A car with a name that, by definition, implies 2 doors, with a name that ties it to a literal 2 door model that in itself is nothing more than a 2 door model of a 4 door model. But they gave it a sloped roof and thereby can call it a coupe even though it isn’t. And where can this level of confusion clsuterfuckery come from? Why BMW of course! And the model I’m referring to is the 4 Series Gran Coupe.
The last few years, or rather the last decade or so, has seen BMW increasingly go from the Ultimate Driving Machine, to the Ultimate Let’s See If We Can Create More Niches Because Our Customers Will Buy Them Company. The company that gave us the legendary and industry benchmark 3 Series has gone away from their sporting pretensions to just cater to customers that care no more about driving and more about the brand perception and to be seen driving a BMW. Both BMW and the consumer are to blame.
Where did it all start? BMW started hinting at trying to “shake up” the industry when they started calling their SUV’s, specifically the X5 since it was the only one at the time, SAV’s (Sports Activity Vehicles) rather than SUV’s. Soon after we were given the X6 Concept in 2007 and it going on sale a short time later.
BMW dubbed this a SAC (Sports Activity Coupe). And it worked. Sales of the X6 have always been strong because of its combination of “unique” styling and BMW badge. That’s all the ok BMW needed to just go crazy. That doesn’t make the model any less of a rolling answer to a question nobody asked. It’s pretty much an X5 with a sloped roof. That styling to create the niche it’s in cuts into what makes an SUV desirable in the first place: visibility and cargo room. It’s also heavy which hurts its Ultimate Driving Machine on road dynamics.
More chaos followed with the release just 2 years after the X6 of the weirdly shaped 5 Series GT: a not quite a wagon and not quite an SUV thing that BMW calls a Gran Turismo, even going so far as to call it a Progressive Activity Sedan (whatever that means) In the US, BMW pretty much used the 5 Series GT as a replacement for the 5 Series wagon that went away when the E60 became the F01. Strangely in Europe, this wasn’t the case and the 5 GT was sold right alongside the regular 5 Series wagon. Another answer to a question nobody asked. The vehicle is essentially in a weird gray area and is design wise awkwardly proportioned though rear legroom is rumored to be great. Sales for the 5 GT have never been strong yet it was just recently replaced by the 6 Series GT.
What’s maddening about the 6 GT is that it’s the same level of confusion as the GC models: A model name that historically has always been a coupe, is now attached to what is essentially a refresh of a model that’s been on sale since 09 (the 5 GT) offering nothing more than being a little longer than the 5 GT and riding on platform that’s shared with both the standard 5 and 7. Why does this exist you ask? Well for one, because BMW, and 2, because the 6 Series Coupe is going away if you want some kind of justification. The 6 GT will be the only 6 Series now. The 6 Coupe going away makes room for the 8 Series. It’s just… too much.
In the intervening years we have been given even more pointless vehicles: the 3 Series got both the X4, which is a 3 Series based baby X6,the aforementioned 4 GC and the 6 GC, with a 2 GC rumored to be coming in 2018 as a 19’ model. Like I said before, BMW is to blame for this confusion and dilution of their brand identity of Ultimate Driving Machine. But another group shares that blame: consumers.
BMW has the fortunate position of having the luxury brand with the most cache. Tell anyone not in the know you drive a BMW, and their mind will probably fly to either he/she must have money, or what does he/she do for a living? It’s the ultimate car to show you’ve made it. Go through any business park and tell me how many BMWs you see. The 3 Series is the go to for those that got that promotion with just enough money for them to be able to buy the kind of car they actually want to buy to show that they got that promotion. And the 5 and 7 have long been the go to for middle and upper management. With that brand cache comes a problem however: people can’t see past it. It’s allowed BMW to create products that make us question their existence, while their sales are sustained by lessees who flock to the models for no other reason than that roundel on the hood.
None of the models I’ve gone over here are an answer to changing industry trends nor were any of them segments that needed to be filled. They were specifically created for those very badge whores that BMW seems intent on catering to. And BMW knows this. That’s the sad part. This trend of creating new products that sacrifice the very things that make them make sense from a buying standpoint is what has lead to the confusion we see in the brand today. So expect to see an 8 Series GC in 21’ followed by an X7 M. Pointlessness drives BMW to appeal to consumers focused on that almighty brand perception now. Ultimate Driving Machine be dammed.