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Hooniverse Asks- BMW 4-Series, Brah! or Blah?

Robert Emslie January 17, 2013 Hooniverse Asks 96 Comments


The BMW 3-series is not only the brand’s Brot und Butter here in the States, but as the basis for the legendary M3 Bro-mobile, it has secured itself a place in the pantheon of history’s most beloved platforms. And now it seems that, for the two-door coupe at least, the end of the road is near. At the 2013 NAIAS BMW introduced a concept 4-series coupe that could be construed as a thinly veiled usurper of – oh hell, this car takes the place of the 3-series coupe starting next model year. The reasoning is simple, the brand wants to rationalize their model naming where 4-doors get odd numbers and 2-doors get the even stevens.

The two-door 3-series has been a staple of BMW’s US line up from the days of the 2002Tii to the present, and as such has built an equity – if not mystique -around that form, and the attached 3-series name. There’s a lot of history, lineage, and soul in a name, so changing so long running an appellation is a bold move by any manufacturer. Imagine if, instead of introducing the C7 Corvette at the same show Chevy debuted their next generation sports car. . . the Partridge!

Sure, it’s just a name and if BMW wasn’t messing with things this car would simply be the new 3-series coupe, likely sire to the next iteration of the equally venerated M3. But of course now that it’s not. . . well, it won’t. That means that there either will never be another M3 coming out, or, if there is, that it will mandatorily carry 4 doors. The new 4-series could only logically spawn an M4, and while that speculative car will probably be amazing, the history and mythology of the M3 will perhaps not easily come along with it. What do you think, is this just a repositioning and after all a name is just a name? Or, is this shunning of the equity and history potentially a huge mistake on BMW’s part? What do you think about the end of the 3-coupe and the arrival of the 4, Brah! or Blah?

Image: [BMWBlog]

  • Brah. Actually, I don't give a damn about the name. This doesn't mean there won't be another M3…there have been M3 sedans the last few generations. It just means there will be an M4…which you could translate to M3 coupe.

    An awesome car by any other name is still an awesome car.

    • Names DO matter. If the Holden-based GTO had been called the Monaro, it would not have suffered much of the criticism it received, most of which was in comparison to the old, "real" GTO. If the Matador coupe had been called the Barcelona (as was considered), maybe people would have realized that AMC had come out with a totally new car [doesn't mean those people would've bought one, however]. And from the comments yesterday, Preludacris (59p) would like the new NSX more if it was called something else. The EX500 and CBR600 were not "Ninja" and "Hurricane" to avoid those names' notoriety with insurance carriers.

      • In this case, then, are you saying people won't buy this car because there is no history with a 4-series? All of what you cited were cases where pundits and, because of the pundits, consumers comparing the current model to its namesake. I never understood the GTO debacle. If you wanted to be purist, you would demand that it be based on the Tempest…wait…you couldn't. Because there was no Tempest.

        Yes, names do matter, but only insofar as people link the current offering to history. In this case, some people may ignore the 4-series because they want a 3-series. At least until they realize that all they can get in the 3-series line is a 4-door. The BMWCCA members, though, will have no problem knowing that this new 4-series is really the 3-series coupe. Their only problem will be that BMW is messing with their sacred numbering scheme.

        • I should point out that I was responding to your general statement about names. I'm not a BMW guy and couldn't care less if they call it the BMW 3, BMW 4, or BMW Billion Gajillion Fafillion Shabadulumillion Shamacamashamillion.*

          *I take that back. That last one would be cooler.

          • Vavon

            Absolutely! Just ad Turbo and I'm sold!

            • Yes!

              My point was that the name doesn't have anything to do with the capabilities of the car. Possibly the perceived desirability, but not the capabilities. Mechanical bits don't care about names.

              • jeepjeff

                So, would you have been indignant if Ford had sold the Probe under its model name? As Vairship pointed out (EDIT: on the NSX post), the only thing that really bothers me about the Honda CR-Z is the piggy-back on the CR-X legacy. If they'd called it an Insight instead, I wouldn't do things like try to compare it to an FR-S.

                (That said, I have no real skin in this game. BMWs don't check any of the boxes for me. I don't hate them, there is, obviously, something to love there. I'm just ambivalent since they don't include any of my automotive fetishes.)

