Is The 3 Series Coupe Dead? (Hint: Yes)

It ‘s old news for most who read BF but it ‘s worth mentioning considering the history that comes with the name-plate. Yes we believe that BMW will move the 3er coupe upmarket and bring a new name with it. But is it worth throwing away 30 plus years of history for a subtle change in market position? And is there symmetry in an all four door 3 Series line-up (a la the 5 series)?

BMW owns the letter 3. And on the face of it, losing that brand recognition feels like a mistake. However it ‘s when you look at the big picture of BMW ‘s model and naming strategy, it just makes sense. With BMW moving the 1 Series Convertible and Coupe to the 2 Series moniker, the 3 Series would have been the last two door coupe tied to a mass market four door product. There ‘s no reason other than heritage and brand recognition for the 3 Series coupe to remain. And BMW has shown that both of those can and sometimes need to change with time.

The current rumor is that we ‘ll see the F30 sedan and F31 wagon (which is now likely coming to the US) as 2012 models. The F30 will of course debut this fall with early Euro-bound production staring in November. Then there ‘s the F34 3 Series GT that will round out the new 3er line-up.

The 4 Series coupe should debut in late 2012 or early 2013 as a ’13 model. Predictably it will be followed by the convertible 4er (F33) in 2014 and then the Gran Coupe 4er (F35) in 2015.

The 4 Series Coupe. It could have a nice ring to it right?

But what of the M3? Would BMW dare to throw that storied name away? Stay tuned…

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  • 134340

    420d, 435i, M4… I don’t like those name 🙁

  • Nick Dawson

    The next M3 may well become the M4 if the BMW board is willing to sacrifice that famous name. A decision has yet to be made, but it is known that the engine will be a 3.2L in line six with three turbochargers. Two twin-scroll turbos work coventionally but the third blower is electrically driven to boost low-rev throttle response.Rumor has it that there will be no M3 sedan this time around. 

    Waiting in the wings but not yet confirmed is a stylish three-door Shooting Brake. There’s also a slim chance that we might see a 3-series Speedster, with a fabric roof and a lowered windscreen – if it does happen, this car would be engineered and marketed by BMW’s M division.

  • Nick Dawson

    The next M3 may well become the M4 if the BMW board is willing to sacrifice that famous name. A decision has yet to be made, but it is known that the engine will be a 3.2L in line six with three turbochargers. Two twin-scroll turbos work coventionally but the third blower is electrically driven to boost low-rev throttle response.Rumor has it that there will be no M3 sedan this time around. 

    Waiting in the wings but not yet confirmed is a stylish three-door Shooting Brake. There’s also a slim chance that we might see a 3-series Speedster, with a fabric roof and a lowered windscreen – if it does happen, this car would be engineered and marketed by BMW’s M division.

  • JonPD

    Still does not have the same ring to my ears as a 3 series but likely that is just the matter of getting used to a 4 series. Kinda sad to to see the 3 series going away and them moving it upmarket. Moving it upmarket though does create more space at the bottom. Still have to think quite a gamble as BMW lives on the success of the 3 series.

    • jeff

      the problem is they’re only moving 1/2 of the models up market.  personally i think it’s silly to have a 3 series wagon and sedan and then a 4 series coupe and convertible.

      and as mentioned you now have 4 generations of M3s and now an M4?  I’m all for ditching the past if it doesn’t make sense, but this sounds like throwing away tradition for the hell of it.

    • Herr26

      Yes the 4er Coupe and Cabrio finally get the renaming that was coming with the E92/E93 originally. That is why the E92/E93 are no 2dr sedan turned into a coupe/cabrio

      The situation with M3 is very much in consideration and what will happen is that with the sub-brands BMWi and BMW M offering stand alone products – M3 could very well fit within this philosophy.  Therefore keeping the M3 name but completely distance the car in looks – M specific areodynamics and a completely different character from the 435i which is what is done anyway with the current E92 M3.

      M3 and 4er Coupe could very much co-exist.

  • Brian

    Just like 40 is the new 30…

  • Mike

    Can someone explain what “up market” means? Are they making the 3er coupe larger? More luxury? Why not just keep the 3er name? I dont get it.. why confuse your customers?

  • Les

    I think this is nuts. Change for the sake of change is pointless. Plus, I would hate to explain why BMW changed the name of the new 3-series coupe to the 4-series to everyone who asks about my car. 

  • Bob

    Dumb.  Yet another reason why my next BMW will be a vintage BMW.

  • Ian

    What this seems to be doing is separating the coupes and sedans.  Odd numbers are sedans (1, 3, 5, 7) and even numbers are coupes (2, 4).  But it doesn’t fit when considering the 6 series Gran Coupe.  If the 6 series Gran Coupe is to be produced it seems like it will have 4 doors and contradict the structure of the lower model numbers.

    And I also would like to know what “up market” means.  Coupes already command a higher price point.  Are they doing this to further raise the price of the car?

