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Thursday, February 9, 2023

BMW 6 Series rumored to return in 2026 as 4 and 8 Series die

Australia’s Which Car ran a lengthy interview of BMW chief technical officer Frank Weber. The piece covered nearly every subject of interest to old and new BMW enthusiasts, from the automaker’s design direction to halo cars to keeping cars fresh when technology moves so much faster than vehicle generation cycles. Yet, of the more than 1,700 words in the piece, some 47 words that in a single paragraph have nothing to do with Weber have become the story: Rumor says that come 2026, BMW product planners will merge the 4 and 8 Series into a new 6 Series range. Said rumor predicts that the 8 Series Gran Coupe will be the last car standing out of both lineups. It will no longer be an 8 Series, though, as it will be absorbed into the 7 Series range.

If this comes true, it would be, as Shirley Bassey used to sing, “just little bits of history repeating.” The original 6 Series arrived in 1976, a shark-nosed icon of gorgeous badassery until 1989. The first breathtaking but slow-selling 8 Series appeared in 1990, holding on until continued slow sales forced BMW to kill it in 1999. The 6 Series returned in 2004, not as sharp as the first generation, but just as able to draw a very specific and devoted crowd. It would see a second generation, but BMW would eventually send the 6 back to its crypt in 2018 save for the sole survivor 6 Series GT, which was really just a renamed 5 Series GT. The Munich automaker then re-animated the 8 Series in 2018, also not as sharp as before, but even more slow-selling. So the rumor about a third act for the 6 Series, assuming it happens, would merely be the latest chapter in a decades-long saga. 

BMW Blog writes that it has heard this same nugget from its own sources. The death of the 4 Series, on the other hand, could be rationalized as an effect of coupe and convertible sales continuing their groundward trajectories. On the one hand, as BMW Blog points out, a lot is going to happen in the next four years in terms of technology and electrification, which could alter consumer tastes. On the other hand, 2026 is only four years away, so BMW is probably very close to a decision on what to do with the 4er.

Enthusiasts might also like to hear Weber say that the coming New Class (NKL) platform that will eventually support every BMW could easily create a path to “a highly-emotional model.” This could be the unicorn hybrid or electric halo car that whisperers won’t shut up about either as an i8 revival or a production version of the Vision M Next.

There’s a whole lot more to the interview, though, so don’t be afraid to hit up Which Car and give it a read.

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