BMW Gets Criticized By Automobile Magazine For Its Confusing Naming Strategy

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But this isn’t about personal driving tastes, or even the 6-series. It’s about BMW’s increasingly ill-conceived naming structure. It took me a few seconds to identify a car I like not because I didn’t recognize it, but because I couldn’t think of what it is called. BMW simply has too many monikers, and they’re increasingly confusing.

BMW’s car lineup in North America runs numerically from the 2-series up to the 7-series. In theory, the 2-, 4-, and 6-series are two-door models. The 3-, 5-, and 7-series are sedans. But BMW added a 6-series Gran Coupe for the 2013 model year. The name is a misnomer, as the Gran “Coupe” is actually a sedan. So that doesn’t make sense. There is no question that the 6-series Gran Coupe a good-looking car, and there are surely some 6-series buyers who might want four doors and a decent-sized back seat. Then again, why wouldn’t they just buy the 5- or 7-series—with a huge back seat—on which the 6-series is based? (The 6-series uses a mixture of components from the two big sedans.)

One argument is that some buyers don’t want full-on family cars, and the 6-series Gran Coupe is curvier and sportier than a 5-series. Even if we agreed with that rationale, BMW now is taking things a step further, adding a 4-series Gran Coupe. The 4-series was supposed to be the new name for the 3-series coupe, leaving the 3-series name for the sedan. This would give the two-door its own identity and connect it more closely with enthusiasts who fondly remember BMW performance coupes of old. That makes sense. Only, now we’re getting a four-door version of the 4-series. Uh, isn’t that the 3-series?

BMW will tell you the 4-series Gran Coupe has a hatchback trunk, so it is different. Of course, a 3-series with a hatch is also known as the 3-series GT. These Bimmers are tripping all over each other! Don’t get me started on why a hatch is referred to as a “Grand Turismo,” either. Essentially, BMW is delineating many of its cars based on sheetmetal tweaks, cargo space, and rear legroom.

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