News and views on motorsports

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Present Day Fabrications

I can't remember the last time I watched Formula 1. Well, I think I've said enough about it and really despite the title and its applicability to that circus, this post isn't about that. I'll touch on automobiles in this post. Specifically, BMWs.

For those who have read my previous postings, you'd know that I view most BMWs as nothing more than accessories for mistresses and wannabes. Most but not all of them. Recently, I had the chance to drive an old E46 BMW M3. And what a gem that was. Being rear wheel drive, the steering and handling of that thing was a complete revelation. The balance of the chassis, the responsiveness and agility are stuff of legend. And that straight six - essentially half a McLaren F1 road car engine, sometimes reminds me of old Jaguars in terms of sonic quality at least. The performance - whilst not exactly fast by comparison to cars in the present day - is more than adequate for me. In fact, I love it.

Also recently, I've had the chance to ride in the very latest BMW M5. Now of course, that is a brutally fast car. Forget next level, its several levels above the M3. 4.4 litres, twin turbo V8 with 560 bhp with attendant torque. There's a sense of the inexorable with this car.

But here's the thing. The 5 series BMWs share the same platforms as the 6 and 7 series and get this, the Rolls Royce Ghost. OK I'm outdated. You knew this already. But Rolls Royce Ghost?? No wonder I keep mistaking 5 series BMWs for 7 series. Its seriously huge and portly. Near 2000 kgs for an Motorsport division road car. Gone are the days of the lightweight sports saloon that built BMWs reputation. This car is seriously like a big barge.

Except that it isn't. Or at least it pretends not to be. And herein lies my biggest bugbear. The engine note. BMW pipes in engine noise into the cabin by playing tracks on the speakers! Yes, I knew this for some time. But it didn't hit me hard until after I drove the E46 M3. That car is honest - though there are loads of probably superfluous features on it. Well, its honest enough. But playing the sound of a V10 in the cabin through the speakers? That takes the cake for fake.

What does it say about us a consumers and buyers? I mean BMW I'm sure knows its market extremely well - otherwise you'd never get absolutely stupid cars like the X3, X5 and... oh god, the X6 and its ilk. And knowing its market so well that it knows that buyers would tolerate or dare I say demand such fabrications as engine noise through the speakers. Forget about electric steering and the dead fake feel from the steering wheel. Whatever happened to the purity of the driving experience? BMW to me has stooped to a new low point.

This is from the same company that made such legends as the BMW 2002, M1, E30 M3, the first M5, the E60 V10 M5 and of course the E46 M3. I really don't know what else to say.