Drives: E70 X5 35d
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Longmont, CO
I've heard the argument before, and I think it has some merit, that BMWs will be "judged" more harshly than other cars due to the expectations of the customers. Some of this is due to the perception that German cars are of high quality, some of it is due to the "buyer's remorse" at having just paid a premium for the car, some of it is due to the "more demanding" nature of the buyer, and some of it is due to the "social climbing" aspect, especially for the 3 series.
On the subject of buyers being more demanding, I think it's much more often true of a BMW owner than say a Lexus or MB owner. My wife loves her Lexus RX350, and frankly hates most things about my 335i, the X5 I had overnight to have her try, the 535i I tried to get her to buy, and so on. Everything in her Lexus works like she expects it to, with nothing like iDrive, quirky stalk controls, useless cupholders, and so on. When she drove the X5 she couldn't figure out how the weird "banana" shifter worked, and nearly put the damn thing through the garage wall as a result. When she asked the dealer to show her how to find a POI using iDrive, he couldn't do so, and we couldn't figure it out on our own. I know, I know, many of you will come to the defense of BMW's non-intuitive user interfaces, but none of your arguments hold water for someone like my wife who isn't interested in having to "learn" how to operate a car.
So what does this mean in the context of this thread? I know that if she had bought an X5 or 535i a few months ago instead of her 2nd RX, she would not have helped the quality rankings if they had intereviewed her. It wouldn't matter whether or not the "problems" she would have reported were real or truly quality related, and the report wouldn't show that.
On the flip side, I love my 335i and am willing to forgive most of the quirks. Thankfully I don't have iDrive, and I can live with the stupid cupholders and a few other things. I find her Lexus to be boring to drive, but beyond that it doesn't have many things that are annoying or poor quality. I don't know what the list of questions include, but if it included things like "car is boring", "handling is terrible", "engine sounds like a vacuum cleaner" and so on, then perhaps Lexus, MB, etc. would have more issues, but then again would their typical owners agree with what most of us think?
I also believe that a BMW, again especially the 3 series, is often the first "expensive" car that many people buy. Someone moving from a Honda, Toyota, or even an Acura may have high expectations given the relatively high price that they paid for the car. They think it should be as good or better than their previous cars, and will notice every little thing. It's related to the "buyer's remorse" problem, but may be worse as they are stretching to buy the car.
Okay, this is long winded, but on the subject of Porsche being #1, I'd like to see more information on who is being interviewed. Is is mainly Cayenne owners who use them as daily drivers, in which case it is impressive, or is it mainly 911 (and even Boxster/Cayman) owners who are mainly using them as fun/weekend/etc. cars? If the latter, then they should wait a year instead of 90 days because the cars aren't being used enough to matter. There is also a weird "attitude" amongst many Porsche owners that nothing should ever be said bad about the cars or marque. It's almost as if they believe that if they complain that Porsche will find out and ban them from future purchases, factory visits, and so on.
Okay, enough of a rant. I would like to see a "satisfaction" survey after 1, 2, and 4 years of ownership, in which case I think BMW might do quite well.