Bad news for BMW. The new 435i coupe just lost its first comparison test to an Audi S5. It didn’t lose in a close call either. Car and Driver liked better the Audi’s handling, engine, and pretty much all the other areas that BMW used to win comparos based on. One area that the BMW couldn’t even compete on was the navigation system and Bluetooth audio. You see, the $57,225 BMW didn’t have those things. Nor did it have a back-up camera. We honestly thought it was a law now that cars had to have back-up cameras. Maybe BMW got an exemption.
As the Car and Driver review pointed out, cars costing in the mid-teens (as in $17,000) now come with navigation and Bluetooth. You can’t get a 2014 Toyota Corolla that doesn’t have Bluetooth. What does BMW expect the affluent owners of its $57K cars to do? Stick a Walmart GPS to the windshield with a suction cup and drive around listening to commercials on FM radio?
This isn’t the first time we’ve been shocked by BMW prices for cars that are the same size as the new Corolla. In its last comparison of the BMW 335ix, Motor Trend’s test car had a price tag of $61,860. That made the car about $12,000 more expensive than the equivalent Lexus or Volvo. Ten grand here, ten grand there, and the next thing you know you’re talking real money as the saying goes.
When I drove the new Lexus IS 350 back to back with the BMW 335i and reported what I found, I got the best angry-grams from the BMW folks. So many comments calling me crazy that it made me question my opinion on the BMW. That is until both Road and Track and Car and Driver compared the BMW to the Lexus IS and they chose the new Lexus as the outright winner. Not only that. We reported back in August of last year that the “335i” in-line turbocharged six that BMW uses in the 435i and 335i suffered from noticeable turbo lag. Readers were angry, wrote us, and denied it. In its review this month (so new there is no web-link yet) Car and Driver noticed the turbo lag as well, saying “Audi’s blown six is so responsive that it exposes a microsecond of lag you might otherwise never notice in the 435i’s engine.” Actually, we did notice. Last summer.
Having now seen the 435i in person we will say that is a fantastic looking coupe. However, the Audi S5 is also a fantastic looking coupe. We have little doubt that the new Cadillac ATS coupe and Lexus RC 350 will also be fantastic looking coupes. Being fantastic looking is the prime directive of all coupes.
BMW is a company that makes fine automobiles. What is starting to become a fair question is whether a car brand that does not have the same amenities as literally the most inexpensive economy cars built is a luxury car brand. We’re not so sure what BMW is anymore, but a good value is one thing we are becoming convinced it is not.