I was recently invited to the unveiling of the new G20 3 Series at a local BMW dealer. Up to now, I have never owned any other make of vehicle except BMW. I have gotten to know the design errors and over the years when looking out for a replacement vehicle, I have paid particular attention to typical previous design faults and whether the German designers have carried it over to the next design or not.
At this unveiling, I was humoured at the announcement that one could now choose to have a spare wheel or not, at no extra cost. Have BMW finally realised that the run flat concept has been a total failure in South Africa, where being left stranded beside the road leaves you as a target to hi-jacking, theft and murder. I hope to see the return of the spare wheel implemented in all the sedans, as well as the x range.
Anyway, one new fancy gimmick caused my hair to stand on end - the kidney grille that can open and close, depending on engine temperature. They reckon that it improves aerodynamics when closed, and will open when extra engine cooling is required. The question is, how much will it benefit economy for the short duration when the engine is cold? Unless you are in Germany or Greenland or northern Russia, most of the time the flaps would be open, as the engine would be panting for cool air. So, it counts for nothing in South Africa, where we always run the risk of the engine overheating. And then, as I have seen on most BMW's, any new concept is not adequately tested before installed on the vehicles, running the risk of failing. Imagine when the kidney grille flaps do not open because they malfunction? Huge engine damage from overheating. Keep it simple, BMW. In addition, do you know how difficult it will be to clean out insects from the grille when detailing the vehicle?
Secondly, I noticed that the windscreen washer pipes are now integrated into the wiper arm. However, where the pipe enters the wiper arm, it is exposed to sunlight and movement. We all know that rubber perishes in sunlight, and these pipes are prone to getting brittle, even if they are not exposed to sunlight (I had to replace the pipes on my E39 recently). I foresee these pipes breaking at this very point. Why change things and risk failure, when the previous design worked perfectly well? It will take BMW 3 generations to change this new, already damned, design. Rather install non-perishable hoses.
And with the new digital instrument cluster, we will have to wait and see how long that will last, and after a decade, if it were to fail (as do computer screens), would it be replaceable, or would we have to buy a new car?
I know this sounds cynical, but here in South Africa, we work very hard for the money to purchase such a vehicle, and we therefore expect the technology to last. I wish somehow we could have a meeting with the German designers and point out what designs and gimmicks were complete failures, and in doing so, help them build the best car in the world. But then, if the car we own was perfect, would we need to buy a new one every 5 years? Not good for business...
Let's wait and see...