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How does one go about designing a two-door car? We look at three different interpretations that BMW has of this undoubtedly appealing formula.

22 Nov 2018

A couple of weeks ago, we headed up to Estoril, Portugal, to drive the brand new 8 Series Coupe and the Z4, and also took the opportunity to drive the new i8 Roadster as well.

Two-door cars instantly evoke a sense of sportiness and dynamism
On first glance, these three cars may not share much in common beyond the badge that adorns the top of the hood. Price-wise, the 8 Series Coupe and i8 Roadster costs more than double what the Z4 does. These are very different cars with quite different purposes, so is there any way to draw a line through all three?

Two doors. That's something in common, right? Some people may write off all two-door cars as flashy, showboating cars that are entirely impractical. In this day and age where the crossover sport utility vehicle is everything, creating a two-door car might not seem to make any business or practical sense.

Some may lament the impracticality of two-door cars, but there's no denying their visual impact
But the truth is that cars like these, the idea of a two-door car, will always have a place in enthusiasts' hearts. It might be superfluous to say that these cars have more soul or character, but there's no denying that such cars stand apart from the crowd. These cars undoubtedly have impact.

With these three models, you can see three distinct approaches that BMW takes to making a car with an impact, and how they manage to achieve very different results. 

The 8 Series Coupe packs the very best that BMW has to offer
BMW 8 Series Coupe

The 8 Series is an example of BMW taking everything it has and everything it knows and putting it into one singular package. xDrive all-wheel drive? Check. Four-wheel steering? Check. Carbon fibre reinforced plastic? Check. Massive turbocharged V8 engine with stonking performance? Check. State-of-the-art technology? Check.

With the 8 Series Coupe, you have a distillation of everything you can find across the BMW range. Sitting atop the brand's core lineup, it's a showcase of what's available and what's possible. Is there a need to have glass on the gear lever? Of course not. But BMW can do it, and so it did.

The Z4's lightweight ethos delivers a raw and pure driving experience

The Z4 shares some similarities with the 8 Series Coupe - two doors, Operating System 7.0 infotainment system, and a cabin that looks similar. However, the ethos of the Z4 stands in stark contrast. The Z4 is about being lightweight, and an exercise in restraint. It takes out anything extra and leaving just the necessary components to deliver a pure driving experience. It's not surprising that the soft-top has returned in place of a hard-top.

Unlike the 8 Series Coupe, the Z4 aims to deliver a very specific experience - a direct connectedness between car and road. The joy of driving a roadster on a quiet mountain road overlooking a beautiful coastline - there's nothing else quite like it. 

The i8 Roadster's combines a futuristic approach to sporty driving with undeniable visual flair
BMW i8 Roadster

The i8 Roadster takes the two-door formula in a completely different direction (quiet literally, with the scissor doors opening upwards). This is a car that has an eye strained keenly on the future. It's an imagining of what's the come, and of what the automotive landscape will look like many years from now.

At the same time, it doesn't dismiss some of the core charateristics that we associate with two-door cars. The i8 is undoubtedly handsome and has instant visual flair, but it also delivers the kind of sporty dynamism we always associate with two-door models.

As you'd expect from the Bavarian marque, the driving experience is still very much front and centre
As you can see, there isn't one fixed formula when it comes to designing a two-door car. There are three distinctly different cars, offering different intereprations of the basic two-door formula.

However, there is one other quality that these three cars share beyond just the badge atop the hood. What's undeniable about all three cars is that they are all striking. Not just visually, but in purpose as well. They demonstrate three distinctly different approaches to achieve the goal of being different, while still putting the driver front and centre. Because hey, if you weren't looking to stand out from the crowd, go ahead and just buy a four-door sedan instead.
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