Unfortunately for the Bavarians, the new BMW 7 Series hasn’t panned out exactly as they had hoped. While the new G11 7 Series is by far and away better than its predecessor, and actually getting good reviews, it simply cannot compete with the Mercedes-Benz S Class, in terms of sales. And while sales aren’t a great metric for how good a car is (if they were, the Toyota Corolla would be the best car in the world), they are important to a brand’s image and, ultimately, success.
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A lot of the problem with BMW’s 7 Series is its “wow”-factor. It doesn’t inspire the same sort of awe-struck moment in customers as the S Class does. While, many feel that the 7 Series is a very good looking car, it doesn’t really look any more special than a 5 Series and that’s a problem for a six-figure car. Though the S Class’ styling is quite reserved, its design screams class and luxury. It looks imposing and sophisticated, which is exactly what buyers in that segment are looking for. The 7 Series is a handsome car and looks expensive, but in a more modern and chic way, which just isn’t selling well enough.
To remedy this, BMW will be building a high-end luxury coupe based on the 7 Series chassis. While it’s being reported that it will be a 7 Series Coupe, it’s more likely BMW names it an 8 Series, considering the Bavarian’s current naming scheme of odd numbers for four-door cars and even numbers for two-door cars. However, the future 8 Series will be based on the 7 Series chassis and likely share some of its styling. The idea is to bring a hint of flash to BMW’s high-end models, which could in turn make people start looking at the 7 Series as well.
Such a BMW 8 Series would naturally compete with the Mercedes-Benz S Class Coupe. If you haven’t seen an S Class Coupe, it’s a stunning thing. Like it or not, think it’s good looking or not, there’s no denying its status. It makes a statement that it’s the most expensive car in the neighborhood, regardless of if it is or not. It’s styling, elegant, expensive looking and aggressive all at the same time. It’s what a proper flagship coupe should be.
BMW is going to try and replicate that idea with the 8 Series Coupe. To be honest, it sort of did that already, back with the original 8 Series. That car looked powerful and elegant all at the same time. While hindsight tells us that the original 8 Series wasn’t a great car, it had presence and felt like something special. It still does, in fact. So BMW is going to try and make a modern interpretation of that, so it can bring some prestige back to its higher-end cars.
And BMW needs to act fast, because the S Class won’t be its only threat for long. Audi is looking to debut its new A8 next year and it plans on taking control of the high-end luxury segment as well. And if there’s any brand that gains that sort of “wow”-factor that BMW is looking for, it’s Audi. Warranted or not, people flock to Audi and its “pretty” styling. Chalk it up to the LED lights if you want, but people love Audis. And the 7 Series just doesn’t have that sort of attraction. “The 7-Series hasn’t managed the same ‘aha’ effect as the new S-Class, which is what Audi will be going for too” said Juergen Pieper, analyst at Bankhaus Metzler in Frankfurt. “It’s lacking that special something.”
With a future 8 Series and possibly a refresh for the 7er in a few years, BMW could bring that wow-factor back to the brand’s luxury cars.