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The Changing Face of BMW

Editorial / Comments

It's no longer just a few coupes, sedans and a couple of SUVs.

For several decades, BMW was defined by its coupes and sedans and the occasional sports car. This business model of building extremely well engineered and special cars provided drivers with plenty of fun behind the wheel while driving something different than your typical Ford or Chevy. This distinctive German engineering was something American automakers never really sought to replicate until more recently. It was the arrival of the original 3 Series that got domestic brands to rethink their strategies.

Today, however, BMW is not only a fully-fledged luxury automaker; it's also become a part of the mainstream. Aside from the three rear-wheel-drive "base models" (3, 5 and 7 Series), BMW has expanded into nearly all other segments. Could anyone have imagined even just ten years ago that BMW would be building models in 2014 like the new 2-Series Active Tourer (shock! it's front-wheel-drive), the i3 EV, and even the i8 high-performance coupe? The latter is, after all, powered by a three-cylinder gasoline engine and a pair of electric motors. At $135,700, it also has the highest base price in the entire BMW lineup.

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True, all three major German brands (add in Audi and Mercedes) have adapted their lineups in nearly identical ways, but perhaps its BMW who's made the most dramatic change from its origins. It's now officially gone from somewhat defying the status quo to officially being a part of the mainstream. Whether you think that's a good or a bad thing, it's just the way it is.