BMW creates new niches
The European car market continues to fragment – BMW alone launched two new market niches at the show. The X6 is an SUV-coupe crossover based on the X5 platform, while the 1-series coupe sees the return of a long-lost segment – the two-door saloon. This is not such a strange move as it seems, as much of BMW’s reputation as a performance saloon maker was developed in the 1960s and ‘70s selling just such a model range – the “02” series – 1602 and 2002 models, which were replaced by the original 3-series in 1976. This range included the sought-after 2002ti turbo model, a race-bred performance car – and it is this strand of its heritage that BMW hopes to tap into with the1-series coupe.
“Back in the 1960s, sporty coupes were a successful market niche for us,” said Dr Klaus Draeger BMW AG purchasing and development director. “The 1966 BMW 02 series is still considered an icon of driving dynamics and agility. The model was known for its rear-wheel drive, powerful engines and enough room for four people, and remained successful for 12 years.”
The 1-series coupe is a “new interpretation” of the concept, he said. The 123d model unveiled has a new twin-turbo diesel engine developing 204bhp and 138g of CO2. It goes on sale in Germany on November 24, with UK sales following shortly after.
Meanwhile the X6 is the first entrant to a completely new niche, which BMW is calling the “Sports Activity Coupe” sector. “Customer demands are ever-changing,” said BMW Chairman Dr Norbert Reithofer. “More and more customers want a car that offers as many options as possible.”
The X6 – shown as a concept car but slated for production in Spartanburg, US, next year, will have benchmark driving dynamics in the 4x4 segment, Reithofer said.