Re: BMW 4 Series.... BMW is back!

Postby Mr-914 » December 14th, 2012, 12:59 pm

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Indeed, it's a shame how limited design used to be...

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However, it is cheaper to stamp fairly flat surfaces.
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Re: BMW 4 Series.... BMW is back!

Postby Cyberdemon » December 14th, 2012, 2:03 pm

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Mr-914 wrote:Indeed, it's a shame how limited design used to be...

However, it is cheaper to stamp fairly flat surfaces.


Think that takes my point out of context - you're specifically highlighting the difference of the art of coach built, hand rolled body panels which was never for mainstream vehicles like the 2002, E28, etc that were being discussed as icons of German design. The E-type is a hand made wonder like the 507...

Image

That car is a piece of art, which even at it's time, was the price equivalent of our high end supercars , $10k in the mid 50's. In fact if you took the badges off and then compared it to this only 5 years down the road:

Image

You would say "that can't be the same company?" - which highlights my point - were those design directions made for distinctive design reasons, or were they made for practical engineering reasons at a time when you didn't have money to add on an extra scoop or some fancy creases in the body panels?

Re: BMW 4 Series.... BMW is back!

Postby mo-i » December 14th, 2012, 3:35 pm

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Mike,

it is interesting, that you pick out the "Neue Klasse" as your example, as it indeed
was built by a cash strapped company and in those early cars it shows.

But I have another comparison. Two sports cars, both built buy companies which
could afford to back any decision they took. One being built with cost being almost
no objective and one being built to a tight budget to be affordable to the mass market:

Image
*
Image

There was a time, when "less is more" really meant something. When modesty was seen as decent
and not as a sign of poverty.

I do accept that those times are long gone, but nevertheless I am very strong in my views:
The italians working for Audi elevated the brand to new hights by adhering to the same design
principles as Apple and Braun. But the cosmopolitans who did those flashy surfaces under Bangle
and still do under Wagener do not only lack understanding for the BMW and Mercedes brands
their traditions and values, they do also lack some basic industrial design common sense.

BMW seemed back on track since Bangle and Fisker left. Their cars regained smart
detailing and sound proportions. I do surely hope the 4-series will not be an exception, as the
serial car just needs to loose some "sports car" chintz.

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Re: BMW 4 Series.... BMW is back!

Postby rkuchinsky » December 14th, 2012, 4:57 pm

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Thanks mo-i for putting into pictures and better words than I could come up with, exactly what I was thinking.

In some ways actually by comparison MB has been much better at retaining the german-ess of their cars and legacy. A few misses along the way and I'm not loving all the designs, but the connection from all the way back to the ponton styles to the "new generation" W114s and then 190E's and beyond is pretty strong.


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Re: BMW 4 Series.... BMW is back!

Postby Mr-914 » December 15th, 2012, 12:58 pm

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Image

It's so hard to find examples of curvy old cars. It must be just cost that stops us from producing them.

I blame all of this boring design on globalization. In 1969, Munich (like everywhere else) was much more isolated. BMW built cars in that bubble.* Today, everything is almost Los Angelized. It's hard for us to develop something truly surprising and delightful when we are being influenced by the same culture. Perhaps this will change with more local production in the future.

*even if the car designers are italian, their clients were German and that's who chose the designs that made it to production. We'll never see what they rejected...
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Re: BMW 4 Series.... BMW is back!

Postby powaz » April 1st, 2013, 8:38 am

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TaylorWelden wrote:Really enjoying this handle detail. Says "aviation" to me.

Image


I'd enjoy it a lot more if it had a little less BS slathered all over it. You know BMW used to be about low-BS styling. Then Bengal happened and everything has just spiraled out of control ever since. It looks to me like BMW is responding to the Asians. These door handles look like they could have been pulled off the LFA and the front and rear look like they were lifted directly off a Kia. On a similar note look at that new Mercedes with the door handles integrated into the accent line exactly like the... Accent. How come the Germans couldn't figure that out... Oh wait.
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Re: BMW 4 Series.... BMW is back!

Postby Cyberdemon » June 14th, 2013, 11:20 am

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Well the production version is out...

I still hate the fender vents and the superfluous badging, but all in all, it's a pretty gorgeous car - especially in M Sport trim.

