The fact of the matter is that for the past dozen or more years almost every other premium car company has been chasing BMW's benchmark - the definition of sport sedan - and many of them are catching up quickly. Audi and Lexus come to mind.
At the same time, some people are starting to wonder whether BMW has lost its edge or if they've started valuing luxury over sportiness, which lessens their unique image as a builder of sport sedans.
Back in the good old days, you'd climb into a 3 series, fire it up, drive it away, and be delighted with the athletic responses of the chassis, steering, and brakes. It was a sports car with 4 doors - right out of the box.
Today, if you climb into a F30 and you want to drive a sport sedan you have to push an extra button to find the sports car hidden inside. Even then, the combination of run flats, electric steering, and other factors dull the sport sedan experience. Is this a case of too many focus groups and not having the confidence that the characteristics which defined the brand will carry it to the next level? If so, too bad. Bring back the car nuts that knew what they wanted and built it!
BMW's new powertrains are brilliant. As far as I'm concerned, its too bad the rest of the car has lost the sporty feel that defined BMW. I hope the upcoming M3 addresses these issues - but I'm getting ready to have a plan B.
2008 E90 M3 - Dinan Stage 3 and BBS CH's
2000 328i sedan (UUC suspension - still the favorite)
2012 Mini Cooper (wife's)
1991 325iX (sold - gone but not forgotten!)
2011 X3 (Performance Center delivery done May '11)