Where did all the drivers cars go? There used to be a time when driver interaction was the main concern for almost all automakers. I say almost because only recently did car companies like Chevrolet and Lexus stop making cars that steered like seventeenth century, wooden ships.
But for the car makers that were concerned with driver involvement, it’s the only thing that really mattered. BMW was always at the forefront of driver involvement; the dashboard always angled towards the driver, the seating position and pedal placement were always spot-on and the steering wheel would relay these wonderful feelings of what the front tires were doing.
Most of these things are last on carmakers minds. The main concerns now are the in-car connectivity, being able to reply to Facebook while driving and having seats that massage you in so many ways it almost becomes inappropriate.
There is a reason for all of this, though. Customers. They don’t want driver involvement anymore. They want Bluetooth and satellite navigation, not steering feel and loud engine notes. In fact people want the car so quiet inside that car makers are pumping in fake engine sound through the speakers just so you can tell it’s on.
Many people think that the last truly great BMW was the 1 Series M Coupe.
I can understand where they’re coming from. It only came with a manual gearbox, it didn’t have 15 different driving modes and the engine sound was made by…the engine. So in many ways it is the last of the old-school BMWs. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be any more. The M3 is a pretty fantastic car and the M2 is shaping up to be pretty stellar as well.
Car makers, BMW especially, will continue to make fun, driver’s cars. We just have to start wanting them more.