Home » I Think BMW’s Massive Glowing Grilles Are Great, Actually

I Think BMW’s Massive Glowing Grilles Are Great, Actually

Bmw Glow Grilles Good Ts2
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BMW has been making waves for all the wrong reasons. Or, just one, actually—it’s been building awkward-looking cars with giant nostrils. However, there is light on the horizon, quite literally. I’m here to tell you that the Bavarians have turned a corner, and their new grilles have won me over. Why? Because now, they light up!

Call me juvenile, call me a philistine, I don’t care. Glowing grilles are awesome, they’re useful, and they’re exactly what the car world needs right now.

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Outraged? I’m sure. Let me explain.

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This is good.

Here’s the thing. We’re not living in 1957 anymore. Sealed beam headlights are over, combustion’s kind of on the way out, and wallpaper hasn’t been an appropriate choice for home decor for well over half a century now. Cars aren’t supposed to look the same forever. We’re living in the gosh-darned future, and it’s high time we started acting like it!

We got a taste for this in the late nineties. Manufacturers rejoiced at the invention of the blue LED, and stuck them on every appliance in our lives. Meanwhile, the tuning scene fell in love with neons, and started the underglow craze. For a minute there, we were on the cutting edge.

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But then we all went too hard with silver-this and millennium-that, and designers revolted. Everything got toned down. Culture ricocheted and backfired, and we went back to plaid shirts and punk rock, before we tripped over vaporwave and ended up spat out back into the present day.

Now, the EV transition is here and automakers want to make things look modern again. Lighting is the way to do. We have magical LEDs that put out tons of light in a tiny package for very little power usage. You can stick them on anything and behind anything and make it glow, and you can do it in all kinds of cool colors.

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Mercedes gets it. The brand, that is, I can’t speak for my esteemed colleague.

BMW started with its backlit “Iconic Glow” grille and it’s only gotten better since then.

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Luxury automakers didn’t miss the memo. They went ham on ambient lighting for interiors, and it’s showing up in exterior design too. Mercedes-Benz started putting glowing badges on its cars, and BMW’s gone one further. It’s started illuminating grilles, and it ought to be celebrated for it.

BMW started with a backlit glow on the X6 back in 2019, and that was kind of cool. But it was the XM Concept in 2021 that really nailed the format, with the glowing outline of its snout drawing eyes from a mile away. Today, you can get the illuminated kidney grille on much of the modern BMW range, including the new X3, on which it looks particularly badass.

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Tell me that doesn’t move you.
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Sometimes features from rad concept cars actually become a production reality.

While the large BMW grilles can look foolish at times, they’re ultimately much less offensive when they’re glowing in the dead of night. They give the vehicle an amazing visual signature in the dark, and highlight one of the most potent pieces of BMW’s design language. Plus, they look like something out of a sci-fi movie, and I’m tired of pretending that isn’t cool.

The glowing grilles can also serve as a useful safety feature by serving as running lights, particularly during intermediate lighting periods like dawn and dusk. This isn’t critical in a world where daytime running lights are mandatory, but they certainly don’t hurt.

Yes I can! Hell yeah!
Can I get a hell yeah?
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Hell yeah! BMW only included this in B-roll for the X3. This should have been a headline pic, baby!

Now, you might hate glowing grilles. You might think they’re ugly and that they have no place on a modern BMW. But that’s okay—they’re not hurting you, and you don’t have to have one!

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Meanwhile, those of us that like them will continue to enjoy them. We’ll keep driving around making “pew pew” sounds as we pretend to shoot lasers from our roadgoing starships, with the ambient lighting set to red because we’re in a dire combat situation! Okay, maybe that’s just me, but still. They’re fun.

It bears noting this isn’t even a new idea. Car companies—even the conservative ones like Ford—have been experimenting with glowing badges and similar accoutrements for decades. For a certain type of enthusiast, they make a cool car even more special.

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YES! YESSSSSS!

The one criticism I have is that BMW doesn’t do a good enough job showing them off. It has a handful of pictures of glowing grilles laying around, but they’re not exactly easy to find. Sometimes, that’s the way with controversial features, but it makes it more difficult to celebrate them!

Honestly, though, that’s my take, and I stand by it. Automakers have the technology to make bits of our cars glow. It’s not expensive to do, and it can look really cool. Plus, when OEMs do it, it tends to look a lot less tacky compared to slapping on aftermarket gear from AliExpress and the like.

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BMW’s even got the influencers out repping them at Coachella. Of course, depending on your tilt, that might harden your opposition.
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Still, call me a fan.

I’m all for more illuminated badges, more illuminated grilles, and yes, factory underglow. I’m still waiting on that last one, but it can’t be far away, right?

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Image credits: BMW

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67 Oldsmobile
67 Oldsmobile
1 month ago

Fuck no,it’s stupid and I hate it. Just needed to say that.

Ben
Ben
1 month ago

I’m with you in theory, but…execution of glowing grilles has been atrocious. I’m one of those people with RGB LED fans in my computer. I like LEDs on just about anything.

