Counter Steer: Trials and Tribulations of a BMW Enthusiast

Usually when I sit down to write an opinion piece I write it six or seven times. Yes, I am a bit nuts (as regulars here can surely attest) but I try my best to be as honest as possible and to not napalm everything. This time this is a first draft stream of thought and it will be as raw as I can get without needing the bleep half of it out.

A person in the business, BMW ‘s of course, recently told me that I am often a bit negative and I should try to be a more positive when it comes to what BMW has to currently offer. Here comes my candor, I am not some guy stuck in the past that doesn ‘t embrace technology or progress. I am not bemoaning the demise of the Weber carb and the eight track or the fact the dealer or someone with a specialized computer needs to wrench on my car. What is annoying me at this moment is the softening of BMW at its core and the establishment of BMW Performance and M as the only way to get back what was just there a few years ago, namely handling, feel and sound.

I am an M guy through and through, I love the concept of BMW Performance as an alternative to the aftermarket and the reintroduction of IS models. That said, it seems to me that the marketing folks over in Munich have devised a master plan to wring every last cent out of us BWM nuts OR society as a whole has become softer and thus BMW had to follow the lead to line the coffers a bit more. I am not sure what to believe in my mind but my heart would break if it was the former. Don ‘t get me wrong here, BMW is an independent company and needs to make some coin so they don ‘t end up like SAAB but at what cost?

BMW is definitely offering up some fantastic product now, cutting edge navigation systems, the ability to use apps is coming along and the cars drive sensationally compared to the other luxury competitors and I can ‘t knock that. That last bit, “luxury competitors “, went there and had to. BMW has always been about shear driving pleasure and that is not what I feel when I get behind the wheel of today ‘s cars in the default “COMFORT ” mode. Today ‘s cars are the “F ” codes (check out our handy “cheat sheet “), in some models like the 7 the default to “comfort ” setup makes sense but in a car like the new 1er hatch and the soon to launch new 3 Series it just bothers me.

You ‘d think BMW has gone soft, the throttle response is Passat like, the suspension is just as comfy cozy and the steering is utilitarian Toyota UNTIL you depress that little rocker switch and select SPORT. Once pressed the car morphs into what it should have been from pressing the damn start button! Will BMW Performance come up with a software flash to make the car default to Sport, they better as pushing that button 20 times a day (yeah I get in and out of my car a lot) is getting annoying. Sometimes I forget to push it, and I get mad about half a mile down the road at the Lexus I feel like I am sitting in then push the rocker and let out a sigh of relief.The system is great in other regards but I doubt most people will even get that the car has different personalities or like me hate the need to always use that switch.

They have their market research and I am sure it says that the average buyer felt the cars were too hard to steer and they made too much engine noise, blah blah blah. Then the light goes on in those marketing folks heads ‘- Those that want what was the typical BMW product of yesteryear will then up buy to M, IS or modify their cars with BMW Performance parts, there isn ‘t many of those types of people but at least we are giving THEM the option or they can just deal with always putting the car in Sport mode.

I am one of THEM, and yes I have an M although currently that is not my daily driver as it is a continent away but at the same time I don ‘t always see myself paying the premium to get that M car. Priorities change but at my core I am a driving enthusiast. Having grown up building competition motors with my dad and building cars from the ground up the way we wanted them has jaded me a bit. I laugh at times when people think the shifter throw in the E9X M3 is short and adds performance, please. I ‘ve had lightly optioned base model sports packaged equipped cars with some light modification several times now but that seems like an after thought these days because those cars I currently couldn ‘t buy. A car that will see it ‘s share of HPDE days needs grippy seats and leather without side bolsters just isn ‘t going to cut it. So if I was in the market for a F30 3 Series sedan I would be out of luck because of the packaging dictated by BMWNA (luckily in Germany there are less restrictions on that).

I can ‘t blame BMW, I am the minority as are most of you. They need to do what the market dictates in order to make cars like the 1M or the new M5 which really matter to us. If that M5 was being sold right now it would ‘ve been my car of the year over the 1M. Blasphemy I know, but what they achieved with that car is nothing but astounding and fits the needs of that client to a “t “. Sure, Gabe and I would have had some dialog on that and the 1M would have come out on top as it truly is a rare bird amongst the current state of BMW offerings but the M5 would have made a compelling argument for itself. Is BMW still building the Ultimate Driving Machine? Yes, it is just not that way from the press of the start button.