              • Vavon

                True, but I was merely replying to this:

                BMW Billion Gajillion Fafillion Shabadulumillion Shamacamashamillion.

                • Which would be the best model name in…ever.

      • danleym

        Don't know why someone downvoted. I voted you back up.

        • Alcology

          I did, because I didn't agree with his argument or feel like posting a rebuttal.

          • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

            I don't agree either, but not strongly enough to respond. I take the view of, wrong = ignore vs not even right = -1.

            • Alcology

              They're meaningless points so I figured I'd try it out and see how it goes. I'll give you a hint. It does not go well.

  • Vavon

    I couldn't care less! Now let's jump to something interesting…

    <img src="http://www.bmw2002turbo.nl/turbo_air.jpg&quot; width="670/">

  • buzzboy7

    I could care less about this name scheme. Sure. Use 4-series. What's really important to think about though is that they are out of E## and are moving into F##. This saddens me.

    • M44Power

      They started blowing through them once they quit using the EXX/y designations (E46/4 = sedan) and went to individual numbers for each configuration. So an E90 and E92 are different. Still, sigh.

      • buzzboy7

        So E90 and E92 would be the same car but different styles? Silly. It all made so much sense in the 80s and 90s models. Even more importantly, I know the ones from that time period.

        • M44Power

          E90 (sedan), 91 (wagon), 92 (coupe), and 93 (convertible) are the choices. Previously (and someone correct me if I am wrong here, but I know this applied to the E30-E46s), it would have been designated E90/1, E90/2, etc.

          • buzzboy7

            Yeah, the old system was E## / # for a few things, but mostly just E##. The system with the dash was used for the Z3 and the 3-Series compact. Otherwise I can't find anything about the dash. I'll stick with E## being the underpinnings. I like that way better.

        • Maymar

          I might be mistaken, but I thought there was an acceptable model number to define the entire generation, but you could get more specific. In other words, an E90 could be any last-gen 3-series (although it's specifically the sedan), but you could get specific and throw out E92 to describe a coupe.

          • Hans Raptor

            I'm pretty sure that's just a habit held over by owners. BMW has made the official switch. I've been curious if it might be to make ordering parts for the same series but different body styles easier.

  • As if BMW's naming conventions were not confusing enough.

    • JayP2112

      They lost me when the names stopped reflecting the displacement.

      • M44Power

        That was quite a while ago.

        • JayP2112

          I know…

      • I spent most of 1983 trying to figure out Volvo's new six-cylinder car with zero doors, and what happened to the four intervening series of cars I missed.

        • buzzboy7

          I couldn't figure out how the 850 T-5 was front wheel drive with an automatic. I swear Borg Warner has let their standards drop.

    • Jay_Ramey

      I was mostly okay with it being impossible to tell what's under the hood anymore, but after they moved the awd badges to the front wings and given us the easy-to-pronounce models like X5 xDrive 50i or X5 xDrive 30i…. why does this have to be an algebra equation? Why do I have to solve for X?

      So from the badging on the trunklid you now can't tell displacement and you can't tell whether its awd or not. Why have badging on the trunklid at all at this point?

      Anyways, I'm sure it'll change again in 5 years anyway. As for myself, I prefer the Chinese domestic market badging, which I can't read anyway.

      • Vavon

        You just don't get it.


        As per BMW USA… Oh, please…

      • M44Power

        Don't forget S-drive. Ugh.

    • Devin

      Just wait until they come out with a 4-door 4 series.

      • With x-drive.

        Or an X4M…


      • cheapthrills

        No joke, I believe a 4-series Grand Coupe is planned, à la 6-series Grand Coupe. I can't wait until MB, BMW, and Audi give up on their wasteful 4-door coupe obsession.

        • Kogashiwa

          Identical to the 3-series sedan except that the rear roofline is slightly lower.

          Every single body panel is noninterchangeable though.

  • Number_Six

    Strange things are afoot at the circle/propellor. Meet the latest BMW F650GS. For many years it was a…yes…652cc single-cylinder. However, the latest iteration is powered by a…wait for it…wait for it…798cc twin. But if you like the thing, then who cares what it's named?
    <img src="http://static.ibnlive.in.com/ibnlive/pix/sitepix/05_2012/bmw-050412.jpg&quot; width=500>

  • Van_Sarockin

    BMW is dead to me, ever since they first Bangled, and then decided that future profitability rested with ever increasing amounts of electronics. I wish them well, and an eventual return to being the Ultimate Driving Machine. But until then I won't be darkening their showroom door.

