Originally Posted by adelphi_sky
Here's the deal. I watched an interesting story on YouTube by CNBC called BMW: A Driving Obssession. The story was aired back in July of last year. Late, I know. But there was an interesting piece in the story that mentioned Audi's intent to surpass BMW as the #1 luxury sport sedan manufacturer by 2015. That is what you are witnessing. Audi is taking a gamble and probably smaller profit margins by keeping Audis a bit cheaper than BMWs to "catch up" to BMW and pass them as #1. After watching the segment, one can argue that BMW can justify the hefty price. There is a LOT of attention to detail put in these cars from start to finish. I think the story mentioned that half of BMW designers have PhDs. Which is probably why BMW is still #1. MB is #2, and Audi is a close 3rd in the market segment.
I do agree that the 3-series is pushing beyond its sweet spot as the perfect sport sedan. Which is why BMW probably came out with the 1-series, which is smaller and cheaper (perhaps to compete with the A4?) and has the same engines as the 3-series. I think most of the 3-series customers here will start to look at the 1-series to get back to that 3-series feel that we had for the past 20 or so years.
Personally, I think BMW's configurations can be a lot simpler, and it was mentioned in the story that BMW sometimes over-engineers things. But what I did learn is that they do listen to their customers. It's up to us to change what BMW does if we tell them.
All very good points. We are car enthusiasts. in principle, this should mean not that we are even more badge-whore-y than the general public, but that we know enough to see through the brand name and marketing to recognize a good product when most others can't.
So when an underdog company is trying to catch up with the leaders by offering competitive products at lower prices than the already established competition, I would like to think that it's us the enthusiasts that can see this opportunity and jump on it. I see Hyundai as very much a case study of this in the non-premium segment. And in the premium segment, it seems Audi is increasingly becoming that. Their products are very significantly improved from previous generations, to a point where some of them can be considered class leaders, and yet the pricing is still a bit below BMW and MB, due to the relative lack of prestige. I would be very compelled to look at Audi the next time we are shopping for my wife's car.