03-21-09 - The Marvels of German Marketing

On all these car sites you constantly read about the "fine German engineering". What? I mean the stuff is really nice, I am very sympathetic to their aesthetic, and I love that they are driver-centric. But that's just the design choices. Their build quality is just awful. You get quotes like this :

"It is assembled with typical BMW care and craftsmanship with high quality materials used throughout"

the real marvel is the incredible German Marketing. Holy crap they have done a number on people.

You also get lots of auto writing that just doesn't make any sense at all :

"The acceleration, especially from a standing stop, is super responsive and yet restrained enough to delight."

What? In what world does restrained equal delight ? Oh yes, please restrain the acceleration more, oh how delightful. So a Hyundai Elantra makes you jizz in your pants?


Tom Forsyth said...

BMW have dropped their build quality in the last five years. They're no longer aiming at the high luxury market, they're far lower end and down with the Nissans and Hondas, which means they need to cheapen out a bit. First thing to go is the trim.

The other trick is distinguishing between German engineering built in Germany, and German engineering built in South Carolina. There is apparently quite a difference.

Michael said...

I thought "fine German engineering" was code for saying they have test drivers over 6 feet tall. I was once a honda loyalist; but when I first sat in a little 318ti, and my first move wasn't to crank the seat down to the floor, I converted to eurocars.

cbloom said...

Yep Michael, that's definitely true, though Japanese car interiors are far bigger now than they were even a few years ago, it's still a problem for us tall folk.

In the BMWs we tried I mentioned to Ryan that I could wear a hat and still fit. In the Infinity G37 both of our hair was brushing the roof.

Sly said...

German engineering usually means 3 things:
- quality of construction
- sportive engine
- sportive chassis

While the classic view (could be partly wrong) of American cars in Europe is:
- breaks down easily. Seems like BMW and Toyota made in Usa adapted to the local market standards :-p
- heavy cars, with big, but not always big enough, engine
- shitty chassis, which can go fast only on straight lines at best ; or which can never handle going fast in the worse.

And, for the fun of it, let's not forget French cars:
- shitty plastic construction ; and now the electronic hell in the last 10 years :)
- engine? What engine? We need 1 more litter to get the same power than a German engine. For a long time out best engine was the PRV, thx Volvo (used in Alpines and Venturis for quite some time).
- Good, very good chassis. Could actually be better than Germans. But that's not enough to make a fast car.

Tom Forsyth said...

As a Brit who moved to the US, I can attest that the European view of American cars is 100% correct. Except the Corvette, which is still kinda dumb (pushrods! leaf springs!), but seems to work OK.

cbloom said...

Yeah I'm by no means defending American cars, I wouldn't buy one.

You guys made me realize something : I guess if you're in Europe and your choices are Italian, French, British or German cars - the German cars do seem like the pinnacle of fine craftsmanship.

Also BMW's not terrible at all. At the Audi dealership the salesman was like "let me tell you about the marvels of Audi engineering" and I just kept thinking "oh yeah? is that why your consumer reports is covered in black spots?"

Sly said...

TomF said:
> As a Brit who moved to the US, I
> can attest that the European view
> of American cars is 100% correct.

When I arrived in Qu├ębec, I was told very quickly and very often: "buy a Toyota, it will survive the winter. Never buy an American car". Which was already my opinion :)

BMW: they still make the best engines in the world with Honda, in power per consumption.

Audi: I've heard very bad things about their overpriced reparation services. Nice engine, nice automatic gear boxes, gorgeous interiors.

Mercedes: nice and comfortable ; less sportive/fast, but that's not the primary target here ; most look gorgeous IMHO.

Volfkswagen: bof, overpriced

Skoda: Volfswagen cars with a different look, and much more cheaper.

Opel: they're not German, they're American ; so they're to do crappy cars (and they do).

And as always, many German cars are slightly more expensive, and have endless list of costly options.

Tom Forsyth said...

> I guess if you're in Europe and your choices are Italian, French, British or German cars

...you buy a Japanese car like every other sane person.

Actually, Ford Europe make some pretty excellent "average" cars - the Fiesta, the Focus and the Mondeo are all good cars (if a little dull). But for some completely mind-boggling reason, they don't make those same cars in the US (the Focus name is used, but I believe it's a pretty different car underneath). Apparently Ford are now fixing that problem.

Thatcher Ulrich said...

I'm too big for my BMW driver's seat (2002 525i); headroom is fine but due to the relationship between the steering wheel and the gas pedal, it's really uncomfortable driving long distances, unless I can use cruise control most of the way. Otherwise it's a nice car, way too nice for my tastes in fact.

I find that Toyota consistently makes the most comfortable cars for my freakish self. Too bad they look so putrid.

old rants