Spannerhead Dot

BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe:
New Frontiers in Redefinition

December 12, 2011 by Matt

BMW 6-series Gran Grand Coupe 650i 640i

It’s not a coupe. It just isn’t.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines the word coupe thusly: “A closed two-door automobile.” The picture above certainly shows a two-door non-convertible, but I’m pretty sure there are two more doors on the other side, and if my math is correct, that would make for a total of four. Logic is an unyielding discipline, and if we’re to apply its principles, it would seem to dictate that in spite of its name, the new BMW 6 series Gran Coupe cannot, axiomatically, be a coupe.

And neither can any of the other entrants in the so-called “4-door coupe” market segment, a niche which has exploded since the introduction of the first-generation Mercedes CLS in ’04. In addition to the CLS, the Volkswagen CC, Tesla Model S, Aston Martin Rapide, Porsche Panamera and Audi A7 have all preceded the BMW Gran Coupe, making the Bavarian entry a little late to the party, but no less incorrect in its claims of coupe-ness.

Now, it should be noted that, other than the Panamera, I have absolutely no problem with the cars listed above. They inject a healthy dose of style into a market segment that threatens to be very dull indeed. In a way, it’s understandable—part of the traditional purpose of the sports sedan has always been to allow middle-aged family men to have a little fun on the long way home from work and impress prospective clients with discreet, understated style during the work day. Lately, though, it seems otherwise staid businessmen have decided they want a bit more frosting with their cake—forget all that “sleeper” stuff—hence the exponential growth of the segment. And that’s fine. All the cars (exception noted above), and especially the Rapide and A7, are absolutely stunning, and sparkling performers as well. Even the Gran Coupe actually looks better than its two-door counterpart, what with the 4-door’s more pleasing proportions and assertive front valence. Looks and speed: Win-win.

BMW 6-series Gran Grand Coupe 650i 640i

So…what makes me take issue with this trend now? Simply put, BMW is the first automaker to blatantly thumb their nose at accepted vehicle vocabulary and explicitly include the word coupe in a 4-door car’s name. It’s one thing if you market your car as a “four-door coupe” in glossy brochure descriptions and press releases; automakers always wax flowery when pitching their wares. But a line is crossed from enthusiasm to arrogance when a manufacturer attempts to actively impose a kind of redefinition by including an accepted term in the name of a car that clearly falls outside the boundaries of that term. Bad form, BMW.

Filed under: BMW, News


  1. Mike B. says:

    Whomever thinks this is bad, just wait for the flame-fest if BMW decides to badge a car the 4-Series.

    I like this car well enough, but other than the fact I could never afford one, I would never buy one because they are to large and complicated. The 3er is where the 5er used to be and that is really as big as a BMW should be. I love the 1er but even that is to big for what it is. It is nearly as long as my E34 (I parked them next to each other lining up their noses once). I would love a 1-Series (or 0-Series, haha) that is the size of a E21 or E30. I know I am just dreaming, though. BMW’s target new buyer market no longer wants that. They want gadget laden executive expresses.

    • Matt says:

      Agreed about all of it. BMW’s really painted themselves into a corner with the ridiculous lack of consistency of their naming system. I just laughed when I heard the 1 Series M Coupe’s name. I mean, when they introduced the car, did anyone seriously consider there might be an M version somewhere down the line? And that they couldn’t call it the M1? It’s just stupid. And it’s representative of so much the company does these days. BMWs may be great to drive, but when you buy a car, you kind of “buy the company” too in a small way, you know? The nomenclature hiccups and general gadget-laden bloat are just embarrassing.

      • Joel S. says:

        On point and amusing, both of you guys. But BMW has been alienating and social-climbing for years. In the 80’s the enthusiasts lamented that it had become a yuppie car after the excellent examples of the 60’s and 70’s (1600, 2002tii, 3.0CS). Eventually some gems emerged that decade (635, M3, M5).

        I owned a ’76 2002 (non-tii) and an ’84 533i…loved them both immensely. Recall the parts guy at a dealership once saying, “You know, a lot of people consider this (the 2002) the last good car BMW made”. This in 1994.

Leave a Reply