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  #1  
Old 11-22-2003, 12:32 AM
Alex Baumann Alex Baumann is offline
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Exclamation Latest on the E90 !!

OK, I have received the following information from a well-known and trusted 'Fest member. If you have any questions, post it and I will post his replies here. I just wanted you to know that this info is coming from someone who is an enthusiast and 'one of them', not just a rumor.

Here it goes. :


By a stroke of luck, I was able to attend the Research Design Specialists
vehicle evaluation survey/focus group (invitation only). The purpose was
to help BMW evaluate future designs. From what I can tell, this is the
same event that Emission's friend attended, and it was an opportunity I
couldn't pass up, even if it meant giving up 2.5 hrs on a Friday night.
The fact that it paid $150.00 also helped. This was an East coast focus
group.

Of course, no pictures were permitted. Security was tight for obvious
reasons, and no cell phones, photographic equipment or 2-way pagers were
permitted. They used metal detectors and thoroughly frisked you. Lift
your pant legs, show us your watch, empty your pockets, etc. They meant
business. Personal items were required to be placed in small envelopes
which you could claim later. You may as well have been entering a high
security prison.

Enter the showroom...

Inside are 6 cars:
1. Audi A4 3.0
2. BMW 330i
3. Infiniti G35 Sedan
4. Mercedes C class
5. BMW E90 sedan prototype
6. BMW E60 530i

The exercise consisted of approximately 7 different subjective tests
(rating exterior and interior qualities, based on looks, comfort, etc.) on
a scale of 1-5, 1 being the worst, 5 being the best. Additionally there
were 3 different pricing tests (how much would you want to pay type
questions). You rated all the cars, sat in all of them, etc. It was
BMW's way of determining who is their direct competition and what levels
of quality they need to live up to.

The E60 was there for 2 purposes, to judge the quality of the E90
prototype (do you like it better or worse) and to determine what
specifically you find objectionable about the E60 (for their early market
research when it's due for a facelift).

So let's cut to the chase. Let's talk about the E90 (and accepting fully
it is a prototype and subject to change).

Exterior design:

First of all, none of the computer enhanced photos are accurate. I've
been on the Fest for a while and seen them all. No match.

Front:
Kidney grill is roughly the same size as the current 3er, however it now
has the extra-wide top like the 6er. The headlights are a hybrid between
the E46 sedan (post facelift), and the Z4. You have the same side profile
as the Z4 on the headlights (it looks exactly like the Z4, including the
bumper curves and criss-cross cut lines near the headlights from the front
quarter view), but looking dead on, the turn signals wrap above and below
the headlight (yes, that means eyebrows on top, and some on the bottom).
The headlights look nothing like the X3 headlights which many of the
computer enhancements have suggested. I did see angel eyes.

The bumper looks very similar to the RX8. Envision the Mazda RX8 with a
smaller center air dam, and 2 kidneys right above it and you have a good
idea of what it looks like. The hood does not integrate with the kidneys
(the hood line cuts right above the kidneys). Like the E60, the kidney
grills have an unusual indentation that melds into the bumper a bit,
creating the appearance of a ring surrounding the kidneys and the center
air dam.

The hood is closer to the E46 in size, but incorporates a touch of the E60
where the hood cuts into the side panels slightly. It is not very severe,
just a hint of the cut. I found it pleasant.

Side:
The car has no side moldings, which basically makes it slab sided like the
5. That said, they look more like the E46 than the E60, so they retain
the raised upper portion that wraps around the car, and the lower portion
is flat. The rocker panels look like the current E46 but a little bit
flamed. Windows are roughly the same as the current E46, so evolutionary,
not revolutionary. There is NO Zorro style cut on the side.

Trunk:
It has NO Bangle butt period. In fact, the trunk does not even cut into
the rear quarter panels at all. However the rear lights are evolutionary
on the E60. They are smaller and less slanty, but retain the unusual
shape of the rear lights. IMHO, they are the worst part of the car - they
do not look like they belong at all.

Interior:
The interior is evolutionary on the E60. That means there are only 2
primary gauges facing you. HVAC are controlled with dials. The stereo is
different; it was not functional so I couldn't tell you much about the
design. It looked pretty nice aesthetically.

There was no I-Drive in the prototype. However, there was an area that
looked like it was straight out of the Z4 where an I-Drive video pod could
possibly exist. I suspect that means I-Drive/Navigation will be an
optional center pod.

