At least that’s what the man behind the “Ultimate Driving Machine” slogan thinks.
Those who are privy to the latest BMWs to roam out of Bavaria may have noticed that the company that once touted itself as the purveyor of sheer driving pleasure has gone bunk on its promise. Ex CEO of GM Bob Lutz who was also once on the BMW 3 Series development team has taken notice and wasn’t shy about mentioning it during a Road & Track Q & A column. Lutz mentioned how the lineup once consisted of smooth inline-six engines and chassis that were extensions of the driver’s body rather than machine.
Now, BMW's cars are teaming with fake exhaust notes, undercarriages engineered to hide increasing masses, and electric steering units with adjustable levels of numbness. In short, BMW has sold out on what made it great in exchange for shareholder money. The question cited the front-wheel drive 2 Series and upcoming FWD 1 Series as indicators that BMW has stopped caring about the enthusiasts, an idea that Lutz not only agreed with but stood behind as a seasoned industry veteran. His reasoning is that BMW has elevated its brand recognition to the point that it can afford to forgo building more expensive enthusiast vehicles in exchange for the moneymaking cars and given the choice, would have done the same thing.
To an extent, he is right. The once highly regarded 3 Series has drawn criticism after getting softer and more focused on comfort. BMW did this in order to appeal to its new buyers who are more interested in the badge than the experience and feel of a weekend drive. However, the existence of the M2 either blatantly proves Lutz wrong or shows that while BMW likes to make money off of its strong sellers, it hasn’t forgotten the enthusiasts. The sports car is a threat to the M4’s bottom line and once the M2 Gran Coupe is out, the M3 will roll off of the production line a bit more slowly. Let’s just hope BMW keeps this mantra as engine displacement and driver responsibility continues to shrink.