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toxic bmws

A Road & Track reader, asked former BMW exec. Bob Lutz if BMW was going the way of the bean counters and their bottom line, rather than designing for the enthusiast. His answer was an interesting read. :)

"Taut ride, superb handling, sharp steering, and symphonic-quality engine sound have mostly fallen by the wayside; today's BMW customer neither notices nor cares. Front-wheel drive, minivans, small pickups-all toxic to the original owner base-are possible and will/would sell just fine."

In the context of F30, my take is that the handling is still pretty good, the steering is new-age but quite functional, and the engine sound is not nostalgic but still satisfying.

Will the original owner base of the E30/E36(US-spec) eras be unhappy with F30? :)

The full quote from Lutz's response:

BMW has ceased to be a company designing responsive, sporting cars for enthusiasts. It has gone mainstream, which, from a shareholder's perspective, has been a good move. The brand is greatly respected, and BMW earned that respect. Most BMW buyers today pay a monthly lease and have no idea why they bought the brand, other than that it enjoys instant recognition and respect among the owner's peers. Taut ride, superb handling, sharp steering, and symphonic-quality engine sound have mostly fallen by the wayside; today's BMW customer neither notices nor cares. Front-wheel drive, minivans, small pickups-all toxic to the original owner base-are possible and will/would sell just fine.
Source Road & Track
 

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He's not talking exactly about the original buyers but about the enthusiast base. He's obviously saying that most BMW and other German brand buyers are buying the badge. Lutz loves to make brash statements and this is an exaggeration but the basic point is true.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
On this forum it is often cited that previous generations of cars are the true enthusiast cars, so in a way the enthusiast base is tied to those(including those E30/E36 owners and others) who value the by-gone generations of cars.

An interesting point is that, how is enthusiast base defined in this era of congested highways? In this context a car like F30 is quite versatile, it is comfy and competent both in open roads and plugged roadways, while the previous generations can be down right torturous in modern-day motoring.
 

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I remember the E30, the E36 and the E46... to me the best non-M BMW was the E46. Steering, ride, handling, interior. Everything was what I was expecting of a BMW and more.

After that, BMW... changed. But at the same time there is nothing out there that really makes me even think of buying anything else.
 

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Just curious, have you watched any, or many, of those Motorweek videos in my thread?

I've re-watched several of them. One of the most prominent b!tches about the F30 is body roll. Watching those vintage 3ers compared to modern 3ers makes that claim quite laughable. In those vintage models on the track under hard cornering it's very common for the outside rear wheel to either lift off the pavement or come very close. Not so with the modern cars.

Those older cars were great, there's no doubt, but I think there's an awful lot of rose colored glasses nostalgia going on these days.
 

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I remember the E30, the E36 and the E46... to me the best non-M BMW was the E46. Steering, ride, handling, interior. Everything was what I was expecting of a BMW and more.

After that, BMW... changed. But at the same time there is nothing out there that really makes me even think of buying anything else.
I agree that BMW has made relatively small overall changes, but I don't believe they've abandoned their core values. As wonderful as the E46 was it had its limitations. It had a host of niggling reliability issues and it was too compact to suit family use for many people. The E9x and F3x have both proven substantially more reliable than the E46. I agree there's still nothing else out there that truly matches BMW driving dynamics....even in xDrive form.

edit: Bob Lutz is the author of one thing that is beginning to haunt BMW in the U.S. today. The slogan "The Ultimate Driving Machine". In markets other than North America BMW's long time slogan has been "Sheer Driving Pleasure". I think that slogan more accurately reflects BMW's core values.
 

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Just curious, have you watched any, or many, of those Motorweek videos in my thread?

I've re-watched several of them. On of the most prominent b!tches about the F30 is body roll. In watching those vintage 3rr compared to modern 3ers makes that claim quite laughable. In those vintage models on the track under hard cornering it's very common for the outside rear wheel to either lift off the pavement or come very close. Not so with the modern cars.

