And Then There Was Four

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth
and then there was four

Now turn your hymnals, as the great man once said, to Number Four, and we’ll sing two choruses of Withering Contempt.

There’s a point in many human endeavors where the original point of said endeavor is completely lost to history and what remains is either deconstruction or parody.

Forty years ago, BMW decided to create a coherent model-naming system, no doubt because they were starting to bump into Mercedes-Benz in certain markets and Mercedes had consistent numbers on the back of their cars. (Yes, I know about the 300SEL 4.5, hush up.) Enter the “5 Series”, followed by a Six, a Three, and a Seven. The picture you see above is of a 3 Series.

Note how the 3 Series has two doors, not four. In fact, they all had two doors for quite some time. It wasn’t until the E30 successor that a four-door 3 Series even became available. Despite this, somehow an idea took root in the minds of (primarily American) Bimmer enthusiasts that “even numbers are coupes”. The arrival of the 850i confirmed this misguided notion.

Well, when the legend becomes fact, print the legend. BMW’s efforts to fill every niche in the market from urban scooter to seven-seater minivan-on-stilts led to the (il)logical conclusion that a two-door 3 Series needed to be a 4 Series.

So. The original 3 Series body style is now a 4 Series. The 3 Series is now a four-door. However, there will be a four-door 3-Series that will be called the 4-Series Gran Coupe. Every niche will be filled, by force if necessary, and without regard for the company’s heritage. Those of us who snickered at the Chrysler Fifth Avenue that was really a Chrysler LeBaron that was really a Plymouth Volare from behind the ironclad Autobahn majesty of Dad’s 733i and it’s twin-kidney grille have a full Christmas dinner’s worth of crow to eat.

I suppose this means the M3 will be the M4. This makes sense because the M4 rifle is kind of an M16 for girls (cue e-mail from a 6’5″ Marine with 91 confirmed kills using one) and the M4 will probably be a tamer, more eco-conscious successor to the outbound V-8 M3. No word as to whether four-door M4s will be M3s or M4GCs.

At least it’s reasonably attractive, right? And it isn’t like it will have much genuine competition in the marketplace. Just be aware that this isn’t really the successor to the BMW 2002 lionized by Mr. David E. Davis, Jr. in his famous Car and Driver piece; it’s the successor to the lumbering, expensive Thunderbirds around which the original wonder-Bimmer drove circles.

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  • PrincipalDan PrincipalDan on Dec 07, 2012

    And when model bloat catches up with the 1 series in a decade will they introduce a new model line under that called the 0.5 series?

  • Vaujot Vaujot on Dec 09, 2012

    I have a hard time getting upset about a proposed change in naming conventions. The demise of BMW's small inline sixes is a different story.

  • Master Baiter "...but the driver must be ready to step in and take control. The system is authorized for use during the day but at speeds lower than 40 mph..."Translation: It's basically useless, and likely more stressful than piloting the car ones's self.
  • Alan My friend has a Toyota Kluger (made in 'murica). A Highlander. These things are based on a Camry platform. I have driven the Kluger we had at work and I find them quite boring even for a SUV. An appliance. I hope this will deliver some driving pleasure. I found the Camry a better boring vehicle.
  • Alan Most Lexii look good to reasonable.....................until you see the front ends with their awkward grilles. It actually would look normal on a GWM, LDV or any other Chinese vehicle.
  • Tassos These last months, every day seems to be another great, consequential piece of news for Tesla, who does not just DOMINATE, it OWNS the US and FREE WORLD BEV market.It is the ONLY (repeat ONLY) maker that builds its huge best sellers at a PROFIT, ie, SUSTAINABLY. FOrd EV is bleeding 3 billion in losses. GM hides theirs, and I bet they are even HIGHER. VW has spent a huge no of billions and its ID series has been an UTTER FAILURE.Toyota, already 12 years too late, is yet to try. I doubt they will succeed to dethrone TESLA.
  • Tassos Again: I never took VOlvo seriously in the last 20 or so years.Chinese Volvo-Geely has a dizzying number of models, I have lost count how many,YET its sales and market share in the US has always been DISMAL these last 20 years.It ranges from a pathetic 0.5% to 0.8% of the US market.For comparison, Toyota has 15% and GM has even more. Tesla has almost 10 TIMES VOlvo's share, with a PITTANCE of really TWO Models, the 3 and the Y, as the S and the X hardly sell any copies any more.So why do we keep reading articles about Stupid VOlvo?Because they have the best PR department of any maker.