The head of design at BMW admits the German firm expected a “backlash” for the large grille that debuted on the facelifted 7 Series sedan.

BMW design chief Adrian van Hooydonk told motoring.com.au said he “noticed” the criticism and in a way thought it was “inevitable”. But he added the X7 flagship SUV did not deserve the same criticism.

“It’s more a 7 Series discussion than anything else and the backlash is more or less the same as we expected,” he told the Australian publication.

“The X7 was launched at the same time and that’s why it’s thrown into that discussion, but the X7 grille is proportional to the size of the vehicle. All the cars in that segment are typically quite big,” he said.

Van Hooydonk explained the reasoning behind going with such a substantial grille on the firm's flagship saloon.

“The briefing we got was to make sure people understood the difference [between the 7 Series and the smaller 5 Series] and notice it.

“When we launched the [7 Series] it was quite smaller. The feedback we got on that was that people couldn’t see enough difference to the predecessor.

“On the 7, I understand that people can be shocked. I notice the criticism. I think in a way it’s inevitable. My objective is to do something that everybody likes but it’s not always possible,” he said.

Van Hooydonk furthermore pointed out the differences in taste between markets.

“The 7 has always been the hardest to bring the expectations of the entire world into one shape. The customers are very, very different in China, the US, the Middle East and in Europe,” he said.

“In Europe people don’t want to get noticed. They don’t like being asked what they paid for a car and they like things in black like a 'stealth mode'. The rest of the world is the opposite. We tried to give the Europeans what they want as well but the strongest market for the 7 is not Europe,” he admitted.