Image

http://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/frank ... s-revealed

Re: BMW 4 Series.... BMW is back!

Postby Generatewhatsnext » June 18th, 2013, 10:00 am

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Its raining today so I am feeling a bit glum - gonna spew for a minute about my favorite car brand...

If I only intended to buy BMWs for the rest of my life I'd be seriously concerned about the brand - they've been steadily losing the aficionado crowd as they have muddied their own waters to satisfy larger median customer groups. They no longer have a strict maintenance schedule that ensures longevity of product operation & quality (pressure from competing brands forced them to adopt longer service intervals during warranty and eliminate some fluid changes during 1st ownership - making used BMWs a scary purchase decision), they're phasing in elimination of some core product benefits in the name of technology and are paying a heavy price for it (no more oil dipsticks, addition of electronic steering (no more mechanical linkage) and forced ECU programming after battery changes (I can't check my oil, I can't feel the road any more and I can't even swap my own battery).

They say no one keeps cars anymore so why design to maintain them, ughh. I had a similar conversation with a landscaper about cutting shears (he says he tells the owner they need sharpened and the owner says just go buy another pair) - I think some manufacturers are catering to one crown TOO much - BMW seems to be relying on styling and a glorious inline 6 cylinder to keep us interested while Audi, Cadillac and others quickly play catch up in all the other dynamic categories a car has to offer.

I want manual transmissions, oil dipsticks, minimal techno-nannies and the ability to replace parts myself!
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Re: BMW 4 Series.... BMW is back!

Postby Cyberdemon » June 18th, 2013, 10:54 am

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A lot of those issues have come up, but after owning the new 3 series for a few months and test driving many E90 (with Hydraulics) I think the following points are worth mentioning:

-Everyone was up in arms about electric steering assist, but your point/assumption isn't correct. (Here's a good comparison article if anyone is bored)

http://www.caranddriver.com/features/el ... tor-page-2

Electric ASSIST simply means the hydraulic pump is replaced with an electric assembly to reduce steering force. The mechanical linkage is still present. Electric assist is NOT the same as steer by wire.

There are a LOT of awesome things about electric steering, and IMO it's much aligned with the "Manual or die" mantra. A manual is great for the nostalgia of nuts and bolts but for the most part, modern dual clutch/F1 style gearboxes are simply faster, despite losing the experience. Electric steering is great since it's force assist is adjustable (can be super light on highway cruising but stiffen up for sporty driving), gives me the benefit of having a variable steering ratio (great for tight parking lots), and it saves fuel economy and weight. Having lived with it for 6 months and gone back to drive the hydraulic after I found I don't miss it, and the hydraulic systems feel clunky and slow by comparison. The steering variability helps make a very BIG car feel extremely light and nimble - I focus on where the car is pointing, how much more throttle I can give it, and how much more I can push the car. The communication from the wheels on the new 3 series is still very good, even if it's not perfect.

For other things like the oil dipstick/service interval, you can argue that they've put something simpler and far smarter in place than the dipstick. I can go into my car status and see:
-Oil level & health (the 3000 mile oil myth is crap put together by people who wanted to sell more oil. I did 5000 miles with no problems in my last car and that was on standard Dino oil, synthetic in most cars is rated at 10000 miles. There's also nothing to stop you from changing it yourself, it just isn't free. If you want to change your oil every 7500 miles then consider it buy 1 get one free. Almost every manufacturer is doing this now.
-Tire pressure and temperature - thanks to a little coding hack you can get the exact PSI in every tire and tire temperature in real time. No more losing the little gauge.
-Brake pad life - Want to know if your pads are low? You can keep the caliper in the drawer and check that on the iDrive too. Will tell you how many miles they estimate you have left based on your driving history + current pad thickness.

Believe me I hear your cry for what you want, but car companies are always looking to push the envelope for faster, more efficient and more technology. Audi and Cadillac aren't much different (try changing the water pump on an S4...you'll discover you have to literally disassemble the ENTIRE front end of the car to do it).

I don't disagree with the decisions, and you can't argue with their logic - they simply sell far fewer of those niche products (big engines & MT gearboxes). But automobile magazines still give the 3 series the best car around year after year, so they've got to be doing something right even if others are catching up.

