Last post on May 30, 2007 at 9:05 PM
You are in the Sedans
What is this discussion about?
BMW 3 Series, BMW 5 Series, BMW 7 Series
#102 of 729 Sales and Styling Leadership
May 17, 2003 (1:23 pm)
carguy58... 745i sales rose over 740i.
You don't think the new Nissan Maxima isn't radical styling? Or the Mazda RX8? Or that the New Beetle wasn't a radical departure from where VW had been in the early 1990s? Or that the new Infiniti G35 hardly looks like its sister I35 or G20? Or that the G35 coupe breaks new ground for Infiniti styling? Or just compare the Cadillac CTS to the Catera.
Is BMW merely playing catch up?
#103 of 729 Radical deigns:
May 17, 2003 (4:45 pm)
Companies like Nissan/Infinti, Mazda, Cadillac, and VW around the mid 90's had big sales declines. In the late 80's/early 90's Nissan and Mazda could no wrong. Then they started to style cars along the lines of the Toyota and lost alot of buyers in the mid 90's. So basically Nissan and Mazda are returning back to their routes. Cadillac had to go radical because their buyers were the oldest in the industry. One you dump your styling routes buyers go away from that specific brand of car unless your Honda and Toyota and have a high following for your reliability which those companies do.
BMW was the styling leader in the late 90's/early 00's. They are going in a totally different direction now so its basically a new era styling wise at BMW.
The 7 Series is not a high volume selling car which the 3 and 5 Series are.
I'll give BMW credit they make some of the best automobiles in the business without question but their new styling direction is very debateable.
May 17, 2003 (5:46 pm)
The difference between Nissan, Masda, VW and BMW is that BMW's sales volume has steadily increased every year since the mid 80's. BMW took a huge risk in possibly alienating customers who have been loyal over the years. BMW hasn't had to build or rebuild customer confidence in its' products because of bad designs or reliability issues. As far as BMW playing catch-up, radical designs rarely last. Look at what is happening to the sales of vehicles like the PT Cruiser and VW Beetle. When your product is perceived as garbage you have to take risks to attract customers.
#105 of 729 Radical vs Retro
May 17, 2003 (6:02 pm)
The New Beetle and Thunderbird were pure retro. The PT Cruiser evokes retro. There isn't much you can change without changing the intent of the retroactivity. Will be interesting to see if all end up being deadends. T-bird demise nearing. Big reason VW and Chrysler waited to go turbo, convertible, etc.
BMW's competitors aren't sitting still. Audi making some big styling changes. MB has too, though not quite as much.
BMW wants to be a leader in design. They believe they have refined the older styles as much as they can and need some new blood to maintain leadership.
I remember the howling back in mid-80s when Taurus' jellybean styling, along with Audi, were heavily criticized. Think the revised big Dodge Ram pickup truck was criticized during its '90s intro. But they caught on.
Lots of people hated the Z4. My neighbor has one. She loves it. I do, too. Tons of armchair critics hate the new 745i. I did, too, until I drove one and got to appreciate it in the flesh. Sales of 745i have been good. Sales of current E39 5 Series falling fast. I think we'll all be pleasantly surprised at how well the new 5 looks on the road.
Don't get me wrong. Some moves appear bad. I didin't like the iDrive. Critics don't either. Nor could I figure it out intuitively in my test drive. Here is an important area BMW needs to fix. Audi's MMI much better!
#106 of 729 The Reliability Issue
May 17, 2003 (7:16 pm)
I too am concerned about where BMW is headed. The previous 7 was one of my favorite rides, but this new one just leaves me cold.
Anecdotally, i've noticed a lot of broken down new 7's by the side of the road (3 so far), which is odd for such a low-volume model, and even odder b/c i've never seen an older 7 just up and croak. Could these problems be iDrive related?
#107 of 729 styling thoughts on all major luxury brands, comments?
May 19, 2003 (8:42 am)
Mercedes - moving a bit toward old BMW style (sorta one sausage, diff sizes) at same time BMW is adopting Mercedes idea of distinctiveness for each car. Has styling really well done, especially on S and E - these are conservative model ranges which are notoriously difficult to do.
BMW - searching for some sort of modernist style with individual model identity. Clearly able to build a common brand indetity with these individuality. But look of individual models is not so great. My problem with 7-series is that it simply looks inelegant. This works with caddilac DNA, but not with BMW. We will see how 5-series goes.
