BMW's M division is one of the oldest and most revered of the European in-house tuners, but the launch of the BMW M Diesels and M SUV/CUVs left many thinking either BMW had lost its way — or maybe it hadn't.
We put the question "Has BMW Saved 'M' Cars?" to our readers and here are the two best responses.
This is Answers of the Day — where we take the best ten responses from the previous day's "Question Of The Day". It's by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Today, we're mixing things up a bit by making it a point/counterpoint rather than just a top ten listicle.
BMW Is Making The 'M' Brand Meaningless by Desu-San-Desu
"Lately, BMW's expanded the lineup into other cars. Crossovers like the X6 M and SUVs like the X5 M now proudly carry that meaningful letter."
Here, let me fix that for you: "-Lately, BMW's swollen their lineup into other excuses for cars. Bloated crossovers like the X6 'M' and SUVs like the X5 'M' now smugly carry that once-meaningful letter."
What BMW is doing is making the 'M' badge meaningless. It once stood for a car that was already a performance-oriented machine that has been made into an absolute monster on the road and a fiend on the track. It was reserved the vehicles that already possessed true sporting potential alongside luxury, not baby-haulers and soccer mom taxi's. By allowing the 'M' badge to be placed on crossovers and SUV's, vehicles that were never intended or designed to be performance-oriented, they are not only diluting the very meaning of the badge, but they are dishonoring all of the great 'M' cars of the past; of legend.
Essentially BMW is using brand recognition to polish a turd. Instead of raising the standards of the vehicle to suit the 'M' badge, they've lowered the standards of the badge to suit a broader stable selection. Before this, when an enthusiast saw a BMW with an 'M' badge, they knew immediately that it was the best of what BMW had to offer: truly the Ultimate Driving Machine. In 5 years, all the 'M' badge is going to mean is that somebody paid extra for a badge and power bump that they're never going to actually use, except to get to the mall before the Johnsons on Christmas Eve.
As far as I'm concerned, it's a travesty. BMW is supposed to be manufacturing the 'Ultimate Driving Machine' and the 'M' division signified the pinnacle of that slogan. The 'M' badge was a promise, a promise that this vehicle truly is the best of the best of what were already considered the ultimate driving machines. When a person bought an 'M', they knew they were getting the best of what BMW had to offer and that it had the mettle and merit to back up that slogan.
Nobody is ever going to call an SUV the 'Ultimate Driving Machine'. 'Ultimate Commuting Machine', maybe, but not driving. Real drivers do not drive commuting machines. Real drivers drive and they want a car that is going to truly let them do just that. An SUV or crossover, no matter how much power it has, no matter how many magnet shavings are in the dampers, no matter how wide the tires, will never fully satisfy a true driver. It will instead leave them wanting, wondering where their money went.
The 'Ultimate Driving Machine' is supposed to push the driver, not punish them.
That's exactly what BMW is doing, though. They are punishing the 'M' faithful. They are spitting in their collective faces and they are spitting on the decades of performance and racing heritage that serve as a foundation for the 'M' division's reputation. They are giving that honored badge to a selection of vehicles that do not truly deserve it, that have not earned it.
If you're going to water down your main performance division, at least have the decency to stop calling it your "Performance Division". Once you've diluted the essence of what the 'M' badge means, it ceases to mean anything at all. Pretty soon, it will just be a very expensive letter.
It's not the powertrain selections, by the way (though I think offering an 'M' car without a manual transmission as even an option is a tasteless joke in and of itself), that I take issue with. It's the vehicles themselves. I have no problem with a diesel 'M' vehicle, since 'diesel' just translates to massive amounts of torque and better gas mileage. I have no issues with forced induction either, as long as it keeps the power levels and the drivability where it needs to be.
No, it's the selection of vehicles themselves. Right now BMW offers 'M' badges on a convertible, an SUV, and a crossover, all of which are bloated and overweight. This. Is. Wrong. It's just not right. How in the world can someone take a badge which signifies the absolute best driving performance a company has to offer, and stick it on vehicles that will most assuredly never even see a race track or their own rev limiters? It's not just insulting, it's dishonest.
These are not 'M' cars. They do not deserve the 'M' badge. That badge, and everything that it symbolizes, should be reserved for what it originally stood for: the Ultimate Driving Machines, not merely Upgraded Commuting Machines. If BMW wants to offer these vehicles with performance upgrades and go-fast pretenses, I have no problem with that. Go right ahead, BMW. Just do not insult the enthusiasts and 'M' faithful of the world by associating these pretentious porkers with the 'M' badge. Here's an easy solution: Pick a different letter. You've still got 25 more to choose from. How about 'O'?
BMW Is Saving The 'M' Brand by Is that a raincoat?
Are these BMWs with M on the back still not fast? Can they still not corner? Are they still not more aggressive than their competitors?
M is model blind. It doesn't matter if it is an X5, X6, or even a 7 Series. M stands for ridiculous speed and razor sharp handling, and that will never change.
These cars today, the 1M, the M3, M5, X5/6M and the new diesel siblings are bigger than their older brothers, but they are no less M cars. Just as AMG started with one model, each one today is no less a nasty and snarling AMG car or SUV.
M is growing. By directly taking on the S line of Audis with these turbo AWD offerings we will see a new level of competition. By offering more M models, there will be even more pressure for Mercedes to improve AMG.
This is great for M. And even better for the entire segment.