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BMW shows performance substitute for 3 Series

BMW released photos of its new Concept 4 Series Coupe today, showing a dedicated coupe model that looks like a higher-performance variant of the 3 Series.

BMW Concept 4 Series Coupe

BMW used to own the mantle for German performance cars, until Audi redesigned its model lineup over the last decade. In the face of this competition, BMW today released photos of the Concept 4 Series Coupe, which looks ready to go up against the Audi A5 and S5.

The BMW product design department has come up with some odd ideas in recent years. Witness the X6 and 5 Series GT. However, this new Concept 4 Series looks like a more natural fit between the 3 Series and 5 Series, and borrows styling from the recently updated and stylish 6 Series.

The concept shows traditional BMW styling cues such as the kidney grille and Hofmeister kink on the side window. A strong contour line down the side and elevations on the hood also reflect current BMW design. Bold lines on the front, lower intake, LED parking strips in the headlight casings, and around the exhausts look like an indication of BMW's future design direction.

Click through for the full photo gallery and more details.

BMW included interior shots that reveal similar overwrought trim elements to those available in the current 3 Series. The webbed leather stitching looks like Germany's idea of a cowboy tradition. The instrumentation and cabin electronics layout jibe with current BMW models, and a production model would likely be offered with the same excellent navigation, audio, and app integration as in current models.

BMW made no mention of drivetrain choices, although the interior shot shows a manual transmission shifter. Expect a production car to come with the same engine choices as the current 3 Series, a 3-liter six-cylinder and a 2-liter four-cylinder, both featuring direct injection and forced induction.

If it goes into production, the Concept 4 Series Coupe could easily replace the 3 Series coupe, letting BMW maintain a 4 Series model as a dedicated performance car, while continuing to offer watered-down versions of the 3 Series, strictly in sedan form, for less enthusiastic drivers.

BMW has not said where it will first unveil the concept to the public, but the two likely venues would be the Detroit auto show, in January, and the Geneva auto show, in March.