BMW’s biggest mistake?

Interesting, Others | August 29th, 2015 by 38
BMW 318ti Compact 2001 750x500

We’re all fans of BMW, whether it be your one and only car brand or just one of the many that you like, we’re all …

We’re all fans of BMW, whether it be your one and only car brand or just one of the many that you like, we’re all here for the same reason, most likely. But only the truest of BMW fans can admit its faults and be okay with it. Kind of like how only true fans of a certain sports team can admit that they aren’t very good but love them anyway (ahem, my Giants). But if you aren’t one of these fans, let me be the first to tell you that BMW isn’t perfect and has had many blunders throughout its history.

Like every automaker in the history of the automobile, BMW has had its fair share of duds. Admittedly, BMW hasn’t had as many as other companies, like GM or Ford. But it also hasn’t had nearly as many vehicles as those aforementioned companies. Either way, however, BMW isn’t perfect. There have been BMW vehicles, as well as certain features, that make us all scratch our heads in wonderment as to how such an incredible company with infinitely talented people could come up with such things.

02bmw550igtreview2010 750x498

The first that comes to mind, well my mind at least, is the 5 Series GT. I know that many people greatly enjoy that 5er GT, and I’m not saying that it’s a bad car, but it has been called the German Pontiac Aztek by many. It’s not a good looking car, it’s not a sensible car and it’s not even an easily affordable car. Yes, it drives very well, but so does the regular 5 Series. Yes it’s practical, but so is the 5 Series Touring and the X5. It just seems like a niche that didn’t need to be filled. At least niches like the X4 and X6 look cool. To me, the 5 Series GT is a Bavarian dud.

Related: BMWBLOG Drive Review: 550i GT – The Practical Athlete

The second thing that comes to mind is the original iDrive system.

first generation idrive 750x303

However, I’m going to cut BMW some slack on this one because, as the inventors of such infotainment systems, being the first to do anything always has its bumps in the road. Still, the original iDrive system was a hateful thing to use. It was slow, unresponsive, had the strangest control dial and what seemed to be an abyss of infinite confusing menu screens. My parents have an E60 5 Series with the original iDrive and it seems even worse in comparison to the latest iteration, which is the best in business at the moment. It’s just curious as to how the brilliant BMW engineers couldn’t have come up with something better, especially considering the wonderful job they do now.

Lastly, I think of the E46 BMW 318ti.


Now, I’m one of the few who likes the E36 318ti, as it’s an affordable way to get a fun BMW hatchback. It wasn’t the best BMW ever, I know, but it was plucky and didn’t look bad. The E46 iteration, however, looked like a troll. It also wasn’t bad to drive at all, in fact it was probably better than its E36 counterpart, but it was just so ungainly looking. I think it looks so bad because the E46 sedans, coupes and wagons looked so fantastic, so in comparison the 318ti looked like some strange beast. It kind of looked as if BMW designed it on a napkin during a lunch break. It’s one of the worst looking BMWs and, in my opinion, one of BMW’s biggest mistakes.

Obviously, we’ll all have different opinions, as some may love these aforementioned BMWs while some may agree with my distaste for them. So, while keeping it civil, what is BMW’s biggest mistake, whether it be a car or technology or whatever else?

38 responses to “BMW’s biggest mistake?”

  1. Kike Vazquez says:

    I think the worst decision BMW has made, very recently I might add, is changing the nomenclature of their cars, I am talking about the 3 series, the M3 most of all. For the past 30 years the 3 series has been the enthusiast car to have, 4 door M3 or 2 door M3, the only difference was how many doors they had and everybody was fine with that, everybody loved the M3 nam and everything that went along with it. BMW came in and changed 3o years of history by making the coupe the 4 series, after a year I came to understand it a little, ok even numbered cars are coupes and odd numbered cars are sedans, I understand it, but then they make the 4 series grand coupe and the 6 series grand coupe completely destroying their propose for renaming their cars. Why not just have made the 4 series grand coupe the 3 series sedan and the 4 series just the 3 series coupe? Why make a complete shift from the known and loved names? In my opinion it is stupid and in my opinion the 3/4 series has become too big, it’s not at all like the e30/e36/e46 3 series’ I get more excited about the 1 series and 2 series now.

    • Ari Djunialdi says:

      No no no, I think that 4 Series Gran Coupe and 3 Series is a different car

      • Kike Vazquez says:

        I agree it’s not the same car, it looks better, meaner and more musclely but it’s the same concept, it’s a 4 door, of the reason for changing names was to make 4 series 2 doors then why a grandcoupe? They are saturating their own market with so many models

    • Reino-five-five-oh says:

      I don’t mind the first number change, but the second and third really bother me. It’s as if BMW is purposely playing a joke on the ‘badge-image’ buyers who have no care about the size of the engine. Meanwhile those of us who demand technical accuracy are just a bit unnerved by the numbering scheme.

