: What's all this about BMW losing its' edge?



orconn
02-14-11, 05:33 PM
I've been hearing comments lately about the BMW make departing from its' much lauded position as a "driver's" car. This would truly be a shame. Is this true across the board or only within certain model ranges?

As a manufacturer of some of the best handling cars with the best "feel" in the world .... and for many years the best driving cars available in the U.S. market it would be a shame for their cars to become just another brand. The "bangle" years certainly put off a lot of potential buyers, but at least the 3 series still had the handling and feel drivers love!

Jesda
02-14-11, 06:08 PM
Far as I know (and Gary can probably back this statement), the 3-series is the same kind of driver's car its been for the last 15 or so years. The 1-series is ugly as sin but sharp as a pin on the road. Muscle sedans like the M5 live up to their promise.


But everything else...

My god...

http://carsdesigns.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/BMW-X6-exterior.jpg

V-Eight
02-14-11, 07:43 PM
Saw a new 5 series today.....front end looks like S***

gary88
02-14-11, 07:56 PM
The 3 series has lost a bit of feel compared to older models (mostly in part due to the numb run flat tires that come as standard), but it still has that unique feeling of being completely connected to the road, and the steering still feels telepathic and communicated well through the wheel.

The 5 series has been getting some complaints about the steering since they switched to electric pumps which kills a lot of that connected feeling and feedback through the wheel. My dealer just started getting F10 loaners so soon enough I'll get the chance to drive one.

I'm pretty excited for the new 1 series M. I saw one at the auto show and IMO it looks pretty great in person. The 135i is already fast, but now when you add an extra 30hp along with the suspension, brakes, and diff from the M3 you have some real potential.

Playdrv4me
02-14-11, 09:09 PM
The new X3 just by sheer luck has been getting a ton of praised heaped on it for how close they stuck to the classic BMW formula with it. Granted it's not quite a 3 series, but it's about as close as you can get in that category. The interior and exterior styling FINALLY quit looking like it was some kind of IKEA minimalism experiment on wheels, with much of the horrid black plastic removed and a modern technologically correct interior. It's now manufactured and exported out of the U.S. with Steyr completely out of the picture.

hueterm
02-14-11, 10:21 PM
Compared to this? http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/2001-BMW-740i-Imola-Red-Sports-Prem-Navigation-M-Wheels-/150555161807?pt=US_Cars_Trucks&hash=item230dc974cf

Yes...

Playdrv4me
02-14-11, 11:07 PM
Compared to this? http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/2001-BMW-740i-Imola-Red-Sports-Prem-Navigation-M-Wheels-/150555161807?pt=US_Cars_Trucks&hash=item230dc974cf

Yes...

You know the guy driving that around has to see a brand new 80k 7 Series and just laughs. And no matter HOW MUCH the 80k 7 Series guy tries to deny it, there's a tinge of jealousy when he sees that imola red E38.

hueterm
02-14-11, 11:12 PM
Oh HELL yeah...

If that thing didn't promise to be a repair nightmare, I'd be VERY tempted... It is DECKED for an i.

ejguillot
02-14-11, 11:38 PM
Oh HELL yeah...

If that thing didn't promise to be a repair nightmare, I'd be VERY tempted... It is DECKED for an i.

And the thing is, it will still be much less complicated and be easier for an independent BMW mechanic (or DIYer) to maintain than the 2002 and up models. Having to pay $500 to have a battery changed, because the car computer has to be told about it? No thanks.

hueterm
02-14-11, 11:56 PM
Can you rip the sad nav out of those?

Playdrv4me
02-15-11, 12:16 AM
Can you rip the sad nav out of those?

It already has the "widescreen" display unit so the most you can do is change the Nav computer in the trunk to a newer DVD one. It of course gives you updated DVD maps, but also brings the graphics forward about 5 years.

orconn
02-15-11, 12:20 AM
Compared to this? http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/2001-BMW-740i-Imola-Red-Sports-Prem-Navigation-M-Wheels-/150555161807?pt=US_Cars_Trucks&hash=item230dc974cf

Yes...

I don't know how these drove, but for style inside and out they are by far the best 7 series IMO.

Aron9000
02-15-11, 12:28 AM
I don't know how these drove, but for style inside and out they are by far the best 7 series IMO.

Agreed. Out of all the 90's uber-sedans, the e38 is by far my favorite. Although I'd actually own the Lexus LS400 because it won't eat me out of house and home on repairs like that BMW or a Benz.

orconn
02-15-11, 12:39 AM
^^^As the wise man said when ask what his "yacht" cost, "if you have to ask the price, you can't afford it!"

I~LUV~Caddys8792
02-15-11, 12:43 AM
I love the E38s, they are my favorite BMW ever. The exterior and interior design was untoppable, and it drove very tight. The only bonus the later 7 Series have is more power and more features.

