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E90/E91/E92/E93 (2006 - 2013)
The E9X is the 4th evolution of the BMW 3 series including a highly tuned twin turbo 335i variant pushing out 300hp and 300 ft. lbs. of torque. BMW continues to show that it sets the bar for true driving performance! -- View the E9X Wiki

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  #1  
Old 01-20-2005, 10:57 AM
jben jben is offline
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WSJ article on new 3 series

Back From the Edge: A Peek at the New BMW

Design of 3 Series Shuns Features That Irked Fans;
The Zero-to-60 Problem
By STEPHEN POWER and NEAL E. BOUDETTE
Staff Reporters of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
January 20, 2005

Later this month, BMW AG will unveil one of its most-anticipated cars in years -- the redesigned 3 Series sedan, a car the company is hoping will put to rest recent criticism of its increasingly edgy car designs.


For the past three years, BMW has pushed the envelope with cutting-edge looks and more-complex electronics that were supposed to pull in new types of upscale car buyers. Instead, it has infuriated many hard-core fans. Models bearing BMW's new look, including the 5 and 7 Series as well as the Z4 roadster, are seeing sales slump in the U.S.

In the forthcoming 3 Series, which will be launched in the U.S. in May, the company is trying to give them something much closer to the old BMW. The 3 Series is the key vehicle in BMW's lineup, its top seller and the driver of its sterling brand image.

The new car's styling, while more curvaceous than the previous version of the 3 Series, is toned down from the avant-garde look of the 5 and 7 Series. It also does away with a few particularly unpopular touches among BMW traditionalists -- a bustle-back trunk and a granny-glasses headlight design that appeared on the 5 and 7 Series and that drew protest from some longtime customers.

Buyers also won't have to worry about another dreaded feature -- iDrive, a mouse-like knob in the center console that controls windows, seats, airflow and lights. It is standard on the 5 and 7 Series, but its complexity has driven customers batty. On the new 3 Series, customers will get conventional dashboard buttons. IDrive will be included only if a buyer opts for a navigation system.

A lot is riding on the car's success. The 3 Series accounts for more than 40% of BMW's sales. Moreover, the U.S. is BMW's largest market, and strong sales here are critical because sales of midsize sedans are declining sharply in Europe. In 2004, 7 Series sales fell 21%; the Z4 was down 33%. And although the 5 Series was in its first full year on the market -- a time when sales normally surge -- its sales were down 3%.

The new version is 1.9 inches longer and 3.1 inches wider than the current model, but will have more power. The top model, the 330i, will come with a six-cylinder, 258-horsepower engine, up from 231 in the current model. BMW says the 330i will accelerate to 60 miles per hour in just over six seconds, although that won't give it much of an edge over some of its competitors.

A decade or so ago, BMW almost single-handedly built the market for sporty sedans, and it was practically alone in offering a combination of acceleration and agility in cars such as these. That combination was at the heart of the 3 Series success. The company has always been willing to sacrifice a bit of horsepower to achieve precise geometric balance that enables its cars to negotiate corners better than most.

But in the past few years rivals such as Infiniti, Acura and Cadillac have beefed up their cars with bigger engines. Even with a larger engine in the 330i, it still is outgunned by Infiniti's G35 sedan, which gets 280 horsepower from its six-cylinder motor.

In an interview last week, BMW Chief Executive Helmut Panke acknowledged that "in the U.S., zero-to-60 [acceleration] is getting more and more important." He said that in response, the company will update its engines and put more emphasis on acceleration. "We will not have Infiniti or any of the other competing brands out-BMW BMW," he said.

Now that the likes of Cadillac and Infiniti have narrowed the gap in performance, BMW has been forced to be more price competitive. In December, the company had a year-end sale, offering attractive leases in part to help clear out a lot of the old 3 Series models that dealers had on their hands as well as the 5 and 7 Series.

Pricing on the new 3 Series hasn't been announced. The old model ranges from $29,995 for the entry-level 320i to $45,295 for a loaded 330i.