The interior is very flat and looked like the Z4. It is not driver
oriented. Ergonomically, the 6 speed manual felt unusually high and too
far to the right. Anyway, the Z4-esque interior pretty much means BMW is
officially doing away with the driver-oriented angling of the center
console area. The "T" style design is in.

Window switches have moved to the door. The buttons are tiny. My
relatively average hands could easily hit 2 buttons at the same time.

The car has a start button mounted on the right, and appeared to use the
key system like in the E65.

Steering wheel is cross between the E60 and E46. I thought it was pretty
tasteful, and did not have any radical departures like you saw in the Z4.
It was not multi-function in the prototype, but we were told it would be.

Engine:
They appear to be entertaining a 3.5L 290hp engine and a 3.0L 250hp
engine, based on some of the survey questions (like what would you pay for
a 250hp 330i, etc.) Sounds like they're upping the power to compete with
the G35.

Price:
The target price appears to be the same as the E46, give or take a little.
As has been said before, the 3er is the bread and butter of BMW's line-up
and they cannot price themselves out of it.

Overall design evaluation:
You can tell it's a 3 series. That's the good part. However, it seems
like every BMW in the model line up is so dramatically different
style-wise that the only thing that keeps the model lines consistent is
the BMW logo. This is bad.

Personally, I didn't like it. It is definitely a design you get used to.
It is not a classic design that you immediately fall in love with. I
suspect most people will get used to it relatively easily, and I think
there is potential. However, it looks like they're trying too hard, and
that makes me uncomfortable as a current BMW owner.

Now here's the real disappointment:
As enthusiasts, we are very protective of the BMW marque and how we feel
the marque being represented by these new designs. Love or hate it, we
are passionate about it. In my opinion, this makes us good survey
candidates. We will argue about it until we are blue in the face, but we
will do anything to protect what we feel is right for the brand.

This is not the type of person they invited to the survey. The people in
the survey group were of 3 minds:

1. If it has the Roundel, I'm buying it. All 5s for all the BMWs, all 1s
for the Audi.
2. It looks ok. I'll give it a 4, and I'll probably buy another BMW.
I don't really like the tail lights, but I will give that a 3 and we'll
call it even.
3.Show me the fastest way out of the survey so I can collect my $150.

I'll leave it up to you to interpret what that means. The fact that I
care seemed to be the opposite of what everyone else was doing though, and
it was a bit upsetting that certain discontinuity in design was ignored.
They specifically didn't want people active in Internet boards, and I
suspect if they knew who I was, I wouldn't have been there.

BMW needs to bring customers into the design process earlier. IMHO, these
surveys may modestly affect the final product, but it seems like their
minds are made up already on the overall exterior and interior


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  #2  
Old 11-22-2003, 12:38 AM
Akakubi Akakubi is offline
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Very interesting! Thanks for sharing Alex!
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  #3  
Old 11-22-2003, 12:54 AM
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Thanks for forwarding this info Alex. To whoever wrote this review (cough cough): you might want to remove past evidence of planning to attend the session, etc.

Good info. It's a shame that BMW is going in the wrong direction though (window buttons on the door... grrrrr, non-driver oriented interior... barf), and it's especially sad that they only seem to invite certain types of people there like you mentioned. Somebody needs to teach the people at the top a thing or two about the value of enthusiasts.

The 290HP part sounded good, though.

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  #4  
Old 11-22-2003, 01:11 AM
aardvark aardvark is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Baumann
However the rear lights are evolutionary on the E60. They are smaller and less slanty, but retain the unusual shape of the rear lights. IMHO, they are the worst part of the car - they do not look like they belong at all.
Could this be expanded upon a little? What do you mean by " the unusual shape of the rear lights"? Is the basic shape like that of the E60 (i.e., a thin white indicator above a rectangular red tail-light)?

Last edited by aardvark; 11-22-2003 at 01:13 AM.
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  #5  
Old 11-22-2003, 01:19 AM
bmw325 bmw325 is offline
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Sigh. Another model down. It is strange that BMW specifically does not want people from internet message board (i.e. people who are actually passionate about cars and/or BMWs). In the long run- this seems stupid. We as "car nuts" can hold a lot of influence over many buyers.
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  #6  
Old 11-22-2003, 01:25 AM
Alex Baumann Alex Baumann is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robg
It is strange that BMW specifically does not want people from internet message board (i.e. people who are actually passionate about cars and/or BMWs). In the long run- this seems stupid. We as "car nuts" can hold a lot of influence over many buyers.