But out of the '90s era uber sedans, here how it goes for me:
W140 S Class
A8
E38 7 Series
LS400
XJ

Back to the original topic:
BMW lost it's purist "edge" when it released weird stuff like the X6 and 5 Gran Turismo. They're filling spaces in the marketplace that don't exist, much like Acura with the ZDX and Mercedes with the R Class.

Aron9000
02-15-11, 12:53 AM
Agreed with Chad on releasing straight up ugly ass X6 and 5 series grand turismo.

Also, BMW brags that the new Z4, their two person sports roadster, now has a softer ride and is more luxurious at the expense of handling. Weight is up as well. Same thing with the new 5 series, weight is up, and handling/steering feel is several notches number.

orconn
02-15-11, 01:13 AM
I don't care if BMW is messing around with weird body configurations, I do care if they are adding even more weight to an already heavy car, that they are changing steering components and in the process losing the excellent steering feel for which BMW is rightly renown, that the emphasis seems to now be on "fat burgher" luxury and not on sporting performance. If all this is true Fiat and Alfa Romeo can't start selling in the U.S. market too soon!

I~LUV~Caddys8792
02-15-11, 01:23 AM
It's interesting to note BMW's "losing it's edge" of making small, luxurious cars that are a dream to drive, and making larger, softer luxury cars. Compare it to what Cadillac had to do 15-20 years ago, when they decided to abandon their "edge" or "niche" of selling large, soft luxury cars that they were known for and venturing into the world of european styled and engineered luxury sports sedans.

Playdrv4me
02-15-11, 02:04 AM
I don't care if BMW is messing around with weird body configurations, I do care if they are adding even more weight to an already heavy car, that they are changing steering components and in the process losing the excellent steering feel for which BMW is rightly renown, that the emphasis seems to now be on "fat burgher" luxury and not on sporting performance. If all this is true Fiat and Alfa Romeo can't start selling in the U.S. market too soon!

I agree, I'm not bothered by the expansion into other body styles. BMW is not a niche brand and they have to explore new markets, but there are limits, and the FWD BMW proposal is an absolute slap in the face to everything the brand stands for. BMW has plenty of room for rollerskates at Mini, and Mini is a GREAT brand on its own. Badge engineering should NEVER trickle back the OTHER direction. I can already hear the reply now saying "but every automaker needs to move downmarket and sell tiny engined rollerskates, in the end they have to sell cars!"... Not BMW, they have ALWAYS been an enthusiast and/or IMAGE driven brand whose sales are directly tied to these traits. Like I said before, it's sad to see that while the design language is slowly correcting course, the vehicles are moving even further in the other direction.

billc83
02-15-11, 11:46 AM
BMW decided a while back that they were shooting for Mercedes. Thus, they softened their edge a bit.

Mini is a great brand on its own? Seriously? Mini is like the Bizarro-Hummer - they only produce small retro cars that all look the same. If Mini is BMW's "brand for the masses," there are issues. Mini has no way to expand its market to include 1) people who don't like the general Mini styling, 2) people who feel retro is out, 3) anyone requiring a larger car. Sadly, the only thing Mini can do to expand its marketshare is produce variants of itself, and it should wear thin quickly.

Mini is BMW's Scion, and BMW Group doesn't have a general brand like Toyota to fall back on. And BMW is probably too worried about getting one, seeing as how well the Rover acquisition turned out.

billc83
02-15-11, 11:52 AM
It's interesting to note BMW's "losing it's edge" of making small, luxurious cars that are a dream to drive, and making larger, softer luxury cars. Compare it to what Cadillac had to do 15-20 years ago, when they decided to abandon their "edge" or "niche" of selling large, soft luxury cars that they were known for and venturing into the world of european styled and engineered luxury sports sedans.

That'd make an interesting compare/contrast article.

gary88
02-15-11, 02:49 PM
I see two sides to the upcoming FWD car. On one side they'll able to make a bunch of money selling a baby FWD BMW and be able to use that extra profit margin to engineer and sell more fine pieces of machinery in the M division and the rest of the lineup. People in the Porsche circle hated the introduction of the Cayenne, but it sells like crazy and allows Porsche to build things like the 911 GT2 RS and the new 918. I don't think this well sell in those kinds of numbers, but it will still help them nonetheless. On the other hand this will no doubt dilute the image BMW has build up over the years as being the perfectly balanced RWD sport/lux car brand. Even the Hoffmeister kink on every BMW is a design trait meant to represent power being sent to the rear wheels. Though the people who buy these will likely not even know what FWD and RWD mean. MB and Audi both have FWD cars, and they still manage to maintain their respective images. The small car market is growing significantly and BMW wants a part of it. It's not like they're making any cars that really matter to the core buyers (3 series, 5 series) FWD or anything here. BMW researches the crap out of these segments and wouldn't go forward with this plan if they didn't see a significant benefit from doing so (same goes for the things like the 5GT and X6).

billc83
02-15-11, 03:01 PM
I haven't seen anything on the coming FWD BMW that's fresh in my memory. Is it going to be smaller than the 1-Series? Is it Mini-based?

