BMW Group Australia product and pricing manager, Alan Swanson, admitted executives at BMW headquarters were in discussions over the brand’s future naming structure.
Although no decision has been reached, Mr Swanson said he believed the adoption of the 2 Series and 4 Series naming convention was “likely” for the upcoming Coupe and Convertible ranges.
The move would bring the brand’s small and medium ranges into line with the 5 Series and 6 Series – where the ‘5’ designation is confined to the sedan and wagon body styles, and the coupe and convertible get ‘6’ badging, despite sharing the same chassis.
Mr Swanson said the new naming structure would give BMW’s designers more freedom to differentiate the coupes and convertibles from their base cars, as well as increase the scope for expanding the individual ranges (as we have already seen with the introduction of the BMW 5 Series GT).
The notion of adopting a new naming convention gained weight earlier this year when it was revealed BMW had trademarked the name ‘M2’. The M2 name would remove the clumsiness of the ‘1 Series M Coupe’ moniker currently used for that model. (BMW already used the M1 name for a very different sports car produced between 1978 and 1981, making that name off-limits for the current-day super-hot baby coupe.)
Logically, the move would also mean the next-generation M3 Coupe and Convertible models would score ‘M4’ badges.
Mr Swanson said the ‘4 Series’ Coupe and Convertible based on the all-new 3 Series sedan would hit the market in around two years (potentially Q4 2013). The ‘2 Series’ Coupe and Convertible models based on the same underpinnings as the new 1 Series hatch will follow in around 2.5 to three years’ time, around Q2-Q4 2014.
He confirmed the all-new 2012 BMW 3 Series (set to be unveiled Saturday morning Australian time) would arrive in local showrooms early in the second quarter of next year. The wagon variant will follow sometime after the initial launch.
Mr Swanson said Australian customers could expect to see the Lines concept, which debuted in the all-new BMW 1 Series, expand into the new 3 Series range, although potentially in a slightly different form. The new 1 Series is available with Urban Line and Sport Line personalisation packages, which add bold white and black highlights to the vehicles’ interior and exterior, among other subtle styling enhancements.
He said Lines was unlikely to expand into the larger 5 Series, but confirmed it was “definitely in the brand’s long-term planning”, suggesting other models with Lines could be in the pipeline.
Meanwhile, the BMW 1 Series range will expand over the next 12 months, with an emphasis on adding a sporting flavour to the talented hatch. The 1 Series M Sport package will be the next addition to the line-up, due to arrive around mid-2012, while a higher-performance petrol model, potentially in the mould of the 135i, will launch towards the end of next year.