Internet has been quick to spot similarity between new BMW hatch and tiger-nose Kias like the 2010s Ceed


by Chris Chilton

June 5, 2024 at 13:50

 The New BMW 1-Series Looks Like A Kia That Wants To Be A BMW

  • BMW’s facelifted 1-Series hatch has drawn criticism for the design of its (what else?) grille.
  • Forum posters have noticed the similarity between the 1-Series grille and the ones used by Kia a decade ago.
  • Likeness to the 2010s Kia Ceed is hard to ignore.

Korean brands’ current designs exude a confidence that tells us the automakers know what they stand for, who their customers are and what they want. There was a time, though, and not long ago, when the best that the likes of Kia could do was try to copy the brand they admired most, and that brand was BMW. But now it looks like it’s BMW that’s out of ideas and ripping off the Koreans. Only it’s ripping off their rip-offs!

Pictured on the left of the picture at the top of this page is the new BMW 1-Series. But from some angles it could pass for a five-year-old Kia Ceed like the car to its right, or maybe a new Ford Focus. It’s not unattractive, but it’s derivative.

Related: New BMW 1-Series And M135 Ditch The ‘i’ And Manual Gearbox

If we covered up the blue and white propeller badge on the nose you’d be hard pressed to identify it at all. And you can hate all you like on the jumbo grilles BMW applied to some of its cars in recent years, but the one thing they did do well was ensure you knew you were looking at a BMW.

It’s not like we’re hardcore traditionalists that think every BMW should have a compact set of chrome-edged kidneys at the center of its nose. We’re totally open to the brand’s designers coming up with new versions of the grille, as they have many times over the years.

The 1980s Z1, 1990s 8-Series, 1995 5-Series and last year’s Vision Neue Klasse sedan concept all featured grille treatments, and we loved every one. And we’ve seen the brand merge the kidneys on other recent models like the 5-Series and not minded, because the cars still had a clear identity.

 The New BMW 1-Series Looks Like A Kia That Wants To Be A BMW

 The New BMW 1-Series Looks Like A Kia That Wants To Be A BMW

But as Reddit users have pointed out the latest 1-Series’ grille – looks far too much like an old version of Kia’s tiger nose grille, or the equally BMW-aping Skoda grilles that the Czech brand is now moving away from. Except it’s much uglier because it’s got that awful sensor panel stuck in the middle of it. And what do you think about the grille bars going heading off in different directions on the 120 M Sport (below)?

It’s worth noting that this new 1-Series is only a heavily updated version of a 2019 car, and not a clean-sheet redesign (despite BMW calling it a 4th generation model), and that the 2021 i Vision Circular hatch concept hinted at more exciting, more inventive things happening to the 1-Series a few years down the road.

And the next generation of Neue Klasse sedans and SUVs coming through starting next year promise to get us excited about BMW design again. But this new 2025 1-Series will still be hanging around for a few years yet.

Leave a comment below and let us know whether you think we’re being overly harsh or whether you think BMW has messed this 1 up – and that maybe the XM’s grille isn’t so bad after all.