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xclozano
03-10-2011, 05:00 PM
Here's an interesting editorial on BMWs image. I'd like to read your thoughts. http://www.autoblog.com/2011/03/09/opinion-is-bmw-becoming-too-soft/

Yborg
03-10-2011, 05:39 PM
Here are the best parts i found about the article and to me it summarizes the point about "Is BMW becoming too soft" and my personal answer is YES.


Something has gone horribly wrong at BMW. And I think I know what it is. Back in 2006, then- BMW marketing director Jack Pitney (who tragically died in 2010) shared with me a Powerpoint strategy showing how far too many people, in his mind, weren't considering a BMW because they were intimidated or otherwise put off by the performance image of the brand. It was this finding that led BMW to first do a corporate ad campaign touting BMW's independent ownership, and then the softer "Joy of Driving" campaign that ran most of last year. It was literally meant to advance a "softer side" of BMW, and attract more people who were not necessarily driving enthusiasts to the brand.

"Joy of Driving." "Built in America." Electric front-drive city cars. BMW is starting to feel a lot like Toyota in how it goes about its business and its brand – what with Toyota advertising its assembly plants and how it is working on a self-powered rollercoaster, while it forgets that it's interiors have become shockingly bad and shoddy.

I fear BMW's image is becoming watered down like whiskey at a dishonest bar, or the experience of going to a ball game in an open-air stadium without being able to fire up a cigar. The whole brand feels like it is moving to be rated PG-13. And BMW is a brand that needs a little R-rated content mixed in to stay true to what it is.

need4speed
03-11-2011, 07:41 AM
I would agree. Not only do you have to order a BMW to get a manuel, but now they have raised the price and made the auto "free". The only people who loose are manuel buyers. It might not be so bad (well it would be, but not as bad) if you could get the DCT on a 335i and not just the 335is. Oh well, if they loose too much of their edge there is always Porsche. N4S

Michael Schott
03-11-2011, 08:05 AM
I would agree. Not only do you have to order a BMW to get a manuel, but now they have raised the price and made the auto "free". The only people who loose are manuel buyers. It might not be so bad (well it would be, but not as bad) if you could get the DCT on a 335i and not just the 335is. Oh well, if they loose too much of their edge there is always Porsche. N4S

The availability of manual tranny 3 series BMW's is driven by the market not BMW. You can't easily find a MT BMW because no one wants to buy them. I was told by my CA that over 90% of 3 series buyers want AT. Don't ever forget that those on this forum are the exception and not the rule.

Yborg
03-11-2011, 01:17 PM
The availability of manual tranny 3 series BMW's is driven by the market not BMW. You can't easily find a MT BMW because no one wants to buy them. I was told by my CA that over 90% of 3 series buyers want AT. Don't ever forget that those on this forum are the exception and not the rule.

I agree! The decision is definitely market driven as not many drivers want manual transmission but i believe that the option should still exist as a special order (if it already doesn't).

Michael Schott
03-11-2011, 06:40 PM
I agree! The decision is definitely market driven as not many drivers want manual transmission but i believe that the option should still exist as a special order (if it already doesn't).

MT is still standard equipment on the 3 series. AT is now a no charge option apparently.

need4speed
03-12-2011, 06:28 AM
Yes, I understand that the lack of MT on the lot is a money decision by BMW. I also know it is because Americans don't but MT very often. What I don't like is the fact that now we have the "no cost option" AT with a corresponding price increase. So now not only do you have to order (usually with out a test drive) to get a MT you get to pay more for it. I also would say the RFT, more bland styling and the focus on i drive/nav systems are evidence that BMW is more about finding middle of the road customers. IMHO this comes at the expense of driving enthusiasts in the form of less R&D and less emphasis on motors/trannies/suspension. Imagine if they had put all the i drive effort and $ into fixing (or getting it right the first time) the HPFP or getting more power out of the NA 3 liter motor. It would have made for a better driving car as opposed to a better fashion statement or toy. I'm sure BMW ends up with a fatter bottom line. I just don't think it makes for a better car. N4S

thumper_330
03-12-2011, 07:55 AM
I'm afraid I agree with the article, and N4S. The only real drivers cars that BMW produces at the moment are the Z's and the M3. Even the new M5 appears to be coming out soft and rather squidgy. Hell, the purist would even say the current M3 is a bit on the pudgy side (and I'd agree, but it's a great driving car).