Rant over. I am sure when model year 2013 comes to the new F30 3er (We anticipate that to occur in July with the M Sport launch) it will be offered up a bit differently as far as packaging goes so my complaints may be short lived in some regard.

Prost!

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  • 0(=^=)0Capn

    What year is the beginning of changes you are talking about, from a buying perspective? 

    • Anonymous

      All the “F” generation cars feature this setup, but basically any new platform from 2009 onward. 

      The E9X 3 series, the X5 and X6 being the only current product not featuring the new setup if memory serves me correctly.

      Don’t get me wrong I love the option to change the settings, and ECO PRO is ingenious I just want to be able to default to my preference. In My M3 I have the “M” button which allows me to recall my preferred setting with one push on the steering wheel. Sure a rocker switch on the center console is not that difficult to deal with but it is just one more thing I need to do. 

      These things should be saved in the key like everything else is.

      -M 

  • Dylan Bland

    Go Michael. Jump in any BMW product from the 80s and compare it to today and it’s obvious the direction BMW is heading (sales volume > driver focused). That said I’m happy for BMW to do what it takes to remain independent and profitable. Times are a-changing. 

    For me I’d be happy for BMW M to stick to motorsport cars. That excludes SUVs because they’ll never be raced. Make kick-ass 1 series and 3 series and 5 series based cars, and use them as the halo for the brand that drives series sales. I’d like them to look at the overall bottom line rather than looking at each car on a case by case basis. 

    Small things I’d like changed in my 1M. Default to sport mode. Stop making me “Confirm” using iDrive that I shouldn’t use the screen while drive EVERY SINGLE TIME I start the car. Seriously – WTF is with that. You’re only going to read that message once, but BMW has decided I will confirm I’ve read it every single time I start the engine. 

    Good post. 

    • Anonymous

      Thanks! Yeah, my gripe is not with the system it is more that I want my BMW to be a BMW from the start and that is something I am sure they can do. I want my car to remember my last settings and then DO IT without me needing to push another button. 

      What they can do with creating 3 cars in 1 is amazing and commendable I can’t argue with that!

      -M

  • Dylan Bland

    Also, while I can appreciate why they do it, I’m always amused that my 1M has a booklet that shows the car on a track, but open the front cover and it says “Use of this car on the track will void the warranty” or words to those effect. i.e. we made this car for the track (because speeding on the road is dangerous) but if you use it as we intended it, we will not cover you for any manufacturing faults. 

  • Justingassaway

    At least there is a button you CAN push. Spend a little more money for an M or an S. BMW has to make cars for different demographics. Your sportiness is still there, quit complaining!

    • Anonymous

      I have an M, but not everyone can swing the $15-20K adder to get a sporty car and it has never been that way. Sure there are the IS models which are more affordable but are not offered in a sedan. There was a time when you could buy a base 3 Series with no added options outside of the sports pack (which was less than $2k) and have a car to bring to the track and have a blast thanks to a firmer suspension, larger wheels and Sports seats. 

      You can’t do the latter anymore without upgrading to the “Sport Line” and all the added expense that comes with it. 

      The sportiness is different now. Having a 120d F20 and driven the F30 328i the cars are less involved than the past. The chassis are better for sure as are the engines and fit and finish but there is less feel and more separation from driver and road. 

      BMWs are not cheap and at the end of the day there will be new competitors, Cadillac is aiming the ATS directly at the 3 Series and if they do as good of a job on that as they did with the latest CTS- it is going to be interesting as a ATS-V will price at the same level as the 335, and we all know here how great the CTS-V is. 

      Audi doesn’t even enter the competition for handling- the F30 in Comfort mode is still better than the A4. MB has a different target customer and isn’t worth driving either so at the end of the day a BMW is still the “Ultimate Driving Machine” just not from the press of the start button…

  • Adam

    Interesting piece of writing Michael, we could all easily fall into the cycle of lamenting these comfort modes and odd packaging, and over all softening.  But what is important to remember is that the softest of BMW’s is still razor sharp compared to any Audi, or Benz or Jag, anything basically, so in the broad scheme of things they still are sharp still exciting still a bit raw, just not how we came familiar with it.  I think though in the future the enthusiasts will be easy to spot cause they will have ordered an M or spec’d their car in a certain way, for instance, you see two 3ers on the road, one is a 328i modern line, modestly packaged and with a gentleman in his mid 30’s, then you see an M sport pull up next to him, full options, cloth, Msport brakes, Estoril Blue Paint, driver in his mid 30’s, who looks the enthusiast? who looks like they took the time to option their car to their taste? this is how I see the future being, you see a special model you know its an enthusiast behind the wheel.

