The competition between the German brands is as furious as ever. BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi are all at each other’s throats. For decades, all three have held on to a specific brand image and maintained a steady reputation. But it seems now that all hell has broken loose and each brand is doing whatever they want, however they want, just to get ahead.
BMW has built its reputation on making rear-wheel drive sports cars in all shapes and sizes. It doesn’t matter if you bought a big luxurious 7 Series or a tiny nimble 3 Series, BMW’s sports car heritage was built into that car and motorsport ran through its veins. You could feel this as you drove nearly any BMW. Now, it isn’t as if BMW has forgotten about its motorsport pedigree and penchant for making sports car, but that isn’t all the Bavarian brand does anymore. We’ve recently just seen test drives of a front-wheel drive based BMW crossover. BMW just made something that Honda has been doing for almost three decades now. It seems like madness. All to increase sales and beat out its rivals.
Mercedes-Benz, a brand known for its sterling luxury reputation. A brand known for creating only the highest quality vehicles on the planet and over-engineering absolutely everything. This majestic brand just decided to make a front-wheel drive sedan, the size of one of Shaq’s shoes, that costs less than $30,000. That’s right, the same brand that brought us cars like the 600 Grosser, the 300 SL, SLS AMG and mighty S Class now has a car that competes with posh Volkswagens and Mazdas. If I was able to go back in time twenty years and tell people that Mercedes would have a car that competes with loaded VW Golfs, they’d laugh in my face. But it helps get more customers into the showrooms, so Mercedes is doing it.
Audi, oddly enough, is on the upswing. It’s still having a hard time making the kind of driving machines that BMWs are or the luxury machines that Mercedes’ are, but it’s the plucky underdog that might be on the rise. Audis have always been interesting choices, they’re different that the usual slew of Bimmers and Benzes. Maybe not quite as good, but a different take on things. Audi always made cars that were basically tarted up Volkswagens meant to compete with BMW and Mercedes. But now, Audi is making mid-engined supercars with V10s in the R8 and ultra luxurious super sedans like the S8. Audi already has had the lower end car segment covered, the one that Mercedes and BMW are trying to get into, but now wants to try its hand at the ultra high-end.
So it seems as if each big German is trying to copycat one another just to get a leg up in terms of sales. This is sad, though. While each company had their own unique identity, something that made them worth buying, they seem to be like Russian Dolls, all the same. There was a time when each German carmaker had a unique personality and you bought them because of it. But now it seems as if you’re just buying similar cars with different badges. All in the name of sales figures.