BMW 3-Series (G20) / M3 (G80) / 4-Series / M4

Discussion in 'Auto News' started by ProjectWHaT, Apr 1, 2018.

  1. homeforsummer

    homeforsummer Premium

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    I mean... it's their job to do so. On a daily basis I speak to PRs from car companies who of course aren't best pleased if we give something a poor review, but also understand that the media knows what it's talking about and has a duty to report it.

    I interviewed Albert Biermann - ex-BMW, now Hyundai/Kia - a couple of years ago after he made the move. He said himself that the Koreans have a greater focus on engineering now than BMW does.

    Now you can interpret that a few ways. The most pessimistic way is to assume he would of course say that, because he's going to be nice about his new employer... a bit like BMW's current top brass "calling out" journalists for doing their job. Though I think it's notable that since Biermann went to Korea, both brands' dynamics and product ranges have improved dramatically...

    The elephant in the room is also that a lot of people in the motoring press really, really like BMWs. That's unsurprising, since they have a fairly enviable history of creating the kind of cars that people who like cars like (cue satire).

    Criticism of BMW isn't for the hell of it, it's because the brand increasingly lacks direction and most of us are concerned about it. History may repeat itself when it comes to the reception of a new 3-series, but when E46 replaced E36 BMW as a brand was in a much better place as a builder of cars for enthusiasts.
     
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  2. Danoff

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    I agree with all of this so much. Just when I thought maybe I wasn't going to buy an E46 M3 (because maintenance!), you shoved me right back in that direction.
     
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  3. homeforsummer

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    I apologise for any future financial pain and anguish.
     
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  4. MatskiMonk

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    Quite. I believe I was the one highlighting that the threat from other manufacturers was genuine.

    Having said that, some sales will have gone elsewhere in the BMW portfolio, some will have gone to other manufacturers, and some will be a combination of both. 15 years ago, around 20% of sales in 3 series column were compacts, 14 years ago they introduced the 1 series, and 13 years ago the compact was no more. 15 years ago the X3 was just being introduced, there was no X4 and no X1.

    That is entirely fair enough. We all have our own preferences, mine isn't the E46 but I wish you luck in any adventures with an M3.

    With regards to when things peak... It's a bit like music. Different people may disagree with when Pink Floyd peaked, which is fine... it just becomes a shame when you can't have a conversation about Division Bell without some derp chiming in every 8 seconds with "Dark Side of the Moon was better man". And that is how it feels being part of the BMW enthusiast community a lot of the time. Surely you must have noticed this?

    Careful Chris, your snark is showing.

    Media is one thing (actually these days it's several, I guess), and reporting is another thing (actually I guess it's a couple of things too). He could work around not wanting to offend anyone, or he could say what he thinks. He managed to stop short of calling anyone a pedo, smoking a doobie and getting shafted for fraud, or from getting paid off, sacked and chucked in prison, so that's probably a bonus. From my point of view it reflects my frustrations, and it's not my job to say it or report on it - I don't make a living from it.

    It's the nature of the criticism that's the issue for me, not the fact there is some. Comparisons to products from 4 or 5 generations ago are pretty much worthless and getting really stale - maybe this would be expected from keyboard warriors that may not have even been born when some of these cars were launched, but I'd certainly expect a more objective opinion based on context and understanding of the automotive landscape, from someone whose job it is... i.e. journalists. The M340i is not as good a car as a C43 AMG is a relevant comparison. The M340i is not as good as that car you made 20 years ago, lacks any useful purpose. Just my opinion of course.
     
  5. TheCracker

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    Whilst it is rightfully stupid to directly compare say a M340i with whatever it's direct ancestor was 20 years ago, it is relevant to compare how that ancestor was superior to it's rivals with how the M340i stacks up to the competition these days. I don't think anyone is saying an E46 330ci is actually a better all round car than an M340i, that would be preposterous, i think what people are getting at is that it's place in the pecking order isn't what it once was. It's crown as a top sports saloon (or coupe) isn't so assured. So in effect, BMW is no longer the sure-fire king of the hill when it comes to this class of car.
     
