BMW is dead to me.

Posted: February 13, 2011 in Rants

BMW used to make this.

Now it makes this.

Am I the only one who sees anything wrong here?

Let me explain.
The first car is the legendary E30 M3 – a car weighing in at roughly 2,800 lbs, pushing around 200 hp from a high revving 2.3L inline 4.  Nothing amazing, but the formula and the result was a car bred for motorsports that was easy to place, easy to rotate, communicated with the driver, and most importantly – embodied the ideals of the brand.

The X6 M, a supposed “sports activity coupe” (are you fucking serious?), on the other hand, is what I like to call the answer to a question nobody ever asked.  It is a 5,247 lb abomination that churns out a gut ripping 555 horsepower.  It doesn’t handle as well as a sports car.  It doesn’t accelerate as fast as a muscle car.  It doesn’t go off road as well as an SUV.  It doesn’t carry as much stuff as a wagon.  Basically, its a car for posing sold exclusively to douchebags who don’t know a roundel from rottkraut.

Now, I wouldn’t normally take a car company to task for making such a car as this.  Mercedes-Benz, for example – I’d let them get away with this kind of atrocity against nature simply because Mercedes-Benz does not claim to produce the Ultimate Driving Machine.  In fact, the last M-B I drove was like a dry hump with the high school prom queen’s best friend.

You see, BMW, and especially the M division have long stood for cars developed from BMW’s lessons in racing, designed for high performance on-track excursions.  They have typically been light weight, rear wheel drive, and high revving, naturally aspirated vehicles.  The X6 M betrays every single one of these ideals.

Porsche, for example, gets away with an SUV. Why?  Because their SUV is excellent at what it does – it actually has racing history and heritage, and is a true off-road performer with the chops to back the claim.  Thus, it stands to make sense within the Porsche brand as being truly excellent at its intended purpose.

The X6 M, on the other hand, bears the M badge yet has NO racing heritage.  It has NO pedigree.  It does not excel at ANYTHING.  It does nothing other than make the owner look like a clueless knuckledragger who drank too much marketing kool-aid.  It has a turbo.  It has AWD.  It weighs over two and a half tons for christ’s sake!

This kind of product is what will make me write off an entire brand.  I don’t care what BMW does anymore.  I don’t care that I still absolutely LOVE the 3-series.  In fact, I was at a bar last night drinking and shooting the shit with car people (one of my favorite things to do) and we all did come to an agreement that BMW still does deliver one of the best blends of affordability, performance, and luxury all in one package.  That basically sums up why I love the 3-series.  It is a car like those I talked about yesterday –  endlessly refined over the years and still staying true to the original ideals – perfect balance, lots of driver feedback, a relatively affordable price, and decent fuel economy.

But enough of the praises of the new 3, or anything else BMW has ever built or will ever come out with ever again.  I officially renounce them.  They are dead to me.  To betray me like this (yes, it is a personal betrayal) is the final straw.  You see, the first car I ever saw up close in person that truly made my no-no bits tingle was a white 1995 BMW M3 refilling at the gas station I worked at in during senior year of high school.  I can still see that car, pulling up to the pump – nice and low and sleek – the sound of the straight six, the rake of the windshield.  My god.  What a car.

(a representative picture designed to require a pants change after viewing)

It makes me sad.  Why did BMW do this?  Did they listen to the focus groups?  Did someone really think this car would be a good idea?  Does this car even sell at all?  Well, they sold 3,082 of them last year – worldwide – and that was supposed to be a good year.    By comparison, Toyota, even with the Camry “unintended acceleration” debacle, managed to sell 327,804 cars – in America alone!  The Camry, I would like to point out, is a car that has stayed true to its brand values of affordability, reliability, and somniferous driving dynamics.

So where does that leave us, gentle reader, in our relationship with this storied and celebrated brand?  Am I simply fighting the future?  BMW’s higher ups have decided to produce yet ANOTHER turbocharged M-car – the BMW 1M Coupe.  At least they had the foresight not to refer to it as another BMW M1, but still – we’re talking about an overweight, overpriced turd of a car with an inferior suspension design (compared to its big brother 3-series) that’s simply had a turbocharged engine crammed in there and the BMW hype machine’s full force behind its roll out.

I am becoming an anachronism (more on this in another rant).  I am a cranky old man.  I’m 29 years old – god help us all when I’m actually over 65.


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