Everyone Hates The BMW 3 Series
Lexus and Infiniti have been gunning for it for years now. Cadillac is working on its answer to it. And now, Jaguar says that it wants to take on the nameplate that every luxury brand wants to replicate: the BMW 3 Series. Jag’s Adrian Hallmark tells Autoweek
We need different models. We need lower priced models. Whether we do one, two or three body styles, we can still decide. But we have to be in the lower price. We don’t want to be fighting it out in the fleet business with little engines and small wheels and discounted 25 percent. If we go into the smaller car market, we want to build elegant cars with great technology that give a sense of occasion and position us above that competition — where Jaguar should be.
And no wonder everyone is out to get Mr 3: moving 100k+ units with a starting price over $35k in the US market is the holy grail of every luxury brand… and even the Chevy Volt is shooting for that lofty goal. But the Dreier has been building its market position for decades… and it won’t give up its throne without a fight. And if Jaguar and Cadillac jump into the fight at the same time, they could end up simply taking share from each other. But then, there’s no easy way to spin cars into gold.
Please...the x type started life as a Contour. I know someone with one and can pick out the parts that are common. The secret to the 3 is simple. It really is, at least in the E46 model, the ultimate driving machine. Now, I know a lot of the buyers are Yuppie asshats who are basically driving a rolex. BMW caters to them by making sure the base price of the car can be raised with things like $4000 wheel upgrades or superduper leather interiors. Why leave money on the table ? What they do right is make the car good, even where you don't see it. In the last 235k, I've taken most of the car apart for various radio related reasons (ham radio) and stereo upgrades (mediabridge mekes a nice bluetooth/ipod integration). The car is thoroughly soundproofed, screws and such are used instead of crappy plastic clips, and while I may wonder why five different clips may be used for the trunk trim, I know someone thought about it and spent the money to do it right. BMW does punish you, as the competitor is always the same price as the base BMW, but when you add bizarre things like ipod, or xenon, or power seats (what ? in a $40k car you expect power seats ?) you then ramp up the price 10-15k over the equally equipped competitor. They know that those who know will pay, those who don't know but seek status will really pay, and the rest will buy used if at all. The competitors don't drive as well. The G35 is bigger and I've never seen a manual in a sedan. An IS feels like a toy (OK not the F but I've never seen one outside the auto show) I'm not an Audi fan but the A4 began life as FWD so it starts off behind, and until you end up with an S4 or RS4 it's still too VW-cheap. (asbestos suit ON). The C class is a waste of space and over designed...it makes the current E90 look reserved in a good way. BMW spends the money where you can't see it. The rivals have to not target the last model. They have to beat it. I'm betting on the Koreans to win this one. They are the only ones who "get" it. The service life of a 3 is also longer, from my experience. Partly it has to to offset the higher prices, but also because BMW pushes technology at all levels. Sometimes this backfires, like runflats or no dipstick, but other times, it means new technologies and manufacturing processes. BMW has eaten a lot of engines (early M3, or aluminum V8's that can't eat American gas) doing this. I got satnav back in 2003 when the BMW DVD system was bleeding edge, and when it didn't work, BMW NA cared and I ended up as a beta tester...it wasn't crappy stuff, it was pushing the edge. If you get something that does not work right, and the response is not only adequate but overwhelming, you learn a lot about the internal workings of the company. BMW folks are passionate. (BMW NA, not the stealerships, although there are a lot of good folks there too, at least in my journey with BMW) Today, you can get things like night vision, HUD, and such...which a lot of the competitiors don't have. They may be cherries atop other option packages and ripoff expensive, but they are exclusive, and like satnav, may be common in ten years. Ignoring the idle rich and the yuppies, few cars can cater to the retired golf set and still do hot laps when the golfer's kid sneaks the car out for a track day.
For the last 11 years I've driven a '96 328i. I test drove a dozen cars before I bought it and when I drove it on the test drive, the car had something the other dozen didn't. It was, and is, a hoot to drive. It's now got 250,000 miles and runs like a top (thanks to my indy BMW mechanic). It's never let me down--mechanically or spiritually. Tomorrow morning I will take it to work in 18" of snow and it will get me there like it has every day for 11 years, no matter what. It does piss me of that so many poseurs aspire to own them. That's not why I bought it. It had a manual trans, RWD and 4 doors--a rare combo. When this car finally gives out, I will almost certainly buy another 3 series--this car has EARNED my loyalty.
Regardless, BMW does offer the best diesel performance sedan in US.