I’m not a car person. From what I understand BMW’s are well engineered and their owners really seem to love them. BMW and Porsche are cars for people who love cars. But what makes them special? Why do car lovers love BMW’s so much?
you opened a huge can of worms …
great compared to what ? this is absolutely crucial.
first of all i won’t talk about Porsche as i never driven them, but i drove a few BMWs and one of them ( 2008 550i Sport ) as my daily driver from 2008 to 2011. so i feel i can talk about BMW.
what are you comparing the car to ? this makes all the difference. the worst new car i have ever driven was Subaru Outback … which was also their best car of the entire brand at the time … a lot of people drive Subarus and probably have no idea how bad they really are - but they are literally worse than a 40 year old Ford Taurus.
so if we compare BMW to Subaru then BMW isn’t just amazing but is downright alien technology …
but if we compare BMW to Mercedes than suddenly you realize it’s worse in basically every way except slightly better handling at the limit by a tiny margin at the expense of being noticeably worse in basically everything else …
logically a Porsche would be like BMW on steroids, namely it would be even less comfortable than BMW compared to a Mercedes while having even more interactive driving dynamics and overall grip level … but i haven’t tested it myself.
another interesting comparison we can make is to Lexus …
Lexus is kind of like taking Toyota and then taking the difference between Mercedes and BMW and adding that difference to the Toyota …
so the difference between Mercedes and BMW is luxury while what Toyota brings is reliability and in a Lexus you get Toyota reliability with Mercedes Luxury but without BMW handling …
handling on a scale of 1 ( U-Haul Truck ) to 10 ( Formula 1 car ) is probably:
BMW - 6
Mercedes - 5.5
Volvo - 4.5
Lexus - 4
Toyota - 3.5
Subaru - 2.5
i never drove Formula 1 though …
but a point that must be made is TIRES ARE CRUCIAL.
i drove the same Mercedes on base tires and with sport package and it was night and day. on base tires it would slide around like on ice. with sport package it would grip like grim death in corners. both cars were same year, same model - just different suspension and tires.
and right now with the Volvo i had one busted Pirelli tire replaced with some cheap brand by a Mexican Tire shop that was on the same block where the tire got busted - and the car simply doesn’t drive the same anymore. the bogus tire is in the front and on acceleration the car now pulls to the side and in hard driving it never feels centered or balanced anymore. the tire is same size as the original, just different brand. me being a cheap Jew of course i am not going to replace it until it’s time to give the car back and Volvo forces me to.
so back to subject of BMWs … the reason people think BMW is so amazing is because 99% of people never drive hard and thus there is very little incentive for manufacturers to put in even the slightest bit of effort into making the car handle properly at the limit. a car like Toyota is basically all an average person needs. It’s a girl next door type car. a Subaru is basically a Toyota with down’s syndrome. A Nissan is a Subaru that thinks it’s a sports car and that Black people drive. Honda is a Toyota that thinks it’s a BMW. Acura is a Honda that thinks it’s special. Infinity is not as bad as Acura. Lexus is actually very good if you mainly care about comfort, reliability and above all SILENCE.
but anyway even among teenagers very few actually drive as hard as me ( i’m over 40 ) and even i don’t drive hard enough to justify going to BMW over Volvo. i drive just hard enough to justify going with Volvo over Lexus ( talking about ES here, as that’s the only Lexus sedan that sells anyway ). as for BMW vs Mercedes there is a much bigger difference between the same mercedes with and without sport package than there is between BMW and Mercedes.
i will say that on a few occasions i got drunk and took a turn way too fast in a BMW and it handled it flawlessly and likewise i once test drove a BMW in the rain and i stabbed the brakes and it stopped as if the pavement was dry. so they do squeeze out that last bit of performance on handling and braking but in all honestly it isn’t that important.
because the cars most people drive like Subaru are so incredibly bad that even many cars on junkyard would be an upgrade from them. but these people drive so slow they will never know. most women don’t even know how to turn on the high beams in their cars let alone are ever going to test the absolute speed limit at which a corner can be taken while also keeping their foot on gas doing a power slide.
by the way i did try doing power slides in a BMW but not my own. i wouldn’t do that to my own car. i did it during a test drive. it worked pretty well, but once again, i literally have never done it in my own car so why would i even care whether it can do it or not if i’m not going to do it ?
if you’re not going to go to test track or get drunk and do donuts and power slides a Volvo is about as much performance as you need. a Subaru that most people drive is so weak i heard they can’t even drive over a curb despite being marketed as off-road vehicles. they have a shitty ass CVT without a torque converter and when you press gas they just make a U-Haul like roar but nothing happens then out of nowhere there is a Jerk and that’s their fake simulated “shift” that the CVT produces to try to pretend that the car has a transmission. this is what the average person drives.