    • Anonymous

      Adam I agree with you for the most part. There are exceptions and the Jaguar XJ is one of them. I drove one a while back and it was leaps (going along with the the Jaguar theme) and bounds better handling than the 7 and it was definitely more sporty. 

      I agree with you that M Sport /IS models will separate most enthusiasts from the rest but like I said in the post- they are charging admission to us that love BMW’s and what they truly mean to target the sheep. 

  • Shockley Benjamin

    I’ve never posted on BF before.  I seldom post on forums or websites if I can help it.  I remain silent despite visiting this site every other day or so for as long as I’ve known about it and listening to your Bimmercasts (which I enjoy dearly if only because my father is a talk radio personality) religiously because I genuinely believe my opinions are of little merit.  Yet I can remain silent no longer.  So I will rant along with you, Michael.  If for no other reason than to offer my support for what little it’s worth.

    My irritation with BMW as a young enthusiast lies in the premium they command for enthusiast products these days.  My daily driver is an E30 318is.  My last 3 Series was a garden variety E46 with the premium and sports package and a 5 speed.  Obviously, I haven’t spent a great deal on my vehicles as a student because it isn’t financially viable, but I can’t say that I wouldn’t if it was even remotely feasible because I’m a hardcore, died in the wool BMW enthusiast.

    If one puts my 318is into prospective, it was the second least expensive model offered for the 1991 model year and yet arguable the second most performance based save the legendary M3.  BMW didn’t even offer the 325is for MY 1991, electing to save the silky smooth M20 power for the softer 325i and 325iX, and offering the raunchy M42 mill in a lighter, stiffer, cheaper offering.  The 318is was very reasonably priced at the time and while I understand BM’s motivation, I can’t help but feel like BMW doesn’t really build a car for me anymore.  Where is the stripped out, no bullshit, manual only thirty-thousand dollar car in BMW’s current model line?

    Sure, I could buy a 128i with the sports package alone and a stick, but comparing that car to my E30 is laughable.  You’d have a helluva time finding that car as well, and no dealer would waste an allocation ordering it for you. 

    As an ex E46 owner, I never even considered an E90.  E90s are decent to drive, but so hideous to look at I could never even consider one, despite being fairly reasonable to purchase CPO.  Given my devotion to the brand its remarkable BMW has been able to keep me away from their dealerships for so long.  Moreover, I’m back into driving cheap, desperately used cars to find the driving pleasure I seek despite the financial burden that entails at times.

    It’s ridiculous to be expected to deal with the expense of M car ownership to regain the enthusiast feel I enjoy every day in my E30.  When I’m older and enjoying a reasonable level of income I can’t say I would feel the extra expense would seem justified if only to feel my steering wheel thrumming away in my hands.

    BMW needs to think about whose going to buy their cars in the future after all the fat-cat baby boomers they’re marketing their cars to start to exit the market.  It may be reasonable now to force people into expensive model lines for profitability.  However the young enthusiast of today is almost certainly going to make less than our parents while being expected to work far harder.  If you want to make limited run M cars that sell for a five figure premium and pushing the cost of a well optioned M3 closer and closer to 100K and you can expect can expect the young BMW enthusiasts of today to all be very happy Porsche owners in a decade or two.

    End rant.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for you take on it… your opinion does count!

  • Motoring 2012 (a Canadian auto journalism show) was quoted on a recent episode saying “less than 5% of new Gen Y drivers (early 20’s) consider themselves auto enthusiasts”

    Unfortunately, we’re a dying breed, and trends (and sales numbers) reflect that. If someone were to tell me 10-12 years ago that Ferrari would phase out the manual transmission, I’d have laughed in their face – for HOURS! 

    Just check out the number of posts on 1Addicts from 1M owners griping about their droning exhaust – proof is in the pudding. 

    I need a drink. 

  • JonPD

    If they think your negative they must think I am the anti-christ lol. I am sad that whoever it was at BMW does not get the idea of constructive criticism, I think you do a great job walking the line between honesty and insight.

    I have long thought BMW in general have slipped more into comfort than sport year by year.

