Today we asked what car companies lost their way in 2012. We will answer that question on Monday, but before we do, there's another question we have to ask, and it's about the big, fat cars that come out of Bavaria's once-lithe Motor Works.
BMW made its name in the car world selling expensive, small cars with limited features but great driving feel. Now BMW makes cars like the 5GT and the X6. These are not bad cars; they're spacious, powerful, and they even stick to their rear-drive roots. They just don't follow the classic BMW mold. We can all agree to that, but with BMW still making good money selling cars that are more like successors to Buicks and Oldsmobiles than 2002s or 3.0 CSLs, maybe the change isn't so bad.
I saw this article and knew immediately that there would be much impotent online criticism of BMW for the expansion of their lineup and the weight of their cars. When they make a shitty M3 or M5 then we can discuss how they're in decline, this is not yet the case. Every article I've read about the 1M basically says it's one of the best cars _____ has driven in decades. The F10 M5, is still the best car in its class by miles despite being so well insulated from road noise that they (foolishly) decided to pump in engine noise. It's lame but if THAT is what you're thinking about while driving it, then you need to be reading a different website.
We all know the right answer is Honda and more specifically, Acura.
I think in an industry as elastic as Automotive, it is foolish to think that a car maker has lost there way if they simply stop making the cars your inner child likes. The E30 is gone because the people who want a new E30 are gone, not because BMW has decided to rebrand Malaysian hand carts as M3's. When an automaker starts making crappy vehicles, THEN they have lost their way. BMW knows that by selling a quiet, powerful, comfortable road car they will secure business for decades vs building only 2-4 seater race cars with carbon fiber stiffeners and rigid springs. They still make great cars, they're just different from the great cars they used to make.
BMW still makes great cars, Toyota makes good cars, Honda took some good cars and made them worse. Honda has lost its way.
Agreed. Here's my successful model checklist:
1. Does this car do what it was built to do?
2. Does it do those things better than its competition?
3. Are there any major oversights or flaws that interfere with its purpose?
4. Does this car add value to the company that made it?
5. Spacious trunk? Cuz I'm puttin my bike in it.
6. More leather and wood than a Max Mosley afterparty.
7. Will it make be better at Forza 4? If not, will it make me better at Cruisin California?
So the question remains, how do we know when a carmaker has actually lost its way? Without the gift of hindsight, what signs sett you off that a brand is losing its shit?
Photo Credit: André van Rooyen