Tuesday, March 4, 2014

My Andy Rooney Moment

Niche Marketing Knows No End Apparently

BMW is killin' me! Model proliferation is out of control: No niche is too small or too obscure. Recently, BMW removed the coupes—the 2-doors—from the 3 series and renamed them the 4 series. Henceforth, all 3 coupes are the new 4s. Fine. Not necessary, but fine. Not that the 3 sedan is lonely in the showroom. Besides the perennial bestselling sedan, there's the X3 crossover, a tall 5-door. There's the 3 Gran Turismo, a 5-door hatchback taller than the sedan but lower than the X. Don't forget the 3 wagon, another 5-door with a slightly longer roof at sedan height. The 3 series has one 4-door and three 5-doors. I may be forgetting one.

But just introduced at Geneva? A new 4-door in the 2-door 4 series, the 4 Gran Coupe. A couple of years ago, BMW came out with the 6 Gran Coupe, a 4-door 6 series coupe so this follows the pattern. I'm pretty sure the new 2 series will include a low-roofed 4-door as well, 2 Gran Coupe. Rumored next, the X4 5-door crossover—a fastback version of the X3 5-door crossover—much as the X6 is basically a fastback X5. Not to be confused with the 5 Gran Turismo, a 5-door hatchback taller and frumpier than the 5 series but not as "utiliarian" as the X5. I may be forgetting one. Or two.

So many 4-doors, so many 5-doors. Coupes with 2 doors, coupes with 4-doors. Hatchbacks, crossovers, tall wagons, low wagons. The Ultimate Driving Machine was best with the least number of models. Concentrate on the important stuff, BMW! I'd bet the next generation will be reined in depending on what sticks to Munich's walls this go 'round.

Thanks for listening!


When I wrote the above screed, I didn't realize the "rumored" X4 was so close. It was introduced today at the Geneva show. And yes, it's a fastback, 5-door version of the X3, looking almost exactly like a slightly smaller X6. 

I created two X4s in 2011, but I gave them only 3 doors, hoping BMW would give it a unique bodystyle, but they didn't.

  • One of my 3-door X4s, here
  • And the other, here.


  1. Take a deep breath, hold it for a moment, let it out slowly. Now, why not tell us how you really feel? I agree. All three German luxo manufacturers have watered down their product lines to crazy extremes but BMW is by far the worst.
    Calm down. Do something that relaxes you. Maybe draw some cars! Check out the comment on your 'glassback Mustang' if you need a suggestion.
    Just kidding. I agree completely.


  2. Of course, you're right and your comments are in line with most auto journalists writing today (that includes us!). The Mercedes lineup is not much better, although they do seem to give more attention to the core models -- the C, the E and the S. I think the new front-wheel drive Mercedes are a bad idea and, except fo the new S class, I think they're styling on all their models is way overwrought. Audi seems to be handling things the best. But their showrooms are getting pretty crowded as well.

    Paul, NYC.

    1. Yes, Paul, overwrought comes to mind for MBs, like they're trying too hard. I love the new big S coupe though.