The new BMW 4 Series Coupé reinterprets the classic coupé design. The design is distilled to lines with strong character and quotes a kidney shape from BMW history. Designer Seungmo Lim explains how emotion and dynamics are created from the interplay of lines, light and contours – and which elements of the BMW Concept 4 are reflected in the production vehicle.

Seungmo Lim designing the Concept 4 on screen.


Seungmo Lim kneels before the rear of the new BMW 4 Series Coupé. From the ceiling of the circular room in the BMW Research and Innovation Centre (FIZ), lamps illuminate the vehicle as though it were on a stage. With his right hand, the designer points forward past the three-dimensional rear lights. “The ¾ rear view is one of my favourite perspectives. The reflection on the muscular rear fender and the interrupted, horizontal main line between the wheel arches define the character of the new coupé,” explains Lim, taking a step back.

"Seen from the side, the line seems to be arched, but from above it curves against it, allowing light and shadow to form a taut body side. This line also divides the height of the vehicle into two harmonious halves, giving it elegant agility and dynamism – even when the vehicle isn’t in motion.”

The striking main line is one of the elements that are also found in BMW Concept 4. At its premiere at the IAA 2019 motor show, the concept car wrote a new chapter in coupé fascination. A preview of the upcoming production model. Now the new BMW 4 Series Coupé tells its story. And it starts with sketches on a blank sheet of paper.

Seungmo Lim designing the Concept 4 on paper.


"With the new BMW 4 Series Coupé, I wanted to design a striking coupé with as few lines as possible”, says Seungmo Lim, “A production vehicle is always subject to many production requirements in vehicle design. The challenge for designers is to create a unique and desirable vehicle within the regulations,” says Lim.

The appearance of the BMW 4 Series Coupé is very similar to that of the Concept 4, even though the surfaces and lines are clearly different. But what are the differences between the design of a concept car and a production vehicle? A concept car is like an expressive film trailer or a haute couture fashion show, the designer explains.

“The BMW Concept 4 is supposed to represent the design essence of the brand in a very concise way. After all, the regulations of a production car do not apply here. Therefore, it was possible to simplify license plates, lights or sensors and concentrate on the pure form. With the BMW Concept 4, I wanted to accentuate the elegant sportiness of a BMW Coupé. The elongated bonnet, the long wheelbase, the flowing roof line, the short overhangs: it shows the BMW Coupé silhouette and its proportions in an elegant and modern form.”

BMW team building the Concept 4.

And the new BMW 4 Series Coupé is also given a powerful body work thanks to its purist surfaces. “The interplay of harmoniously modelled volume and a few, high-precision contours creates extraordinary dynamics.” Lim also commented on the process, saying "Before the first draft, I always imagine how the car would look in the rearview mirror. And the new BMW 4 Series will make a lasting impression.” 


When he designs a new car, designer Seungmo Lim always starts by imagining how a customer will encounter the car for the first time. “On the road, in the showroom or in the rear-view mirror – the first impact of the car must make an impression and say: Wow! This is a BMW. I always paint a concept car in the spotlights on stage. The viewers should be able to imagine themselves in the future of BMW,” explains Lim.

Designer Seungmo Lim standing in front of the Concept 4.

There are three different categories of concept cars at BMW. BMW vision cars are intended to illustrate the design vision for the future of the brand. The Hommage Concept cars are reinterpretations of legendary BMW classics with a modern design language. And the BMW Concept 4 falls into the category of concept cars based on production vehicles.


The fact that not all lines, beading or contours are adopted in vehicle design on the way to the final design model is no loss for designer Seungmo Lim. “Every challenge means also an opportunity. It was a great pleasure for me to rethink, develop and thereby improve these BMW Concept 4 shapes for the new BMW 4 Series Coupé.” The reinterpretation of the vertical kidney was an iconic element in the design of the concept car and also the new BMW 4 Series Coupé.

New BMW vertical kidney grille.


Designing a BMW is also about reinventing over one hundred years of brand history over and over. Seungmo Lim walks around the vehicle and strokes the C-pillar and side line before pointing to the front of the new BMW 4 Series Coupé: “We have a strong design history. A trademark makes a car recognizable – and the double kidney is one of our icons. Nevertheless, BMW design must be reinterpreted and translated into the future again and again. To take a bold step forward, we have looked into our past in the new BMW 4 Series Coupé.”

With the new vertical kidney's elongated shape and front bumper, the design of the new BMW 4 Series Coupé quotes classics such as the BMW 328 or the 3.0 CSi, referring to the long and successful coupé history of the BMW brand.

BMW Designer Seungmo Lim.


Vehicle design always begins with lines. For designer Seungmo Lim, they are the picture frame for emotions. And with the right colour, they can be intensified. “Colour shapes the car,” says Lim, pointing to the Concept 4.

The expressive exterior colour “Forbidden Red” particularly highlights the surface work. It makes the surfaces of the coupé which are in the light, shine in a rich, glossy red, while shadow areas appear almost black and create an exciting contrast.

Seungmo Lim can already see how the effect of the light will affect the vehicle silhouette from the clay model. With a few splashes of water, the silver foil on the clay model will become reflective – and the contours visible. "Each colour has its own personality” says Lim, “but the lines and edges of the new BMW 4 Series Coupé will show their unique character in every paint finish.”

Rear profile of the BMW 4 Series Coupé.

Explore the BMW 4 Series Coupé now. 

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