There was a time when BMW was the unquestioned choice, for buyers who appreciated driving above all else, in its segment. It was the brand that was simply better to drive than Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Jaguar and Volvo. Especially the latter two. Now, though, BMW is facing some really tough competition, far tougher than ever before. So which brand is the one that BMW needs to look out for most?
Its traditional rivals, Mercedes-Benz and Audi, are really taking it to BMW. Mercedes more so than Audi, as it’s even beating BMW in the sales game. In terms of handling and performance, the gap between the brands is slimmer than ever. Audi is even starting to come out with some really impressive handling cars, whereas Audis used to be really fast and luxurious, but lacked in the handling department. But it isn’t just BMW traditional rivals that threaten the Bavarians’ reputation.
In fact, one could argue that it’s BMW’s non-traditional competitors that are really becoming dangerous. A few years back, Jaguar debuted the XF which really shook up the 5 Series’ segment. Now, it’s often considered to be a better driver’s car than the 5 Series, which is impressive considering it wasn’t too long ago when the Jaguar X-Type was the laughing stock of the industry. Since the XF, Jaguar has launched the impressive XE, the surprisingly good F-Pace, the brand-new E-Pace and the stunningly beautiful F-Type. Jaguar may have a small lineup and may lack BMW’s tech but it’s a force to be reckoned with.
Cadillac even stepped into the ring with the Europeans and delivered a few good blows. The ATS-V and CTS-V are really impressive performance cars. The ATS-V seriously lacks engine refinement, performance and technology to the BMW M3/M4 but it’s arguably just as good to drive, with some claiming the Caddy to be better. Its bigger brother, the CTS-V, is an absolute monster and is one of the very best super sedans in the world. The American brand’s new CT6 may not be 7 Series or S-Class-good, but it’s a very luxurious and handsome car.
Even Alfa Romeo is back, taking on the Germans at their own game, rather than just making re-badged front-wheel drive Fiats. The new Giulia is a fantastic-driving sport sedan and the Quadrifoglio-variant is an absolute riot. Some say it’s the best handling performance sedan on the market and there’s good reason for that enthusiasm. It’s an absolute delight to drive, especially to drive quickly. The Italians aren’t just stopping at the low-volume fun stuff, either. The new Stelvio SUV could be a hit among buyers who want to get something different from the typical cars in the segment.
BMW clearly has more competition than ever before and the standard for good handling cars is getting higher and higher. So BMW is going to need to bring its absolute A-Game for the next several years. It’s also going to have to watch its back with so many tough brands on the market. But which one is the toughest, which is the brand that BMW has to look out for the most?