Is the M brand being diluted?

Discussion in 'General chat' started by The CO, Feb 27, 2019.

  1. The CO
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    The CO Admin

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    Had an email today from BMW frothing with excitement at the introduction of the X3 M Competition and the X4 M Competition, £77k for the X3 and a gnat's teste under £80k for the X4. Both are capable of 0-60 in 4.1s and both are limited to 155. No doubt they are very fine cars and all that but why? (I'm guessing that if I'm having to ask, I'm not their target customer). I cannot quite wrap my head around throwing all the R&D at developing a fast SUV when there is a glaring absence of fast estates in the 3 and 5 Series.

    Once upon a time in the dark ages of analogue gearboxes and when ABS was a bit of a neat trick, sticking an M badge on a BMW really meant something. It was something you aspired to. Something that made small boys swap furry sticky toffees from their pockets for the ultimate Top Trump card and go weak at the knees at. Nowadays BMW seem to be plastering just about every car in the range with an M Sport badge, regardless of whether it's a 114d or a V8 and now we have M340is, X3 Ms, M235is but we only have pure Ms in the shapes of the M2, M3, M4 and M5 (is there an M6? I can't remember). Confused and a little fatigued with the plethora of Ms? I know I am.

    https://www.bmw.co.uk/bmw-cars/bmw-m/x4-m-competition

    https://www.bmw.co.uk/bmw-cars/bmw-m/x3-m-competition
     
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  2. Mieke
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    Mieke WARLORD Site Supporter

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    It sounds like the BMW marketing department have taken over the M badge. I've never had the pleasure of owning a true M series car, but if I did, it would definitely not be an SUV lump. 'M' has always stood for the ultimate in performance cars, and to me, that does not include lardy SUV's. It makes far more sense to produce an estate version of the M3 or M5 but that message hasn't got through to the BMW design team. I suppose that it's question of meeting customers' demands, and the SUV has overtaken the estate car as the practical option for a utility vehicle. Sticking an M badge on them is BMW's way of getting people to pay a lot more money. It is, or was, the desired status symbol.

    If I was ever to venture down the "M" route, it would have to be an M5 with all the goodies, but definitely not a new purchase. The astronomical depreciation would be just too much to bear, unless I won a few million on the lottery. :) I could be tempted by a 3 or 4 year old example though, that had halved in value. I keep thinking about buying a nice 911 for the weekends, along with keeping the F30 330d for everyday use. Thinking about it though, buying a used M5 would be a more cost effective option of having both sports car and practical saloon in the one package. :driving:
     
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  3. Peter
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    Peter WARLORD Site Supporter

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    We'd better let Harry express his opinion, as the owner of an X6M.:D

    I agree that BMW appear to be following the market. SUV/SAV are still on the rise, suppose we expect models to reflect that. A few M models to satisfy the customers, and have some sort of Halo model.

    Peter
     
  4. Johnny Grabble
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    Yeah. I had the same email. Agree with the sentiment. I read elsewhere in the last week or so that hot SUVs are the 2019 version of the 1980s hot hatch. Seat, VW, Lamborghini all doing the same thing. As for general brand dilution, BMW's, Audi's etc have for some time now been outselling Ford's and Vauxhall's. It's a premium thing. Costa vs Nescafé...
     
  5. mach one
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    mach one WARLORD Site Supporter

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    I think the day they started selling M sport variants of every car in the range they immediately devalued the M badge, everybody could go into the dealers and buy a 118D m sport and walk out thinking they had just bought a BMW M car, when i bought a BMW luxo barge that had M sport badges stuck on it a friend of mine got all excited saying its a BMW M car and i quickly pointed out it was nothing like an M car and was a M sport variant of the 5GT and it was nothing like a real M car

    I can see why they are making the X3 M and the X4 M, the way i see it is that as long as Mercedes sell AMG versions of the GLA, GLC and GLE crossover suv,s then BMW are going to compete to maintain market share

    I know that @The CO loves his fast estate cars and I am amazed that BMW M division seems to have given up on this sector and left Mercedes AMG and Audi RS to fight it out for the fast estate car section of the market, I will never forget when Audi launched the RS4 avant back in the day and auto express dubbed it the estate car from hell and said " Warning! This estate is not Labrador friendly. Under no circumstances should you load your beloved best friend into the back of the Audi Avant RS4 quattro - unless, of course, he enjoys sitting with his face mashed up against the rear screen..." I saw my first RS4 in the BTCC touring car paddock and i thought it was to die for and i need one in my life now but now i am in the position where i could actually buy one the lust for a fast estate car has long gone, I also feel the same about the full blown M cars it would be nice to hoon around in one for a while and then give it back at the end of the day and step back into a luxo barge for the drive home
     