At the end of the day the 4 series is a great looking car, it has one of the best engines and chassis in the business, the technology to match it, and you can still get it with a 6 speed gearbox which is more than Lexus or Mercedes can offer you these days. I think that's pretty darn good.

Also, I'm excited for the 235M - that should be a SWEET little car for guys who want something simpler, lighter, and still with a big engine.

Re: BMW 4 Series.... BMW is back!

Postby Generatewhatsnext » June 18th, 2013, 2:56 pm

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Mike - all those points are valid, but BMW is losing ground with the group that put it on the map - enthusiasts.

Car and Driver just UNseated the 3 series to a Lexus, with the other car in the test (a Caddy ATS) being given the 'most fun to drive and best chassis' moniker as well (over the BMW). And that lovely steering is one of the biggest reasons - I've driven the F90 & F92 and that steering is a problem - not to mention the little 4 cylinder that is being implemented in turbo form for the lower models for CAFE standards is buzzy. BMW = high dollar = buzzy?

The dipstick thing was coming, everyone saw it...but new and tech-y doesn't equate to better. Sensors are great - until they fail. The more troubling issue is second-ownership. When you're looking at a car with 50K miles on it that has been 'dealer maintained'. that USED to mean something. Now that BMW has to pay for those first 4 years of maintenance, they've reduced the frequency of oil, coolant, brake, steering and diff fluid changes - without changing the component designs or the quality of the initial fluid fills at the factory - that makes second ownership a BIG issue. 'When you go to buy a performance car it is wise to check the dipstick (as well as checking the exhaust when tromping on the throttle) and now we can't do that either. Sadly, even the Tech guru at the BMWCCA says we're not going to want to buy used BMWs coming into the market starting ...right...about...now.

When you make cars for everyone, you can dumb them down for everyone but the BMW brand is not the VW or Chevy brand but it sure seems like they are driving it that way. Don't get me started on VW/Audi - I'm not a fan! :P
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Re: BMW 4 Series.... BMW is back!

Postby mo-i » June 18th, 2013, 3:24 pm

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Everything what Scott said.

Plus: variable steering: This was invented by Citroen long time ago and was available on Bimmers in hydraulic form for ages. Not a fan. On small backroads with changing radii it always loses the plot.

I'd just give anyone the friendly advice to jump right out of a legacy product into a"modern drivers car". You'll see for yourself how much the experience was dumbed down during the last 15 years. And I don't even see a reason or benefit out of that.

This is why I love the Gt 86 that much. It just begs for an Italian body. Zagato or the like...

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Re: BMW 4 Series.... BMW is back!

Postby Cyberdemon » June 18th, 2013, 3:34 pm

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Enthusiasts are a fickle bunch...never easy to please.

The exhaust on the 4 cylinder is crappy, and admittedly the one reason I went with the 6 since from a performance perspective the 4 cylinder is tremendous. Although even the 6 cylinder doesn't "sound" good. It sounds like machines doing things. Coming from a Corvette with a full exhaust or my TL which actually sounded fantastic above 3K, it's probably my least favorite of the 3, but it's enough to make you happy.

There is a range of feelings you can get out of a modern 3 series, especially if you test drove the base line or one of the "luxury" lines which they're tailoring to most of the crowd. If you test drove an F30 and did so without the sport suspension, 18 or 19" wheels with sport tires, and the car not in Sport then I'd say next time you're in NY stop by and I'll see if I can't change your mind. ;-) I had a base loaner and it was appalling how bad the same car could feel just by switching a few parts out. My car also has the VSS steering and dynamic suspension which is different, but greatly improves the experience when in sport mode. I haven't had any issues with it losing anything on a backroad since it's speed adjusted. The only time I notice it acting differently is when I'm trying to pull into a parking spot and I end up swinging tighter than I expected.

Now I agree that they've softened up the base car and it'd be great if you could just buy a base car that felt the way the old cars felt, but I don't think they've abandoned the enthusiasts as much as they said "hey you know where to find us".

Most people who've reviewed the car actually prefer the 328i to the 335 because despite the lackluster engine note (which can be resolved nicely with an aftermarket set of pipes) the lower weight makes it a better handling car all around. There's a lot of times where I secretly wish I would've just gotten the 328 since the 335 power is difficult to use legally.

