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      11-26-2020, 09:38 AM   #54
BMW Owner Since 1971

Drives: 1964 700 Sport Cabriolet
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Central Virginia

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2013 BMW 128i  [0.00]
BMW has a history of failed "improvements" in steering response. After a critique they took very personally in my review of the Active Steering product launch, I became personally involved in explaining to them how they failed with the early E60 5-series and was sent several "updated" examples to compare and even met a BMW AG engineer at Dulles Airport to drive one example with him to explain why we Americans hated the steering feel. (His first question was, "Where can we go to drive 100mph?") To their credit, they software engineered their way out of that problem, mostly,

They lost the feel when going from E to F on the 3-series but reacted (fairly) quickly and I believe by around 2016 they'd improved it dramatically. Now there's really no excuse to have made such bone-headed moves in the first place, but the criticism was so rampant that even today I get tire-kickers in the dealership complaining about BMW steering from what they've read in magazines and on-line forums—without driving the newer cars to see for their selves. If I can get them to actually drive the car on a good road, they readily admit it feels damn good. Personally I still prefer my E82 steering, but then I grew up on 2002s!

Automotive writers share the guilt by often assuming BMW steering still sucks and just writing about it without trying it. I remember being part of the international press corps for the E92 335i launch in Austria and Germany for Roundel way back when. My editor suggested I write the article on the plane on the way over to meet our deadline, but then he had much more experience as a paid scribe than did I. I refused. A famous and highly awarded automotive writer whose name starts with Kit and ends with -man missed his flight and was only able to join us—after we'd completed the two-days of driving in the mountain switchbacks—for dinner on the evening prior to scheduled departures. He never drove the car. And yet his article with all the usual BMW pros and cons came out about the same time mine did. How discouraging, but also telling.

Back when I was selling Porsche (20-years of it), I had a customer come in for a 911 test-drive. He said he understood all the criticism of the 911 oversteer, never mind that this was a much later version with huge rear-wheels and better balance, but he was voicing his prejudice right from the start. As we pulled out of the driveway onto our county road, he wiggled the steering wheel back and forth—at around 30mph—and emphatically announced that (Oh boy!) he could feel that notorious oversteer characteristic. Later in the drive he applied the brakes meekly from about 40-mph and proclaimed how magnificent the ABS system was! I also forgot to mention he began the test-drive by putting on his driving gloves! He'd have been better served by engaging his brain and butt dyno, but then this is what car salesmen put up with every day—the uniformed having their opinions shaped by writers who should know better but are just too lazy to do the research.

Go drive a new M340i and report back.