so again, compared to a Subaru BMW is alien technology. compared to a Subaru BMW engine is liquid smooth, acceleration powerful, braking incredible, handling incredible …
compared to Mercedes ? BMW drives slightly better but seats feel like cardboard, exhaust note is garbage and literally fake ( coming through the speakers and sounding like ass ) … by comparison Mercedes has feather light steering that is still as precise as BMW’s, Mercedes will usually offer light color interiors while BMW usually will not … and actually some Mercedes models may even feel better to drive than some BMWs as both companies tried to steal each other’s customers they almost traded places with BMW trying to out-luxury Mercedes and Mercedes trying to out-sport BMW …
that 50/50 weight distribution BMW says is proof their are “perfect” ? it’s bullshit. you can literally put a few bricks in a back of Mercedes for same effect. and that’s what BMW does anyway - they use a heavy rear subframe, which makes their cars a couple hundred pounds heavier than something like Infinity …
One time i pulled up to a club in my BMW and got into an argument about BMWs with a chick that was standing in front of the club - she told me that BMWs are trash because they are too heavy and that she herself drives an Infinity because of that - i was shocked because i knew she was right and i literally couldn’t believe a woman was schooling me about my own car …
on a separate occasion i actually lost a race to an infinity for this very reason ( too much weight ) and i once almost lost to a Toyota Rav 4 V6 in my V8 BMW 550i ! ! !
why ? because a Rav 4 doesn’t keep bricks ( sorry, a subframe ) in the trunk to add extra weight there so they can claim it has a 50/50 weight distribution …
you know it’s funny i raced a BMW M3 as well as Mercedes AMG and i did not lose but i lost to a fucking Infinity driven a a girl and almost lost to a Toyota Rav 4 V6 …
on other hand i would have won the race against a Subaru even on my bicycle …
my Volvo S60 T8 Recharge only has 4 cylinders but is a much better car than my V8 BMW 550i was … it is QUICKER off the line with electric torque, it handles snow like nobody’s business where BMW would struggle, the rear seats fold whereas the BMW’s did not ( it was an option i didn’t have ). i have 360 degree camera where BMW didn’t even have backup camera ( everything is optional on German cars, nothing is standard, must be very careful ).
yes Volvo would lose to BMW on a race track but in the real world it is better at most things, not to mention i get 70 miles per gallon with the PHEV drivetrain and can pre-heat or pre-cool as well as lock and unlock the car from the phone.
BMW - a car for douchebags to impress teenage girls, really impressive handling right before you die
Mercedes - a car for rich people to enjoy luxury and prestige, similar to BMW except it’s for pompous buffoons instead of arrogant douchebags
Lexus - a luxury car for people who can’t afford repair costs of Mercedes or BMW and are too old to race anybody
Toyota - good basic car
Nissan - not so good basic car
Hyundai - same as Nissan but Korean
Subaru - drives and sounds the same as a U-Haul truck - you have to drive it to believe how bad it is - makes Toyota Camry feel like a BMW by comparison …
the bottom line is this - go and test drive the car. most people who drive Subarus seem to love them. they never try driving over a curb to test the transmission or to race BMWs to test the engine. and they are deaf so they can’t tell there is no sound insulation between the engine and the cabin. they think their car is amazing because they can easily fit all their groceries in the back and drive in the snow.
I need to mention one more car here - Ford Mustang Ecoboost … is a piece of work. I never felt such disgusting steering, not in a Subaru not in a 20 year old Chrysler … the engine absolutely rips but the car feels like a turd. Mustang Ecoboost is like a U-Haul truck with afterburners strapped onto it.
i mean … i could live with the Mustang Ecoboost - i could still pass everybody the same as i do in the Volvo … but it’s just such absolute garbage.
so again, it depends what you compare it to. Mustang and Subaru are bottom of the barrel trash, out of which Subaru is slow and Mustang is fast but both feel like U-Haul trucks.
Toyota, Lexus, Volvo - middle of the road. Volvo a bit smoother than Toyota. Lexus a bit smoother than Volvo.
