An Idiot’s Guide to the Confusing New BMW Coupe Line-Up

BMW M8 Gran Coupe on display at the 88th Geneva International Motor Show.

Typically considered the epitome of style, a BMW coupe is ideal for anyone on the quest for advanced driving pleasure. It exudes class without compromising on performance. And, the exterior was built to look swift even if the engine may not allow so.

There’s a reason why these types of vehicles are soaring in popularity. The characteristically curved lines of the exterior radiate class and are eye-catching on the road. While a BMW coupe is perfect for business and pleasure, some models are only fitted with two seats because of the overarching and sloping of the roof.

In this guide, we’ll walk through everything you need to know about BMW coupes, including the new line-up, to permit an informed decision.

What Is A Coupe?

The term coupe stemmed from horse-drawn two-passenger carriages with no seats facing backward. These were termed as ‘carosses coupés,’ which were French terms for ‘clipped carriages’ before being shortened to ‘coupe.’ It’s a French term meaning ‘cut’ to mean a car being cut to produce a smaller version.

Nowadays, coupes are termed as vehicles with a sloping roof at the rear. So, sporty in nature, a BMW coupe typically has two seats. While some are designed as 4-seaters, they’re a rarity outside the realms of renowned German car manufacturers.

Coupes are usually visibly bigger than city cars but smaller than a sedan or saloon. So, if you’re on the quest for a car with cubic footage of below 33 of rear interior volume, then chances are you’re looking for a BMW coupe. The confined interior will usually allow for two doors, which is why coupes are associated with 2-door vehicles.

Are Coupes Sports Cars?

BMW M4 F82 on the parking lot.

There’s no fine line that sets a luxury BMW coupe from a standard sports car. It’s the closest thing to a sports car when it comes to the compressed model, with a myriad of people opting for coupes as a result of this striking similarity.

In a nutshell, certain BMW coupes fall in the same class as sports cars, whereas others don’t. Sports cars are built with quality race performance in mind. So, they effortlessly accelerate to high speeds in the blink of an eye and have remarkable braking capacity and precise handling.

Furthermore, sports cars are categorized by their model, height, the number of cylinders, weight, make, and horsepower. They’re usually lighter and smaller compared to sedans and have two doors, just like cars with a coupe design.

It, therefore, comes as no surprise then, that a multitude of people associate coupes with sports cars, more so, with leisure driving being the main selling point.

The Numbering System

BMW uses a Germanic alphanumeric system. So, models have a Series number from 1 to 8. Keep in mind that the series names aren’t hyphenated, as seen in the different classes of Mercedes-Benz. Large odd-numbered BMW series indicate bigger cars. Even-numbered series are usually body style variations.

The 2nd two numbers in a model name indicate its engine size. Initially, they tracked engine displacement, but that’s now in the past.

Nevertheless, a larger number implies a bigger engine. And, the letter following the number, for instance, 320i, implies the type of engine the car has. ‘Z’ models are roadsters, whereas the ‘X’ counterparts are SUVs.

The numbering system has a few idiosyncrasies. For starters, ‘i’ can imply electric, for instance, i8 and i3. However, if the letter comes after the number (320i), it stands for ‘fuel injection’ and implies a gasoline engine. The letter ‘X’ could indicate an all-wheel-drive (AWD) or SUV.

The days of having 3-series and 1-series coupe variants are long gone. They’re currently dubbed 2-series and 4-series, respectively. It’s for this reason that the M4 coupe and M3 saloon as substitutes for the old E90 M3. The ‘M’ vehicles built by the M division along with models that have ‘M’ in the title have unique styling and tuning.

The system blends in with the 5-series and coupe counterparts that have been referred to as the 6-series for years. Sounds simple, right? Well, until you get the 6-series and 4-series Gran Coupes that have four doors as opposed to two. And, keep in mind that even numbers usually refer to BMW coupes.

Gran Coupe

Brown BMW Gran Coupe 6 series on display at the 82st International Motor Show Palexpo -Geneva.

While coupe initially meant a two-door car, the BMW Gran Coupes have changed that perspective. You can now purchase a 6-series or 4-series in Gran Coupe form. So, you get four doors while retaining the sleek, swoopy lines of the two-door coupe.

Gran Turismo

Rear view of a white BMW 3 Series F34 GT parked on a street.

There’s the 6-series and 4-series Gran Coupes. But, to add a layer of confusion, there are 5-series and 3-series saloons that are available in Gran Turismo counterparts. And, they have a striking resemblance to saloon or SUV mishmashes.

So, the concept is that users get to revel in an elevated driving position (about 59 mm higher in the 3GT) along with plenty of headroom as in the X5 and X3 variants, but in the body of a saloon car.

Hybrid and Electric

Gloss black BMW i8 parked on a street with a backdrop of snow-capped mountains.

