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This isn't meant to be inflammatory (though it may turn out to be) — and God knows I loved my '95 M3 and DO love my '02 330Ci — but there seems to be an increasing rift in opinion (both in the press and among enthusiasts) as to whether or not BMW is diminishing in its tradition of being a driver's car with luxury in a supporting role, and turning into something just the opposite.

I'm curious as to what people's thoughts and opinions are. Are the times truly changing? Or do we simply have a disproportionate number of Chicken Littles running around? Is it possible that this just a natural, ongoing, and never-to-be reconciled struggle between two opposing principles in car manufacturing?

By degrees, are we losing what brought most of us to BMW in the first place?

What's the verdict, folks?
 

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Lead Foot
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You Got To Be Kidding

Hey C Bear,

We both drive one of the best driveable cars on the road. 330ci.

My other BMW was a 528i. Both of these cars were the best I ever owned and this does include Porsche's and Benze's and Jags and Alfa's etc.

My Nav unit was of great assit the other day in dparting a busy airport maze of turn offs and signs. I like it. Much better than becoming completely disoriented. My thinking of course.

I can't speak for the new 700 series, but considering the weight of this car, it moves out quite quickly.

Now iif tou refer to the ABS, auto windshield wipers, and other modiciactions that keep the car on the road without too much help from the driver you may have a point. Yhis includes power steeing too.

I am happy at this point with the BMW line, and don't wish to get in to the what if's etc, as this approach for me is useless. Good post.:angel:
 

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The problem is it comes down to subjective preference. Who deems it more or less luxurious? Those who want a race car feel in a street package will say it's more luxurious now. There are those who think the performance now is as good as it ever was in a package you can drive without the harshness of a race car. So which is better? Since both old and new have essentially the same numbers at the track, with all things being equal, it's no more inferior in either case. It's down to preference. They are both BMW's so shut up and drive'em. ;)
 

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Car Junkie
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I wish I had direct experience with an E36 3-series and an E46 M3, in order to round out my notes on both platforms.

Before I pontificate, let me preface my judgement by saying that I like luxury features. I love leather, high-quality interior materials and trim, and all the gadgets that come with luxury cars. Even though stuff like headlight washers are pretty much unnecessary where I live, I think they're one of those neat features that add to the value of an Audi or Bimmer or whatever else.

Still, I like to drive hard more than anything. And in my opinion, the E36 M3 delivers a driving experience heads and tails above the E46 330Ci. On paper, the numbers are pretty similar, but the numbers don't tell the story at all. Even thought the E36 is certianly older and supposedly less rigid, it doesn't come close to delivering the joy of driving.

Let's be fair, though. I've never driven an E46 M3, and I've never driven an E36 3-series. I don't know how an old 328, for example, would stack up against a new 325. I also don't know if the new M3 returns some of that driving magic to the E46 platform.

So yeah, in my opinion BMW took a step towards luxury in the E46. It makes perfect business sense. Ever driven an A4, C230, Acura TL/CL, or anything else in the class? The tendency is to emphasize driver comfort and convenience...not a sporty driving experience. I just hope that the new M retains the performance spirit of BMW. Again, I have no idea if it does, outside of magazine reviews that say it does.
 

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Luxury is starting to (well, already has) be a larger priority in the company, which is smart from a business standpoint. The fact is the aging baby boomers with money want something quieter and more luxurious, and the line reflects that. There is simply more money in more bland cars.

It should be mandatory for every new BMW owner to drive ANY Bimmer pre-E39 just for the experience. It's so incredibly different that if they are true drivers they will immediately recognize it. The old cars were directed towards the DRIVER, and not the passenger. Hell, even the shape of the dashboards reflect that. The "cockpit" is gone, in the name of style and roominess. After all, having a special spot just for interior trim is a much higher priority than centering everything on the driver. :rolleyes: I'm exaggerating here of course, but I honestly feel that whether it is a move in the right direction or not is subjective, but BMW wants a piece of that Lexus-MB market and is succeeding in getting it. I feel that we as consumers of new cars are chastised, though.
 
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ObD said:
The problem is it comes down to subjective preference. Who deems it more or less luxurious? Those who want a race car feel in a street package will say it's more luxurious now. There are those who think the performance now is as good as it ever was in a package you can drive without the harshness of a race car. So which is better? Since both old and new have essentially the same numbers at the track, with all things being equal, it's no more inferior in either case. It's down to preference. They are both BMW's so shut up and drive'em. ;)
I have to ask...

Have you ever driven a pre-E39 BMW at any length?

When you say, "Since both old and new have essentially the same numbers at the track, with all things being equal, it's no more inferior in either case," it's clear to me you have not. Or you wouldn't say this. There is more to driving enjoyment than strict stats/specs. The luxury "touches" have come at a price. And, IMO, no production BMW besides the E30 M3 has every actually felt like a race car. They've all been quite comfortable.

Drive some "older" BMWs and see if you still agree with what you wrote here.
 