Those older cars were great, there's no doubt, but I think there's an awful lot of rose colored glasses nostalgia going on these days.
The chief complaint of the F30 is the isolation, primarily of the steering. I have no complaints about the handling but the lack of steering feel is nearly a deal killer.

Unfortunately in a recent interview with a key chassis engineer, marketing surveys show that buyers desire lower steering effort. Maybe they will improve the feel and offer more effort in sport mode in the G30.
 

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The death of the 3 Series as a sports sedan could be the fault of the US government.

1. Too many standards kills manual transmission. MT lives on in Europe and those standards could be accepted in the US.

2. Electric power steering is to meet fuel economy regulations.

3. Lack of rigorous driver testing causes sloppy driving in the US.
 

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The death of the 3 Series as a sports sedan could be the fault of the US government.

1. Too many standards kills manual transmission. MT lives on in Europe and those standards could be accepted in the US.

2. Electric power steering is to meet fuel economy regulations.

3. Lack of rigorous driver testing causes sloppy driving in the US.
That's a reach IMO. If the demand existed for MT's they would certify the cars. EPS and other efficient technologies are as much for emissions as fuel economy. These are common worldwide. The last is no different than when I got my license over 40 years ago.

Last, the F30 is certainly not dead as a sports sedan. It's not as hard edged just like Audi and MB. BMW has had to go in this direction due to increased competition. Marketing research has shown that this is what the demographic wants.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Just curious, have you watched any, or many, of those Motorweek videos in my thread?

I've re-watched several of them. One of the most prominent b!tches about the F30 is body roll. In watching those vintage 3ers compared to modern 3ers makes that claim quite laughable. In those vintage models on the track under hard cornering it's very common for the outside rear wheel to either lift off the pavement or come very close. Not so with the modern cars.

Those older cars were great, there's no doubt, but I think there's an awful lot of rose colored glasses nostalgia going on these days.
Maybe the vintage body roll and outside rear wheel lifting are crucial elements of enthusiast base? :) Are those moments of close to or at the limits what enthusiasts strive for?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
The chief complaint of the F30 is the isolation, primarily of the steering. I have no complaints about the handling but the lack of steering feel is nearly a deal killer.

Unfortunately in a recent interview with a key chassis engineer, marketing surveys show that buyers desire lower steering effort. Maybe they will improve the feel and offer more effort in sport mode in the G30.
Also note that C&D comparison of F30 328i and E90 335i says:

"The K&C machine reported that aligning torque is 64 percent lower in the 328i than in the 335i."

The "detuned" steering feel is intentionally done by Munich engineers to hit the marketing specs of F30.
 

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In a way, the problem is that BMW have given us too much choice. Certainly there are some inherent issues (the lack of feel in the electrically assisted steering is a good point here) but in general the base vehicles are not the BMW's of yore however they have given us the option to configure it the way we want.

I have been buying and driving them from around 1991 and have noticed a significant change in their character. But I always chose the sports option to give them the taught feel I liked and my current F36 is quite pleasing (it has the 704 suspension being a Msport version) but the steering is too light and lacks feel. If I was honest the steering is the only issue i have apart from the fact that the N20 engine sounds so much like a "weed whacker". You can configure a BMW to be the way (almost) that our older models felt, The fact that they added configurations that appeal to the badge collectors should not stop us from still loving our cars. I know I love my F36 as configured, "weed whacker" sound and all.
 

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Just curious, have you watched any, or many, of those Motorweek videos in my thread?

I've re-watched several of them. One of the most prominent b!tches about the F30 is body roll. In watching those vintage 3ers compared to modern 3ers makes that claim quite laughable. In those vintage models on the track under hard cornering it's very common for the outside rear wheel to either lift off the pavement or come very close. Not so with the modern cars.

Those older cars were great, there's no doubt, but I think there's an awful lot of rose colored glasses nostalgia going on these days.
I go back even further: E12 530i and E24 320i. The 320i had a semi-trailing arm rear suspension (as did the famed E30) that made for sporty driving indeed: snap oversteer when the outside wheel lifted. I never had a 2002, but they drove similarly to the 320i.