BMW has evolved into the innovative world of hybrid and electric cars, all of which begin with ‘i.’

So, you’ll find the i3, a 5-door electric city car that comes with a petrol-powered range/distance extender. Joining the i3 in 2020 is the i8 coupe. It’s a plug-in hybrid sports car that produces a combined brake horsepower (BHP) of 357 from a 1.5-liter turbocharged engine with three pots and an electric motor. The i8 coupe is a beast that can accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 4.5 seconds with the uncanny ability to accomplish 113 mpg.

Alpina Gran Coupe

AA, that’s an acronym for Alpina Automobiles, is a company that’s independent of BMW. It creates higher performance variations of the 7-series and 6-series, just like the Shelby Mustang and Ford Mustang. And, they’re sold exclusively by BMW. As a result of the close association of the two brands, Alpina cars are exclusively created in BMW factories on their usual production lines.

The New BMW Coupe Line-Up

Now that you know the basics, let’s delve into the latest BMW coupe models.

1. 2 Series

White BMW 230i parked in a garage.

It’s BMW’s entry-level and sporty subcompact car in the U.S. The 2 Series is available in convertible and coupe body styles. And, you’ll find three variants. Firstly, there’s the 230i with 248 horsepower. Secondly, there’s the faster M20i x-Drive and M240i. Both variations are available in all-wheel-drive (AWD) and rear-wheel-drive (RWD).

Those willing to shell out extra bucks can opt for the pricier M2 Competition Coupe at a starting price of $58,900. From the inline-six engine, it draws 405 horsepower. It shoots from 0 to 60 mph in exactly 4 seconds and has a dual-clutch transmission or 6-speed manual.

2. 4 Series

BMW 430i Gran Coupe parked outside a building.

It initially debuted back in 2014, breaking away from the 3 Series counterparts. The BMW 4 Series is available in convertible, 4-door Gran Coupe, and 2-door Coupe. The company claims to provide ‘uniquely beguiling’ characteristics. So, you’ll find the 440i with 320 horsepower and 430i with 248 horsepower.

For the latter (430i), the Gran Coupe and RWD Coupe can have a manual transmission. So can the all-wheel-drive (AWD) and rear-wheel-drive (RWD) variants of the 440i Coupe. Similarly, the M4, at a starting price of $69150, is a body-style variation. It can be a convertible and a 2-door coupe. Both are available with manual transmissions.

3. 6 Series

BMW M6 Coupe at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan.

It has various meanings at different times for BMW. The 6 Series currently has an attitude that captures attention, curves that intrigue, and power that astonishes, compared to its predecessors. It’s available as a 4-door Gran Coupe or 4-door Gran Turismo hatchback.

There are 8 and 6-cylinder variants with AWD and RWD. BMW provides dueling top-performance counterparts of the 6 Series. For starters, there’s the M6 Gran Coupe with a hefty starting price of $119,900 and 560 horsepower. Secondly, you’ll find the Alpina Gran Coupe valued at $124, 400 with 600 horsepower and takes 3.6 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph.

4. 8 Series

BMW 8 Series Coupe on display at The 35th Thailand International Motor Expo.

It’s BMW’s luxury grand tourer (GT) that comes in convertible and coupe body styles. Courtesy of the 4.4-liter V8 engine with 523 horsepower, the 8 Series is a beast that has the uncanny ability to go from 0 to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds.

5. X2

BMW X2 M35i on display at the Geneva International Motor Show 2019 GIMS.

It’s BMW’s driving-oriented, sportier, and subcompact crossover. The X2 is closer to the ground that the X1 counterpart and has less cargo space. It also has a sleeker coupe body style. The X2’s base models come in all-wheel-drive (AWD) and four-wheel-drive (FWD).

The M35i has a fine-tuned version of the 4-cylinder, generating 302 horsepower and 322 pound-feet of torque. It also comes in AWD and accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds.

6. X4

BMW X4 on display at the BMW AG exhibition site in 88th Geneva International Motor show in Palexpo.

It’s the sportier version of the compact X3 crossover. The X4 has a sloping coupe body style and comes in 6-cylinder (355 horsepower) and 4-cylinder (248 horsepower) variants. But, keep in mind that the X4 is only available in all-wheel-drive.

7. X6 M

BMW X6 M at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan.

As BMW’s mid-sized crossover coupe, the X6 M is regarded as the ‘commanding sports activity coupe. Its large proportions, eye-catching appearance, and aggressive stance set it apart from the pack.

The X6 M’s 6-cylinder base engine with a horsepower of 300 is available in RWD or AWD. And, there’s an 8-cylinder variant with a superior 445 horsepower. The X6 M has a starting price of $105,700 and has the same tuning to 567 horsepower, as the X5 M.

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