      • Kike Vazquez says:

        Yeah I just feel they don’t even know what they are doing anymore and they are saturating their own market with so many cars

    • TheAnonymousWriter says:

      At the beginning I thought you were right. I share your idea of giving names but looking at other manufacturers, Bmw’s decision was just right: We have the main models (1,3,5 and 7) and their more sporty coupe counterparts (2,4,6 and (would like to see again) 8).
      So now, if you compare with Audi (for example) everything just fits. They have their A4 and A6 with their Coupe counterparts A5 and A7.

      The only manufacturer totally throwing up with everything is Mercedes.

      • dc says:

        Audi used to sell the 80, 90, 100LS. When the 5000 was nearly run out of the U.S., they rebranded by literally one-upping by a single digit BMW’s 3, 5, 6 & 7 model range. Mercedes has done the same, but alphabetically rather than numerically. BMW’s introduced the first 328 eighty years ago, don’t know what those numbers stood for then, either.

      • Kike Vazquez says:

        You know I kind of understand you in that respect of the naming the 2,4,6 are the coupes and I was ok with that vut then they made the grancoupes and now I’m wondering well why the hell call it a grandcoupe and not just have made it the 3 series, is it just an excuse to charge more for a more musclely 3 series? Because we all know that the tech, engine and transmission are the same on the 3/4 series

        • TheAnonymousWriter says:

          Okay, that’s a valid point here. I think the difference in their names is because they want to make a cut (don’t know if that sounds right, I’m german..) between models. This could be for making more money through selling the 4 series for more money though it is a 3 series under the hood.
          But when you look at it that way: If the 4 series would have been a 3 series coupe it would likely cost the same as it does now. So the different naming just clears everything a little bit out.

  2. Nedlands says:

    The biggest mistake is not bringing a halo car into production in recent years. Where is BMW’s R8?

    • dc says:

      They did that 40 years ago, the M1, today it’s the i8.

      • CDspeed says:

        Wouldn’t you like to see BMW take their M knowledge, and build an Audi R8, Mercedes AMG GT, Porsche 911 competitor? The i8 is fantastic, but it’s far from track worthy, the M4 is track worthy but it’s no R8/AMG GT.

        • dc says:

          Dinosaurs. The i8 is the future, it will continue to evolve, the rest of the industry will follow.

          • CDspeed says:

            I do agree, the future is exactly what the i8 represents, still it would be nice to see BMW build a pure bread sports car.

          • dc says:

            M Roadster! Apparently they’ve cancelled a Z2.

          • CDspeed says:

            Well, the M Roadster is like BMW’s Boxster GTS, nice but still not a 911.

          • dc says:

            911 should have been put down long ago, last modern Porsche was the 928.

          • CDspeed says:

            I’ve owned three 911s, it’s one of the best sports cars you can buy, you know very well that the 911 has changed over the years. Maybe the old 3-Series name should be retired, and completely replaced by the 4-Series Gran Coupe, and go completely AWD……? That sounds as crazy as saying the 911 isn’t modern.

          • dc says:

            I don’t doubt the 911 isn’t modern, the layout was archaic when it was new, it needs electronics just to keep it on the road. If rear engine, rwd was the way to go, don’t you think other manufacturers would have followed suit? Air-cooled as well, until they were legislated into this century. The 911 seems special because of its unique layout, but it should have retired with the Beetle, even Porsche knew it when they introduced the 914, 928, 944, the market didn’t support them.

    • Horatiu B. says:

      There will be one eventually

  3. dc says:

    I’ve been following the company as spectator sport since 1970. At that time, they were an alternative to a dull status quo. Since they built a better mouse trap, the world beat a path to their door and today they’re #1. Given their history, it cracks me up to watch the purists who think they know what the brand is. What the brand is is German (now global) engineering, and that’s how they’ve survived World Wars, depressions, takeover threats, by building whatever it takes to prosper – British kit cars, motorcycles, Isettas, cars with motorcycle engines, rwd, fwd, awd, carbon fibre electric, hydrogen. Even the nomenclature, they’re an expanding company in an expanding market, this will provide more opportunity – if the rumours are true, they’ll be able to sell both front- and rear-wheel four door 1 series, as sedan or Grand Coupe. Regardless, we have to hope BMW know what they’re doing, because as time has shown, invariably the rest of the industry will try to follow their lead. I would sooner drive a BMW “mistake” than the inevitable competitor’s knock-off.

