Recently, BMW’s Ultimate Driving Machine moniker has been scrutinized. People seem to think that BMW has gone soft. Some people seem to think that BMWs are for yuppies and bankers. Others seem to think they are for the true driving enthusiast. But what do you think?
Cadillac is a brand that wants to beat BMW at all costs. The folks over at GM want Cadillac to be the brand to take down the Bavarian giant at its own game. Caddy hasn’t been just all talk, though. It’s truly come out with some great cars. The ATS is regarded by many as a better driver’s car than the 3 Series. The CTS is one of the best luxury sedans I’ve ever driven. Both car’s V versions are aimed and ready to fire at the M Division’s best. So why is Cadillac having such a hard time selling these cars?
Despite the success of the ATS and CTS models in automotive publications and comparison tests, they just aren’t selling as much as GM would like. Every month, both cars are far behind, in the sales numbers, than all of Cadillac’s German rivals. So much so that Cadillac recently started slashing prices on both cars, to try and create some incentive for customers to second guess zee Germans. Unfortunately for Caddy, it hasn’t worked. People, every month, still flock to the big German three.
I think the problem (for Cadillac, a virtue for the Germans) is brand prestige. BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi still carry far more weight in the emblems on their respective hoods than Cadillac can even hope to. See, Cadillac is making good cars at the moment, but it is just recently that it’s been happening. For decades, Cadillac has been belting out atrocious cars at ludicrous prices thinking it could con American buyers into thinking its cars were premium. And after decades of falling victim to the con-artists over at GM, the American people seem to be sick of it.
The German trio, and even Volkswagen, have been producing far superior products, for not too much more money, for ages now. People have come to trust the zee Germans, therefore they buy them. So despite whatever sales pitch Cadillac is giving and despite what the press is saying, people still want Bimmers and Benzs.
And on the flip side, despite whatever the press may be saying about BMW losing its way or having gone soft, the BMW badge still carries weight. People still love the brand. Why? Because, even though BMW isn’t making the pure driving experience it used to, the cars still have the same quality and capability its customers are used to. So maybe BMW has gone soft, maybe the Ultimate Driving Machine name has become a bit tarnished, but that badge still means something.
And after watching Jeremy Clarkson’s brilliant review of the i8 in Top Gear’s most recent episode, I don’t care what people say about BMW’s reputation, because the Bavarians are still making spectacular cars, however different from the old days they may be.