Front wheel drive BMWs mark the end of an era

The sun sets on the legendary M5

By now most of us car folks know that BMW has been working on a line of front wheel drive cars, but today it has basically become official. I saw on Jalopnik that BMW will launch their first front drive car at the Paris Motor Show later this year. For me this marks the end of an era for BMW because they have finally made the commitment to stray from the ideals that made their great name. This is on top the fact that their entire line of cars has been getting bigger, heavier, and softer in recent years. In my opinion there are also no “true” M cars right now either, as all of the current ones put luxury as the priority over proper driving dynamics, when traditionally it was the other way around (see the fake engine noises in the M5). BMW has been going soft for some time now, whilst catering to the yuppy, poser crowd that just wants a status symbol in their driveway; the same people who buy X6s, X3s and whatnot. I see this as the end of an era for BMW because by making a front drive car they are showing their priority commitment to this plastic sort of customer at the expense of the brand’s own established identity and their previous customer base. BMW has always been about driving pleasure, now they are more about being a fashion accessory; going a similar route Toyota did back in the early 00s with the “green” stuff. They will likely be financially successful, but the BMW brand will have lost its significant reputation, in favor of becoming a cliché trademark of superficial and insincere culture. Cherish the memories folks, as there were some really great times over the years.

PS: Buy late model M cars soon because they will likely all be appreciating within a few years. I could’ve had an E30 M3 for 7k when I first got my license, now I’m kicking myself.

-Nick

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4 thoughts on “Front wheel drive BMWs mark the end of an era”

  1. Well Mr. Nick, you do bring up some valid points. However is BMW’s direct competitor Audi and less the imposter? They have making true all-wheel drive cars like forever, and more recently their product line has also been getting heavier and more about bells and whistles than true driving pleasure, don’t you think? Afterall the horsepower wars only make all these cars bigger and heavier in the end. Its a self-fulfilling prophecy me thinks.

    Everyone should take a history lesson from the BMW Brescia roadsters and coupes that ran the Mille Miglia and Rome to Brecia races. Its all about the power to weight ratio; lighter cars and more power make for more fun to drive and greater road holding capacity and agility.

    One of the great great M Cars in my opinion is the E36 Lightweights – Now there is an M car!

    I do agree, start buying up rear wheel drive M cars and you won’t be sorry. Look at the prices on the BMW CSL’s – aka Bat Mobiles. They are seeing 6 figures. I’ll always bleed blue and white no matter what happens.

    Cheers,
    Thom Montanari

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    1. Audi hasn’t changed their corporate commitment to quattro, plus, they were, if I recall correctly, pioneers in front-wheel drive configurations, before founding/perfecting quattro “all-wheel” drive. BMW positioned itself on driving dynamics and perfect 50/50 weight distribution in pursuit of enjoying the drive and thus, the “Ultimate Driving Machine” image and brand development. Granted, the incredible use of weight saving technology does wonders for automakers ability to package more stuff without a “noticeable” weight-gain, but for just as much effort as manufacturers can make a race or track package car and the performance differences begin to show, front engine-front wheel drive cars, simply won’t possess the dynamic that BMW has built their brand upon. I agree, they’ve been relying more on technology and lost that “connected to the road” feel of their predecessors, but this is a clear departure from that image. The advancement of their all-wheel drive throughout the line-up was a competitive move, as Audi stuck to their corporate philosophy and started to dramatically change public perception that quattro was not simply for “I’d rather sit in front of the fireplace” weather, and that they were meant for truly “intentional” acceleration and performance.

      Don’t make me wrong, I love old school BMW’s and pretty much any of the line-up pre-2001, but I love my quattro.

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