BMW has recently released its new G11 7 Series, F30 3 Series LCI and shown us the new front-wheel drive based X1. But this is just the start of a major revamp of BMW’s lineup. In the coming year or two or three, BMW’s lineup will have drastically changed and have been significantly updated. It must.
While BMW has been the number one selling luxury brand in the US for a couple of years now, it’s still losing ground, on higher end luxury models, to cars like the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. And it lacks a true compact vehicle to compete with the Audi A3 (though the 2 Series is quite compact, it’s not really cross-shopped with the A3 and CLA). The 3 Series is really the car keeping BMW king of the sales hill, while cars like the 5, 6 and 7 Series are all slumping in sales. So if BMW wants to remain at the top of the hill, it’s going to have to heavily update its current models and add some new ones.
So let’s take a look at what lies ahead for the Bavarian brand.
The upcoming 1 Series, which may or may not be front-wheel drive, will be a compact and sporty sedan with possible four-door coupe-like styling. If it is indeed based on BMW’s new UKL front-wheel drive architecture, it will be a direct competitor to the Audi A3 and Mercedes CLA. While all of us here are hoping that BMW sticks with rear-wheel drive for the 1 Series, it does make quite a lot of sense to move to the UKL platform, shared with the Mini Cooper, for both cost and competitive reasons. This will likely come as a 2017 model, so hopefully we’ll see what it’s all about next year.
While the 3 Series already got its LCI refresh, it still has some new things yet to come. The 330e plug-in hybrid is still on its way and should help BMW in the green department, offering an affordable way into BMW’s eDrive line of vehicles. BMW’s eDrive is gathering quite a bit of attention, due to the success of the i3 and i8 models, so putting eDrive in its most popular vehicle will give customers an entry-level path into the technology.
There’s also an LCI version of the 3 Series GT coming in 2016, so that should help BMW in China, where the GT sells most. It’s not the most popular car over here in the ‘States, or across the pond, but it is something that neither Mercedes or Audi have an alternative to, so it should help.
Due its LCI treatment in 2017, the 4 Series should build on an already strong lineup. It’s already one of the most popular cars in its class, stealing ground from the beloved Audi A5, so updating it should help quite a bit. Though Audi is likely to release a new A5 sometime soon as well, so the LCI needs to be good. Plus the 4 Series Gran Coupe and M4 should be getting the LCI treatment at the same time, which will help tremendously. The 4 Series GC is also something Audi and Mercedes-Benz don’t have an answer to, and these four-door coupe body styles are becoming increasingly popular, so a refreshed version should help BMW gain some ground over its competitors.
With a new model due out next year, which also happens to be the 100th year anniversary of BMW, the new 5 Series will be a very important car for BMW. With its C segment luxury car class becoming incredibly competitive lately, the 5 Series is as important as ever. It will be built on BMW’s new CLAR platform, which underpins the new 7 Series, and will feature BMW’s Carbon Core technology, making it very light and very stiff. Using this new architecture, the 5 Series should answer all of the criticisms it currently receives about being too big and heavy and losing some of the 5 Series magic. A new Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Audi A6 are due out soon as well, so the new 5er needs to be very good.
The 6 Series, in all body styles, was already refreshed this year and isn’t due for a change until 2019, so the 6er is going to have to sit tight for awhile. It’s not a bad car and isn’t really showing its age just yet, so it should be okay. However, sales are dipping for the 6er, so hopefully BMW can just hang on for a little while longer until the new model comes out.
Who knows when we’re finally going to hear about the Z4’s replacement. We know that Toyota might be involved in developing a new sports car that could be the next Z4, but that’s about all we know. The Z4 is really starting to age, with sales barely at decent numbers. The Z4 is due for replacement quite badly, let’s just hope this Toyota things starts to flesh out sooner than later. The joint venture has potential to do some real good, as I keep envisioning some sort of BMWish Toyota GT-86. Hopefully BMW gets this right, as the new Audi TT is becoming very, very popular.
It’s been reported that BMW will indeed make an X2 coupe-like crossover to compete with the Range Rover Evoque. The X2 will be based on the UKL platform, much like the new X1 and will have X6-like coupe styling. Not due out for quite some time, with a concept reportedly going to debut at the 2016 Geneva Auto Show.
The current X3 is showing its age well, as its still one of the best in its class, if not the best, and is still selling strong. However, a new model is due out in 2017 and it needs to be good, as Audi is going to be releasing a new Q5 and Mercedes-Benz just recently launched the GLC Class, which is better than expected. So BMW needs a strong showing from its new X3, which will sit on BMW’s CLAR platform and stay rear-wheel drive based.
The only real news for the X5 is the upcoming X5 xDrive40e plug-in hybrid that’s on its way. Though this is an important car for BMW as the X5 is one of its most popular models and an eDrive version gives BMW customers another popular entry into the world of plug-in hybrids.
The seven-seater luxury SUV X7 won’t be due out until 2019 and will be BMW’s largest SUV. Competing with the Mercedes-Benz GL Class, the X7 will be based on BMW’s CLAR platform and be built at the South Carolina plant.
BMW’s new “baby-M” will launch next year to offer the consumers an 1M-like experience at an economical price. The new M2 will join the M3 and M4 brothers in the turbocharged family of M cars.
So BMW will be very busy over the next couple of years, developing new models to keep itself fresh. Hopefully these new models, and heavily refreshed models, will allow BMW to keep its head above the rest of the luxury competition and stay the number one luxury brand in the United States.