  6. Danoff

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    Sure. I can absolutely appreciate that. I think every car company has that problem though when it comes to the big hits. Acura/Honda is still trying to live up to the gen 1 NSX. They have the same issue with the Civic too. Toyota/Lexus has the supra and LFA to live up to. It happens in specific non-sport models too. I know someone who is a 4-runner purist. Porsche fans get like this and put down the 996 for some reason.

    All it really is is indicative of a hit that was tough to live up to. And that's a good thing.

    That's hard to argue with, especially since they legally can't make the car they made 20 years ago.
     
  7. SlipZtrEm

    SlipZtrEm Administrator

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    How is "this car isn't as good as the ones that came before it" not a valid criticism?

    Car companies progressing isn't an unnatural thing. If a journalist doesn't feel like there's progress being made, and says as much, what's wrong there? Cars don't exist in a vacuum; comparisons against their contemporaries are just one aspect potential buyers are looking at. The immediate predecessor is an important measuring tool — I don't think many people are legitimately comparing, say, an F80 M3 to an E30 from the perspective of which is better than the other, but more so which had a greater impact and was "better" at the time of its launch. An enthusiast outlet will maybe compare the steering feel of one to the other, I suppose.

    Porsche gets the same treatment every time a new 911 comes out, but I can't recall any of its execs dismissing these comparisons as bovine excrement.
     
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  8. homeforsummer

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    Nah-ah, people don't get a pass for simply not being as much as a ******** as Elon Musk. That's not a high bar to aim for. This guy can suck it up - it's his job to make better cars, and also to uphold the qualities that make BMWs BMWs. If he's not doing either of those things - and it's a mixed bag from BMW these days - then it's also his job to suck it up when his products get criticised and try and do better.

    Back in the late 80s and early 90s Ford made a string of absolute stinkers, and the press rightly called them out on it, with several front-page stories on what kind of crocks they were making. What Ford did was improve their products, and spent the next decade and a bit making some of the best cars in the class and the best cars they'd ever made. What they didn't do was say "we're tired of this bull****".
    As above, nobody is saying a modern 3-series isn't as good as a 20-year old equivalent (though in some areas I daresay it's not overly wide of the mark - its steering in particular has gone downhill somewhat). But a modern 3-series probably isn't quite as good in context as an E46 was back in the day.

    I've driven a standard 320i from the current generation, and almost nothing about it stood out in context with its current rivals. I've got plenty of old magazines full of road tests of E36s and E46s though where even fairly humble ones have the measure of their rivals. Interestingly, I've also got several that crap on that BMW exec's point somewhat where E30s and E36s are falling off the pace as they neared the end of their livecycles and journalists were welcoming the replacements with open arms. It's a fallacy to claim the press always preferred the previous model.

    Regardless, in styling terms alone - something that cannot be objective and is therefore much more open to debate - the latest one strikes me as being a bit of a howler. In that respect, it's neither as attractive as current rivals, nor as attractive as those 20-year old 3-series...
     
  9. Tornado

    Tornado

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    What are you talking about?
    Those famous 3 series dynamics of "Driving like a Deville" are well represented here. The most important thing about the 3-series to BMW's design chief, and you can essentially get bent if you think those priorities are different than previous versions of the car.

    Including the hallowed E39 and E46, even by Car and Driver. I recall them even drawing specific attention to them thinking the Audi A4 in particular was leaving the E46 behind as soon they stopped screwing around with it being a glorified Passat, the E39 and E46 lost a test to Audi in the same issue once on that same measure, and the E34 was well past it's sell by date when the E39 came out.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018
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  10. MatskiMonk

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    To try and keep this discussion on relative point. The first group test I found in my stack of old magazines, was a 3 way between the Audi A4 1.8T, the Mercedes C200K and the BMW 320i... the seemingly unbeatable E46 320i.. a BMW saloon with an inline 6! A naturally freakin' aspirated inline 6!!! RWD!! Manual!!!! BONERIFIC!!!!!!