Playdrv4me
02-15-11, 05:59 PM
I see two sides to the upcoming FWD car. On one side they'll able to make a bunch of money selling a baby FWD BMW and be able to use that extra profit margin to engineer and sell more fine pieces of machinery in the M division and the rest of the lineup. People in the Porsche circle hated the introduction of the Cayenne, but it sells like crazy and allows Porsche to build things like the 911 GT2 RS and the new 918. I don't think this well sell in those kinds of numbers, but it will still help them nonetheless. On the other hand this will no doubt dilute the image BMW has build up over the years as being the perfectly balanced RWD sport/lux car brand. Even the Hoffmeister kink on every BMW is a design trait meant to represent power being sent to the rear wheels. Though the people who buy these will likely not even know what FWD and RWD mean. MB and Audi both have FWD cars, and they still manage to maintain their respective images. The small car market is growing significantly and BMW wants a part of it. It's not like they're making any cars that really matter to the core buyers (3 series, 5 series) FWD or anything here. BMW researches the crap out of these segments and wouldn't go forward with this plan if they didn't see a significant benefit from doing so (same goes for the things like the 5GT and X6).

The point is, that if BMW is in sufficiently dire straits that they NEED to whore out a tiny FWD car to GARNER the revenue necessary for R&D on the M Series, or anything else... then there is an INHERENT problem in the REST of line-up that needs to be fixed. In other words, selling a small FWD car to offset losses elsewhere is a band-aid fix. What separates BMW and Audi, and the reason I might even consider it somewhat acceptable for them to develop this class of car is if they didn't already have the fantastic Mini division that is an outlet for EXACTLY these kinds of cars. After all, whether it has a Mini badge or a BMW badge, the profits go to the same place. So if revenue needs to increase, they need to make their core product desirable again, not just throw more garbage into the mix.

Also, people like to bring up that Cayenne situation a lot in comparing these kinds of scenarios, but this is why I mentioned that BMW is *not* a niche brand like Porsche. At the time the Cayenne was introduced, Porsche was an independent, and some would say struggling manufacturer of semi-exotic cars... with a total of TWO models in its entire stable. These two cars, despite one of them being somewhat affordable (Boxster) were not enough to keep an entire brand surviving on its own. Porsche needed a SEVERE income infusion and saw the burgeoning SUV market as exactly the way to do it. It was an emergency maneuver in a plan designed more than anything, to stay independent, since offers of acquisition were rolling in from all around the globe... especially from VW. Now we all know how that finally turned out. BMW on the other hand is a major market player that already HAS 3 SUV models and 5 car lines PLUS the separate iterations of M and the Grand Touring 5. If there is insufficient profit to fund R&D with all of that, then the problem lies in the existing product.

gary88
02-15-11, 07:51 PM
Here is the thing though. BMW is a business, and the sole reason a business exists is to make a profit. They're not a public service with an unlimited supply of funds meant to satisfy the needs and wants of every person. When BMW makes a decision, you can bet that their relationship with Mercedes-Benz and Audi is greatly taken into consideration. They're looking at what they're making, and saying "You see what they did? How can we make that better?" Key word is that they're competing with these companies. Which leads us to asking the question, do companies listen to what we have to say? Yes, but not in the way you may be thinking of. Instead of looking at our thoughts and opinions and trying to make those a reality, they look at the "would this really work?" aspect before they even consider developing something. Even if one of us does have a fantastic idea, then they have to make sure it actually works in the real world, if it affects safety, etc... but the most important question they ask is "will implementing this put us where want to be in the future?". Sure there are many guys who wish BMW, especially the M division, stuck to high-revving N/A motors only available with a stick and RWD. And I'm sure BMW (and many other companies) have people who lurk message boards seeing what people really think about their products. The reality though is BMW has to adapt to the changing marketplace in order to stay competitive. They may temporarily send some of the old school BMW guys into a fit (especially if they forget to take their heart medication), but at the end of the day it's all about running the business for maximum profitability and this is true for ANY manufacturer.

Jesda
02-15-11, 08:16 PM
Question: None

Answer: X6

Result: The answer to a question nobody asked.