Same thing happened to me. Got a phone call a few weeks ago. As the lady on the phone heard that I was active on the Internet, she apologized and told me that the 'manufacturer' didn't want to interview people who are active on the internet boards.
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  #7  
Old 11-22-2003, 01:36 AM
Motown328 Motown328 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Baumann
Same thing happened to me. Got a phone call a few weeks ago. As the lady on the phone heard that I was active on the Internet, she apologized and told me that the 'manufacturer' didn't want to interview people who are active on the internet boards.
They probably figure that if you are active on the boards, your opinion is already SET IN STONE or you are going to spread it ALL OVER THE WEB.

1) Our opinions are most definitely not set in stone and if BMW starts to stink it up, aren't we the type to say it first? They should have more guys like Alex in there if they want opinions that really count.

2) That info is going to be leaked somehow or another.....as long as no pictures get out, you're fine.

Bad move on their part....invite more enthusiats!!!
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Old 11-22-2003, 01:45 AM
bmw325 bmw325 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Motown328
They probably figure that if you are active on the boards, your opinion is already SET IN STONE or you are going to spread it ALL OVER THE WEB.

1) Our opinions are most definitely not set in stone and if BMW starts to stink it up, aren't we the type to say it first? They should have more guys like Alex in there if they want opinions that really count.

2) That info is going to be leaked somehow or another.....as long as no pictures get out, you're fine.

Bad move on their part....invite more enthusiats!!!

Hadn't thought of that. Makes sense-- i guess they don't want people blabbing about the focus groups all over the web. Maybe they should organize a special focus group for BMWCCA members, or something. I guess I sort of see the predicament-- if they invite people like us, we may start influencing others prematurely (i.e "leaking" too much). Unfortuately, they miss out on some of the most detailed, constructive feedback they could probably get.
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  #9  
Old 11-22-2003, 04:12 AM
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Then use NDAs like all software beta testing.

Get enthusiests involved early, with NDAs, any blabbing and you are out.

Its done all the time.
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  #10  
Old 11-22-2003, 04:18 AM
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Good writeup Alex - we appreciate it!!
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  #11  
Old 11-22-2003, 06:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Baumann
Same thing happened to me. Got a phone call a few weeks ago. As the lady on the phone heard that I was active on the Internet, she apologized and told me that the 'manufacturer' didn't want to interview people who are active on the internet boards.
You should have not did a and went in cognito

Thanks for the writeup
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  #12  
Old 11-22-2003, 06:52 AM
Alex Baumann Alex Baumann is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Phil
You should have not did a and went in cognito
Sorry couldn't help. I always get a little excited when I get a phone call from those survey companies
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  #13  
Old 11-22-2003, 06:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Baumann
Sorry couldn't help. I always get a little excited when I get a phone call from those survey companies
I know

But we do expect first "real" sneak pics from you at least
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  #14  
Old 11-22-2003, 07:19 AM
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mquetel mquetel is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Baumann for ANONYMOUS

Now here's the real disappointment:
As enthusiasts, we are very protective of the BMW marque and how we feel
the marque being represented by these new designs. Love or hate it, we
are passionate about it. In my opinion, this makes us good survey
candidates. We will argue about it until we are blue in the face, but we
will do anything to protect what we feel is right for the brand.

This is not the type of person they invited to the survey. The people in
the survey group were of 3 minds:

1. If it has the Roundel, I'm buying it. All 5s for all the BMWs, all 1s
for the Audi.
2. It looks ok. I'll give it a 4, and I'll probably buy another BMW.
I don't really like the tail lights, but I will give that a 3 and we'll
call it even.
3.Show me the fastest way out of the survey so I can collect my $150.

I'll leave it up to you to interpret what that means. The fact that I
care seemed to be the opposite of what everyone else was doing though, and
it was a bit upsetting that certain discontinuity in design was ignored.
They specifically didn't want people active in Internet boards, and I
suspect if they knew who I was, I wouldn't have been there.

BMW needs to bring customers into the design process earlier. IMHO, these
surveys may modestly affect the final product, but it seems like their
minds are made up already on the overall exterior and interior
Thanks for sharing that experience... I think many here are starved for solid info on the E90! I'm really interested (and nervous) in seeing some accurate images of the car.

As for the part I clipped out to quote, the only thing I can theorize is that while the 3er is BMW's bread and butter, the enthusiast community is not BMW and the 3er's bread and butter customer. I know this has been talked about before, but what percentage of the BMW buying community could we possibly represent? I quick look at the board stats indicated just under 8800 members- and how many of those fall into the hardcore enthusiast category?