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  6. The CO
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    I get the SUV thing (how could I not) but I'll bet there are as many people out there who'd want an M3 Touring as they would an X3 M so I'm just perplexed really. I very nearly bought a B7 RS4 many years ago but didn't as my then shiny new wife wasn't wildly keen about it but what a car, really. It had noise, poise and theatre and I loved it but it wasn't a BMW and I really wanted it to be Bavarian. BMW's range has expanded hugely and there is now almost a car for every need from city runabouts to mummy-duty MPVs to rip-snorting saloons and yet the range is tarnished by the lack of a fast estate, in my eyes anyway.

    Truth be told I probably wouldn't buy an M3 Touring today although I absolutely would have done some years ago. Now I find myself in Satan's chariot and have compounded it by switching brands as well. When I went through this painful transition, the X range was right up there on the list but I'm sorry to say they're just not pretty cars. Hugely competent of course but I remember standing in the dealership looking at an X3 and an X5 side by side and being thoroughly underwhelmed and, in the words of a feckless teenager, meh. Throwing a truckload of power at them and festooning them with M badges isn't going to persuade me to buy one anymore than if it came with a free blonde.

    They'll probably sell loads.
     
  7. E39mad
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    E39mad

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    I understand the frustration with the branding but nostalgia does is not part of the game these days. Selling lots and lots of metal is.

    BMW is mainstream brand now in comparison to when I was growing up - as such their desirability is no where near as great, even in full M mode.
     
  8. K777
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    K777 WARLORD Site Supporter

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    Co, of course theres an M6 :p, and if not somewhere out there has a damn good looking 640D !


    I agree really, but merc and audi have done the same, even we have an CLA200d AMG line in our fleet, and theres the S Line on audi's.
    Although BMW seem to have taken it to a new level.

    I can also remember the days when the size or number of exhaust tips, meant you could ID a car even with no badges, nowadays theres hardly any that don't have twin pipes.
     
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  9. Adie
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    Adie WARLORD Site Supporter

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    Think the only 6 series currently in production is the 6GT. The M6 successor, the M8 is due for release later this year
     
  10. bishbosh
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    bishbosh WARLORD Site Supporter

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    My 335d is an M Sport but I'm not sure it even deserves that badge considering how shocking the handling is. Obviously I don't expect true M levels of handling but it does go to show that the M Sport brand is being diluted. Great engine and gearbox combo though, muted somewhat when the chassis can't cope :rolleyes:
     
  11. K777
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    K777 WARLORD Site Supporter

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    Really, god that's sad.
     
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  12. Peter
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    Peter WARLORD Site Supporter

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    Must admit I'm surprised BMW have never made M3 'wagons'. Perhaps that is the issue, the idea of a wagon in the key US market is one step too far for the iconic M3, particularly as tourings/wagons have the wrong image and have lost popularity in the US.

    M5 touring was a 'toe in the water' but not a big selling model.

    Peter
     
  13. The CO
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    Aye Peter, it's a good point. I keep forgetting about the US market and how influential it is. Witness the monstrosity that is the X7.
     
  14. Mieke
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    Mieke WARLORD Site Supporter

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    Adaptive suspension is the answer. Makes a significant improvement to handling. It would be right at the top of my list for options.
     
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  15. Madmoggy
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    Oh dear, not what I wanted to hear when we are probably taking one out for test on Saturday (for Mrs Moggy), and I did so want to like it.

