Without a doubt, the BMW 3 Series is the benchmark for the sport sedan. It’s the car that all the luxury-wannabes want to emulate into their own designs. It’s the car all of them wished they had. It is the automotive equivalent of perfect, and you just don’t go around messing with perfection. Apparently, BMW hasn’t gotten that memo because it’s about to change things up with both the 3 Series and 1 Series lineups.
According to the folks over at Car Magazine, BMW will be changing the mix with the next generation of its 1 Series and 3 Series. For starters, the 1 Series will no longer be available as a two-door; it will be a four-door sedan only. So then what of the 1 Series Coupe? Well, that gets a new badge and becomes the 2 Series Coupe which should make its debut in early 2013. The 1 Series Convertible gets the same treatment and will move on up to become the 2 Series Convertible in the summer of 2014.
And what about the much-vaunted 3 Series? Just like the 1 Series, the 3 Series will be only available with four-doors. In the United States, that means probably only as a sedan, while Europe will more than likely see a station wagon variant. As for the current 3 Series Coupe and Convertible? Well, they get a promotion to become the 4 Series Coupe and Convertible in mid-2013 and spring 2014, respectively. Also in the cards (and this is going to get confusing, so hang in there) is a four-door 4 Series. “But I thought you just said the 3 Series was supposed to be the one with four-doors?” Yes, we did; however, BMW has decided what customers really need is a 3 Series-sized four-door “coupe.” That means in the spring of 2015, BMW will release a four-door variant of the 4 Series, but with a coupe profile -- à la the Volkswagen Passat CC (or Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class, or Audi A7, take your pick).
So why did BMW decided to go through with all of this? Isn’t it going to run out of numbers? For starters, this isn’t the first time BMW’s made the odd-numbers of its lineup sedans, while the even-numbers got to be coupes. The now-extinct 8 Series was essentially a two-door 7 Series. The modern day 6 Series is just a two-door 5 Series. There is precedent for the nomenclature change.
However, historically the long-running 3 Series was always available as a coupe. When it was first introduced in 1975 as a replacement for the 2002, it was only available with two-doors. It wasn’t even until the next generation 3 Series debuted in 1982 that it was even offered with anything other than two-doors. So why is BMW messing with it’s the name recognition it has with the 3 Series? Hasn’t it seen what happens when you change a successful name? (Ford Five Hundred/Taurus and Volkswagen Rabbit/Golf, I’m looking at you.)
Part of the reason might be because of its rivals. Audi for example created the A5 by essentially creating a two-door A4 and promoting the A4 Convertible to A5 duty. Then it charges $4600 more for it. Audi did the same thing with the newly-created A7 -- with the A7, it created a “coupe” version of the A6, and slapped on a price tag $14,050 more than the A6 and called it a day.
Mercedes-Benz has been guilty of the same name-change-game as well. The CL-Class for example, is just a two-door S-Class. And the CLS-Class? That’s a four-door-coupe version of the E-Class. Even the E-Class Coupe was somewhat of a farce because while it looked like an E-Series, it was actually based on C-Class underpinnings, never mind the fact there will be an actual C-Class Coupe for 2012.
So is the point of this name-change profit related? Can’t say that for sure, especially since the 2 Series and 4 Series haven’t even been spotted testing out in the wild yet. Is it because “the cool kids” Audi and Mercedes-Benz are doing it too? Probably. But there’s something to be said for being different. It sets you apart from the others. Remember that, BMW.
Source: Car Magazine