Unfortunately BMW has figured out that they can't survive by selling to the enthusiast. We are far too small a part of the market to be truly profitable, and the types of cars they've been selling are really a testament to that.

The problem is; this started almost 10 years ago. It's been a gradual process, but I fear the next generation 3 will become even less of an enthusiast car. Sure they'll produce enthusiast versions just like they did when they softened the E60 (the stock E60 was a really soft car, but add the sport package and a manual and it's a very capable sports sedan), but they will be the exception rather than the rule.

BMW has become about marketing. Witness the furor over the 1 Series M. While I have no doubt it's going to be a fun little car, it's really not much more than a "135is" with M3 suspension components. It's a parts-bin M car, and this has got the enthusiast community up in arms. While I'd love to drive or own one, I doubt I ever will.

I am still going to play wait and see though... but honestly I'm liking what I'm seeing from a lot of other manufacturers a lot more. Hell, at Infiniti you can but a G37 with a manual and a limited slip diff for the mid $40's. It's not as hard edged as a 3 series, but a few dollars in suspension mods can make it a real contender for your money.

For my part though I think that Audi is positioning itself to harden up its previously soft sport sedans. The current S4 is an awesome car, and the B8 platform as a whole has loads of potential. I'm not saying the Audi will be as good as the truly enthusiast 3 series, but we haven't seen a truly enthusiast 3 series out of BMW in more than a decade.

AlexK
03-12-2011, 07:03 PM
I agree that BMW has shifted its "priorities", but I don't agree that it's an inherently bad thing. They obviously want to expand (and, obviously, bring more $$$ in), there's nothing wrong with that, and you can't really do that if you will still stick to ancient "all manual" technologies or the ancient "internal combustion engine" stuff. Every mass-market car company does that, in one way or another - Porsche has navigation system options in almost all models (as well as many other electronic options like variable suspensions, electronic brake-assisted variable torque distribution systems, etc.), they have branched into SUV segment few years ago and they are now branching into full-size 4-door sedans with their Panamera model, plus they already have a hybrid versions of some models available for sale, as well as full-electric prototypes. If you are in a significant minority segment who dislike the changes - you should either adapt or buy a used previous-generation "all mechanical" model of your favorite vehicle (while it is still legal to do that) and enjoy driving it :p

thumper_330
03-13-2011, 08:03 AM
I agree that BMW has shifted its "priorities", but I don't agree that it's an inherently bad thing. They obviously want to expand (and, obviously, bring more $$$ in), there's nothing wrong with that, and you can't really do that if you will still stick to ancient "all manual" technologies or the ancient "internal combustion engine" stuff. Every mass-market car company does that, in one way or another - Porsche has navigation system options in almost all models (as well as many other electronic options like variable suspensions, electronic brake-assisted variable torque distribution systems, etc.), they have branched into SUV segment few years ago and they are now branching into full-size 4-door sedans with their Panamera model, plus they already have a hybrid versions of some models available for sale, as well as full-electric prototypes. If you are in a significant minority segment who dislike the changes - you should either adapt or buy a used previous-generation "all mechanical" model of your favorite vehicle (while it is still legal to do that) and enjoy driving it :p

Oh, I won't disagree that the money coming into BMW is a good thing. They're a commercial interest after all, and they need to make money in order to survive. However, I think the evidence at the moment is that BMW are using that incoming money to produce more toys that distract from the driving experience, rather than creating drivers cars. Looking at everything they're selling these days and developing for future markets, I don't see anyone talking about suspension technologies, steering technologies and so forth... just toys.