The car itself will make its public debut in March at the Geneva auto show, although a few photos have been released. It will arrive in U.S. showrooms in May. Auto journalists will get to drive the new 3 Series later this month, and reviews should begin appearing in February.

In an effort to get the new 3 Series off to a good start and avoid the sales problems that have overshadowed the 5 and 7 Series, BMW is preparing its most-expensive U.S. launch ever, with a marketing budget 30% greater than for any other vehicle launch.

Wes Brown, an automotive analyst with Los Angeles-based Iceology, a market-research firm, said the new 3 Series "just looks like it was a touch up, whereas everything else they've done was almost revolutionary."

Web sites devoted to BMWs already are buzzing with chatter about the new 3 Series's looks, with far more fans offering approval of it than the 5 and 7 Series received. "It looks good from all angles!" gushed one chat-room message posted by a person who goes by the name "BMW_dude" on the Web site germancarfans.com.

BMW fans who were turned off by the 5 and 7 Series said they are eager to see what the car company has done with the 3 Series. "I love the way BMW used to look, without the flashiness," said Randy Cook, a software marketer in Silicon Valley who drives a 1998 528i, his fifth BMW over the years. But, "If they muff it with the 3, Audi, Acura, Lexus, those guys, are going to knock them into the dust."

Write to Stephen Power at stephen.power@wsj.com4 and Neal E. Boudette at neal.boudette@wsj.com5
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  #2  
Old 01-20-2005, 11:12 AM
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Spiderm0n Spiderm0n is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WSJ
In the forthcoming 3 Series, which will be launched in the U.S. in May, the company is trying to give them something much closer to the old BMW.
great writeup, and the above is good news
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  #3  
Old 01-20-2005, 11:56 AM
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I don't know what's so good about it....these freakin' jerks are talkin' like they've already done a road test on the new car! The G35 will suck wind next to the E90.....Christ, if I can keep up with a G35 with only a slightly modified 323Ci, who the hell are they to say that an E90 330i will get creamed???? What a bunch of pricks.

I'll bet BMW didn't grease their greedy little publication enough, so now they feel compelled to spin all of the data. BMW has been selling cars AND making profits in record numbers & these fools find some way to make it sound like they're about to go out of business......

Simply & completely RIDICULOUS!
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  #4  
Old 01-20-2005, 12:34 PM
PhilH PhilH is offline
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Originally Posted by jben
Pricing on the new 3 Series hasn't been announced. The old model ranges from $29,995 for the entry-level 320i to $45,295 for a loaded 330i.
320i? $29,995?
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Old 01-20-2005, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by RichReg
I'll bet BMW didn't grease their greedy little publication enough, so now they feel compelled to spin all of the data.
Have you ever heard of the Wall Street Journal before?
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Old 01-20-2005, 03:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RichReg
I don't know what's so good about it....these freakin' jerks are talkin' like they've already done a road test on the new car! The G35 will suck wind next to the E90.....Christ, if I can keep up with a G35 with only a slightly modified 323Ci, who the hell are they to say that an E90 330i will get creamed???? What a bunch of pricks.

I'll bet BMW didn't grease their greedy little publication enough, so now they feel compelled to spin all of the data. BMW has been selling cars AND making profits in record numbers & these fools find some way to make it sound like they're about to go out of business......

Simply & completely RIDICULOUS!
Couldn't agree with you more. I love the styling of my E60...it looks like modern art compared with most of the competition. The I-drive takes a couple of weeks to "get" but it's an essential part of the modern design/clean look of the interior. And...it's really easy to operate. Computer screens in cars are here to stay so people better get used to them.
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Old 01-20-2005, 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by numbersguy
Have you ever heard of the Wall Street Journal before?
With all due respect, Mr. numbersguy, I happen to work for a major financial services firm and have been in the industry for several years.
Yes, I have some idea of what the Wall Street Journal is.

