Between the Lines: Motor Trend Disses BMW. Ish.
Source Interlink Media owns Motor Trend magazine. Both conglomerate and car mag are heading south, quickly, in a big way. Ad revenues and circulation are in free fall. Motor Trend (MT) is fighting for it survival with glossy pimpatorials for equally doomed advertisers. The August issue features a glossy "special advertising section" for Buick ("Drive Beautiful") and a slick "advertisement" for the Dodge Challenger ("Motor Trend drives the new Dodge Challenger Through Europe"). Meanwhile, the chronically undercapitalized columnist arthur st. antoine takes a whack at a premium car brand: BMW. Huh?
Start with this: BMW doesn’t advertise in Motor Trend. GMC, Extenze (male enhancement pills), Mercedes-Benz, The Sinclair Institute (“Better Sex for a Lifetime”), MINI, Xomax (male enhancement pills), Infiniti, MAGNA-RX Inc. (male enhancement pills)– but no BMW. You could say with all those pills readers need not buy a BMW– but I couldn’t possibly comment.
Anyway, no feeding hand is bitten, bitte. If MT’s Editor at Large had taken a shot at the Chevrolet Aveo on the mag’s back cover– now with extra hideousness (courtesy of an Audi meets Malibu snout)– I would have been impressed. But he didn’t so I’m not.
“We car journalists are suckers for BMWs. Every model the Bavarian Brand produces is an engineering masterwork, manna for driving enthusiasts, an internal combustion mallet for pummeling comparison-test rivals into humiliated awe. Why even bother to conduct such tests? We’ll choose the machine with the blue-and-white propeller every time. Right?”
Clued-in parsoholics will realize that “Right?” signals st. antoine’s sarcasm. Clued-in pistonheads will realize antoine’s defense comes hot-on-the-heels of Car and Driver’s July comparo, where the mag rated a BMW M3 higher than a Porsche Turbo and Nissan GT-R. Though st. antoine is a former Car and Driver writer, doesn’t he have anything better to do than defend his erstwhile rivals? Apparently not.
“That’s the cliché… But the reality is this: BMW’s supremacy is a myth, one based in part on some historical validity but sustained in recent years largely by a single model, the 3 Series (okay, the new 1 Series seems strong, too). As for the rest of the lineup… where are the superstars? M5 sedan? A thrilling drive, yes, but in its most recent comparo (February 2007) a second-place finisher to the sweeter, sleeker Audi S6.”
Is it me or is st. antoine trying to gum BMW to death? The new BMW M5 blows compared to any car in the entire world that doesn’t have an SMG gearbox. The latterly six-speed manual M5 is OK, and plenty damn quick by any metric, but the Bimmer is a bling-bang-boom travesty when contrasted with its legendary predecessor.
There, that wasn’t so hard was it? And either the 1 Series is strong or it isn’t. It “seems” like a good time for st. antoine to get off the fence. Of course, attacking BMW isn’t really the point of this dietribe [sic]. It’s all about defending MT’s “objectivity” and “integrity” (har-har). Hence st. antoine presents a list of MT comparos Bimmers DIDN’T win within its increasingly tissue-like pages.
And now, a bit of dead horse beating…
“…the iDrive controller remains a poster child of frustration and feature-glut (do you really need a an electronic menu to adjust the airflow from individual vents?), we simply can’t heartily endorse a car– no matter how surgical its steering or smooth its inline six– blemished by that glaring chrome iDrive mole.”
Wow! That’s a LOT of punctuation. But little punch. Critizing BMW for iDrive is like slagging an Escalade for lousy mileage; it’s safe, well-trodden ground. Oh, and in this case, st. antoine's claim of withholding his love for the propeller people's products simply isn't true. st. antoine on the 135i:
“I'm blown away by this little stealth fighter. I can't recall another car that's been more surprising to drive; I expected the 135i to offer solid performance, but it's breathtakingly quick. Refined, too- it's a bona-fide BMW."
Sounds solid to me. Uh, where was I? More importantly, where was st. antoine? Ah, giving the BMW X6 what the Brits call a proper pasting.
“…the X6 is also grotesquely heavy, too small to carry anything, compromised in the back by that free-falling roofline, saddled with iDrive and a needlessly complicated shift lever, and absurdly expensive.”
Finally! st. antoine substantiates his contention that BMW ain’t so big (it’s just tall, that’s all). The paragraph is also a compelling argument that his employer isn't in BMW's pocket. So, a quick twist of the knife and out. Right?
“That BMW’s engineers are gifted goes without saying. As German-born architect Mies van der Rohe once said, though, “Less is more.” Also, “What is this big chrome mole here?”
You gotta admire a writer who can so deftly blend ass-kissing, name-dropping and a non sequitur. Still, at the end of page 24, st. antoine’s quasi-rant provides proof– if proof be needed– that MT is doomed.
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