As the preferred luxury car of accountants across the globe, BMW naturally has a thing for numbers.
The German automaker recently unveiled the latest generation of its 3 Series Coupe, a concept so stylish and so sporty, according to the company, that it transcended its own numeric identity.
Meet the newly titled 4 Series Coupe.
A slightly stretched version of its two-door predecessor, with aesthetic upgrades including hand-braided leather seats and satin-finish aluminum accents, the au courant concept is the first BMW model to carry the 4 Series designation.
According to the company’s official announcement, the all-new classification “doesn’t just mark the start of a new cycle, it represents the zenith of a development curve.” Hence, the numeral upgrade. “[T]he ‘4’ stands for greater sportiness, greater exclusivity, and even clearer differentiation from the BMW 3 Series range,” the company said.
To the marketing staff in Hamburg, the series shakeup probably served its purpose, generating new hype for an old, if updated, type of automobile.
To numerologist Tammi Rager, though, the choice of the number 4, in particular, sends the wrong message.
“From a numerology standpoint, it’s not a smart move,” said Rager, a frequent mystic interpreter for the press who has decoded the esoteric meanings of everything from lottery numbers to hip-hop mogul Sean Combs’s repeated name changes. (This is her first time commenting on the nomenclature of a car company.)
A little background for those who are unfamiliar with BMW’s numeric hierarchy: The brand is perhaps best known for its fleet of odd-numbered vehicles – 3, 5, and 7 Series, especially — which represents the largest segment of its lineup.
According to Rager, the emphasis on odd digits fits in nicely with the company’s overall branding. “Odd numbers are introverted,” she explained. “The energy of those tends to be a little more detached, aloof, a little more mysterious, if you will, which, I think, would be great for BMW. To me, they would kind of want to separate themselves with that air of aloofness.”
Even numbers, which Rager described as more practical and crowd-pleasing, do exist within the BMW universe, just on a much smaller scale. The company reports rising demand for its existing 6 Series, for instance, though actual sales of the Sixers (2,166 delivered worldwide this past November) don’t come close to matching the 3 Series (40,700) or 5 Series (30,232).
Each series number says something about the car and also something about the owner — or, more precisely, the size of the owner’s wallet. Generally, smaller numbers are more compact and more affordable, while the bigger numbers are bigger cars with bigger bells and whistles and even bigger price tags.
On this rising scale of 1 (compact hatchback) to 7 (roomy executive saloon-cum-limousine), the existing 3 Series occupies the populist middle. It remains the company’s best seller, which also makes it the most common BMW on the road — a somewhat dubious distinction for a brand that prides itself on prestige and exclusivity.
So it makes sense that BMW would look to inject some new energy into its bread-and-butter model.
In the socio-economic language of Beamerspeak, the switch from three to four suggests a whole new level of affordable luxury, something slightly more refined than your stepfather-in-law’s post-mid-life crisis mobile – but, by no means a 5 Series!
In the mystical language of numeric meanings, however, four conveys a whole different message, and “greater sportiness” is not it.
“The actual meaning of the number four is dependability, reliability,” Rager said. “Think of a four-square foundation. These are things you can bank your money on. As for sporty or fun, I mean, the four is an accountant number. It’s dry. It’s military. It’s organized.”
That should resonate well with the stereotypical Beamer-driving bean-counter. But, it’s the exact opposite of the sexy, sporty vibe that BMW seems to be going for.
It would make a far better identifier for a line of gas-efficient, low-maintenance vehicles, Rager said.
“If they really want to make an impact with it, I would say two would be a better number,” she said. “With two, you think partnerships, you think romance, you think fun, you think communication, give and take. If I were to splurge on a sports car, two would be a good vibration there.”
Rager prefaced her comments by noting that she knows very little about BMWs from a technical standpoint. “Only that I can’t afford one,” she said.