And my experience has taught me that most institutions that are associated with and/or have the words "Wall Street" attached to them have a particular nasty habit of being easily driven or UN-driven by money, or the lack thereof. Usually, political smear campaigns go hand-in-hand with these issues whenever it suits a particular institution's needs.

I.M.O. the Wall Street Journal cannot hide their quite obvious intentions here, (unlike Car & Driver, Road & Track, etc.), since we all know that BMW is doing well with just about all of their models.
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Old 01-20-2005, 08:07 PM
Fzara2000 Fzara2000 is offline
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Not much to say here except that alot more is at stake than we think with the new e90.

Also, another thing I found extremely interesting is how BMW is beginning to play the hp war with the other mfr's and the comment on how Infiniti will not beat BMW in pure performance numbers.

The only reason manufacturers bump up their hp significantly compared to the germans is that they have no significant competitive advantage against BMW and therefore need to increase their engine's horsepower (which inevitably is shared between their lower, more affordable branch, aka. Nissan) to help entice consumers and to turnover their inventory.
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  #9  
Old 01-20-2005, 08:50 PM
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If BMW starts to chase the US market (which as a whole is basically concerned with low prices, AWD, fast acceleration and a comfortable ride), it will quickly be outdone by others who are more expert at this game (especially the Japanse manufacturers). I'm sure there's already internal pressure at BMW-- who cares about weight balance, inline sixes, good handling? Let's give them AWD, a big V8, a nice ride and a flashy exterior. ITs sad that so many companies just follow the market and lose any real sense of identity. As BMW continues to try and increase market share, they will run into trouble.
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Old 01-20-2005, 09:02 PM
Fzara2000 Fzara2000 is offline
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Originally Posted by robg
If BMW starts to chase the US market (which as a whole is basically concerned with low prices, AWD, fast acceleration and a comfortable ride), it will quickly be outdone by others who are more expert at this game (especially the Japanse manufacturers). I'm sure there's already internal pressure at BMW-- who cares about weight balance, inline sixes, good handling? Let's give them AWD, a big V8, a nice ride and a flashy exterior. ITs sad that so many companies just follow the market and lose any real sense of identity. As BMW continues to try and increase market share, they will run into trouble.
Brand cannobalization. If BMW ever did go down this route, not only would they lose more upper end sales with the 6 and 7's, but they would lose the true hardcore enthusiast that feeds off BMW's balance and perfection of a sporty luxury brand.

They'd increase their sales, sure but their entire brand image would be lost to more of the 'american' enthusiasts rather than the posh european customers.
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Old 01-20-2005, 09:09 PM
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Well Rob, you raise a good point. On the other hand, BMW doesn't seem to be having too much trouble so far while it expands its horizons. And I don't think they've hit any cannibalization levels either. This is where I feel that others, like Mercedes are making a sore mistake. I mean, what's the purpose of a CLS?

Anyway, the BMW loyalists are very many and there is still a market that BMW caters to made up of them. It is only the scant few fanatics that post on internet boards (like this one) that would like to make BMW appear to be in dire straits. Whatever BMW is doing at this point, they must be doing right because the sales don't show any sign of troubles the way the WSJ is portraying it.

R.R.
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  #12  
Old 01-20-2005, 11:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fzara2000

The only reason manufacturers bump up their hp significantly compared to the germans is that they have no significant competitive advantage against BMW and therefore need to increase their engine's horsepower (which inevitably is shared between their lower, more affordable branch, aka. Nissan) to help entice consumers and to turnover their inventory.

No advantages?

1. Lower price
2. reliability
3. fresh style - the tl, is300 and g35 don't exactly look like a buick (the unfortunate result of the 2006 e90's new body).