Mercedes, BMW - premium feel. with Mercedes the premium-ness is equally spread through the car from interior finish accents and seats to exhaust note. with BMW the premium-ness is a bit spotty - seats feel cheap, exhaust sounds like ass, steering is too heavy … but suspension, handling and braking are superb.
bottom line - don’t listen to anybody, not even me. just test drive a bunch of cars and get the one you like. maybe you enjoy the fake BMW exhaust note. or maybe you like that Ford Mustang steering and suspension feels like a truck.
also all the cars i mentioned may have improved since i drove them and and obviously a C class Mercedes and S class will drive very differently as well so my anecdotes aren’t mean to be generalized to the entire brand.
which, again, is why you MUST test drive the ACTUAL car you’re getting. even the same car with different tires may feel different. it’s not about which car is best but which car feels like what you want it to feel like.
if a car was your GF some guys may want a girl that is a suicidal artist while others may want a girl that is a dumb bimbo clubber and others may want a girl that just wants to have lots of kids and stay at home making pancakes.
of course a Lexus RX is objectively better than a Subaru Forester pretty much no matter how you look at it but we’re talking about one car that is 2X the price of the other …
if we’re talking about cars in similar price range such as BMW vs Mercedes then it is no longer possible to say which one is better without knowing what the customer actually needs … you have to test drive it yourself.
well one exception is that i can pretty much say either BMW or Mercedes are better than Cadillac for any comparable models, and you probably don’t need to test drive Cadillac unless it’s an Escalade since neither BMW or Mercedes have a direct competitor in that size …
so BMW - good weight distribution but heavy. great brakes and suspension but shit exhaust note. excellent handling, seems to almost defy physics when pushed too hard in a corner - very hard to unsettle - yet nobody actually drives that hard. not even me.
to be able to take a corner as hard as i have on a few occasions takes a combination of a few things:
1 - high end tires ( my BMW had tires that were about $300 per tire back in 2008 )
2 - proper weight distribution and anti roll bar sizing, my BMW actually had active hydraulic anti-roll suspension
3 - torque vectoring and perfectly tuned dynamic stability control that is able to detect and check a spin in a non-invasive yet effective manner
the problem is none of these matter much for normal driving. why should you spend money on something you will never use ? do you wear a helmet while sitting on the toilet seat ? why not ? because you don’t need it.
getting a BMW to buy groceries is equally as dumb as wearing a helmet to the bathroom.
in my experience people who ask what the point of a BMW is are usually better off with a Lexus. both are good cars but Lexus is designed for real people whereas BMW is designed for what people wish others would see them as, namely Max Verstappen.
what you have to realize that Max Verstappen totals half a dozen cars per year, not because he is a bad driver but because he is that close to the limit. On other hand i haven’t even had a single accident in over a decade, and i am hands down the craziest driver i know but apparently not that crazy in the grand scheme of things. And of all the people i know who had accidents recently not one of them was due to exceeding the dynamic envelope of their chassis / suspension but all due to sheer stupidity.
in other words BMWs have no legitimate reason to exist. get a Volvo.
i will add this - if you’re looking to buy a new car no matter what type of cars you are considering you should probably start off by test driving a Porsche and a Tesla ( i haven’t test driven either ) to establish a baseline.
once you experience Tesla acceleration and Porsche handling then you will know just how bad whatever else you’re test driving is.
because otherwise you will be like those people who drive Subaru and think everything is fine and cars are supposed to make noises and not move and then make jerks for no reason, that this is something that cars just do … as long as you only ever drive Subarus.
in fact this is what most people do - they only ever drive one brand of car - don’t be that guy !
test drive multiple brands of cars both above and below your budget as well as in different body styles from a roadster to SUV or even Minivan ! get a good feeling for the entire state of the market before even thinking about what you might want !
maybe you won’t feel any difference then just get whatever is cheapest to own, which likely will be the Prius due to high efficiency, reliability and resale value.
or maybe you will try something like a Porsche Taycan or Model S Plaid and be like " i can’t drive anything else after this, i don’t care how much it costs i’m getting it "
the point is don’t try to decide what you are getting before test driving. instead test drive a wide range of cars to gain a sense of perspective. THEN start thinking about what you need.
same with speakers. widen your horizons. most people for example will never try either studio monitors or PA speakers in their entire life, meanwhile after i tried them i will no longer consider anything EXCEPT PA / Prosound speakers or Studio Monitors.
it is basically the same when people experience electric torque in a car. there is generally no going back. of course all premium brands by now will have electric motors in some of their models including BMW.
personally i wouldn’t even bother test driving a car that doesn’t have an electric motor. my Volvo has TWO electric motors plus a gas engine that is both supercharged and turbocharged.
Tesla plaid has 3 electric motors. Rivian has 4. But i wouldn’t consider a car that doesn’t have at least one.
Because if you don’t have an electric motor you don’t have torque at zero RPM which means off the line you will never be as quick or as smooth.
the way to think of electric motor versus gas engine is electric motors is what gives the car smooth acceleration and torque from zero rpm while gasoline engines is what gives cars long range and additional power at the high RPM.
i only want cars that have both gasoline and electric power for this reason as they compliment each other perfectly.