If you've been living under a rock this week, BMW Malaysia just pulled the wraps off its latest product offering, the RM 300,800 (OTR excluding insurance, inclusive of SST and extended warranty + service package) G28 BMW 330 Li, the 'L' in the badge denoting a 110mm increase in its wheelbase. BMW Malaysia calls this "further diversifying its impressive portfolio." I'm not too sure the 3 Series needed diversifying in this manner. But, BMW are indeed experts at answering questions that no one asked (X6 Sports Activity Coupe, anyone?).
Much has been made about Munich's direction and the path it has chosen to go down. Don't know what I'm on about? Watch the video above and cringe as it fumbles with electrification. Conversely Mercedes chose to embrace and take pride in its heritage (respect your elders, right?), while celebrating the EQC in the video below, simply brilliant.
BMW makes it sound like they are the only ones facing impending electrification in the industry. Well, they are not, and you can already see them making a hash of it. Mercedes and Toyota are gamely taking on this challenge, and look odds-on to succeed where BMW has failed. I mean, calling your own flagship 'Grandpa' and alienating your loyalists? Tsk tsk tsk.
But I digress. Still, after expanding on BMW's latest faux pas, the same question applies in the context of the 330 Li, why?
Curious and curious-er
The first of multiple question marks is simply, why on earth would you need a long-wheelbase 3-Series? Lengthening the wheelbase of a car will usually result in less agility and woolier handling (in general). Isn't a 3-er meant to be a sporty driver's car? That's just from a dynamics perspective.
Image wise, if I wanted a bigger, longer car, wouldn't I just buy the G30 5 Series? Curiously, why choose to stretch a 3 Series, instead of the 5-er? The 3 Series' audience is plainly yuppies (young, upcoming professionals). A long-wheelbase executive sedan would appeal to more matured audiences, which is exactly what 5 Series shoppers are.
Do yuppies want a long-wheelbase, comfort-oriented version of a 3-er? Don't get me wrong, I am a big fan of the regular 3-er, but the answer is no. Also, the 330 Li comes only in M Sport trim, decimating the comfort factor. Yuppies won't care for it, as most are chasing the image and a sporty drive. It's as pointless as stretching a Proton Saga or Waja (remember the Chancellor?).
The launch of the 330 Li is rather baffling, as we were expecting the facelifted G30 520i to be announced instead. As of now, there's still no news on that, suggesting that the 330 Li might take its place. We know that the 520i is not a strong mover, but is the 330 Li really a solution?
BMW as a brand used to stand for driving pleasure. Now, it seems they're just confused. Their products now don't appeal to enthusiasts (M cars aside), nor are they cutting edge in any way. This new 330 Li does nothing to change this current perception. Diversifying your impressive portfolio? How about just staying true to your core values that got you here in the first place?