has revealed the new 4-Series coupe, which will be the company’s new small-to-midsize coupe to replace the 3-Series coupes. The 4-Series will be based on the 3-Series’ platform but will use unique sheetmetal to give it a more aggressive look.
Both USA Today and The Truth About Cars, two publications that occupy polar opposites in the depth of their automotive reporting, are complaining about the 4-Series’ name. USA Today is too dumb to make here or there of the naming scheme (here’s a hint: the bigger numbers are bigger cars), while TTAC is miffed that BMW’s heritage is being ignored because the 3-Series was originally a coupe, and now they are adding a separate car because the 3-Series can’t be a coupe.
In TTAC’s defense, the move to add 4-Series does ignore the importance that the 3-Series coupe has had. Whether in M3 form or as lesser model, the coupes have always been the highlight of the 3-Series line and BMW could just say that the number at the beginning of a car’s name denotes the size and the letters at the end denote bodystyle, like they did back when "s" meant coupe, "i" meant sedan, "ic" meant convertible and "ti" meant hatchback. But that argument is also fetishizing a name when in reality when you fell in love with a BMW, you either fell in love with a particular model or you fell in love with the brand’s philosophy. If you fell in love with a particular 3-Series model, you’re probably screwed because they aren’t going to make the E30 M3 again. It’s just not going to happen. If you fell in love with BMW’s philosophy, then you’ve either given up on the brand because they abandoned what you loved long ago or you’ll end up liking the 4-Series because it finally puts the naming scheme in order (even numbered cars are now coupes, or at least use styling derived from coupes).
The 3-Series has grown much larger over the years, so the new models don’t have the same appeal as the E21 3-Series did, but if you are a BMW fan, it’s probably the $40,000 car you’d buy if you were going to buy a $40,000 car, because there’s a smaller BMW for people who want smaller cars. In fact the 135is, with 320-hp and a 3,335 curb weight, is almost a dead ringer for the 333-hp, 3,415-lb E46 M3 (no, there is no modern equivalent to the E30 or the E21, or even the E36, the closest you can get is Mini).
Changing the names of what used to be body styles is a pretty common practice in the automotive world, Toyota did it with the Solara (Camry coupe), Matrix (Corolla wagon), Venza (Camry wagon), Supra (Celica six-cylinder).
Image via The Truth About Cars.