I don't disagree on the maintenance issues either...especially since mine is a lease. But I think you'll see a lot of the industry going that way. Anything German in the past 15 years has been a PITA for maintenance. My brother had an E39 M5 (which I'm still mad I didn't buy off him) and even back then the maintenance was a huge issue. Random sensors would go and unless you knew how to read German you'd be taking it to the dealer to fix - and that was for a car they designed in ~1998.

Re: BMW 4 Series.... BMW is back!

Postby Cameron » June 18th, 2013, 6:03 pm

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It would be nice if at least one of the German luxury makers went a bit bolder, cleaner, and geometric. Now, even Audi's getting caught up in the swoop/crease count contests. Sure, people rolling bodies couldn't do the stuff we're seeing today. Doesn't mean we should. If anything, restraint will be even more valued and saught after by minimalist consumers that have few options.

This car is pretty good relative to other recent BMW swoopy stuff.

If products should appear simpler on the exterior as they get smarter on the interior (a goal I agree with), why is the opposite happening in trans design, compared to product design (overall)?

I'd like to see BMW evolve some of their classic elements beyond pure organicness. Lots of these comtemporary detail motifs could be done in a really cool way that is a bit more technical, ordered, and simple. Do my side view mirror really need 4 highlight creases?
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Re: BMW 4 Series.... BMW is back!

Postby Mr-914 » June 19th, 2013, 7:04 am

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I never liked BMWs. My brother is a huge fan, but the clutch pedals lack feel, the parts are super expensive (and always have been) and they are way over hyped.

Having said that, this weekend I was thinking, "why doesn't some make take a chance and make a line of light, RWD family cars." I guess that I know why, but how fun would that be? The GT86 is great (despite the Nazi SS logo), but it's cramped. As a real luddite, I'd prefer a Miata. But how much fun were the 2002, Datsun 510, AE86 Corolla, Cortina, etc. I'd like someone to have a $18k 4 door, RWD, 2800 lbs. car with 150 hp AND the dependability and convience of a modern car (not the 1000 blinking lights though).

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Re: BMW 4 Series.... BMW is back!

Postby Generatewhatsnext » June 19th, 2013, 9:13 am

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Mike - My time most recently was spent in a 2013 M3 and a 328i (vs. my older M3 and my X5) - I suppose I'm reacting to the top and bottom of the line and the problems I see in both. As a BMWCCA member I get to experience the newest cars before most and we spend a good bit of time behind the wheels and under the hoods, as well as having BMW techs provide insight into the technology of the newest models. The CCA gatherings are all dusted with more than their fair share of praise ad even then my lackluster reviews are unfortunately coming firsthand! The E39 M5 is a great driver's car but not a great DIY car for sure. The drivetrain is a detuned F1-based, sensor-laden showpiece that is music to hear until something breaks. That car represented a turning point for BMWs that you can (or can't) afford to take care of yourself. Knowingly or not, I chose both of my BMWs because of their purity. Both have the vaunted inline 6, both have manual transmissions, both are pre-iDrive, neither have onboard nav and both can be fully maintained from within my garage under my control without having to take either to the dealer for a reset or a battery check or an ECU kickstart. I guess those days are gone for new BMWs.

Cameron - I think Chris Bangle was the first to try to bring the Germans out of teutonic-land to convince buyers that styling was one of the reasons they would want a BMW over a Mercedes or Audi and I suppose it all snowballed from there. Those first 3 or 4 cars done under Bangle were (imo) horribly styled (Z3, 7 series, etc) but DID move the brand away from different sized peas all from the same pod so maybe his goal was a success. Maybe BMW will move back toward the styling purity that had me so attracted back in the 90's and early 2000's.

Ray - I think someone has almost hit your target - the Chevy Cruze line. If you have a chance, give one a try - GM learned a LOT when they took their Chevy and Cadillac cars to the Nurburgring for 3 years back in the early 2000's - they brought back chassis tuning knowledge that has benefited almost every car they make - you'll be surprised at the refinement of that modern, simple small car, especially the ECO model with the 6 speed tranny. Not RWD, but everything else on your list.
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