I SOMETIMES wonder whether BMW, Audi and Mercedes - in their headlong rush to expand their model ranges - risk losing some of the individuality and special character that sets them apart.
I see new Mercedes models in particular with a degree of regularity that makes it difficult to keep up with, while Audi's range seems to be growing by the month.
As the third cornerstone in this premium Teutonic triumvirate it's only natural to expect BMW to follow suit.
The Gran Coupe is the most recent addition to the expanding 4 Series family, a five-door coupe-styled hatchback joining the three-door Coupe and Convertible models.
BMW has chosen to split up its 3 Series family and to some extent is following in the footsteps of Audi, which reclassified the A4 Convertible as an A5 and added a coupe-styled five-door hatchback with the A5 Sportback.
I like the four-door coupe thing I have to confess. Mercedes' CLS was a real breath of fresh air, the A5 Sportback has much more about it than the A4 Saloon and the same is true of BMW's Gran Coupe when compared to the 3 Series Saloon.
Indeed I might be so bold as to suggest it could well be a future classic in the making. Twenty years from now people might be admiring them in the way we look fondly at a 1970s 2002.
It's a simple thing but its rounded lines and balanced sense of proportion help to create a car that really is pleasing to look at.
On top of that you also get saloon levels of comfort for rear seat passengers and hatchback practicality.
One of the most interesting statistics about the Gran Coupe is that with the rear seats folded flat it boasts carrying capacity that isn't far short of a 3 Series Touring. Ordinarily it offers generous space of 480 litres.
The main downside with the Gran Coupe is that it commands a higher price than a comparable 3 Series, though buyers do get a higher spec level and more equipment for their money.
On the inside the Gran Coupe is not dissimilar to the 3 Series when it comes to its overall look and layout.
A sleek and stylish dash with well laid-out and easy to use instrumentation helps make for a relaxing and enjoyable driving experience.
As with all BMWs its key strength are the driving dynamics for which the brand has become renowned.
The Gran Coupe is great fun to drive it has to be said, particularly with one of the more powerful engines under the bonnet.
When it comes to real world practicality and reasonable running costs a 2.0-litre diesel is the obvious choice.This unit comes in a number of guises with varying degrees of power. Emissions and economy also vary accordingly.
In its most frugal form a four-cylinder 318d delivers 141bhp, emits 121g/km of CO2 and has a combined economy figure of more than 60mpg.
This six-cylinder 3.0-litre xDrive (four-wheel drive) 430d model obviously sits nearer the top of the range and is nowhere near as affordable, frugal or environmentally friendly but it's a real delight from a driver's perspective where you really start to question the need of a high-powered petrol alternative.
Interestingly in automatic guise fuel economy is marginally better than a manual. The automatic offers Comfort and Sport modes which correspond well to everyday driving environments in suburbia or making more spirited progress on open and empty roads.