By John LeBlanc
BEIJING – In addition to a stretched wheelbase version of the 5 Series
for the Chinese market, BMW debuted its Concept Gran Coupé, er, concept car here at Auto China 2010. If you haven’t guessed already, it's a near-production version of Concept CS
show car that was shown at the Shanghai show three years ago (designed by Canadian Karim Habib
, who has moved on to rival Mercedes
and recently penned the F800
, a precursor to a C Class four-door coupé that look eerily similar to the CS) and allegedly a thinly-veiled version of the four-door 2012 BMW 6 Series
. If you think the Gran Coupé looks like a Mercedes CLS
by BMW, get in line.
Just as Mercedes started this trend by giving the 2005 CLS the oxymoronic “four-coupé” label (hey, it has four-doors and a B-pillar, but it isn’t a coupé!) BMW has followed suit. And BMW’s product ideology seems to be changing as well.From a 2008 article in U.S. Automobile
magazine, then BMW head pen, Chris Bangle, vehemently denied calling the CS concept a “four-door coupé”.
"With this car, we wanted to shy away from the idea that anything that is sporty automatically has to be labeled a coupe. That's not the case. Coupes are, by the nature of the word, a derivative of something. You take something and you coupe-ify it. The word means 'cut' in French. That's why, if you look back to the 1960s, a lot of the GTs were never called a coupe—they were called a GT. Because in doing them, you didn't take a big car and make it smaller."
But in the Concept Gran Coupé release, BMW has no problem going there.
”The aspiration of the BMW brand to build four-door high-performance coupés with the sportiest proportions and the most elegant design.”
The Concept Gran Coupé is also another indication that the days of controversially-styled BMWs seem to be over. It’s back to "the same sausage, different links" approach that was the BMW norm before departed Bangle started shaking things up in the late 1990s. As you can see, the new 6—which I can only assume will continue to be sold as a “real” two-door coupé and convertible—is yet another conservatively-styled BMW, losing its distinctive looks that date back to 199’s Z9 Gran Turismo.
Do you think a four-door 6 makes sense for BMW?
Is there a big enough market for a Mercedes (CLS), Audi (A7) and BMW “four-door coupes”?
Or is this yet another example of a German automaker trying to fill every single product niche known to man?
[Sources: BMW, Automobile]