Can you really point to any of BMW's current lineup and tell me they're a real enthusiast car? As I mentioned before, only the Z4 really comes close but that's more akin to the roadsters of yore and appeals to a very specific subset of the enthusiast community. The current M3 while a fantastic vehicle is not really an enthusiast vehicle, and the latest attempt to appeal to that market (the 1 Series M) seems to break a lot of the fundamental "rules" of enthusiast vehicles and seems more of a badge car than a real drivers car.

If BMW were spending their new money on a new line of cars for enthusiasts, or developing technologies that actually improved the driving experience rather than distract from it I don't think people would have such a problem with it. The fact is, they're softening up to sell more then putting their money into softening them up even more. ConnectedDrive is a great example of technology that is going to be marketed to hell, but basically turns your car into an iPhone accessory. How is that improving driving?

dvon
03-13-2011, 08:52 AM
They may be going a bit soft but it's because of demand, Mercedes doesn't even offer an MT anymore, Infiniti is very limited with MT options at least you can still order one with BMW. Even on an enthsiast forum like this a huge number of people have AT cars.

AlexK
03-13-2011, 12:31 PM
the latest attempt to appeal to that market (the 1 Series M) seems to break a lot of the fundamental "rules" of enthusiast vehicles and seems more of a badge car than a real drivers car.


Really? All the reviews/previews I've read in various media seem to indicate that new "1 series M" is a pretty capable car with no significant drawbacks.
http://www.insideline.com/bmw/1-series/2012/2012-bmw-1-series-m-coupe-prototype-first-drive.html
"At the moment the signs are extremely positive. It's the sort of car you get out of wishing you could have more time with. On the strength of what we've seen so far, it fully deserves the M-car billing, even if BMW made the wrong decision by not calling it the M1"

http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/coupes/1010_2012_bmw_1_series_m_coupe_prototype_drive/index.html
"Matching the last-gen M3 Competition coupe's weight-to-power ratio with more torque than today's V-8 M3, the 1 M moves out smartly indeed with zero turbo lag and a healthy snarl that's dominated by mechanical and induction noise. Servotronic steering retuned for the 1 Series M Coupe relays plenty of road feel with ideal levels of effort. The chassis' broad stance and high level of control permit cornering that seems impossible outside the virtual world of Sony's Gran Turismo"

http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/car/10q4/2012_bmw_1-series_m_coupe-prototype_drive
"Underneath, the 1-series M uses the M3’s aluminum rear suspension, including its limited-slip differential. Stability is excellent, thanks to the increased front and rear track, stiffer springs and dampers, and wider Michelin Pilot Sport tires (245/55-19 in front, 265/35-19 out back). The car feels planted in high-speed corners and at autobahn speeds. Despite the firmer suspension, the ride is never uncomfortable, just like the M3.

In an inspired bit of cost-containment, the 1-series M coupe comes only with the regular six-speed manual gearbox—there will be no dual-clutch transmission option. The six-speed’s silky operation is rewarding in the extreme, but the lack of a dual-clutch transmission may hurt sales with those who need to shave precious tenths off their ‘Ring times"

There's even less electronic gadgetry available for it than for M3 (a purely mechanical suspension with no variable settings and a manual-only transmission, which, b.t.w, is very unfortunate). I don't really see it breaking any "rules" of being an "enthusiast vehicle" (WTF does it even mean? Can I read the definition for it at some reputable site somewhere?), maybe aside from having an "absolutely evil" (as I was conditioned to believe by various "armchair car enthusiasts") forced induction engine.