    • Max says:

      Totally agree, finally someone who steps out the purist gap and understands that the world is much bigger than that. Thank you!

  4. Tom says:

    From an enthusiast’s point of view, the worst thing may be FWD BMWs. I understand BMW has to placate to stock holders and grow the business, but FWD BMWs still irks me.

    Some other things that bother me:

    -model numbers no longer equate to displacement of the engine.
    -electronic steering and other excessive electric gizmos.
    -size of each successive model continues to grow.
    -lack of spare tire.
    -no dipstick.

    • jason bourne says:

      You are spot on on all counts, sir. *applause*

    • dc says:

      A friend couldn’t operate the dash on a recent rental Chevy Cruze due to the trickle down influence of iDrive to mass market. Going by your concerns listed above, you may have to stay with 20th century product. Apparently the move to connectivity is having an opposite effect – customers of the new 7 get two deliveries, the 2nd to review tech!

    • Kike Vazquez says:

      The e30 M3 is as big as the littles bimmer now, the 2 series, the 3/4 series has become so long and big that it equates to a GT car, not an enthusiast car

    • Max says:

      Ok so how would you divide between the different engine models? Building a 1.6, 1.8, 2.0, 2.8, 3.5+ is not an option these days. Belive it or not, this company needs to earn money to “survive” and invest it, sorry that your world is breaking down, but an M4 could not do that…Just look at the sales numbers of Porsche 911-Cayenne/Macan…
      Spare tire and weight on the same list, interesting mmh?!
      Cost on a premium car? Seriously?

  5. Kiril Toshev says:

    Biggest mistake – FWD 2 series Active Tourer.

  6. George says:

    Let’s not forget the original, boxy X3 …

  7. Reino-five-five-oh says:

    Enough with the iDrive whine. This came out in 2004, it was a revolution in innovation! The closest thing we had at the time was an iPod with a ‘click wheel’. It took me about a week to fully master mine. It’s not that hard. Give the iDrive a break.

    • Max says:

      Yes, I also dont understand how someone can judge that. You have to start at some point and now, everyone has it and it has improved a lot that it is the industry benchmark now. I cant imagine using something else. You can compare that to Apples iPhone if you want..

  8. TheAnonymousWriter says:

    Am I the only one here who sees this car as one of the biggest (design) mistakes ever made?

  9. CDspeed says:

    BMW’s biggest mistake, canceling some of their most exciting cars after just one generation. The 328, 507, M1, 8-Series, and the Z8. They even cancelled the 6-Series at one point, but of course it’s back now, and in its second generation. It makes me wonder about the i8, is it too cool to see a second generation? BMW likes to explore niches, but they always play it safe, and they seem to get nervous when they do try a sporty two door model, killing it off pretty fast.

    • Max says:

      Problem is, BMW is not Audi with VW AG in the back or Merc with their big Truck/Transporter business in the back. They need a business case for each model, sad to say but you can not afford to have a big gap in your wallet these days where competetion gets harder and harder and markets like China are unpredictable more than ever.. Dont get me wrong I would love to see a new modern Z8, 8series and a Mi8 or M8 or whatever a supercar is called, maybe they will surprise us all with that for 100th birthday that would be amazing!
      Look at Tesla, they lose money on each vehicle they sell, they are just lucky that people are hyping it, otherwise they would have been gone long time ago.

  10. Matt Stokes says:

    In general I’m fine with many of their recent decisions.. I don’t have a problem with the numbering system, and I don’t have a problem with the new niches they are exploiting…

    .. except for the 2 series Active/Gran Tourer…. WHY was it called a 2 series, and not a 1 series?

  11. Stephen Marshall says:

    Biggest mistake in my opinion is going with Run Flat Tires, no spare and (no room for one), with no option to go with conventional tires and a spare.

    I live on the west coast and there are many times I’m over 150 miles from any major city late at night. If I get a flat, am I supposed to find some rinky dink motel, shack up for the night and order a new run flat via Fed Ex the next day?

    With conventional tires, I can be on my way in about 20-25 minutes.

  12. Law says:

    1) FWD BMWs
    2) Whoring out the M-badge
    3) Turbocharged M-cars / “generic” engines in M-cars (flamesuit on for this one)

    Not making a supercar out of the R&D from the S65/S85 engines is a pity as such a car would’ve been easily one of the best given BMW’s [then] track record but its more of a lost opportunity than a mistake.
    And while the nomenclature has gotten out of hand lately and design during the Bangle-era experienced some hiccups, nothing is more insulting to BMW’s own heritage and philosophy than the first 3 “mistakes” above.

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