  • Evan

    Just leave the 3 series alone. It’s the core of BMW. Keep it with its variants all wearing the the 3er badge. Let the other lines be as they are. Making the 1er coupe/convertible into the 2er is fine since they are pretty distinct from the hatches, and will be more so when the FWD 1er models come out.

    I’m very excited about the F31 coming here. But if the electric steering isn’t sorted- ie doesn’t offer the felling and response of the current E90 at a minimum, then I don’t know what I’ll do. Maybe just keep my E90 forever? Or just offer a hydraulic rack as an option. I’d pay an extra $750-$1000 for it if it meant keeping the classic BMW response. Whatever fraction of fuel savings the electric pump has is not worth that kind of loss.

    Just had to put the above out there again. I’m fine with turbo fours and stop-start. Just not with losing the primary reason to own the Ultimate Driving Machine- driving and steering response.

  • Herr26

    How will the M3 work? The M3 will not die. There will not be an M3 sedan this time. But the 4er Coupe/Cabrio and Gran Coupe will be available as an M3. How?Well BMWi is one bookend with BMW M at the other end. BMWi can use products that carve their own identity which the current M cars already do. Example – 1M is not just a 135i+ , Just as the M3 is not a 335i and the new M5 is not just a faster 550i. Each M carves out their own character and identity. M is about individual performance. Now there is a BMWi3 but it is not a variant of the 3er ,now by sticking with the M formula and philosophy the M3 can continue in name because of M models are classified as individual products. Eventually in the second half of the decade we will see M follow the BMWi philosophy and instigate it’s own inspired products . The 3er Sedan and Touring will be joined by the 3er Gran Turismo. Another option on the table for the 3er is the AFAST Advanced Family Activity Sports Tourer. Which for the 1er, mixes an Touring and SAV but unlike the FWD/AWD 1er FAST. The 3er is proposed as a RWD/AWD concept. The best way to describe AFAST is have a look at the Citroen DS5 which also mixes Wagon/Crossover and SAV. If the 1er FAST opens up a new segment then BMW will initiate the concept for the 3er’s Premium Entry segment. For the 4er another option is, and you will see something next year but based on the 6er. Will be a fully fledged Shooting Brake, again the idea is based on how well the 6er Shooting Brake will be received. The 6er Shooting Brake will appear as a concept car and is based upon the 4dr Gran Coupe. So that four doors are retained. The roofline is lower than a conventional Touring and is seen as a respite to markets such as the US which normally shun wagons. The 6er Shooting Brake will also be an interior concept as it will mix connected drive technology with new interpretations of materials in the interior. such as brass, copper and crystal. The seats trimmed in white leather have eames-type wooden backrests. 

    The 6er Shooting Brake is a stunning looking car, lower , sleeker and more sportier than the conventional sporty looking Touring variants. And is very much favoured by BMW’s top management. If the car makes production after feedback it could pave way for a possible 4er Shooting Brake which is on the table as a further progressive idea. What is significant is that the modular architecture developed under the F30 can be adapted to accomodate these proposals if given approval.

    • Mike

      I read this twice and I still don’t get it.. The fact that it has such a long explanation is proof that its way too confusing..  

    • Les

      Sounds like a bunch of really smart people sat in a room for to long.

  • Nick Dawson

    The replacements for today’s 1-series Coupe/Cabrio are being renamed 2-series, so as to differentiate them from the 1-series which, by 2018, will all be front-drive. The 2-series, which will remain rear-drive, will be aimed principally at the US market, where BMW has filed the trademark M2 for the hot versions which will be powered by a new twin-turbo 3.0L six currently under development by its M division.

    The new 3-series will be built on two wheelbase lengths, the Sedan and Touring on the standard wheelbase, and the GT on a longer 25mm (approx) 10 inches) wheelbase. The 3GT is more life-style orientated and sportier than the 5GT. It sits higher than the Touring and has a single-piece tailgate, but with a Sedan-like silhouette to the rear end. A stylish Shooting Brake might be added to the range later.

    It is logical progression, therefore to rebadge the new Coupe/Cabrio as the 4-series. The Coupe/Cabrio will be built on the stnadard wheelbase, but the new 4-door Coupe will use the 3GT’s longer wheelbase, and will take design cues from the forthcoming 6-series Gran Coupe. BMW has been inspired to take this route, having seen the Audi A5 and Mercedes E-Class Coupe/Cabrio command a premium despite their mainstream genes.

    I hope that this has clarified the situation

  • manmachine

    Well if BMW plans to sell the 4 series in China, it better thinks again.  4 sounds like “death” in Chinese, and Chinese are very careful with numbers.  No one puts 444 as a license plate number; people pay $ to get 9s for “longevity” and 8s for “prosperity”.

    • Nick Dawson

      That’s right. Good point!

      • Herr26

        BMW’s China division has already checked it out , Dont forget Audi have the A4 and is the marques biggest seller especially the LWB version.