BMW’s slogan for as long as I can remember has been “The Ultimate Driving Machine.” In many ways, BMW has stayed true to this slogan, sans a short hiatus. Even today, it’s extremely difficult to match a BMW’s level of performance, comfort, build quality and driver involvement for the same price. In many ways, BMW is still the Ultimate Driving Machine. But my question to you is, for how long?
It’s no secret that BMWs have been losing some of their Ultimate Driving Machine quality as we inch closer to a more technologically advanced future. Someone has been messing with the recipe, it seems. Electric power-steering, adjustable damping modes, variable ratio steering racks, adaptive cruise control and autonomous driving have all played factors in BMW losing its driver connection. And these technologies are expanding and becoming more mainstream with each new model year. Hell, the new BMW 7 Series can drive itself on remote command, a la James Bond.
All of this automation, all of this technology is separating car from driver more and more as time goes on. So how does that affect the Ultimate Driving Machine?
The whole idea behind the Ultimate Driving Machine motto was to remind people that BMW wanted its customers to absolutely love driving its vehicles. But now, driving is one of the last things its customers do it the car. Now, people are more focused on answering Facebook messages through the iDrive screen or using the autonomous driving function on the highway so they can Skype their significant other inappropriately or wave their hands about trying to change the damn volume with gesture control. It just seems as though the focus on driver interaction is less a priority now.
How long until the Ultimate Driving Machine slogan refers to the car as a singular entity? How long until the driver is obsolete because the car actually is the Ultimate Driving Machine? It’s frightening to think about because, as BMW fans, we love driving our cars and the thought of losing that connection to a bunch of electrons and lines of code is something that keeps us up at night. I’ll rue the day that something like this comes true, and BMWs become the automotive equivalent to SkyNet, but BMW wouldn’t have lied, it would have created the Ultimate Driving Machine.