Why BMW is needlessly ruining its cars
The one thing that ruined some of BMW's most desirable cars, and continues to detract from the appeal of their new cars to this day.
Most of us can agree that BMW has made some spectacular cars over the years, although there has often been certain niggles and annoyances that we wish they'd ironed out during development and testing. However, some issues go further than this, to the point where they became the sole reason many steer clear of the marque (think E46 sub-frame cracking and E9x M3 connecting-rod bearing failure).
Although such nightmares are a rarity nowadays, arguably the most glaringly obvious blunder that BMW has made continues to ruin many of its brand new models in 2020.
Suspension. Yes, it's as simple and complex as that.
If you've consumed any form of motoring journalism on a new BMW over the last 10 years you'll know that there is one point that is as certain to be made as the sun is to come up tomorrow; too harsh suspension.
E60 5 Series
Now, lets be honest, most of us petrol-heads don't spend hours on end looking at rapidly deprecating M cars from online classifieds because we fancy a comfortable ride. If thats what you want, go and buy an old S Class you're thinking.
Well, be that as it may, it begs the question; why does BMW insist on fitting most of its range with bone-crushingly firm springs and dampers? Other manufacturers prove time and time again that exceptional levels of handling, control and engagement are possible without such horrid levels of comfort.
Think Porsche, Audi or Mercedes.
The most egregious offenders of the bunch are without question the brands 'M Sport' models; an optional upgrade package offered on every car within the BMW range. Although it is possible in some cases to configure the sporty and attractive looking 'M Sport' body kit without the unforgiving suspension package that generally comes as standard with these cars, more often than not if you're buying an M Sport you should book your appointment with the chiropractor in advance.
Possibly the worst era for this was around 10-15 years ago when cars such as the E90 3 Series, E60 5 Series and E70 X5 were in production. Such was the firmness in cars from these generations that cracking of BMW's factory alloy wheels is well documented.
Although some people pointed fingers at run-flat tires and even poor wheel design, the real culprit escaped the angry gaze of owners and the media without even getting a mention. A specific example of this was where BMW's 19" style 225M design caught the attention of the British consumer watchdog for repeatedly cracking.
These wheels were only fitted from factory to M Sport models, strangely enough.
It has to be said that BMW's new cars are nowhere near as bad in this department as some of their predecessors, however don't think for a second that the problem has totally disappeared. The configurability of adaptable dampers has brought us the luxury to adjust the damping as we please, but set the mode to 'sport plus' and you'll get a nasty reminder why not to own an M Sport BMW from yesteryear.
Strangely, the performance top-dogs from BMW's M model lineup seem to be less effected by this irritating oversight; perhaps this can be attributed to more expensive suspension components fine tuning, but either way, it isn't an excuse for why its 'regular' models ride so terribly.
If you're reading this from the Swabian hills West of Munich and can't understand what we're on about, then you've arrived precisely at what the problem is. BMW needs to stop designing its suspension, particularly on M Sport models, as if every one of its cars will spend its life on the silky smooth roads of Deutschland.
We love you BMW, but please stop ruining fabulous cars with needlessly horrid suspension.