I remember reading a review in the early '80s where a writer compared the "German" and "American" attitudes to making a car handle. The American philosophy was to make the suspension rock hard with no roll. Of course with solid rear axle and bad weight distribution they hardly made more than 0.65g lateral, and were total crap on any bad pavement due to the uncontrolled rear axle. The 2002 (and later BMWs) however, rolled quite a bit and were rather soft and tall, but killed it in the twisties due to good balance and independent rear suspensions.

Soft suspensions have their attractions: NYC streets might change anyone's mind about stiff, lowered, no roll suspensions.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
I go back even further: E12 530i and E24 320i. The 320i had a semi-trailing arm rear suspension (as did the famed E30) that made for sporty driving indeed: snap oversteer when the outside wheel lifted. I never had a 2002, but they drove similarly to the 320i.

I remember reading a review in the early '80s where a writer compared the "German" and "American" attitudes to making a car handle. The American philosophy was to make the suspension rock hard with no roll. Of course with solid rear axle and bad weight distribution they hardly made more than 0.65g lateral, and were total crap on any bad pavement due to the uncontrolled rear axle. The 2002 (and later BMWs) however, rolled quite a bit and were rather soft and tall, but killed it in the twisties due to good balance and independent rear suspensions.

Soft suspensions have their attractions: NYC streets might change anyone's mind about stiff, lowered, no roll suspensions.
My local indy had a restored 2002 in the shop that he used to drop off customers, even it leaned like Pisa Tower at corners it was still lots of fun to ride in.
 

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IMO, it started before the F30, namely in the E90. At least in the lesser versions.

2006 325i 330i had a very good engine note, important part of the driving experience.

2007+ 328i sedan were surprising tamed. They went too far. That's why I had a Perfomance Exhaust installed and I would prefer the engine sound of the M54 in my E46. The 2013 128i I drove was perfect, though. I don't know about the E92 NA.

Why they went that route, I have no idea. Did anybody ever complain about the sonority of the I6 as too loud? I can understand in the case of the horrible N20. You don't to hear it in standard form, unless aggressively tuned.
 

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On this forum it is often cited that previous generations of cars are the true enthusiast cars, so in a way the enthusiast base is tied to those(including those E30/E36 owners and others) who value the by-gone generations of cars.

An interesting point is that, how is enthusiast base defined in this era of congested highways? In this context a car like F30 is quite versatile, it is comfy and competent both in open roads and plugged roadways, while the previous generations can be down right torturous in modern-day motoring.
:thumbup::thumbup::thumbup:

Absolutely. Get really tired of the "enthusiasts" slamming present day Bimmers. BMW is building for todays drivers and roads, including congestion.
 

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The term 'toxic' is so overused these days. Why not use a term like 'off putting' or 'less desirable'. Jeesh.
 

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On this forum it is often cited that previous generations of cars are the true enthusiast cars, so in a way the enthusiast base is tied to those(including those E30/E36 owners and others) who value the by-gone generations of cars.

An interesting point is that, how is enthusiast base defined in this era of congested highways? In this context a car like F30 is quite versatile, it is comfy and competent both in open roads and plugged roadways, while the previous generations can be down right torturous in modern-day motoring.
The problem is so do a lot of other makes. BMW used to have an edge in driving enjoyment but that is lost. The F30 is undoubtedly more comfortable (for the most part) than the E90 but the driving feedback (enjoyment for me) is completely missing.
 

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I'm not sure BMW are bothered about pleasing the old guard and faithful. If it's all about market share and profit maximisation perhaps their target market is different. Perhaps those who are buying new 3ers haven't driven them before.

:dunno:
 

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The term 'toxic' is so overused these days. Why not use a term like 'off putting' or 'less desirable'. Jeesh.
Those words don't have the same 'impact'....maybe that's 'affect'. :)
 
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