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I would say that BMWs are becoming more of a luxury marquee name brand. It seems that this is the natural progression of things in the automotive industry. The focus appears to be on luxury first, performance second.

Don't get me wrong, I like luxury but not at the expense of a true sports car's feel and performance. I have driven an 2 door e30, 4 door e36 and a 4 door e46 and I can DEFINATELY say that the true sporting feel is dimishing with each new re-design. I am considering buying a mint e30 325is with some mods as I post. Low on luxury, high on performance and exclusivity :D
 

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I don't think they are les of a drivers car, quite the opposite; they are more now then they were. The cars are being refined into a much better car then their predcessors. In the hands of professional drivers, the only ones that are qualified to test this, the new cars our drive the old. For us everyday people the new cars are much safer at speed then the old ones were.

Newer = better!

I think there is a segment of our population that just can't let go of the old for nostalgia, they can continue to drive the old cars.

After all there are people still driving Model "T"s too.
 

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BMW is definitely putting more luxury in the cars, but then so are all manufacturers. Power seats & everything else, more sound insulation, etc. The record of a particular BMW model -- 3 series, say -- is little different than that of a particular Toyota model, for instance. Twenty years ago, a Corolla did not have power windows, cruise control, etc.

And, yes, most of these additions detract from driving "feel", due to added weight if nothing else. But the performance numbers (0-60 or 60-0 or cornering G or whatever) have not suffered, since we've got power increases in all segments of the market: 300 hp M3s or 911s, sure, but also 200+ hp for SUVs, family sedans and even minivans.
 

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I have no complaint, I have a 2002 330ci, and I like everything about it. I test drove a crapload of cars before I bought this one, and this one blew the doors off all the others.

I tested a jag, an acura, and s4, and a clk... I think my car is the best performance, and the nicest looking. I personally feel the BMW is still the best drivers car until you can afford a p-car.
 

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To all of you who use performance "numbers" as a point of comparison: A new Mazda Miata will run very similar numbers to a 325Ci. Drive both and let me know which one is more fun to drive. Numbers don't mean much when you're not in the heat of a competition, period. Even an E30 M3 vs. 325. Close in numbers, VERY different in execution.
 

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Lead Foot
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Another Consideration

Statistics inform us that an excess of 40, 000 souls are killed in auto accidents in the USA annually. Natural disaster, should these numbers be something like Chickenpox.

Is driveability an assist in lessening this number? Or, on the other hand, do we need better driver education?

Many of these accidents in my area occur when the driver attempts to avert a collision by swerving, over correcting hence losing control which creates a roll over or worse jumping the median and contacting on coming traffic. Predominant type of vehicles usually are SUV's, Pick-ups and Van.s. Top heavy may be a factor, I don't know.

Those of us that have been fortunate enough to experience the maneuvrability of the BMW while brakes are locked can appreciate the systems designed in our car to allow this. I often wonder if in this type of thing would I have presence of mind to steer out of harms way with my right foot hard on the brake. It's a thought anyway. What do you think?
 

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At least there's light at the end of the tunnel...BMW is showing signs of returning to favor performance over luxury.

They still have the luxury models like the 5 & 7 that will continue to lead in their class in terms of performance, and they'll be introducing new models that concentrate on performance over luxury like the 1 series and the Z5. And as long as their engines continue to be the best in the world I don't think there's that much to fear.

It is an inevitability that cars will continue to evolve with more and more electronic gadgetry and more deadweight comfort over performance...But at least BMW has decided to put MANUAL TRANSMISSION only in their ///M cars again instead of saddling their high performance cars with a torque converter like Porsche.

If you want examples of car makers moving further and further away from their core principals, look no further than Porsche. Talk about dumbing down their car for the masses...An AUTOMATIC in a Porsche 911 Turbo?
 

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in_d_haus said:
I don't think they are les of a drivers car, quite the opposite; they are more now then they were. The cars are being refined into a much better car then their predcessors. In the hands of professional drivers, the only ones that are qualified to test this, the new cars our drive the old. For us everyday people the new cars are much safer at speed then the old ones were.

Newer = better!

I think there is a segment of our population that just can't let go of the old for nostalgia, they can continue to drive the old cars.

After all there are people still driving Model "T"s too.
What Haus say, nuff said. :thumbup:
 

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ObD said:


2002 Formula 1 Ferrari Engine:

Semiautomatic sequential electronically controlled gearbox, differential

Link

Good enough for Schumacher. ;)
This wouldn't happen to be the same F1 that ORDERED a faster car and a faster driver who rightfully WON the race to move over for his slower teammate in the interest of "competition," would it?

And you KNOW there's nothing "automatic" about F1 transmissions...It's a fully automatic MANUAL with a clutch. The automatic in a 911 TURBO is a full on automatic with a torque converter and a fake manual mode. It's like comparing Pamela Andersen with RuPaul...One is a real woman with fake boobs, the other is...Well, enough said.
 

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My point was more to the technological aspects rather than the actual hardware configuration. :angel:
 
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