Not long ago, German automaker BMW ambitiously decided to expand the definition of its entry-level 3-Series family by changing the name of its popular coupe to 4 Series —in line with a branding strategy of even-numbered coupes, and some outlier sport-utility vehicles.
Today, at the New York International Auto Show, BMW presented consumers with two new extensions of the 4-Series that aren’t quite coupes at all: the X4 sport-utility vehicle, and the 4 Series Gran Coupé.
The X4 is the spiritual, smaller sibling of the X6 sport-utility vehicle, emphasizing style and flash over versatility and practicality. Not a full-fledged SUV, but neither a tall, four-door coupe (more on that in a minute), the X4 looks the part of a scaled-down X6, and little more.
By contrast, the 4 Series Gran Coupé, a four-door 4 Series coupe, at its essence, seems like a rational extension of the 3 Series and 4 Series families —until you consider the 3 Series Gran Turismo that already exists. It features the coupe’s wide proportions, stretched to accommodate a set of rear doors, and is subjectively a much more attractive piece than the 3 Series sedan. The Gran Coupe brand has, heretofore, only been applied to the 6 Series. (Confused yet?)
Expect the trim levels, features, and options packages to be closely aligned with existing 3- and 4-Series models.
Much less confusing is the engine and transmission strategy for these two models. The X4 and 4 Series Gran Coupe both utilize the same turbocharged engines: a four-cylinder that produces 240 horsepower, and a 300-horsepower inline six. Sound familiar? That’s because these engines are already tried and tested stalwarts of the BMW lineup that yield above-average fuel economy, for their respective classes, as well as performance. Eight-speed automatic transmissions will be the only ones offered.
The 4 Series Gran Coupe and X4 will both go on sale in the United States before the end of 2014, and more than likely in the next few months. Introducing these two vehicles seems a natural step for BMW, which is set on expanding its product lineup to fit nearly every niche. Each version of the X4 will carry a base price in the mid-40s, and the 4 Series Gran Coupe will be slightly less expensive.
We’re curious to see how the market responds, and if there is demand for yet another variant of the 4 Series, erm 3 Series, platform.
Check out the X4 and 4-series Gran Coupéon the show floor, and stay with New York Daily News Autos for coverage of the 2014 New York International Auto Show!