Last edited by mquetel; 11-22-2003 at 07:33 AM. Reason: my grammer and spelling sux
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  #15  
Old 11-22-2003, 07:30 AM
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Very depressing review. I may have to buy a pre facelift CPO for my next BMW and wait it out for the next redesign.
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  #16  
Old 11-22-2003, 09:17 AM
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Hard to tell from just the description, even though the description was very detailed and very good. In my experience, you have to see the car *in person* to make a good judgement. Not even pics can tell all.

That said, I'm going to get an 04 E46 and not wait for the E90.
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Old 11-22-2003, 09:37 AM
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Technic Technic is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mquetel
Thanks for sharing that experience... I think many here are starved for solid info on the E90! I'm really interested (and nervous) in seeing some accurate images of the car.

As for the part I clipped out to quote, the only thing I can theorize is that while the 3er is BMW's bread and butter, the enthusiast community is not BMW and the 3er's bread and butter customer. I know this has been talked about before, but what percentage of the BMW buying community could we possibly represent? I quick look at the board stats indicated just under 8800 members- and how many of those fall into the hardcore enthusiast category?
I agree with this opinion... It seems to me that considering the current state of sales in the entry luxury/sport sedan field, BMW decided to go against the flow of not only other car companies but its own. Thus no more styling cues remembering the past, no more conservative language, a new type of customer to appeal, this is the New and Improved BMW.

Maybe it sounded good when they presented this new way of doing things in the Powerpoint presentation, the problem is that these type of changes are very expensive, so something's gotta give.

And this is where I have all my issues with this new BMW way. If you look closely you will notice that the only place that they are putting money is in the driving experience (chassis, suspension, steering, electronic aids, safety) and, if this anonymous review is any indication, finally they are going to update the engines too. Which is excellent, this is after all where BMW separated itself from other car companies so many years ago. I do not see them messing around with the fundamentals, that's plainly suicidal.

Other than this, this is cheap'o land all over, in the styling details, interior materials, feature content and even in the famous iDrive development. Other than the 8 cylinder cars, every other BMW is overpriced at a level that is getting ridiculous against the competition while giving you less and less. Even Servotronic is an option now... spending $45,000 and still I can't get leather or a measly sunroof is not my idea of a 'luxury' sport sedan.

But it seems to BMW that it is the idea of a lot of customers.

This could be the reason, IMHO, why they do not want forums' people around to 'contaminate' this dog and pony show. Anybody, enthusiast enough in cars, will identify all these half-baked implementations of design, ergonomics and feature content in a minute, so it will become a moot point. BMW wants the non-enthusiast to find out if they have gone too far in this styling/cost measures as to impact their goal of more sales/at higher prices/with low manufacturing costs.

BMW actually is making a car for 'us', the enthusiasts, the 1 Series. So it seems that we should get used to this, simply buy used or look somewhere else.
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Old 11-22-2003, 12:39 PM
Alex Baumann Alex Baumann is offline
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Got a little photoshop work from our member, thought I'd share it with you.

Here's how the front is supposed to look (he said the front bumper is slightly different, but very close)




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Old 11-22-2003, 01:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Technic
I agree with this opinion...
Maybe it sounded good when they presented this new way of doing things in the Powerpoint presentation, the problem is that these type of changes are very expensive, so something's gotta give.

But it seems to BMW that it is the idea of a lot of customers.

BMW actually is making a car for 'us', the enthusiasts, the 1 Series. So it seems that we should get used to this, simply buy used or look somewhere else.


Well said Technic
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Old 11-22-2003, 02:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Baumann
Got a little photoshop work from our member, thought I'd share it with you.

Here's how the front is supposed to look (he said the front bumper is slightly different, but very close)



Hmmmmm.....with photoshop skills like that, I wonder who the member could be
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  #21  
Old 11-22-2003, 02:29 PM
Alex Baumann Alex Baumann is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Phil
Hmmmmm.....with photoshop skills like that, I wonder who the member could be




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Old 11-22-2003, 02:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Baumann



like to

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  #23  
Old 11-22-2003, 10:26 PM
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Thanks for the scoop. Glad he got in!

(Nice detailed write-up!)
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Old 11-23-2003, 02:23 PM
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From the way it sounds, my next car may not be a BMW

My lease is up Sept 2005, that is right around the time of the E90 release.
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Old 11-23-2003, 02:43 PM
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Thanks for the write up !!! Very detailed and appreciated !!
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