Ferrari defines its main segment (488GTB) in the same way the BMW 3-series does. You say “Ferrari” and everyone knows which segment you’re talking about; same as BMW. They’re the same in the manner of benchmark setting performance and their fan-boy like fanbases. But the media has accepted that in the entry level supercar segment, everyone is making their own cars with their own personalities. No one wants to make a better Ferrari than Ferrari except Ferrari. Lamborghini make the best Lamborghinis. McLaren makes the best McLarens
The difference between Ferrari’s standpoint and BMW’s standpoint, is that BMW is losing their edge. The issue is that BMW is getting too comfortable at the top, they don't feel the need to improve their driving dynamics because people who buy new BMWs are young up and comers, not driving enthusiasts. Not only that but the compact executive segment is still plagued by that paradigm that everyone is making the same car with different badges. The media is under the perception, and in most cases they’re right, that everyone is trying to make a better 3-series then BMW.
Cadillac is trying to make a better 3 series than BMW with the ATS and just might have done so. Cadillac used to be known for their land-yachts. They called themselves the standard of the world because they had the biggest,most stylistically distinct and most comfortable cars on the market. Now Cadillac is making small, dynamic, two liter cars, they’ve even decided to go into alphanumeric naming with their next generations; so expect the next ATS to be called the CT3. Sound like anyone?
Jaguar has made the XE a better 3-series than BMW also, I’m surprised they haven’t named it the X3 but that would’ve sounded like who? Anyway, Jaguar had always been in the business of sports cars so their 3-series assault was to be expected. However they’ve even gone so far as to imitate the exterior dimensions of the 3 series but to differentiate the two cars, Jaguar has, thank goodness , gone with a supercharger instead of a turbocharger and a more advanced chassis.
Mercedes’ C-class has always been the most likely comparison to the Bavarians and Affalterbach has lately gone about their AMGs' performance in a more carefree manner. This year, Stuttgart has stepped away from their battle for ‘Best BMW Award.’ They’ve decided that they want to build the best Mercedes C-Class on the market and the public’s opinion of their decision shows in the sales. Optimally, manufacturers will see the potential in individuality and go back to the good old days when manufacturers had brand identity. Hopefully in the near future we’ll see more diversity in the compact executive segment, with Alfa Romeo building the best Giulia, Mercedes building the best C-Class, Jaguar building the best XE and BMW building the best 3-series.
Here’s where Volvo comes in. Even in the mid-size sigment, Volvo’s new S90 has taken brand identity to another level. Despite minimum of 316 horsepower and a maximum 402 horsepower from a hybrid powertrain, Volvo is decidedly a luxurious brand with a sporting side dedicated to their Polestars and R-Designs. They’re not trying to compete with BMW in the same way BMW competes. When the new platform, chassis, powertrains, essentially the newborn spirit of the brand, trickles down into a new S60, they won’t be making a 3-series, they’ll be doing what Mercedes and Jaguar and Alfa are doing in making their own cars as best as possible in their own unique ways.
At the beginning of this article it’s stated that BMW is losing their edge; and it's generally agreed that they are. Even the M3, which is undeniably the fastest M3 ever to come out of Bavaria, isn’t the BEST M3 to come out of Bavaria. Clearly, then, the 3-series isn’t what it wanted to be when it grew up. Or is it? BMW is embracing efficiency as its newest hallmark attribute. Back that up with their i3 and other hybrid models and there’s simply no denying the new BMW brand identity: fast and efficient before fun. Then we consider the new 7 series; a company that used to pride itself with its motorsport pedigree and infuse its products with that sense of heritage, is now making cars to be chauffeured in powered by four cylinder engines. They’re making cars that fit every niche they can fathom. The company that made the legendary 2002 is now making, among other monstrosities, the BMW 3 series grantourismo grancoupe m-sport diesel or whatever they're calling them. What does that do to their public image? It completely tarnishes their perception as a sporting company and replaces it with the image of a car for businessmen who’ve made some money and want to show off their new success with the oddest, or most unique(?) BMW they could find on the lot. These customers don’t care what the car is like to drive nor do they care about the company’s history, they just want that blue and white badge on their driveway and that’s a shame. For those of us who still care about driving and heritage and who want the best of what a company can engineer, the only BMWs left for us are the 2 series and a few of the other M cars.