dvon
03-13-2011, 01:36 PM
Really? All the reviews/previews I've read in various media seem to indicate that new "1 series M" is a pretty capable car with no significant drawbacks.
http://www.insideline.com/bmw/1-series/2012/2012-bmw-1-series-m-coupe-prototype-first-drive.html
"At the moment the signs are extremely positive. It's the sort of car you get out of wishing you could have more time with. On the strength of what we've seen so far, it fully deserves the M-car billing, even if BMW made the wrong decision by not calling it the M1"

http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/coupes/1010_2012_bmw_1_series_m_coupe_prototype_drive/index.html
"Matching the last-gen M3 Competition coupe's weight-to-power ratio with more torque than today's V-8 M3, the 1 M moves out smartly indeed with zero turbo lag and a healthy snarl that's dominated by mechanical and induction noise. Servotronic steering retuned for the 1 Series M Coupe relays plenty of road feel with ideal levels of effort. The chassis' broad stance and high level of control permit cornering that seems impossible outside the virtual world of Sony's Gran Turismo"

http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/car/10q4/2012_bmw_1-series_m_coupe-prototype_drive
"Underneath, the 1-series M uses the M3’s aluminum rear suspension, including its limited-slip differential. Stability is excellent, thanks to the increased front and rear track, stiffer springs and dampers, and wider Michelin Pilot Sport tires (245/55-19 in front, 265/35-19 out back). The car feels planted in high-speed corners and at autobahn speeds. Despite the firmer suspension, the ride is never uncomfortable, just like the M3.

In an inspired bit of cost-containment, the 1-series M coupe comes only with the regular six-speed manual gearbox—there will be no dual-clutch transmission option. The six-speed’s silky operation is rewarding in the extreme, but the lack of a dual-clutch transmission may hurt sales with those who need to shave precious tenths off their ‘Ring times"

There's even less electronic gadgetry available for it than for M3 (a purely mechanical suspension with no variable settings and a manual-only transmission, which, b.t.w, is very unfortunate). I don't really see it breaking any "rules" of being an "enthusiast vehicle" (WTF does it even mean? Can I read the definition for it at some reputable site somewhere?), maybe aside from having an "absolutely evil" (as I was conditioned to believe by various "armchair car enthusiasts") forced induction engine.

The biggest thing I've learned is that with every generation of new cars there's going to be a contingent who claims that "BMW has last it's way" even if they've never driven any of the new cars. That;'s not to say that everyone isn't entitled to their own opinions but it happens all the time so I've just learned to tune it out.

Keyser Soze
03-13-2011, 07:24 PM
Well, they actually have been slowly moving this way since the 1980's and then in the 1990's when they took out the standard LSD's. All it does is push the true performance geeks into M's and 1-series and leaves the regular yuppie slushbox badge snobs with the rest. Remember, a lot of people are just absolutely horrified by the thought of trying to use a manual transmission.

I would surmise (and I think I've read this elsewhere) that eventually all these "automatics" will move closer and closer to SMG type performance and in 10 years that's all there will be available, period.

Michael Schott
03-14-2011, 10:24 AM
Oh, I won't disagree that the money coming into BMW is a good thing. They're a commercial interest after all, and they need to make money in order to survive. However, I think the evidence at the moment is that BMW are using that incoming money to produce more toys that distract from the driving experience, rather than creating drivers cars. Looking at everything they're selling these days and developing for future markets, I don't see anyone talking about suspension technologies, steering technologies and so forth... just toys.

Can you really point to any of BMW's current lineup and tell me they're a real enthusiast car? As I mentioned before, only the Z4 really comes close but that's more akin to the roadsters of yore and appeals to a very specific subset of the enthusiast community. The current M3 while a fantastic vehicle is not really an enthusiast vehicle, and the latest attempt to appeal to that market (the 1 Series M) seems to break a lot of the fundamental "rules" of enthusiast vehicles and seems more of a badge car than a real drivers car.

If BMW were spending their new money on a new line of cars for enthusiasts, or developing technologies that actually improved the driving experience rather than distract from it I don't think people would have such a problem with it. The fact is, they're softening up to sell more then putting their money into softening them up even more. ConnectedDrive is a great example of technology that is going to be marketed to hell, but basically turns your car into an iPhone accessory. How is that improving driving?