    As for the M brand being diluted, very definitely. When collecting mine from the dealers Mrs Moggy spotted a car she liked the look off. As she couldn't stay I said I would get details as it had no badges on it. Turns out it is a 335D M Sport Xdrive Does it have bigger brakes, or bigger wheels, or the body kit, sporty firm suspension, more power? Sadly, the answer appears to be no to all of them. To class a car as an M car because the seat bolsters are tucked in a bit and there is a £50 exhaust trim stuck on it is taking the proverbial in my opinion, unless someone can point me in any other differences to standard? Its now just a trim level, like Ford had L, GL, GLS etc
     
  16. bishbosh
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    bishbosh WARLORD Site Supporter

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    Although the SE suspension is set up soft and under-damped at the rear - reading around it appears that adaptive gives two versions of not great. Here's a post from Lorcan on f30post (who sells ACS stuff):

    "An adaptive system gives you two ways of getting it wrong. Let's imagine you have 10 damper settings, number 1 (marshmallow soft) to 10 (rock hard) with the ideal setting for the spring rate being number 5. But customers want adjustability and are willing to pay for it. To make a significant difference you need a gap of 4 settings. What should BMW do, set comfort to number 5 (perfect) and sport to number 9 (miles wrong)? I don't think customers would accept that, but they will accept comfort on number 3 and sport on number 7. Both are still "wrong" of course, but give customers what they want and are an acceptable compromise. A good passive system abandons this compromise and gives you dampers set at number 5, where they should be.

    Even without adaptive there is significant room for improvement simply by using better quality components that work better."

    I'm awaiting a Bilstein B12 kit currently which will be less than half the cost of an equivalent ACS setup.
     
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  17. Peter
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    There was a similar topic on 'M-dilution' on another forum just recently. :cautious: I posted the following, as it was very negative and as if the 'M' use (outside of M-cars) was a new marketing ploy.

    It appears not many know the history of the M-brand. I was into BMW before we saw the M designation and M branding.

    The M1 project turned into a bit of a fiasco, but had made its mark with the public. The company looked to capitalise on that commercially, It was suggested to use the 'M' on a high performance, low volume version of the E12 5-series. Something similar to what Alpina was doing with the model. The M535i was born. Yes an M535i in 1979. Helped prop up sales of the Five, until the new E28 arrived. One of my colleagues had the original E12 M535i.

    Using the 'M' for tuned versions of the bread and butter models therefore predated any M-car sedan.

    As to current "exclusivity", "special", "dilution" or however we want to view the M-car brand, BMW is in business to sell vehicles, make a profit and take its share of the market.

    I'd say the prolific use of the 'M' is more associated with the dilution of the brand, (than M brand specifically), which I know some despise that move, but it means survival of the BMW company. I'm sure we'd rather see a successful company, than a niche brand that is on the edge, or out of business.

    Again, if we know a bit about the history, BMW have had financial issues through the years. Going volume with cars like the 3-series has been their best move ever, for survival and profit.

    Dilution into many sub markets in the premium segment has also meant less exclusivity for M cars. The use of the M-sport and M-performance models allows them to reach a larger customer base. Good for the customer, but less exclusivity for the M-car user.

    Is that a bad thing? As I see it only M-car snobs have an issue with M-cars in volume.

    The other factor, there is plenty of money out there, hence volume sales of M cars. Unless BMW restrict production numbers of any given model, market forces dominate.

    As to depreciation, the used market decide the values. Too many cars, and/or second users not seeing the value in the cars, sets the used car values. That is simple economics.

    I come from the time when even a 5-series car was quite rare. I remember in my town, only two of us had an E12. Similar for the E28. To to see an E28 M5 was a very rare sight.

    As to the cars themselves the market is different these days, even the M-car buyer wants all the creature comforts in the M-car package, it's a different world in 2019, than 1979.


    'M-sport' has always been a trim level, even if we could get uprated M-sport suspension as part of the standard package. 'M performance' has always offered a higher level of performance, a sort of 'M-Lite' range, ahead of the full fat M-cars.

    Peter
     
  18. Peter
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    Peter WARLORD Site Supporter

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    BMW's 3-series adaptive is as Lorcan says, a compromise. I've always said there should be three settings, like the 5-series and upward. That allows the middle setting to be the '5' that Lorcan is commenting on. I find with my Five, the middle setting is the best for the spring rate, (as we'd expect). Comfort and Sport are compromises (still workable, but compromises all the same) either side of the 'best' setting.

    Also agree on the quality of the parts, perhaps we all need to fit Ohlin dampers. :)

    Peter
     
  19. bishbosh
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    bishbosh WARLORD Site Supporter

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    I didn't know the 5er had 3 settings to choose from! You learn something new everyday.

    You aren't 'HighlandPete' by any chance are you @Peter? :cool:
     
  20. Adie
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    Oh yes he is :)

    There are 3 damper settings on the F80 the softest being 'Comfort' but i've got my doubts about that :rolleyes:
     
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