I too despise the direction BMW is taking. And unlike the above messages, I cannot stand the Z4 either. I once posted on www.bmwplanet.com about the upcoming 3 series, and in that post mentioned how I hoped the styling was good, since the current 7 series looks more like what a new Buick Roadmaster might look like. I got flamed pretty bad!
The reasons I don't like the direction BMW is taking as as follows:
1. The designs actually show promise, but their execution is horrendous! The 7 series and to a lesser degree, the Z4 have an unfinished look about them. And the Z4 looks more like it has a Japanese rear end, rather than a German one.
2. All this technology is causing lots of trouble for owners and BMW alike. There was an unheard of number of factory buy-backs, and customers either demanded new 2003 7 series and hoping for no problems, or then they went off and bought a competitor's car. It is deplorable to use your customers, especially those shelling out the incredible amount of money a 7 series demands as product development engineers! German quality has been much worse lately than their reputation would suggest, and this is a direct result of all the crap they put into their cars so they are at the leading edge against their competitors. Sorry, but leave it to the Japanese to introduce new technology, they seem to get it right the first time. In the mean time, German cars are losing their souls.
3. BMW is going away from the driver oriented feel to a more luxury feel. This is evident by the new interiors that have lost their driver oriented centre console, and also by the predominance of new technology such as I-Drive. It's as if BMW wants to be Lexus. They are surely very comfortable cars, and very capable, but they are going in a totally different direction.
However, given all this, 7 series sales are much higher than before, and I believe for the first time, they have surpassed Mercedes S Class sales. This is no mean feat, and it shows they quite possibly might be right about their direction. But driving enthusiasts from now on looking for upscale sporty cars might have to get cars from Audi, or maybe even Infinity.
"it's kind of like an Airbus, it's an engineering marvel, but there's no sense of passion" -- J. Clarkson re: Coxster