BMW Group Chief Designer Adrian van Hooydonk is the man ultimately responsible for the look of BMW’s new, sixth-generation 3-Series. Since the 3-Series is the world’s best-selling premium vehicle, and since van Hooydonk himself calls it “the core of our brand,” getting the redesign right was serious business for BMW.

BMW chose the Detroit Auto Show for the world premier of its new 3-Series models, and produced a short video with van Hooydonk describing the styling elements of the latest additions to the BMW family.

From the front, the new 3-Series carries a wider stance and a lower profile, with more dimensionality to its kidney-shaped grille. BMW’s twin, round headlights are tied into the grille, while upswept character lines along the doors are meant to add elegance.

While not radically different in style from 3-Series models of the recent past, the new cars are distinctive enough to attract both new and returning buyers. By offering three unique “flavors” (Sport, Modern and Luxury), BMW manages to simplify the process of ordering for dealers and customers alike.

The same things that made the previous 3-Series desirable, like near-perfect front to rear weight distribution and responsive-yet-fuel-efficient engines, are still key to the redesign of the 3-Series. As van Hooydonk points out, “Freude Am Fahren,” or “Joy In Driving” is an essential design feature of every 3-Series model, regardless of generation.

Want to see more introductions from the Detroit Auto Show? You'll find our comprehensive reports from the show here.