Another Unnecessary Round of the Name Game

BMW Needs to Admit It Has a Problem


June 2, 2019 Cars By Photo by AutoCar

According to a recent report from Autocar, we can look forward to a four-door M2 on the road later this year. A more practical version of the best car the brand currently builds? Fantastic. Can’t wait. But with BMW’s current naming system, it’ll hit showroom floors as the “M2 Gran Coupe,” which in shines a light on the brand’s biggest problem: its naming convention is ridiculous, particularly when it comes to its reckless use of the word “coupe.”

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A little history. “Coupe” was originally a French word referring to a carriage with a fixed roof and two doors — a “cut” version of a four-door. Naturally, this translated quiet conveniently over to cars; for decades, buyers could assume that a coupe would, by definition, have two doors.

Then BMW started playing fast and loose with the term. The carmaker started using the “Gran Coupe” name on sleek, four-door sedans. It first began using this naming scheme back in 2012 on the 6 Series Gran Coupe, a four-door version of the 6 Series two-door. It then applied the Gran Coupe modifier to the 4 Series; making things even more confusing, the rest of the 4 Series lineup only has two doors, as it’s the coupe and convertible variant of the four-door-only 3-Series.

Of course, BMW isn’t the only brand to commit the offense of abusing the word “coupe.” Mercedes and Audi are two of the biggest offenders, but others do it too; look at Toyota, with its C-HR crossover. It’s in part a byproduct of yh constant splintering of new model lines and individual model names is getting out of hand.

But there’s a simple and obvious fix, and it’s something BMW used to do all the time: trust its customers know how to count. From 1975 to 1997, the BMW 3 Series came in two- and four-door flavors, their badges offering no indication of how many doors they featured. The company did play around with variations on the theme, but usually reversed course; in 1997, for example, BMW began tacking a ‘C’ into the names of coupe models, but  immediately stopped for the following generation.

But since 2013, the company’s started assigning brand-new names and random model numbers to the entirely new lines of cars it cranks out with increasing regularity. Now, as a result, we have four-door versions of two-door versions of four-door cars. It’s all a convoluted mess, and while BMW isn’t the only offender, it’s certainly the main perpetrator. The company seems to be going through its entire lineup and renaming cars it already makes and by adding models by changing styling only slightly – and then continuing to build both, subdividing the market even further and confusing the hell out of buyers. If there’s one trend in the automotive industry that needs to die a quick death, it’s this one.

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