This is the email I just wrote the the Jalopnik article's author:
Hi Bill -
I had to write you after reading your article on Jalopnik. I have respected BMW my whole life and have always revered their cars and engineering, but as of the last year and a half to two years I've been increasingly concerned with the direction they're taking. While the M models are certainly lacking, with huge increases in weight and being over filled with adjustable everything, other models in the lineup have the same problems.
Take the F10 5 series: I purchased a new e60 550i M Sport back in 2009 and have loved it ever since. While I can understand the new trend to turbocharge, I love the NA engine and the fact that the suspension is static. I feel like it's one of the last high-end BMW's that's fairly simple. In 2010 I was invited to a driving event at Weatherford BMW in Berkeley, California. While they had other models there, I really just wanted to drive the new 550i. As I drove to the dealership I was worried that, after driving the new 550, I would get back in mine and think, "damn, the new one is so much better", however, the complete opposite happened. When I got back in my car, I had a huge grin as I got on the on-ramp to I-80. By comparison, the new 550 felt heavier (which it is, by about 400 lbs.) and more isolated from the road. I could barely hear the engine. Everything just felt watered-down, like it was meant for a 70 year old CEO, not someone who admires the sport in sport sedan. At 25 years old, I have zero interest in driving an 'old man car'. My car felt more agile, had more seering feel (is the fuel savings that much better with electric assist? Not at the expense of steering feel), and I could actually hear the engine. While I was happy that the drive reinforced the love I have for my 550, it made me sad to think of that's happening to BMW. I test-drive a car that is brand new and was just released months earlier, and by comparison with my car, while it was refreshed in 2008, was originally released in 2003 and has the more satisfying driving experience of the two... how is that progress?
It's common knowledge that the 3 series is the baby of the lineup with the majority of sales, and they clearly didn't want to tinker with it too much by keeping the weight the same. Even then, all the adjustable this and that and all the technology they employ to make the car drive 'better' actually achieves the opposite as it further isolates the driver from the road. It's as if BMW is too worried that standard suspension alone cannot produce satisfying driving results, even though it did for decades.
Although I've always been a Bimmerphile, I can't follow BMW blindly into whatever unfortunate business decisions it chooses to make. The recent Car and Driver comparison test between the new M5, e63 AMG, and S6, in which the M5 came last, was really an eye opener (http://www.caranddriver.com/comparis...omparison-test
). If they want to water down their regular models to increase sales, I guess there's nothing to be done. But to decrease the 'driver's car' quality that used to be the hallmark of the M models is truly disappointing.
Thanks again for the courage to say what you did.