Heck the first 2 things alone are helping Acura and Infiniti carve into the market. When the new e90 sells poorly (vis-a-vis the e46), the beneficiaries will be waiting to catch the defectors.
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Old 01-21-2005, 05:30 AM
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Originally Posted by robg
If BMW starts to chase the US market (which as a whole is basically concerned with low prices, AWD, fast acceleration and a comfortable ride), it will quickly be outdone by others who are more expert at this game (especially the Japanse manufacturers). I'm sure there's already internal pressure at BMW-- who cares about weight balance, inline sixes, good handling? Let's give them AWD, a big V8, a nice ride and a flashy exterior. ITs sad that so many companies just follow the market and lose any real sense of identity. As BMW continues to try and increase market share, they will run into trouble.

I think I see a V8 AWD M3 in the future.
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  #14  
Old 01-21-2005, 06:31 AM
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Originally Posted by PhilH
320i? $29,995?
My guess is this is UK info; note also the reference to the 231hp engine (different BHP).
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  #15  
Old 01-21-2005, 07:03 AM
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My guess is this is UK info; note also the reference to the 231hp engine (different BHP).
2005 320i SE(basic spec, climate, 16'alloys, multifunction) 23.275 UK pound sterling. That is around 46k$.
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Old 01-21-2005, 08:28 AM
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Originally Posted by blueguydotcom
No advantages?

1. Lower price
2. reliability
3. fresh style - the tl, is300 and g35 don't exactly look like a buick (the unfortunate result of the 2006 e90's new body).

Heck the first 2 things alone are helping Acura and Infiniti carve into the market. When the new e90 sells poorly (vis-a-vis the e46), the beneficiaries will be waiting to catch the defectors.
None of these Japanese cars have brakes.

Try taking any of these cars to the track in anything but the D group, and what do you think happens to the already pathetic brakes.

These cars were not designed to run on the Autobahn like the Bay EM Vay, but the U.S. highway. I will never buy a car that was designed for the U.S. Cupholder? Don't care for it, smooth ride? maybe when I am 80 years old.
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  #17  
Old 01-21-2005, 08:29 AM
Stuka Stuka is offline
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Originally Posted by Fifty_Cent
2005 320i SE(basic spec, climate, 16'alloys, multifunction) 23.275 UK pound sterling. That is around 46k$.
Why do you Brits continue to put up with the price gauging?

I thought joining the EU was supposed to take care of that so people can stop buying cars directly from Germany?
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Old 01-21-2005, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Stuka
None of these Japanese cars have brakes.

Try taking any of these cars to the track in anything but the D group, and what do you think happens to the already pathetic brakes.

These cars were not designed to run on the Autobahn like the Bay EM Vay, but the U.S. highway. I will never buy a car that was designed for the U.S. Cupholder? Don't care for it, smooth ride? maybe when I am 80 years old.
Brakes...you can upgrade brakes. There's really no way to force a BMW to be reliable or well built though.

Yeah my 330i perf pack felt good at 130+ on I-15. Snooze. Doesn't change the fact that it's about as well built as a Korean car from the 1980s.
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Old 01-21-2005, 10:12 AM
Staszek Staszek is offline
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Originally Posted by blueguydotcom
Brakes...you can upgrade brakes. There's really no way to force a BMW to be reliable or well built though.

Yeah my 330i perf pack felt good at 130+ on I-15. Snooze. Doesn't change the fact that it's about as well built as a Korean car from the 1980s.

Damm did BMW quality really drop off after 02 or something? My car has 115k on it and feels as solid as the day I drove it off the lot. People get in and feel it and drive it and until they look at the ODO they have no idea that the car isnt basically new.
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  #20  
Old 01-21-2005, 10:36 AM
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Doesn't change the fact that it's about as well built as a Korean car from the 1980s.
Yeah, I'm going to have to go ahead and disagree with you on that one. Granted, it's only been 5900 miles, but I've had zero problems with mine.

