I know this is a Saab blog, but the earliest press reports on the new BMW M3 are really making for some fascinating reading. As Saab have been the one of the motoring press’ piñatas for a few years now, it’s somewhat satisfying to see Saab having a great run in the press whilst BMW, the press’ darling brand, are getting just a little bit of stick.
I’ve already mentioned The Truth About Cars’ comments in a post earlier in the week. Ted made a note of the TTAC readers’ comments on that post and they certainly are an eye opener:
The first time I saw the torque specs for the car I was depressed. Then I saw the price and was even more depressed. BMW is becoming the Ultimate Lease Machine…..
I am a dye in the wool BMW guy. I am on my 5th 3 series car, I am in the CCA, read the Roundel… all that jazz. Even I find the new M3 disappointing…..
Looks like the 335i, or hell the 135i, is the new M3.
And many of these are hardcore BMW fans.
TTAC isn’t the only site doing this. The New York Times sums a few of them up:
What Car? said it was “comfortable and well equipped, and is as eminently suitable as an everyday car as it is at home on racetracks.” AutoWeek said it was “not quite as tactile in its actions, perhaps, as the car it replaces.” And Car thought that “in trying to hit so many targets, the E92 leaves purists wanting.”
Motor Trend are the latest to get on board. Sure, there’s the usual euphoric BMWisms:
It’s quick and precise; beautifully balanced and brilliantly responsive; deeply confident and inspiringly competent when you ask it the big questions. Yep, the new BMW M3 is everything the BMW faithful have been waiting for — and then some.
You’d expect the entire four pages to be filled with such rapture, but the very next lines read as follows:
But ironically, it’s the “then some” bit that might have a few of those faithful scratching their heads.
You see, at first acquaintance the new M3 appears to have — whisper it, now — gone soft.
It would seem that BMW have gone too far along the road that seeks perfection. In doing so, they’ve alienated the base that turned the original M3 and its early decendents into automotive legends. A car that was a sleeper in it’s first iteration, capable of much more than it showed on the outside. A car with legendary handling and a reputation for engines with real character.
They’ve tried to extend the formula and in doing so they’ve fallen victim to their own success. The motoring press was so enamored with BMW that many major writeups are now based on the track rather than on the road, regardless of whether the car was designed for track work. Cornering like a hooker is of absolutely no use to you when you’re stuck in peak hour. The best seats in the business sure help though.
The good news is that the press haven’t been so in love as to overlook it.
Is there a lesson for Saab in all of this? You betcha.
Build the cars that you’ve become known for. Build the cars that have built your brand. Tweak them a little, appoint them a little better, progress them, but preserve the essence of what made you famous.
The BMW debacle proves that no-one’s invincible. Saab’s latest press after years of whipping also indicates that no-one’s beyond redemption, too. Here’s hoping they continue to develop and build cars with character that’s true to Saab’s heritage – safe, practical and turbocharged.
Thanks to Gripen for the chat and the links.