For years, the German car giant BMW has sold millions of their 1, 3, 5 and 7-series cars. Particularly popular with car leasing and contract hire drivers – mainly because they hold their value well – these three models have been the core of the BMW range since the introduction of the 1-series in 2004.
Now, though, the car giant is restructuring its range, which means that some 1-series cars are becoming the new 2-series while some popular 3-series models will become 4-series BMWs by the end of 2014. Confused? Keep reading our guide for an explanation…
Coupes and convertibles to become 2 and 4-series BMWs
BMW are currently in the middle of a major restructure of their range which will see the launch of 2 and 4-series models in 2014. The latest 3-series based coupe and convertible become the 4-series this year while the equivalent replacement 1-series models will transform into the 2-series by the end of this year.
The 2-series coupe is available to car lease and contract hire drivers in March and a convertible will be confirmed and shown in either concept or production form at one of the major motor shows before the end of 2014. BMW will also add a convertible 4-series to its line-up this spring.
The changes mean that all BMW saloons, estate cars and hatchbacks will have odd-number model designations while coupes and convertibles will have even-number badging.
BMW to make more models available to car lease and contract hire buyers
As well as changes to the numbering of their range, BMW has also unveiled two new models: the 2-series Active Tourer and the 4-series Gran Coupe.
The 2-series Tourer is a compact premium sporty hatchback to rival the Mercedes-Benz B-Class. Unlike other 2-series models, which are rear-driven, the Active Tourer – based on the platform of the new MINI – is transverse-engined and has front-wheel drive.
Both are firsts for BMW, and fly in the face of BMW’s existing commitment to rear wheel drive and a 50:50 weight distribution. However, BMW is adamant that front-drive will not be a factor for buyers.
“The rest of the class is front-wheel drive and we expect 75 per cent of customers for the Active Tourer to be new to BMW, so the driven wheels will not be a factor in the buying decision,” says small cars product manager Alex Morgan.
“A few years ago we did some research and something like 80 per cent or 90 per cent of 1 Series buyers didn’t even know which wheels were being driven. We have 10 years’ experience of front-wheel drive with MINI, and I don’t think many people would be critical of the way they drive. There might be a few purists who object [to FWD], but we don’t expect it will be many and our volume aspirations are very sensible.”
The Active Tourer is set to arrive in the UK in September, three months after the 4-series Gran Coupe. This will be a four-door fastback, similar in concept to, but smaller than, the 6-series of the same name.
Before the autumn, however, car leasing customers will have the choice of two further models: the 2-series coupe and 4-series convertible.
The UK was the second-largest market in the world for the old 1-series coupe, with 30,000 sold in its lifetime. The 2-series replacement is larger, better-equipped and more practical for a price rise of less than 1 per cent.
Britain will also be the joint-third most important market for the convertible 4-series. Again, there are upgrades in usability and specification for a small price increase of between £375 and £495.