I think BMW has decided they want to set their sights on the Lexus, Infinity, M-B crowd. The days of the fun little BMW will come to an end with the current 1er.
BMW's brand now stands for a stylish luxury (comfort) car that happens to be sporty for it's size and mass. You always paid more for a BMW but now it really seems like you are paying a lot more for STYLE than for "the ultimate driving machine" and they defiantly sell up the style well above the performance, Just look at the Welt in Munich. So Artsy, so slick, so....stylish.
The real beginning of the end was in my opinion the first Z4. It replaced a very raw little roadster with a 2 seat boulevard cruiser. Sure some could say the SAV's but those were horrible SUV's much closer to an "Ultimate Driving Machine" than what the current X5 is which is a bloody big sloppy mess. Now the entire lineup is more about Lifestyle, and Artistic style, and.....elegance..... The new M cars are a pathetic joke of over wrought luxury and pre-recorded engine sounds. And now they are confusing things even more with these trim lines. So a 3 will be Base, Luxury, Modern, Sport, and M Sport, plus the actual M3.
I love my 128, but man was I disappointed when the Subaru BRZ came out. Low, mean, aggressive. Everything the pot bellied high belt lined 1 isn't, but the old E46 Coupe was. I mean I got my 1 because of the wicked '03 330Ci Coupe my father had before he flabbed out for the E60 before coming to his senses and moving to the M6. My 1 drives a lot like the E46 did, But you sit a bit higher, my hair is in the headliner, it doesn't have that visceral "Get the F*&$ out of my way" look, and the top of the door is way up near shoulder height.
BMW wants more market share, and they want more of that share in the upper end of the market. That means they are now a brand about prestige and style, and over trendy looking dealerships. I remember what my dealership used to look like back in 2002, simple, comfortable, a little "lived in" and full of machines that looked a lot more Function than form. Now, god, I don't even feel like I'm "the right kind of person" for my dealership anymore, it's all cold apple looking surfaces, and people dressed up WAY too much for selling cars. More art museum than shed for the ultimate driving machine.
But that sells more cars to more people. They are just responding to the gaudy ultra luxury global market. The upscale want a car that goes with their overpriced ugly watches, handbags, and iPhones. Style is King, Not even Porsche could fight it.