May 2014 Behind The Wheels – The Reason Why The Numbers Don’t Add Up


I’ve had some surprisingly heated debates with people confused by BMW’s new numbering system. The division of the 3 Series range and subsequent introduction of your 4 Series seems to have riled people.

The notion is relatively straightforward, although exceptions to the rule do muddy the waters. So, anything with two doors gets an even number -4 and two, 6. While anything with four doors gets a strange number – 1, 5 and 3 7. This includes the X models – X1, X3 and X5 being conventional SUVs, whereas the X6 and forthcoming X4 (plus rumored X2) are coupes.

And here comes the mud within the water. Those X coupes can also be four-door models, as is the 6 Series Gran Coupe and imminent 4 Series Gran Coupe. So the new rule is odd numbers are sedans, even numbers are coupes and convertibles.

The new format will make models easier to identify. Imagine if all the derivatives about to be spawned by the 3 Series – wagon, coupe, convertible and sedan Gran Turismo, Gran Coupe and who knows what else – were called 335i? No less than the 435i has halved the possible variations the badge could make reference to…

While I know there are more important issues on earth, it’s not the model number that’s troubling me, it’s the remainder…

I imagine there is a small room in a large office building in Munich where a man used to think and sit of numbers for BMW. His greatest hits included M3 and M5, while 320 was pretty good, Z1 and X5 weren’t bad, and M535i had a nice ring into it.

Sadly, he lost his job. He must have done. Have you seen the new naming system? It was once that a 325i was simply a 3 Series with a 2.5-liter engine that was fuel injected. However, what needs to be called the BMW 330i Turbo is actually the 335i because it’s promoting against larger capacity competitors.

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