    .. it came second, behind the slower, more thirsty, more expensive C200K. "The Mercedes is the best car".... AWESOME! E46 supremacy for the win!

    I dig down a couple more issues... C43 AMG test... surely this must get trounced by the mighty M3.....

    ... errr. ... the C43 is the "thinking mans M3"... and "pulls at heart strings that the M3 driver will only partially understand"...

    I flick to the back of the issue... to check the other results... "NEW BMW 3 Series... some of the sparkle has gone. The new [E46] 3-Series now majors on comfort, refinement, and quality, losing a chunk of dynamic ability in the process"... in the same issue... "Still one of the world's finest small sports saloons. Storming 328i is a consumate all rounder, but even 316i is desirable," and that was of the E36 at the point the E46 had been launched...

    ... E46 DOMINATION!!!! Or, errr.. Journo's somewhat preferring the old one [E36]

    .. Audi A4, "Top Ride and refinement, great looks and bulletproof build make the A4 a natural 3 series beater. Chassis is all that prevents it from doing so..."



    Guys, I'm not making a case for which generation is the best or worst... but can we please take of the rose-tinted nostalgia shades? The 3 series has nearly always been given a good run for it's money by the opposition, there's simply more of it these days. Some tests it will win, some it will lose, just like the 3-ers of old. It will do well in some areas, in others not so well... as far as I can remember this has been the case... so let's try and keep things in perspective. If we're comparing the G20 to the E46 by it's performance against its rivals, then let us expect people to prefer the C class, or the A4, or the Giulia...

    It could be worse...



    .. have you seen the touring :lol::nervous:
     
  11. Danoff

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    I was reading all the reviews at the time (except yours I guess), and the 3-series consistently came out on top. It was so ubiquitous that for a while there car magazines seemed to be searching for something interesting by putting someone else on top. The big one for the E46 was the G35.
     
  12. homeforsummer

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    As a general rule the 3-series has been top of the class fairly consistently. It is of course possible to cherry-pick examples where it lost, and different magazines also hold different opinions (go back to the late 90s and see how, relatively, Autocar and Top Gear Magazine rated the Rover 75 - one towards the top of the class, the other towards the bottom), but it won a great deal more tests than it lost.

    The important part is that while the 3-series might have become softer or more refined with each generation compared to its predecessor (thereby duly attracting criticism), it was still often the more dynamic option among its rivals (even when it did lose the odd group test here or there). That's no longer the case, and as I've been saying since the very start, that's more of a problem in context of its rivals. Even when it wasn't a class leader overall, it was generally a class leader in terms of dynamics (and, from personal preference, tended to be among the more visually appealing cars in its class).

    Essentially, it's possible for the 3-series to become better against the average in some areas, and worse against the average in others. Anyone who wants BMW to create great driver's cars should be worried that BMW is trading some of its core values for dubious improvements in other areas. Or to put another way, BMW won't build a better Mercedes or Audi than Mercedes or Audi. It would build a better BMW, but whether it's doing that any more...
     
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  13. Tornado

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    I don't remember the E46 and E39 not walking most tests in America against its competitors until the A4 got its own platform and engines (which was nearly half a decade after the E46 debuted). It wasn't even really close most of the time, since even the cars that were lauded even soon in the car's life (like the IS300) couldn't quite be optioned correctly to go hit for hit. Maybe it was for stripper base model cars in Europe where you have to justify the cost of the note, but it certainly wasn't for mid-level-and-up spec cars that were the floor in North America.

    To wit:
     
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  14. MatskiMonk

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    I'm sure I'd find more if I unwrapped all the mags I've not unpacked since I moved (5 years ago). I've distinct memories of the 156 and IS taking the fight to BMW because people like my Dad bought them, waxing lyrical about the same kinda things people might do about the Giulia these days...