  • Rick

    I agree wholeheartedly, as a long time BMW fan. The cars have gotten more reliable over the years, but at the same time less and less connected to the road. Even the much lauded 1M (I own one) feels bloated and heavy compared to thMe E30 325i and E36 M3 I used to own. And I second or third the issue with pressing a button every time I start my car so it will perform the way it should. I pressed the M button, just let me keep it there!

  • Dan

    Totally agree with you Michael!

  • Gjrpa1

    I agree completely- I own a 2003 530i (E39) with manual transmission and a simple package called “Sport.” It’s enjoyable no matter if you’re running errands around town or carving up the back roads. To get similar involvement out of a new 5 Series, you have to carefully add a boatload of “active” this and “active” that options, and your connection with the machine is still muted and second guessed by the car’s brain. I’m only 37, but I just can’t see myself owning one of the newer BMWs- way too complicated for my taste.

  • m8o

    At least you/we have that switch….

    I have an ’09 JCW which I’m sure is also representative of the way the new BMWs behave that is the subject of this blog post.  Forget to depress Sport and I may even stall off idle if I expect to only need to feather touch the go peddle to start moving as it would with Sport on.

    But I’ll tell you, I also still have an old ’98 C43 AMG.  I’ve curse the “transmission adaptation” publicly more than I can possibly count, as it is more quick at putting the car into “grand-pa mode” if you don’t mash on that go peddle than it is coming out of it.  And there is -no- button that acts as the sport on these new cars today; well technically, that is in Sport mode; there’s also a “W” [winter/wet] mode which starts in 2nd and shifts very early.  So if driving around you have to drive the car like a schmuck that is dangerous to society to get the go peddle to respond to motion of the accelerator in a manner akin to having depressed a “sport mode” button.

    My answer to that was to drop-in a 5.4L engine from an ’01 E55 AMG, and have the ECU chipped with a very aggressive program.  Yet that adaptation is still there rounding off the edge if to a lesser degree.

    So on one hand, at least there is that button that is a -true- sport mode button.  But on the other hand, I’m totally with the sentiment of Prost that BMW, in both its native and MINI guise, has chosen to make the -default- behavior of their cars act in the manner that I hate most about my Teutonic German muscle car.

    -m8o

    • Joe C

      Nice post Michael. It is an example of what makes Bimmerfile different than any other BMW site.

      I’m with you,but I dont have any experience with current models that default to comfort mode.

      Having just parted with my beloved 997 C2S, I’m fascinated by the Cayman R, but I right there with you.

      • Daniel S

        I somewhat agree with you, but pls stop..every other comment you make is just the same. Just reply to the comment and don’t worry about ass kissing

  • goat

    I agree with this piece as well. The current sport sedans are simply not as fun to drive as even the e46 of a decade ago, which is to say nothing of the generations that preceded it. It takes tremendous speed to even feel a bit of “speed” and that is with a manual transmission… I can only imagine how utterly banal it is to daily drive one of the thousands of autobox BMWs sold up here in Canada. 

    To make the criticisms more specific:  – bring back a more driver-focused interior (the F30 somewhat corrects the E90s interior sins in this regard but then commits a new sin, placing a huge iDrive screen atop the dash and makes it non-retractable… distracting even when the screen is off, as far as I’m concerned);  – throttle response is laggy in non-M models, highly annoying;  – engine and exhaust sounds may be fantastic outside the car, but are overly muted inside the vehicle, meaning you need to drive with the window partway down all the time to get a bit of aural joy from the drivetrain… not so great in winter weather;   – get rid of that damned CDV rather than making us swap it out aftermarket… if we ordered a 6MT chances are we know how to engage the clutch correctly;

    Single biggest criticisms: – stop making the cars larger and larger… the last “right-sized” 3series was the e46, as far as I’m concerned (though what I wouldn’t give for one the size of the e36). It’s great to reduce weight (which also is important) but the cars are just too wide, long, and tall to be any fun in tight quarters.  – lack of LSD… having the kind of torque BMW kicks out with their N54/N55 motors run to an open rear diff with the fore/aft weight distribution these cars have is inexcusable and frustrating in real world “brisk” driving conditions. 

    Overall, I hope that BMW brings out a 1-based sedan that utterly shames the F30 in nimbleness and raw sportiness (and I don’t care about the actual performance numbers… most bimmers are plenty fast and grippy… yet spec sheets and N.bing lap times don’t make me want to go out and drive for no reason whatsoever every afternoon, do they?).

