To Brake or Not to Brake: That's BMW's Question

This image was lost some time after publication.
This image was lost some time after publication.

An explosion of 3-Series model derivitives (remember when there was just one, lonely 320i in the states?) means BMW's franchise now spans five major constructs: (SUV, coupe, sedan, convertible and wagon. Where does a company bent on line expansion go from there? According to company insiders, the next step could be toward the mostly unknown and barely useful shooting brake style (mocked up by AutoBild, above). Derived for English country gentlemen who had a devil of a time fitting a shotgun in their MGs, the hybrid sportscar-wagon was always somewhat of a dead-ender.

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Then, Audi built a "shooting brake" prototype, which it unveiled at the Tokyo show last year, reviving interest in the fox-hunter's friend. Now, word is BMW is considering a similar treatment for the 3-Series. Such a car would be similar to the Z4-coupe, which arguably fits the shooting brake definition. While greenlighting the project would be a testement to the company's production flexibility, the project was initiated under former boss Helmut Panke's reign. Whether it survives the new management remains to be seen. Tally ho!

IL Insider: BMW Considers New 3 Series Derivative [Edmunds]

Related:
Audi to Show Shooting Brake Concept in Tokyo; A Ferrari Shooting Brake, or Wagon, Depending on Your Citizenship [internal]

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DISCUSSION

Where BMW really needs to go next is an expansion in their lower-end models. Remember those 320i's? I had a 1978 model, and it was sweet: underpowered, sure, but handled like it was on rails, light, agile, and no-frills fun. The 3 series has crept slowly up-market over the decades, though, such that as a young twenty-something I can't even DREAM of buying a new 3 series nowadays. My 1997 E36 coupe is probably the last affordable one of the bunch.

So where do I want to see BMW going? Bring those 1 series and rumored 2 series to the US, if you please. In another few years I'm going to want a new ride, and as cool as they are, I don't want to have to buy a Mini to get an affordable option. You're litereally driving me away from your brand with your business decisions here.