Clearly you have had some issues with your car, but the E46 is similar to an 80's Korean car in the way that a Ritz-Carlton is similar to an adobe hut.
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Old 01-21-2005, 10:59 AM
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...The I-drive takes a couple of weeks to "get" but it's an essential part of the modern design/clean look of the interior. And...it's really easy to operate. Computer screens in cars are here to stay so people better get used to them.
I've never experienced I-drive myself, but is it true as the article states, that it is used for the windows and seats? If so, I can't understand why anyone would agree that a knob you have to rotate, select function, etc. is "easier" or "better" than a simple switch placed logically which will directly control the device. I'm not saying a centralized control might not provide some consolidation and simplicity, but operating windows and seats? Doesn't make sense, IMO.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fzara2000
...Brand cannobalization. If BMW ever did go down this route, not only would they lose more upper end sales with the 6 and 7's, but they would lose the true hardcore enthusiast that feeds off BMW's balance and perfection of a sporty luxury brand.

They'd increase their sales, sure but their entire brand image would be lost to more of the 'american' enthusiasts rather than the posh european customers.
Has anyone noticed the latest German designs seem to be more "American" or "Japanese"? What gives? The new A6 has a smooth slab side which looks old-American, only the (huge) front face says "Audi". I just saw a picture of the new Jetta -- I have to wait and see it in person, but again, the side is smoothed out and looks almost Saturnish. One thing that European cars had going was the German "look" which was different from the mainstream and definitely distinctive.
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Old 01-21-2005, 11:02 AM
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I think I see a V8 AWD M3 in the future.
Maybe BMW can negociate a cross-licensing agreement with Audi's S4 .

James.
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Old 01-21-2005, 11:08 AM
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Try taking any of these cars to the track in anything but the D group, and what do you think happens to the already pathetic brakes.
Though I don't disagree with you, the people that take their BMW's to the track are not their bread and butter. BMW really only has one mission: Make Money. They can market the cars however they want but at the end of the day when the bonuses are handed out to the brass it's sales numbers that decide it. When I think of everyone I know that has a BMW (other them people on this site...which I don't really know anyhow ) it is just a car, not a race car. It's sad but designing cars that appeal to those of us that like them for what they are/were just isn't as profitable.

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Last edited by James; 01-21-2005 at 11:11 AM.
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Old 01-21-2005, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by blueguydotcom
No advantages?

1. Lower price
2. reliability
3. fresh style - the tl, is300 and g35 don't exactly look like a buick (the unfortunate result of the 2006 e90's new body).

Heck the first 2 things alone are helping Acura and Infiniti carve into the market.
Which markets?

Acura and Infiniti outside the US are "Honda" and "Nissan". BMW does not yet build cars exclusively for the US market - Honda and Nissan do. That is one competitive advantage the "Japanese" manufacturers have over BMW, which continues to build cars that have to work in over 80 markets .

A while ago I posited the theory that BMW should build cars only for the US market, and allow the range to diverge again, with big, 3.5 V6 engines (the engine configuration du jour in the US!), a comfy ride and cupholders for North America and Australia, and less powerful drivetrains with different dashboards elsewhere.

If these details about a 3.0 325i are true, it looks like something might be starting.
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Old 01-21-2005, 02:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markl53
I've never experienced I-drive myself, but is it true as the article states, that it is used for the windows and seats? If so, I can't understand why anyone would agree that a knob you have to rotate, select function, etc. is "easier" or "better" than a simple switch placed logically which will directly control the device. I'm not saying a centralized control might not provide some consolidation and simplicity, but operating windows and seats? Doesn't make sense, IMO.


Has anyone noticed the latest German designs seem to be more "American" or "Japanese"? What gives? The new A6 has a smooth slab side which looks old-American, only the (huge) front face says "Audi". I just saw a picture of the new Jetta -- I have to wait and see it in person, but again, the side is smoothed out and looks almost Saturnish. One thing that European cars had going was the German "look" which was different from the mainstream and definitely distinctive.
The windows and seats use traditional buttons....no changes. The I-drive controls many things that need to be set only once...when you first buy the car. Ventilation settings, lighting settings, door lock settings, to name a few. I rarely use the I drive for anything not navigation related. I use it to change CD selection in the magazine and it couldn't be easier!
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