BMW Shows Off New 1-Series Coupe at L.A. Auto Show
The memory of the 2002 gets a workout
Yesterday afternoon in Los Angeles, BMW rolled out their new 1-Series Coupe for its North American coming-out party. There was zero suspense as the 1-Series has been sold in Europe already and already been shown extensively in the global press, but BMW nevertheless gave the debut the proper gravity, with some nice words about heritage, performance, and so forth.
If you talk to the people at BMW about the 1-Series they will invariably bring up the iconic 2002, a car much loved by auto enthusiasts everywhere, and particularly in the United States. It is not an exaggeration to say that over 40 years ago the Michelotti-designed, light and nimble 2002 put BMW squarely in the sweet spot of love and affection that the company still enjoys today from its ardent U.S. fans. And I am one of those people.
So, the marketing people at BMW being pretty sharp people, they are doing their best to trade on the positive equity of the 2002.
How is that working out for them?
Before I answer that question, let me say that I think the new 1-Series looks like its going to be a fantastic car. Small, nimble, attractive and powerful are all admirable attributes in a sports coupe, and generally even more so with the BMW propeller on the car. The car platform has gotten great reviews by everyone, so one can assume it will more of the same here in North America when it goes on sale in Spring 2008. Having owned seven BMWs so far in my life, I am very much looking forward to driving the car. It’s possible it could be BMW No. 8, too-small backseat and all.
Now, about those 2002 references – the 1-Series is a powerful car, it is a luxury car, and further, it is no lightweight. There is also the matter of price. A stripped 128 (230 HP straight-six) is 28 thousand dollars and change on the MSRP and that’s if any dealer would ever actually order a car like that with no options. Think mid-30’s for most of these. The 135 (300 HP twin-turbo straight-six) is quite a performer, but its even more expensive, starting in the low 30’s and going up very quickly in price as you pile on the options. The BMW 2002 was a bargain-priced paragon of incredibly good German engineering that had good, but not great performance for its time, and the 1-Series is a fairly-priced paragon of incredibly good German engineering that promises very-good to great performance in the here and now.
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