BMW: what’s next?

I am not a BMW fan. They make some excellent cars, though nowadays the entire range is all ugly, probably a consequence of ex-chief designer Chris Bangle’s atrocious taste. BMW, like Mercedes and Audi, thrives as a badge-brand, with cars no better than rivals yet insultingly more expensive, thus more attractive to morons.

But before the said morons start leaving stupid comments, let me say more. Before the 90’s, BMW made beautiful cars. The old 1602’s were a regular sight here in Portugal, and I miss them and yelp for joy when I see one running. The E34 5-series was and is a properly good-looking car, that’s easily prettier than most of what came after, and not just in comparison to the following 5-series or other BMW ranges for that matter.

If there’s anything that BMW do undeniably well, it’s creating engines. Their early 90’s 2.5 litre turbodiesel engine was revolutionary (525tds, remember?), and today they still churn out a host of amazing powerplants. And some pretty amazingly-engined vehicles are coming soon too.

And this is an interesting dilemma for me. On one hand, the Bavarian brand is making really head-turning stuff, like the Dynamics-Efficiency-complicated-name thing, while on the other, it offends good taste everywhere by farting out the X-range. The most recent example is their killing the next 6-series M-version for a V8, pollution-farter, while on the other their making a range below the 1-series (probably an Isetta-inspired affair) and a triturbo diesel engine.

Let me delve into each matter shortly. Firstly, the 6-series is something I’ve always wanted to hate, but shouldn’t and can’t. It’s a coupé, and it’s not exactly gut-churningly ugly, as other BMW’s. It also has a diesel in its midst, which gives it a rare status, i.e., a grand tourer that does more than just chew fuel. It’s a well-balanced, interesting coupé, although it’s Achilles heel (apart from the badge) is it’s obscene price tag. And at the risk of sounding incoherent, I don’t think it’s a good idea to leave the M6 out of the next generation. Yes, M-BMW’s are “fuel-chewingly” mad, but all car models have a big-engined, multi-hundred horsepower version in their range. Not having one seriously cheapens the whole line-up of 6-series models. I think this is silliness on BMW’s part.

On the other hand, the prospect of a triple-turbo engine sounds insanely cool. The thought of accelerating and feeling turbo after turbo kick in is exhilarating. Let’s wait and see what the Bavarian brand has in store.

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