Playdrv4me
02-15-11, 08:19 PM
Here is the thing though. BMW is a business, and the sole reason a business exists is to make a profit. They're not a public service with an unlimited supply of funds meant to satisfy the needs and wants of every person. When BMW makes a decision, you can bet that their relationship with Mercedes-Benz and Audi is greatly taken into consideration. They're looking at what they're making, and saying "You see what they did? How can we make that better?" Key word is that they're competing with these companies. Which leads us to asking the question, do companies listen to what we have to say? Yes, but not in the way you may be thinking of. Instead of looking at our thoughts and opinions and trying to make those a reality, they look at the "would this really work?" aspect before they even consider developing something. Even if one of us does have a fantastic idea, then they have to make sure it actually works in the real world, if it affects safety, etc... but the most important question they ask is "will implementing this put us where want to be in the future?". Sure there are many guys who wish BMW, especially the M division, stuck to high-revving N/A motors only available with a stick and RWD. And I'm sure BMW (and many other companies) have people who lurk message boards seeing what people really think about their products. The reality though is BMW has to adapt to the changing marketplace in order to stay competitive. They may temporarily send some of the old school BMW guys into a fit (especially if they forget to take their heart medication), but at the end of the day it's all about running the business for maximum profitability and this is true for ANY manufacturer.

Great points, however there is ANOTHER, more creative way to compete with your competitors in a lower market class that gives you ALL the benefits of that vehicle category, and doesn't dilute your core brand. Strategic acquisitions are also done for the sake of profit and a way to diversify product mix both down and upscale, and at the time that the Mini idea was hatched up, it was done so as a way for BMW to forge into the small car market without having to sacrifice the primary brand to do so. Likewise, RR was acquired as a strategic answer to Bentley and then Maybach because no one was going to pay that kind of coin for a high end BMW on its own. BMW has protected the integrity of the core brand for as long as I can possibly remember, UNTIL now. For example, there was a time when the M badge was so fiercely protected by that division, that placing it on anything other than a performance CAR was considered absolute sacrilege. This is the reason that they were staunchly opposed to giving the original X5 4.6iS an official "M" badge, even though many in the company felt that the truck was absolutely deserving of it AND despite the fact that MB threw the AMG moniker at the newly christened ML55. Now, things have become so diluted that there are not only one, but TWO "M" badged SUVs. I'm an SUV guy so I actually embrace this, but the BMW faithful didn't take it quite as well, along with the car rags reviewing the vehicles. It's also important to note that BMW has managed to retain this ability to function less like a traditional corporate conglomerate over the years because of the family's strict operation of the brand and the protection of its ideals. In other words, many times in BMWs successful past, making "good business sense" was not enough for a product to get the green light.

Jesda
02-15-11, 08:22 PM
They may temporarily send some of the old school BMW guys into a fit (especially if they forget to take their heart medication), but at the end of the day it's all about running the business for maximum profitability and this is true for ANY manufacturer.

BMW's image is based on the credence given to the brand by those in the know -- driving enthusiasts. In marketing, especially in the auto industry, 20% of us are strongly vocal to our peers about our likes and dislikes. We play a major role in influencing what the other 80% buy.

Sadly, the sixth-generation 5-series gets a "meh" from Motor Trend in the March issue, described as more Mercedes-like than BMW-like, doing everything well on paper but hardly stirring the soul the way the E39 did. Unfortunately, it means BMW isn't just experimenting just goofy-ass niche products like the X6. It means BMW's entire design philosophy has changed for the worse and adversely affects the entire lineup.

Stingroo
02-15-11, 08:37 PM
Whoa hold it.

An American car magazine said something negative about BMW? Pics or gtfo.

orconn
02-15-11, 09:06 PM
You guys should have heard the cries of the "aficionados" when BMW came out with a softer, less sharp handling successor to the much loved and respected 2002Ti. You would have thought BMW had have thought BMW had forsaken a really great handling and driving sport coupe for an over weight mushy handling boulevardier. But folks, the Yuppies really loved them and bought many more of the new models than they had the 2002 "wunder car." And so was started a trend that has carried on to today with BMW forsaking brilliant handling and "fun to drive" factor for a heavier less involving car. Perhaps that is why the "M" cars are so necessary for BMW to have any claim left to the "Driver's Car!"

Jesda
02-15-11, 09:09 PM
Correction: Automobile Magazine, not Motor Trend

gary88
02-15-11, 09:22 PM
Car and Driver didn't like it either, rated the newer A6 and something else above it.

EChas3
02-16-11, 11:13 PM
The US market can be a slippery slope.

SUV's, Cross-overs, Oooo! Aren't they fun?

The boss's new 550 is more comfortable than his last 5-series and I don't feel the road as much. Runflat tires are another lousy compromise.

Now, it's the 1-series. FWD doesn't surprise me. Is a BMW mini-van next?