch. And that’s probably the whole idea.

The only reason BMW has shown the polarising all-new Concept 4 car at the Frankfurt show is that it’s buttering us up for a production car that has very similar features.

The upside is that from some angles, it looks like some of the gloves have finally been taken off the designers’ hands at BMW, but only to a point.

That point is not at the clearly controversial “beaver-style” take on the brand’s traditional twin kidney grilles that BMW debuted with the iNext concept car.

It actually begins further along the body than that, with an almost unprecedented number of bonnet creases (at least eight) that even Audi hasn’t been brave enough to take on.

It is clearly a successor to the 4 Series coupe, with its sleek, elongated roofline and short rear overhangs, but the front-end treatment and the (in)creasingly complicated bonnet suggest something else is going on inside the minds of the BMW board.

It moves the 4 Series away from its smooth sides and into the Audi Sport world of fat, creased arches over both ends, but particularly the rear, where it now has the same kind of crouching-cat haunches as the RS 5.

“The BMW Concept 4 embodies the aesthetic essence of the BMW brand. It combines perfect proportions with a clear and precise design,” BMW Group Design boss Adrian van Hooydonk said.

“The kidney grille has always been a signature feature of BMW cars,” BMW Design head Domagoj Dukec said.

“The BMW Concept 4 presents a confident and classy take on this iconic feature.

“At the same time, the BMW Concept 4 offers a look ahead to the expressive face of the 4 Series range.”

While the grille is deep, the headlights are the slimmest in BMW history, and the three-dimensional sculptures in the LED lights have no traditional glass covering.

It’s less discretely muscular and more chiselled than most traditional BMWs, even the concept cars, and that might be a strong hint about where BMW’s design future lies under new CEO Oliver Zipse.