Ah, BMW. Where would we be without BMW to keep us guessing? Life would certainly be a lot less fun. Will its next be one more step on the road back to its Ultimate Driving Machine past, or another beaver-toothed abomination that makes you wonder whether there is some kind of competition in the styling department to see who can get the most visually, er, courageous design past the big cheeses on the top floor? Second-guessing what BMW’s going to do next is certainly never boring.
But here’s the thing. BMW still gets it – know where to look in its ranges and it still makes cars that are terrific to drive, and they don’t all come with six-figure price tags attached. Now, as ever, some of the best BMWs you can buy are also among the simplest and most affordable. These are cars that drive and handle the way they do not because that’s what the customer base is crying out for, but because it’s what you get when a bunch of highly skilled enthusiast engineers create a well thought-out car they’d want to drive themselves.
And BMW is not afraid; never has been in fact. It never shrinks from trying something new even if the result turns out to be exactly the right car born into a world that just wasn’t ready for it, like the brilliant i3 and i8. Sometimes this instinct to lead results in vehicle design for which many may never be ready, sometimes to technical innovation that leads the world.
All that before we’ve even mentioned the ‘M’ word. BMW’s Motorsport product portfolio is now so wide, ranging from compact coupés to massive SUVs you wonder if there’s anything they can have in common. And the answer, save raw speed, is not much. But if the money-making SUVs continue to turn in the profits that make the smaller margin, more affordable coupés and saloons possible, we won’t complain too much. Because a world with some M-cars we like and some we do not, is better by far than one with no M-cars at all.