    • Irishzombieman

      Yep. No love from me for anything since Mr. Bangle. As I've said before, I'd like to bump into him in a dark alley.

      With an E-30.

    • faberferrum

      Amen, I'm devoted to their pre-90's offerings, but there's little of interest after that.

  • Joe_Btfsplk

    I own and drive six vehicles, the newest is a fourteen year old Miata. The rest are 60's and early 70's. My method is to look when the depreciation cycle bottoms out in about ten years. If there are many decent examples available, it will be deemed a sucessful design and worthy of further investigation. If not, well…….

  • JayP2112

    The move to the 4 Series is a counter to Audi and it's naming scheme for its sedans, coupes, sedancoupes, SUV, SUVCoupes and sportscar (singular).

    Again… I miss the days when we had the 4000 and 5000.

  • It's no biggie. I'd rather they build it with a squared off rear roofline, though.

  • OA5599

    [youtube EbVKWCpNFhY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbVKWCpNFhY youtube]

    I can't believe BMW marketing hasn't already made this an 11-series.

  • Devin

    To be fair, it's not the stupidest naming convention. That would be Infiniti's new Q ALL THE THINGS policy, followed closely by Lincoln's MK??? setup.

    • BlackIce_GTS

      1) China. I can just mash the keyboard; AD098FG. That's probably a car in China.
      2) Russia. In Russia, _AZ five random numbers, you!
      3) Ferrari. They've got like twelve different ones and they're all stupid.
      4) Jaguar. How many things is XJ?
      5) Volvo? I think I understood the one before the last two.
      Lincoln makes a very limited amount of sense. The MKT is a… I thought it was based on a truck platform, but it isn't. The MKX is a crossover, and the MKZ is boring.

      • "That's probably a car in China."

        The Austin Maestro went into subsequent production as the Etsong Lubao QE6400 and QE6440, then as the FAW Lubao CA6410. I doubt this knowledge will help me find parts, though.

        • Devin

          They never stopped making Maestros. Yema makes them with Subaru Forester look alike bodies on top from what I hear.

          • Ah, right, the Yema SQJ6450, SQJ6451, and SQJ6485. You'd mentioned Yema back in 2011 but I'd forgotten. The Forester-esque SQJ6451 seems to be more Montego than Maestro, but there was already some mixing and matching in the earlier Etsong and FAW cars anyway. Maybe I should ask for a parts catalog.

        • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

          Maybe if you read Chinese as well as you speak French!

          • I do, actually. Precisely as well.

      • Devin

        The problem with Lincoln is I can never remember what on earth each MK whatever is supposed to actually be.

        Jaguar only calls the big sedan the XJ, they also have the XF and XK and Type F I think. It's still pretty bad, using the same first letter for all your products is never a good idea guys!

  • Kogashiwa

    Maybe not very convincing coming from an IS300 owner but I wish makers would go back to using actual names as in actual words that actually mean something.

    • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

      Volvo Viking Berzerker Turbo GLT please, pretty please.

    • I must agree. As little interest as I have in the BMW 4, I would steal money to buy the BMW BLITZENDRACHE

      • Vavon

        I would love to have an Audi Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz.

        This is the longest word in the German language… and means: Beef labeling supervision delegation law…

    • Vairship

      As owner of a Daimler-Chrysler Plymouth Truck Cruiser, I agree.

  • Maymar

    On one hand, there are plenty of odd-numbered two-door BMWs – 1 and 3 Series, Z1s and Z3s, the M1, if you want to stretch it a little, the 3.0CS. On the other hand, you've got the 2002, the 6 and 8 Series, the Z4 and Z8, and now this 4-Series. Does this mean the next small BMW will be the 2 Series (although the howling of the internet about how it's no 2002 will be deafening? Will they keep the 1-Series name and finally send us the 5-door hatch?

    I mean, the 4-Series itself looks nice enough, although I'd much prefer the more sensible sedan if I felt like spending ~$35k on a car.

  • domino_vitali

    (runs away crying)