If there’s one car that could serve as the Holy Grail of all things automobile, it’s the BMW 3 Series.
It’s the car that competing automakers despise, yet strive to replicate. It’s the car that executives at Lexus, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Infiniti have probably taken pictures of and posted on the walls of their engineering departments along with a sign that says, “Make this.”
And yet, nobody has.
Here’s the thing about the 3 Series: It’s been in a constant state of evolution, ingraining itself into car culture and building its market position for almost four decades. No other car in its class can touch that.
But that won’t stop others from trying.
Jaguar tried building a 3 Series fighter with the X-Type, but that was like Evander Holyfield going up against Will Ferrell’s Elf character: Strength, power and precision up against a hefty dose of confused optimism. This time around, though, Jag may get closer. Adrian Hallmark, Jaguar’s new global brand director, told Autoweek,
We need different models. We need lower priced models… We don’t want to be fighting it out in the fleet business with little engines and small wheels and discounted 25 percent… If we go into the smaller car market, we want to build elegant cars with great technology that give a sense of occasion and position us above that competition—where Jaguar should be.
BMW certainly won’t give up its perch without a fight, but if Jag builds a car that lives up to its intent this time, at least the competition will have something to worry about. Not anytime soon, though, because Jag says it’s at least four years away from having a small sedan on the showroom floor.
Can any car compete with the BMW 3 Series?