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BMWs - Still The Ultimate Driving Machines?

hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
From what I've read, most current BMW models, with the exception of the 3-Series and 1-Series, have gotten heavy and bloated. Their driving dynamics are no longer exceptional. The latest 5, 6, and 7-Series, and BMW SUVS seem to be rather ordinary for their respective segments. Yet BMW sales continue to increase, earnings are hitting new highs, and the brand enjoys a stellar reputation.

As for the future, the next 1-Series will be FWD, which BMW has always resisted. Would you buy a FWD BMW?

What's happening?


  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,306
    Is BMW trying to be Lexus?
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    Since some have said that Lexus tried to be a better Buick, maybe BMW is trying to be the ultimate Buick.
  • au1994au1994 GAPosts: 1,590
    One man's opinion who in the interest of full disclosure is a BMW driver...

    1 Series: Yes. Probably harkens back to the 'good ol' days' of BMW more than anything in the current line up. If it goes FWD that is blashphemy.

    3 Series: Yes. But it seems to get a little softer with each iteration.

    5 Series: Outside of the M5, no.

    6 Series: This was always meant to be a Grand Tourer so I think it executes that pretty well.

    7 Series: No. Just a big luxury car at this point. Probably more driver oriented than say an LS but thats not too difficult.

    2019 Subaru Crosstrek Limited Venetian Red over Black
    2017 BMW X1 Jet Black over Mocha

  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    I've only owned one BMW, an E30, so I don't presume to have first hand knowledge of the new models you listed. However, your comments square with what I've read. Heck, reports suggest that even the Z4 sports car has gone soft, or, at least, softer. If this is true for the models mentioned, it calls the veracity of "The ultimate Driving Machine" tag line into question.

    BMW used to differentiate itself with superior driving dynamics, but this appears to be significantly less true today. However, it still charges a premium price. I'm wondering whether the company will continue to be the leading world luxury brand in sales. If it does, it means that most premium car buyers are more interested in luxury and features than performance and an outstanding driving experience. I'm thinking that a lot of brands deliver premium features, luxury and comfort at a lesser price, and lower cost of ownership. What am I missing?
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    Some say they lost "it" (as did Porsche) when they started building SUVs.

    That argument kind of begs the question of what they heck they were thinking with their version of the Isetta then. :shades:
  • fintailfintail Posts: 47,719
    They weren't the "ultimate driving machine" in the 50s.

    7er is little more than a S/LS competitor now, that's true. 6er has remained true, still something mostly for women with large sunglasses, and trust funders. 5 has been softened bloated up and toned down since the E39 - an E class from Bavaria now. 3er offers debatable value unless in a sweetheart year end lease and the right options. 1er it is then, but we don't get the cool dorky 3 and 5 door models seen elsewhere.
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAPosts: 15,306

    Remember the "Baroque Angel?"
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    I'd give them a pass on SUVs and the Isettas. Insofar as SUVs are concerned, they're functional transportation modules, and I wouldn't expect those adorned with a propeller to be exceptionally fun to drive. I'd expect them to be competitive, which they probably are. As for the Isetta clones, well, that was a different time. Survival was a primary goal, and these cute runabouts served as place holders for what came next.

    Although the porky BMW cruisers don't happen to appeal to me, I give the company lots of credit for offering what the marketplace wants. To me, though, they've forfeited the right to call themselves the ultimate driving machines. I mean, do they offer a more ultimate experience than, say, Ferrari. or, arguably, the Corvette?
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 12,120
    edited June 2012
    The only BMWs that currently interest me are 1ers, 3ers, and M cars. We currently have an F10 528i service loaner and I absolutely despise the steering- devoid of feel, it belongs in a Buick or Lexus. It's also quite porky. My 1975 2002 and 1995 Club Sport 3 Series are exponentially more fun to drive than the bloated 5er. As for SUVs, my wife's 2004 X3 does a remarkably good impression of a 3 Series, and by doing so makes it a more involving drive than most any other non-M or non-SRT SUV.

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport; 2014 M235i; 2009 Cooper Clubman; 1999 Wrangler; 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2015 X1 xDrive28i Son's: 2009 328i

  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,368
    I was waiting for you to pop in here.

    Just what I expected to hear. It's a shame that they've dumb downed the 5.
    2015 Mazda 6 Grand Touring, 2014 Mazda 3 Sport Hatchback, 1999 Mazda Miata 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    Good to know about the X3.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 47,719
    Those probably were less than sporty...but at the same time, they were used as police cars, so maybe they are fast and pretty.

