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.