BMW: Brands Made Worse?

Rolls Royce | May 11th, 2009 by 7

Looking at the elegant 7 Series Individual, you might think it’s the perfect missing link between BMW’s run-of-the-mill 7 Series and BMW’s big luxo-daddy, the …

Looking at the elegant 7 Series Individual, you might think it’s the perfect missing link between BMW’s run-of-the-mill 7 Series and BMW’s big luxo-daddy, the Rolls-Royce Phantom. However, this hasn’t stopped BMW from developing the upcoming entry-level Rolls-Royce Ghost, recently previewed by the Rolls-Royce 200EX Concept at the Geneva Auto Show. Essentially it’s a V12-powered F02 7 Series that’s been made even longer and fitted with a body that looks like a Phantom with slightly softened edges.

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Now, many purists think of this “entry-level” Rolls as blasphemy. Surely, to have the Spirit of Ecstasy mounted on the nose of anything even remotely affordable to anyone but the most corrupt international bankers is just watering-down the brand, right?

Perhaps so, but maybe the 200EX isn’t to blame. “Rolls-Royce” is indeed the quintessential brand of uncompromised luxury, but since BMW took ownership of the marque and released the current Phantom, “Rolls-Royce” has also become synonymous with ostentatious consumption. The cars (and their owners) are brash, unashamed, and over-styled. Rolls has become the Lamborghini of luxury. If you want to be subtle, you’d opt instead for a Maybach.

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BMW has already made the Rolls-Royce brand a caricature of what it used to be. The new entry-level model will just make that cartoony image available to more people.

All of that is nothing new for BMW. Think of what the Mini brand has become. The cars really aren’t all that small (especially the Clubman). The overall package isn’t nearly as clever as the original. BMW just took the elements of the brand people remembered (sporting performance and retro styling cues) and applied them to a conventionally-designed hatchback. In my opinion, either BMW’s own Project i or Gordan Murray’s T.25 seems much more true to the essential premise of the original Mini.

Gordon Murray T25

It’s not that the Rolls-Royce and Mini automobiles produced under BMW’s management are bad cars; some would even argue that they’re better than their predecessors. The issue is that the brands’ images have been not just watered-down or evolved, but exaggerated and distorted in BMW’s flame-surfaced funhouse mirror.

7 responses to “BMW: Brands Made Worse?”

  1. Felix Haller says:

    It was quite clear from the beginning that BMW had “big” plans with the RR brand.
    Similar to what they did with Mini, they use the original brand value and essence and stretch the product range as much as possible.
    Of course this exercise is always a compromise and quite risky. As mentioned in the post, some current RR owners will be horrified to know that a RR can now be bought at half the price, and on the other side many potential customers will now have the opportunity to purchase and own a genuine RR.
    I could imagine that the next step would be a Ghost coupe and then a ghost convertible etc..

    Just think back what Porsche did with the Cayenne and recently with the Panamera, they basically use their brand and brand chracteristics to extend their product range. Many Porsche enthusiasts claimed that the company is loosing its identity, but at the end the Cayenne became a bestseller, and I bet the Panamera will as well. Ultimately, this is what counts, if there is a market potential and it can be materialised in sales, then it will be done


  2. Bobo says:

    I personally do not view this RR as an entry level one. It is a genuine RR which the owner can drive himself. With the Phantom you are expected to be driven by someone else.

  3. Matski says:

    I disagree with virtually everything said in that post about RR, although I do agree that the Mini isn’t that mini anymore.

    BMW have done an excellent job with RR in my opinion, they’re building a range of Rolls-Royce vehicles that feature all the traits that a RR should, probably the most well structured, well branded, and best engineered range they’ve ever had. If you think that being well organised, well branded, and having far slicker manufacturing than before makes them a worse brand then you’re wrong (in my opinion of course)…

    and… “The cars (and their owners) are brash, unashamed, and over-styled.” MASSIVE generalisation don’t you think?… that comment would far better be directed at Bentley, judging by the amount of footballers on their customer list and the amount of bodykit’s (styling?!) available for the GT. And as for going for the Maybach instead — as your suggesting that merely taking an F02 and softening the edges isn’t good enough for the Royce, then why would you recommend buying a stretched S class? Yeah it’s subtle, it looks like every other Merc!

    Mini, I have less love for, I don’t like the cars particularly, but BMW have had massive success with them and I’m glad that it’s helping to pump money into the BMW group. Being realistic though, if BMW had reinvented the Mini as a BMW version of the MCC smart, I’m sure it would have been nowehere near the success it has been. Yeah it’s grown a little fatter, longer, taller and wider… but what car hasn;t in the last 50 years!

    BMW got Rover wrong, if you want to talk about brand that were made worse…. (having said that, they did make it better, but as the old saying goes – ‘you can’t polish a turd’).

    Just my 2 cents.

  4. Mark A. says:

    @Matski: Thanks for your 2 cents. I see what you’re saying. RR is certainly a commercially stronger brand in many ways now. I just feel that the brand not only appeals to different clientele now, but they’ve also abandoned their traditional customers. I suppose Rollers have always been for buyers who don’t mind showing off their wealth, but the Phantom goes out of it’s way to shout about it.

  5. Matski says:

    @Mark A.: They possibly are chasing more ‘new money’ than before, but I maintain that they are still the more restrained choice in that class. Also bear in mind that both Bentley and Rolls Royce have had to differentiate their respective products quite a bit since Rolls-Royce & Bentley Motor Cars was split between BMW and Volkswagen — I think this lead to a shift in direction for both brands.

    I must admit I am biased, I love the Phantom Fixed Head Coupe, it’s one of my top 5 cars! My father also worked for RR&BMC for sometime, so I find it easy to look behind the portrayed brand image and see the actual changes ‘behind the scenes’ in recent years.

  6. Giom says:

    Shouldn’t you be posting this trash on the Audi blog? If you find these models (RR & Mini) so inapropriate why don’t you just shut up or go rant somewhere else? Your opinions are nonsence!

    Please, can we have informative, intelligant and relative posts only!

  7. yar says:

    the ghost is way better lookin…handsome n smart.The bigger roller is abit huge and boastfull…non the less its a great car in every sense.

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