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A Car of Depressing Complexity

October 11, 2011 by Matt

BMW F30 3-Series Concept Sketch

In anticipation of the Friday reveal of the upcoming BMW F30 3-series, the Bavarian automaker released a series of videos commemorating the history of the 3-series.

I suspect BMW’s intent is to remind the automotive world of the new car’s rich lineage and reinforce the 3-series’ status as the archetypical sports sedan. For many enthusiasts, though, the series of videos may backfire, reminding them instead of additional bloat and complexity of each succeeding generation. And as promising as the F30 looks visually—essentially a 75% version of the very attractive, recently-released F10 5-series—the signs don’t point to a letup in the rate of feature addition or overall convolution. The new 3-series looks like it will be at least as electronically-enveloped as its larger brother the F10, and that’s saying a lot.

The larger question here is: Why does BMW do it? Why does a car company ostensibly focused on the quality of the driving experience, the elemental connection of the driver with the road, insist on cramming so much technology into their cars? It’s not the first time the criticism has been leveled at the automaker, either—the electronic layering of the ’02 E63 7-series and ’04 E60 5-series, just to cite two of several examples, was very poorly received, even if the fundamentals of the cars’ chassis and engines were very well done. Granted, BMW isn’t the only manufacturer to stuff its cars to the gills with the latest doodads and geegaws. But they do tend to receive a proportionally larger amount of criticism for it compared to say, Mercedes or Lexus. So why does BMW feel the heat? Or is that my own skewed perception, being a part of the BMW-specific community as an owner and enthusiast? Your thoughts?

Filed under: BMW, News

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