Standing afar, it's been really interesting to see, hear and read the commentary on the all-new BMW 3-Series.
While I've spoken with 001 extensively on BMW's all-new, high volume product, I think it's pretty clear the 3-Series will continue to set high benchmarks for the industry. The head cheese at AutoSpies isn't the only person staking this claim either as we saw over the weekend Top Gear's Richard Hammond spoke very highly of the new 3'er, calling it "Three-mendous."
But how about for the BMW purist? Well, that's where the problems start.
Though I never thought I'd say this but Consumer Reports has been catching my eye lately. While it may not be the first place to look for highly intriguing content, it is a company that does exactly what it believes is right for the consumer. You have to admire and respect that on some wavelength.
And now a BMW fan from the Consumer Report wheelhouse is speaking up with some very valid concerns surrounding the all-new BMW 3-Series. In fact, these are concerns around many recent, new Bimmers.
Here are his main beefs with the latest BMW product:
1) The 328i's motor. The new four-cylinder that's arrived stateside is not blowing Gabe Shenhar's doors off. That's because after being spoiled with BMW's arguably best motor -- the infamous inline six -- the four just doesn't have that refined and delicious character.
2) Electric steering. Shenhar's next bone to pick is with BMW's new steering set up, which drops the more communicative hydraulic steering from the previous generation. Shenhar claims that the new 3-Series feels "detached and imprecise," compared to the last generation product -- which also was knocked by many for taking a step back in steering feel.
3) Start/Stop technology. We all know that manufacturer's are being backed into a government-regulated corner in terms of emissions/mpg, this is just one area that according to Shenhar needs some refinement. He writes "Nothing wrong with that [start/stop technology] in theory, if only it restarted smoothly and without the shake that makes you think someone just rear-ended you."
So, what do you think? What has happened here?
Most people know that for years, BMW's marketing tag line has been: "The ultimate driving machine." For a long time, this strong statement was appropriate. Now, I'm not so sure. After taking our new, redesigned 2012 3 Series over hill and dale during the last few days, I'm thinking the thrill is gone.
This is a big deal for me. I've been a 3 Series enthusiast for decades. As a former proud owner of a 1977 320i and a card-carrying member of the BMW Car Club of America, I was no stranger to the cult of BMW-even well before joining Consumer Reports. And as a CR test engineer, I've tested and evaluated examples of nearly every 3 Series made in the last 20 years...