    Speaking of police cars, not long ago there were many BMW police cars in the UK, which kind of put the final nail in the Germanification of British industry, along with Morgan using BMW engines. I guess BMW engines are still pretty nice, but some of the cars mated to them aren't what the brand once represented.
  • dino001dino001 Tampa, FLPosts: 5,474
    All cars get bigger, heavier and more bloated with each new generation. It is true across the board. It is mostly comfort features that require power and add weight. Also raging regulators requiring more and more stuff, from multiple airbags, to stability control systems, to tire pressure monitors. All those things are nice to have, but you need both space to fit them and engine power to carry them around.
    It seems the only true ultimate driving machines left are Lotus and couple of other exotics, which often don't even have a radio. Their approach is not what you want, but what you can do without. The rest is just marketing to make us believe we are better drivers than we really are. I'm not buying Lotus either ;)

    2018 430i Gran Coupe

  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    "Stick shift-loving M owners should prepare for bad news, because BMW will only engineer the next M5 or M6 with double-clutch transmissions.

    M's head of engineering, Albert Biermann, admitted this week that there were no plans to fit three pedals in the next-generation M6 and M5 because the order rate was too low to justify the added work."

    BMW Official Says No Manual Transmission for Next M5 (Inside Line)
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    Oh, well, I wasn't going to buy an M5 anyway.
  • corvettecorvette United StatesPosts: 6,700
    The E60 M5 was never supposed to have a manual, and if memory serves, BMW relented and retrofitted one after the buff books in the US pitched a hissy fit. Shockingly, they knew what they were doing to begin with, and the retrofitted manual was panned by the same buff books as being a mistake.

    Very sad about the F10 5-series. I had gone to their website and configured one with similar options as my 540 as a "if I won the lottery" car, but it sounds like I'd do just as well to dream about a Lexus GS.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    "The online sales option is aimed at a generation of drivers used to making daily purchases over the Internet, and will be an extension of the car configuration that most automakers offer customers to view models with desired options such as interior colors, seat materials and roof styles."

    BMW to sell luxury cars for less online (Detroit News)
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 20,370
    edited July 2012
    -It's true that BMW plans to introduce a FWD 1 Series. Like most of you I think it's a bad idea but according to my reading the cars we know as Oners will be renamed the Two-Series and will retain rear drive.

    -I seriously doubt that any enthusiast ever bought a Bimmer actually thinking it was the "Ultimate Driving Machine." That's just one of those meaningless B.S. ad slogans like "Chevy runs deep" . Probably everyone has their own idea of what the ultimate driver would be.

    -I own two BMWs from the very early '00s (an E39 and an E46 Cabrio) or, as I like to call it, the Pischetsreider/Reitzle Era, when driving characteristics seemingly had higher priorities. I have noted the increases in weight and complication of BMW cars but this has happened to nearly every make.

    It so happens I've received an invite from BMWNA to test drive a new F30. It's ironic that my cars have a number of features lacking in the current designs, among them are: hydraulic steering, a spare tire, a temp gauge, an oil dipstick and tires that don't cost twice as much to replace.

    The trade off would be increased safety and performance but I'm not sure it's worth what we're losing. In any case, if I have the opportunity I'll drive the wee out of the new one (I assume a 328i or 328xi) and give you my impressions.

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 12,120
    My wife just picked up a CPO 2009 328i. As I wrote in another thread:

    My wife loves it; handling, power, ride, interior- everything. She has noted that the Crimson Red paint and "facelifted" styling has many of her friends think that it is much sportier than it actually is.
    Me? I could see having one for a daily driver if it had a stick and the Sport Package. That said, the 17" wheels and summer performance Conti tires give it a decent amount of grip and it is a very pleasant car to drive. In any event, I certainly prefer it to the new 528i loaner we had a while back. I do wish it had Xenons, but I have a set of Philips X-Treme Power bulbs to upgrade the OEM bulbs- so we'll see if that improves the adequate stock lighting.

    Comparing the E90 to my F10 528i loaner it was no contest; I much prefer the naturally aspirated inline six and the hydraulic steering assist. I also like the 3ers relatively compact dimensions and sub-3500 pound curb weight. The RFT Contis will be pitched for conventional tires as soon as they wear out. Aside from that, I only pine for a dipstick and an oil or water temperature gauge(the F30 does have an oil temperature gauge).

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport; 2014 M235i; 2009 Cooper Clubman; 1999 Wrangler; 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2015 X1 xDrive28i Son's: 2009 328i

  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 20,370
    (the F30 does have an oil temperature gauge).

    A gauge for oil temp but not for water temp? That's very odd IMO. It seems to me a water temp gauge would give quicker warning of potential problems.