What is your definition of an enthusiast's vehicle if the 414hp, beautifully suspended M3 is not? It's the definition of the world's best "reasonably priced" sport sedan. To tell the truth, if you gave me $100K and I had to buy a car with 4 real seats, I can't think of another I'd rather have. An M5 comes close but it's too large to be really tossable. Maybe a C63 Benz.

thumper_330
03-14-2011, 11:40 AM
What is your definition of an enthusiast's vehicle if the 414hp, beautifully suspended M3 is not? It's the definition of the world's best "reasonably priced" sport sedan. To tell the truth, if you gave me $100K and I had to buy a car with 4 real seats, I can't think of another I'd rather have. An M5 comes close but it's too large to be really tossable. Maybe a C63 Benz.

I'd say the M3 would be the perfect enthusiast vehicle if it had that same engine, same suspension, ONLY a 6MT available and shed about 600lbs. It's a wonderful car, don't misunderstand me... I'd be driving one now except that the dealer decided to screw me big-time and I'm currently entangled in a lawsuit against them (had an ED booked, and the car even went into production... that's how close it came).

Don't misunderstand my comments, they weren't meant to disparage. And the same to those who pick apart individual phrases in my statements. I think BMW currently produces the best on-the-road cars out there, but so long as we continue to not bring up the shortcomings of the current product line while true competitors are literally nipping at BMW's heels, we as enthusiasts run the risk of diluting our own favoured brand.

I am a BMW nut... I love their cars and motorcycles. However, I am also vocal where I think it counts in my criticism of BMW's current direction in the hope that someone in Munich will read it. I know, unlikely; but I can hope.

bmw325
03-14-2011, 11:48 AM
What is your definition of an enthusiast's vehicle if the 414hp, beautifully suspended M3 is not? It's the definition of the world's best "reasonably priced" sport sedan. To tell the truth, if you gave me $100K and I had to buy a car with 4 real seats, I can't think of another I'd rather have. An M5 comes close but it's too large to be really tossable. Maybe a C63 Benz.

I think I know what thumper was getting at, but am not sure it's reasonable to expect. A naturally aspirated engine is always going to have better throttle response (as would mechcanically actuated throttle bodies vs electronic). Similarly, a car that can be fixed by a "shadetree" mechanic, and one where wieght savings is a priority are all classic "enthusiast" notions. But I think that pre-supposes too narrow definition of "enthusiast" and creates unrealistci expectations for mass-market premium brand with numerous government safety, cost and emissions criteria to fulfill. Also, I'm quite sure that every generation of BMW since the 2002 has been criticized for being watered down or less enthusiast oriented; we want all the safety, practicallity, reliabliity (yes I think our rose-tinted glasses make us forget how relatively unrelaible those 70s and 80s models were) and convenience of a modern BMW but with the DIY-friendly, lightweight, high road feel characteristics of older cars.

If you broaden the notion of enthusiast to include people who really love cars (could be any and all aspects), I think the 1M is certainly an enthusiast vehicle. I honestly cant' see someone buying it just for the badge or the looks...there are other BMWs you'd get for those purposes. And in 15 years, people will be looking back and saying "why can't this new BMW be more like the 1M". I know I sound like a BMW fanboy/apologist but I think this applies to all modern cars with the exception of track-only specials like the Ariel Atom or Caterham 7..heck even Ferrari. :)

swajames
03-14-2011, 12:15 PM
You have to look at what's driving sales. One look at those unbelievable recent M3 Convertible lease rates and the artificially high residuals driving them tells you that sales are being driven by BMWFS subventing leases and throwing marketing dollars at the deal to boost numbers. The enthusiast car to me could also be defined as one that sells solely on its own merits and not because a buyer sees that he/she can get a more expensive car for the same payment. I'm betting the 1M doesn't come with nearly as much in the way of marketing support as the M3.