But most of the front light strips I’ve seen look hideous. I think a lot of them might be the shitty aftermarket ones you stick under your hood, which is probably a lot of the problem, but it’s kind of ruined the aesthetic for me. Something that used to excite me has become such a disappointment that I kind of wish it would just go away.

Chronometric
Chronometric
1 month ago

I wholly embrace the lighted nostril as a symbol of the post-colonial embrace of rapper culture and late stage capitalism’s ephemeral but ultimately destructive influencer phenomenon.

And, ooooo, shiny.

John
John
1 month ago

To my eyes massive illuminated kidneys scream of desperation and insecurity. It’s an extension of the ‘make logo bigger’ mantra. A great design imo shouldn’t rely so much on those brand icons, they’re there not to take attention away from the rest. Look at an e31! The xm and x3 aren’t too awful but the twisted, disconnected graphics on the i5 and i7 are laughable, they scream of compromise and ostentatiousness at the same time, truly an achievement.

Mike N.
Mike N.
1 month ago

Yeah, at first I thought they were stupid too but the first time I saw one in real life (on a new 7), they looked bad-ass, in a Tron kind of way. It’s also like a modern version of the Mercury Sable’s front light bar, which I thought looked cool too at the time.

The Mercedes lit up three pointed star still looks gauche though.

Turtle Racer
Turtle Racer
1 month ago

IMHO, the last proper use of the kidney grille was the E28 series. I lost interest in BMW after 1988.

AlfaWhiz
AlfaWhiz
1 month ago

Glowing nostrils are something you should see your doctor about, not have on your car.

Bite Me
Bite Me
1 month ago

Glowing grille? Fine. Big grille? Fine. Tall, ridiculous, hog nose grille? Vomit, everywhere.

121gwats
121gwats
1 month ago

I would love the effect if the grills weren’t so god damn hideous. Now they’re calling attention to the ugly? Nah, I’m good.

Last edited 1 month ago by 121gwats
Dale Mitchell
Dale Mitchell
1 month ago
Reply to  121gwats

BMW: < releases new grille design >

Entire world responds: “That is ugly AF!”

BMW: “Halt mien beir”

Last edited 1 month ago by Dale Mitchell
Shinynugget
Shinynugget
1 month ago

BMW’s don’t look good in the daylight, why would you want to draw more attention to that grill? We should let darkness hide some of that butter-face.

MGA
MGA
1 month ago

I love light as an art medium. Backlit, glowing, accented, however. I attribute this to my early experimentation with psychedelics back in high school and college. I still love the aesthetic of a perfectly clear headlight housing with a pinpoint- accurate spot of light from a projector. So satisfying.

But this, no. It’s gaudy, it’s tacky, it’s literally made for the people you’d loathe to have a beer with. The influencers aren’t getting on board, they *are* the ones this kind of thing is geared to. New money materialism. Your stealth wealth isn’t going for this because they have too much taste.

Having said that, the execution of BMW’s lighted grill perimeter is much more ‘finished’ looking than the shitty lighted grill stern Mercedes will sell you. They’re almost exclusively on the entry CLA models, which are almost exclusively driven by that one girl in your friends group who got a nursing job with a decent, not great, salary, and all of your broke friends think she’s rolling in it now by comparison. The lighted badge yells out “I just know it’s a Mercedes”.

Last edited 1 month ago by MGA
Box Rocket
Box Rocket
1 month ago
Reply to  MGA

The really funny thing with the M-B lighted emblem is that means the purchaser chose to have the lighted star instead of the sonar system that could otherwise be in the emblem. They’re showing off that they spent less and have fewer features than they could have.

Icouldntfindaclevername
Icouldntfindaclevername
1 month ago

WOW, so much hate in the comments for someone’s personal preferences. Lewin, keep on doing you and don’t mind the haters.

I drive a boring SUV
I drive a boring SUV
1 month ago

No.

Duke Woolworth
Duke Woolworth
1 month ago

A cure for which there’s no disease.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
1 month ago

I’m a little disappointed in the comments claiming that this is clickbait.

I 100% believe Lewin likes these glowing grilles. Why? Because everyone has at least SOME terrible opinions, it’s what makes us unique. And I feel like this site was partially founded as the safe space to let those unhinged, potentially awful opinions fly. I even believe DT’s timing belt article, which nearly made my brain explode.

Remember, this is supposed to be a collection of weirdos writing about cars for weirdos. Ya weirdos.

I mean, is it that hard to believe someone likes these glowing grilles? I mean, in general, things that glow, are good. Unfortunately in this case the glow is highlighting an abysmal BMW grille.

Silent But Deadly
Silent But Deadly
1 month ago

A-grade trolling there, Lad.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 month ago

“But that’s okay—they’re not hurting you”

But the industrial strength eye bleach I NEED to use afterwards does sting quite a bit.

Autopizen
Autopizen
1 month ago

Wow, I could not disagree more.

Marc Miller
Marc Miller
1 month ago

Those grilles look like big ol’ beaver teeth to me.

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