Part of problem is that BMW had styling nailed in 90s. Hard to improve on 99 3-series in styling. While all great driving cars I wonder what people thought of the styling of the 2002 from the 70s?
Jagaur - trapped in retro look that appeals to some buyers but limits growth potential. Need to find a third way. Was once cutting edge. These designs led and defined industry and now they are tied up by them. Interior in particular must better combine classicism with modernity. Obviously from driving perspective they have gone with elegance at the cost of sportiness and responsiveness. Need to get the sport back in the flacid ride quality.
Audi - really a design leader. Bauhaus style has done wonders and really united the entire lineup. Audi TT, A6 and new A8 really aesthetically perfect cars. Ditto for interiors, which are touch staid though.
Cadillac - antithesis of Jaguar, ultra modernist stealthlook. At first, being different for sake of being different. Also produced the monumentally scary Aztec. Styling really seems to be congealing well after all.
Was smart move. I really think Cadillac's values must be sleek, aggresive modernity with use of cutting edge technology. Key weakness remains interior styling and quality.
For those in NYC area, this is like Matisse-Picasso MOMA comparison. Jaguar is old impressionist works, Audi is the pleasing and comforting Matisse with rounded lines and great use of color variation, and Cadillac is the bold in your Picasso with disconcerting angles. Just pray there are no more Aztecs in pipeline.
If I wanted to be cruel drag out this art metaphor well past its usefulness, some bad American and Japanese styles are like those english portrait artists doing dull landscapes and people on horses. The Honda element is a Mondrian. I guess all that remains is waiting for the next truly scary model that is a Jackson Pollack.
Volvo - New look is growing on people, certainly accepted on street. Very clever way to move slowly away from Boxy look and combine sport with safety. Judge them by how far they have come and not necessarily where they are.
Also, they have a great interior aesthetic in their cars that is a great modern, clean look that is also welcoming and well done. Scandinavian modernity so to speak. Big challenge appears to be how sporty to make the driving experience.
Chrysler - see some interesting moves here. Must work on common brand styling cues besides dash and use of silver paint. Nice use of retro flourishes that don't get them trapped by them.
Saab - like the 9-5 and 9-3 styles. Look too similar however and trapped in a very small segment and quirky style that has become more mainstream and less interesting.
Unclear where they extend this. Interiors have to find a more modern interpretation of airplane cockpit that works better. Have you seen a 777-cockpit. Very hightech and looks like Acura or Lexus brightly lit instrumentals.
Lexus - In past, Mercedes me too styling without strong design belief or core values of any kind other than luxury. Liked GS, IS looked like 9-5 to me. SC430 was very nice and underrated.
Infiniti - Individually cool and daring models - J30, original Q, current G35, FX45 and even M45 all have great, neat, creative designs. Great job, if interior execution lets them down. Lack a coherent brand identity however and wonder what cues will eventually link all these cars together in the way European firms are so good at.
Acura - really not sure what they are doing with these cars. Clearly sport hatchback is where they really add something to the table, but such a small part of market. Really being dragged along by great execution of flawed designs and excellent value of vehicles
May 21, 2003 (10:50 am)
The WSJ recently had an article about the upcoming 5-series.
* Title - BMW has a lot riding on its new 5 series
* Many folks are turning to MB E-series instead of E39 in Europe
* Bangle has been critized heavily for the new Z4 and 7 series
* iDrive drives people crazy - i stands for "infuriate"
* "E60 is the most aerodynamic car BMW has ever built"
* Bangle has a hate site by 17 year old Texan named Trey Thompson, RF'er?
* Bangle compares himself to Andy Warhol!
The '02s and some '03s have their share of problems. It is widely known that there are a significant number of electronic gremlins. BMWNA bought back many of the '02s in exchange for new '03s to keep customers happy. The sales data probably includes the resale of the buybacks by BMWFS to dealers. Also, the current E65 7 is available in markets such as China whereas the E38 7 never was.
May 21, 2003 (1:30 pm)
although sales of the 5 are off because it is such an old platform.
For example the RS6 and E55AMG beat the M5 in a recent review based on the fact that as good as an M5 is, it is an aging platform.
Even with this limitation, it is amazing how sales have just slowly slacked off. Normally, even for BMW sales would be off 20-25% in the last few years. This is only hitting it now, as the model is rather old and a replacement has been shown.