  • Dr Obnxs

    Sad thing is, pretty much everycar is going this way. The capabilities of the cars are ever increasing, but the complexity is too. Also, most of the buying public don’t want what we want. If someone is going to spend well north of $40k to get a car, they want it to do everything. IT’s almost to the point where you buy the car that you need for day to day, and get a 2 year old Miata for driving fun.

    There are cars out there that are a hoot to drive, and aren’t expensive at all. But they don’t have 300 hp and room for 4 or 5.

    BMW is chosing the market that they want to be in: and that’s one where people can afford a very nice, capable car, and the percentage of the true driving purists is very small. This isn’t really good or bad, it just is. It’s the way forward for a company that wants both profits and growth. We’ve just got to live with it.

    Here in the US it’s even worse. We don’t get base models that are available in Europe.

    On another front, other cars are making really good headway. The CTS-V wagon I drove was a freakin’ blast! As was the Jag XFR and the supercharged XK. The large benzes aren’t as agile that’s for sure, but there’s no arguing that the AMG division isn’t putting power to the ground, and the exhaust note of the 63 cars is something to die for.

    But all these cars are really, really expensive. What percentage of the buying public at that price point would put up with manual seats and hand crank windows so that they can save the weight of the motors? Uh, pretty much none. So the price point demands the luxury that dilutes, and the snake is eating it’s tail….

    Really, the track rat is a small percentage of the drivers out there. And to be blunt, there are lots of other offerings that are better suited to the the track at a much lower price than anything from BMW. A mustang GT is capable (not great, but can be made so) and you still have a chuck of change in your pocket, even after you change the suspension and add a cage. Same with the Evo and some subies. Heck, you can even get a Challenger to a surprising speed and have fun doing it.

    So BMW has chosing it’s market trajectory, and that’s the way it’s going to be. Don’t expect a cheap car that handles well and is a good starter track toy for those that want to play that game. The 2002 is long gone, and is never coming back.

  • Evan

    I get what BMW is doing and why.

    I agree completely with the above piece.

    It used to be that the base model would let you into the world of BMW driving dynamics. A couple options, maybe, and that was all you needed. The basic spec in the USA has been good for a long time with power windows and a/c.

    Now, you need to fork out for the Sport Line gimmic just for a sports suspension and seats and will probably have to pay the extra for the adaptive dampers if the F25 is any indication. Then you’re limited to trim and interior colors.

    All I want is a turn-key 3er. Sports seats and sports suspension SOULD be an option on ANY 3er without having to get a silly line designed by marketers.

    And in this day and age of electronics, why can’t we make the Sport mode the default? While not difficult, it is annoying that you have to press it every single time. When I borrow my dad’s 2009 MINI, I’ll be driving and wonder why the steering isn’t as great as my 2004 Cooper or even my 2006 E90 and then realize I forgot to press the tiny sport button…. a certain improvement but still not as great as my Cooper.

    Keep the options. Keep the base cars involving. And please do stay true to the ethos of the Ultimate Driving Machine.

    • Dr Obnxs

      I make a gizmo call the Auto Sport+ that turns the sport button on automatically in the 2nd gen MINIs. I was working on one for the Countryman but it’s all bus based (still can be done, but it would take a new circuit that works with the body bus network, not just figuring out how to wire the old one in. Check http://www.fes-auto.com for details…). Anyway, the SW to make the sport mode “sticky” is close to trivial, but the lords of engineering at BMW think they know better than we do so you’re stuck pressing the button each and every time you drive the car. Kinda dumb really.

  • Anonymous

    You could cut and paste this article over at Motoringfile.com and just change BMW to MINI. The R50/53 enthusiast is being left behind for market share with larger vehicles with more mass appeal.

    • Anonymous

      i call BS on that. Not even close to the same. 

  • das booty

    i think one issue i haven’t heard you address is the efficiency and safety standards driving some of the “castration” of BMW (and other performance car manuf.)

    they need to set defaults to “mild” in most models to enable the rarer m-cars to be true athletes.  

    frankly my biggest issue of late has been the decision to go w/run flats not with the bloody rocker switch!  those tires are TERRIBLE…what is more important in the ultimate driving machine than the four points that touch the asphalt??