    Having the water temp readout has saved me on more than one occasion over the years.

    2001 BMW 330ci/E46, 2008 BMW 335i conv/E93

  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    edited August 2012
    While the the 3-Series and the (ugy) 1-Series are regarded as great drivers cars, the new 5ers and 7ers have been called cruisers. The Avalon (or the TL or M) are, arguably, also cruisers, but cost much less than the larger Bimmers. Are the 5 and 7 better cruisers than their Japanese counterparts? If so, are they worth the extra money?
  • corvettecorvette United StatesPosts: 6,700
    I haven't driven the current models of any of those, but I'm sure that even the current "numb" 5-series will feel more connected to the road than an Avalon--they're very different animals.

    Having owned both an E90 3-series and (presently) an E39 5-series, the old E39 feels heavier and less precise, and although the steering doesn't inspire as much confidence, it seems to have a similar level of grip in the corners (both vehicles had/have the sport package).
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    Thanks for your response. What seems to happen is that the difference in driving experience, from a driver's car perspective, diminishes between BMW and more ordinary counterparts as size and weight increase.

    I wouldn't expect the Avalon to have the same level of grip as a 5-Series with sport package, but I haven't read a comparison test that suggests that the latest generation 5er has more grip than the SH-AWD equipped Acura TL or Infiniti M.
  • roadburnerroadburner Posts: 12,120
    Well, it's not just a question of grip. What I particularly like about BMWs is their ability to let the driver know exactly what is going on at the contact patches. My experience behind the wheel of the F10 5er(non-Sport 528i and 535i) reveals that this ability is severely muted in the latest iteration of the 5er. The primary offender is the numb power steering. Still, if forced to buy a big sedan(a choice I hope I never have to make) I'd probably give the nod to the F10, if only for the fact that it is RWD.

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport; 2014 M235i; 2009 Cooper Clubman; 1999 Wrangler; 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2015 X1 xDrive28i Son's: 2009 328i

  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    Rumors of good leasing deals in the US have been floating around (partly to try to keep ahead of Mercedes sales numbers).

    Luxury carmaker BMW starts to feel industry pain (Reuters)
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    "2012 profit targets look secure, but next year looks questionable.

    Europe, now officially in recession after a second quarter in a row of negative growth, will make it more difficult to make money. China and the U.S. will not be enough to keep overall profits improving.

    Still, BMW, and upmarket compatriots like Mercedes and VW’s Audi, are doing better than most of Europe’s mass car manufacturers, which are losing huge amounts of money with no end in sight."

    U.S., and China, will buttress BMW in 2012, while Europe sputters (Detroit News)
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    "Brisk sales this year also come from a rebound in the luxury auto market as well-heeled buyers who were nervous about the economy pull the trigger on car purchases delayed for several years.

    Adding to the frenzy is the heavy advertising and attractive year-end specials offered by BMW and Mercedes-Benz as they duke it out for bragging rights as the nation's top luxury brand."

    Luxury car sales on track to have best month in years (LA Times)
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
  • fintailfintail Posts: 47,719
    I'll make one or two silent (as not to offend the oversensitive) demographic guesses about the driver.

    Here's another
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    edited December 2014
    The following is Edmunds' summary of the 2015 5-Series...

    "Review of the 2015 BMW 5 Series

    The 2015 BMW 5 Series is a comfortable, technologically advanced midsize luxury sedan with a very appealing set of skills.

    Safety | Reliability

    Superb powertrains; impressive fuel economy in most forms; elegant interior packed with high-tech features; smooth, quiet ride; advanced safety features.

    Ho-hum handling; relatively small trunk; intrusive auto stop-start system.

    What's New for 2015
    A sport steering wheel is now standard on all models, as are LED foglights. Minor changes in optional equipment include an enhanced Executive package (now with a leather dashboard) and the removal of the Modern Line package."

    Should the ultimate driving machine feature ho-hum handling and an intrusive auto stop-start system? BMW has gone soft, yet sales continue to set new records. I don't get it. What gives? My impression is that BMWs may still be good cars and SUVs, maybe even excellent ones, but the tag line "The Ultimate Driving Machine" no longer applies. If I want ho-hum handling, I'll buy a Camry. Oh wait, Toyota has tightened up the handling on the 2015 Camry, so maybe it's not so ho-hum anymore.

    For the past few years, each new generation has moved away from being drivers' cars, and closer to being mainstream luxury cruisers.

    Do you agree that "The Ultimate Driving Machine" tag line is deceptive, when applied to most newer BMWs, or disagree?
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