This is even more impressive given that the E is a great car. (I think the the E is so nice that I prefer the new E to both the S-class and BMW's 5-series.)
#110 of 729 Styling thoughts on major luxury brands:
May 24, 2003 (9:02 am)
First off lets startoff with Acura, their styling doesn't scream sporty but the designs have always aged beautifully.
Infinti-definately great designs but the M45 is not my cup of tea.
Volvo: Still too boxy. The C70 was their best styled model until they put it on the shelf.
Audi-definately the styling leader.
Chrysler-I wasn't too thrilled with the latest refreshening of the Sebring Coupe and Convertible. The Stratus Coupe looks exactly like the Sebring Coupe with the latest refreshening. Pacifica is a definite winner-nice elegant style to it with Audi like interior materials. Chrysler uses Audi like interior materials? yeah thats what I just said. Crossfire will create a buzz: I say Crosssfire to rip off a line in a car mag is AMC meets Mercedes CLK.
Lexus: The RX has always been beautiful. The IS 300 looks good but the interior is too cheap. Still getting younger buyers with the IS300 so kind of a morale victory for Lexus getting younger buyers but not selling enough IS 300's as they want to. The ES has seen better days in styling. 1997-1999 ES 300 styling was nailed perfectly.
Saab-The back of the 9-3 looks BMw-ish all of a sudden. Not a bad thing but you want to seperate yourself from the crowd a little bit. Saab is not my cup of tea but you either love or hate Saab styling.
Cadillac-Moving out of the old man stuff of the late 90's. The new convertible they will come out with will create a buzz. CTS has been a good seller and they are getting the younger buyers they want now. I can't believe Cadillac is making a comeback as it is. Who would have thought it? Interior sill too cheap in CTs though. Thats something Bob Lutz needs to work on ASAP.
May 27, 2003 (12:29 am)
Acura - Dull, but safe designs. Nothing ugly or wierd, just boring. Their CL coupe fell victim to this. Coupes are supposed to be stylish. The TL-S sedan looks better. Time and time again I've hoped for a good looking Acura, and have always been disappointed. The TSX looks ok I guess, but nothing to lust over. I hope yet again, the 2004 TL is coming.
BMW - Definitely going "down-hill". The 7-Series is ugly, the 5 is weird and the next 3 promises to be more of the same. Funny thing is, their new styling theme works on the Z4. It looks appropiately mean and stubby. Not sure about the 6-Series yet.
Audi - Not a ugly or bland car in the bunch. Definitely a style leader. The A6 is timeless, the A4 looks like it will eat the road with sport package wheels/tires. A style leader if not THE style leader. The A8, timeless. A4 Cabrio.....wow....now lets get a better engine underhood!!
Can't wait to see the A4 Coupe this fall.
Mercedes - The new CLK has been a rare styling misstep for Mercedes. The SL is a little overdone in some of it's details. That said, the CL is simply my favorite car of any type. Have you ever seen a large coupe with better proportions or a more seductive roofline? Absolutely the most gorgeous car of it's type on the road today. Nothing in the luxury class looks better, imo. The S, E and C (especially in new for 2003 "Sport" trim) are all lookers, with the S (Sport trim) being tops.
Lexus - Ranges from the dull to wierd if not ugly. I stil find the SC430 to be "interesting" however.
Volvo - Look ok, I guess. Still kinda on the conservative side. When Volvo realizes that luxury cars aren't supposed to be trimmed in black moldings they'll start to look better. I guess the S60 will get that correction later on in life as the S40 and S80 did. I agree with the above poster, the C70 was the best looking Volvo in the time I've been paying attention to cars.
Cadillac - Their new styling direction is a mixed bag. I thought the CTS was the ugliest thing on the road a while back, now I guess it's just "different". The XLR I'll have to see on the road as it didn't impress at the autoshow. The SRX is ugly.
Infiniti - They may be onto something. The FX45 looks like a car a gangster in a cartoon would drive, and it's unlike anything else on the road. I love it. The G35 Coupe let me down somewhat in that its wheelbase looks too long. Kinda like the old 300ZX 2+2 looked. It's still attractive though. The M45 and Q45 are pretty much lost causes, especially the M45.
Overall I look for the Japanese to get better at this styling thing. I look for BMW to get worse, Mercedes to continue with evolutionary styling, and Audi to pull a few stunners in the next couple of years.