Is it just my impression, or is the BMW blip fading a little bit from the luxury marque radar screen? Younger buyers are choosing Audis in greater numbers, and Mercedes is clearly asserting its authority at both the lower and upper ends of the luxury car spectrum. Lexus, too, remains a powerhouse with buyers who simply want something cushy and reliable to drive, while simultaneously increasing its appeal to people who also want something fun to drive.
After a decade of delivering unconventional design and controversial technology, BMW is moving a little closer to center with its latest models while at the same time installing electronic gee-wizardry to improve efficiency and to provide dynamic custom-tailoring for a greater variety of customers.
Depending on your viewpoint, this is either a smart move to ensure continued viability competing against bigger companies benefiting from greater economies of scale, or it is a confusing move that alienates BMW’s core, fanatical buyer base while making the brand’s cars and SUVs more like the ones sold by every other company.
Clearly, this is a treacherous time for BMW, the second best-selling luxury marque in the U.S., and it must tread carefully between serving loyal enthusiasts and building products with mass-market appeal. Is that possible? I spent a week with a 2014 BMW 435i in order to answer that question.