The Motor Trend review is a weak effort and represents a simple-minded view of the automotive industry
After watching the Motor Trend review and reading through the comments, I reached the following conclusion. The era of the highly focused car is ALMOST over
. Most consumers who buy high performance vehicles will not race them on track day or push them to their limits. BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Porsche and others know this. This is the direction the automotive market is going and for good reason. Electronics allow for manufacturers to offer 'profiles' to sharpen steering, change throttle mapping, and suspension dampening to provide 90% of the focused car experience while improving emissions, safety, and fuel economy while making the car slightly bigger. When was the last time Cadillac built and sold a mainstream product that had to compete in all global markets and meet consumers wants and tastes?
Those who own an E46 know it is not a great space in the backseats for a second couple on a long 2 day road trip. However, the E46 seemed more focused and tighter 'out-of-the-box'. BMW now offers more variations of products for those who want that 'old school no compromise experience'. You can find it in an M series or through sport options from BMW.
However, this hardcore buyer may only represent 10% of the buying public. BMW knows what they are doing and are not alone in this trend. Porsche has also made the new 911 S more comfortable and a little less sharp but through performance options can build a 911 S to meet 90-95% of what a hardcore owner may want.
Yes, the doors are lighter on all new BMW products (3 series through 7 series) and harder plastics are in lower touch points in the interior however, that is offset by better fuel economy, and a sticker price lower than the costs of inflation and the diminished value of our US currency.
Finally, the 3 series is still built outside the United States and the price reflects foreign manufacture, shipping, health costs, etc. There has been talk of the 3 series being built domestically to reduce costs and add more content (ala VW in Chatanooga TN). I'll pay the premium for German design and manufacture as well as the investments in Efficient Dynamics