    .. of course when the engine lunched itself and he had to get the bailiffs into Alfa UK to reclaim the cost of in warranty in service engine repair, he might have regretted it...

    Honestly I did not cherry pick. Quotes this far came from Autocar, just had a look in the back of a Car and a Top Gear from '98 and whilst it praises certain aspects of the car, it notes twice that it's less thrilling to drive than some of it's competitors and again refers to the 318 as being heavy and sluggish compared to the 156... which leads me to think again, that it was often the 156.

    The 3er was fallible then, it is now. It won some tests then, it will win some now.
     
  15. VXR

    VXR

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    It doesn't matter how good a product the new 3-series is, it's hard to argue that it offers something its rivals don't.

    At the time of the E46, you could get three petrol inline sixes in the non-M models and none of its rivals offered that. We're down to one six now, and two tunes of the ubiquitous, increasingly generic turbo four. The only truly unique engine in this class is the 3-cylinder 1.5 in the 318i. There's something pretty wrong when that's the case.
     
  16. mustafur

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    Alot of which would be that rivals have improved at a higher rate then BMW to be on par or exceed vehicles they Rivaled to, compared to the past when BMW was blowing everyone out of the park.

    Think the M3 in the early 2000s, BMW had the E46 M3 which was significantly surpiror dynamically to a Mercedes C32 AMG and Audi S4(Audi then Started to bring the RS brand into more prominence and Mercedes started to give an actual crap about their sport sedans).
     
  17. Beeblebrox237

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  18. Danoff

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    I was thinking about this discussion a bit and was realizing... you know who doesn't suffer from this "the old one was better" so much? Mazda with the MX5. That's because they just kept it good and consistent all these years.
     
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  19. homeforsummer

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    (The old one's still better though...)
     
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  20. TheCracker

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    You could arguably say the 911 has consistently hit the mark with every new version too. There's never been a bad one. Even after the initial shock of the 996 and it's new, bigger body shape and water cooled engine, it's been accepted by the Porsche aficionados.
     
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  21. Tornado

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    Quibbling over styling and the LS7 notwithstanding, there hasn't been a Corvette in 35 years that wasn't better than the one it replaced.
     
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  22. homeforsummer

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    911's a funny one, because the internet sees the 996 as a bit of a black sheep even though the 993 was well overdue for replacement by the time it arrived and all the reviews raved about the 996.

    I do recall some criticism of the steering when it went to EPAS with the 991, and the all-turbo lineup at the moment doesn't seem like a great step forward from the naturally-aspirated ones they replace, so I guess the 991 is probably the first 911 in a while which doesn't feel like as big an improvement as it could be. It feels like a bigger car too, which isn't necessarily a great thing. Obviously the GT stuff is still remarkable though - In most respects those have only got better over the years, given their remit.

    It's all very dependent on expectations too. I doubt many people would disagree that a Merc C-class has got better at doing C-class things (luxury, refinement) or an A4 at doing A4 things over the years (build quality, tech). The concern with the 3er isn't so much that it's not a better car, as being a better BMW. Hopefully the G20 will be a step forward in that respect, though the exec's comments ("you don't feel how fast you are" sounds concerningly like "no feedback" to me) and the nasty styling don't fill me with hope.
     
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  23. ProjectWHaT

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  24. 05XR8

    05XR8

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    That's fine. No problem with that. Might be hard changing those tyres, unless those are wheel covers.
     
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  25. ProjectWHaT

    ProjectWHaT

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  26. FT-1

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    It may also be hard to drive, BMW appears to have left the interior completely blank.
     
  27. kikie

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    How can you tell? You can't see through the windows, which is also a problem for the BMW driver.


    :D
     
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  28. kikie

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  29. ProjectWHaT

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  30. Beeblebrox237

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    After seeing some video reviews of the G20 I'm really warming up to the styling, I think they did a very good job with it.