    • Dr Obnxs

      None of this is because of effieciency standards, and only some is from safety. Efficiency standards in the 70s gave you fuel injection. No more rough idle on performance engines because the carb couldn’t work at idle with a high lift cam that works great at high RPM! Variable valve timing increases the “area under the curve” meaning that power peaks aren’t peaks, but rather broad plateaus where there is torque over RPM ranges that are truley amazing. Turbo technology allows the 335 engine to have a wide power band as well, and more power than my built up 5.0 pushrod motor, and all of these features deliver much better gas mileage for a given engine output.

      Safety standards means that you have more steel in your door, but it has nothing to do with the desire for heavy motors for power seats or windows or MP3 soundtracks of engine noise. Anyone who thinks that efficiency robs power just doesn’t understand how engines work. Efficiency unlocks power!

      The comments about self-castration are more to the point, as seen by not allowing real differentials in some models, and the examples of how Porsche holds back the Cayman to keep the 911 king cannot be denied.

      But none of that has anything to do with original complains of the article here.

      The original muscle cars were just the big engines from the full sized lineup stuffed into mid sized cars. The original post war british roadsters were barely competent engines put in small, light chassis with questionable brake. Both of these designs delivered a huge amount of driving fun and engagement for the money.

      One of the big complaints of this story is that BMW is now not very approachable because of pricing, and when one gets in the car, it defaults to less engaging than the car is capable of, each and every time you start the car! Heck, a lot of the complait of this piece would be negated by simply making the settings sticky, or indexed to the key in use (sport driver gets the car sport settings enabled, leisure driver gets the comfort setting). Either of these approaches are doable with current software, at little or no cost, but for some reason BMW is choosing to NOT do that. This is puzzling indeed.

      The added complaint that one can’t just buy the lowest level cars with one or two “sport” options is just another example that BMW wants to be more profitable, at the expense of some that created the brand reputation.

      I share that concern, not just for BMW, but for other car makers as well. I just got a replacement for my MDX. I’ve got kids who wanted a back seat DVD player. Not cheap. Cost even more because to get it, I had to get the Nav system and a power lift gate! $2k option just ended up adding almost $5k to the purchase price. Bundling options means that it’s harder and harder to get what used to be known as a “performance stripped down model”. Base car, big motor, larger tires and brakes. More go, less weight and cost. What’s so hard about offering that? What’s the business case for not offering that?

      • Adam

        Here’s the problem, if I wanted a luxurious but fun car to drive, by your logic that’d put me in the new 911 (not only do I not like Porsche but this new 911 is “softer and more refined”) AMG and Audi Quattro arent nearly engaging.  Lotus’s are fun as all get out but not daily driver material.  Basically there isnt a whole lot of cars that are luxurious, fast and fun, the only ones I can think of are exotics costing over 200k and not all of those are engaging either.  This is a universal problem not just BMW and I am sure BMW would rather self induce vomit rather than go bust over loss of sales for some dogmatic views on cars.  Believe me I’d rather have the simpler old days back but they wont be coming back, and I’d rather live in a future where BMW’s are still the best drivers luxury cars around, rather than a future with no BMW at all.  Just keep this in mind, even with the “softening” that we’re experiencing BMW’s are still the sharpest cars compaired with the competition, Jag, Audi, Merc etc.

  • I’ve watched firsthand the challenges we enthusiasts face while the Harvard MBAs turn the auto industry into a “for (as much) profit (as possible)” venture-capitalist entity. I was privileged /cursed to watch the demise of GM’s Oldsmobile Division in the late 1990s and in my opinion it was the bean counters who euthanized the brand while those of us who truly loved the cars stood by helpless with our hands limp at our sides.

    No auto company should suffer a similar fate. But that doesn’t mean manufacturers would wring all the “freude” out the “am fahren” from the BMW line merely to kowtow to the fickle consumer who says they want “choice” but in the end always choose vanilla. So, BMW need not overbuild their cars or robotically produce equally robotic, soul-less cars for masses — especially when when their reputation was built upon performance with style. It’s just too weird!

    Now I’ve been driving BMWs since 1972 and I’ve watched the company evolve into what it is today. However, I find myself in my 60s, driving a e30 318is, falling farther and farther behind the curve just to keep the essence of BMWs performance legacy somewhere near where it belongs — the seat of my pants. BMW could certainly, with little effort and a hand-picked crew, make an entire line of performance-oriented, de-accessorized, Club-Sport-like BMWs that would appeal to those of us whose desire to control the car exceeds the manufacturers and government regulators will to control the drivers. If they do, count me in. I’m not sure if I can pay a lot of money to BMW so I can work there, but at today’s interest rates, maybe I can finance it.