What Happened This Week, Suddenly We're All Filthy Rich, Basking in Gold and Diamonds? 

2025 BMW M5 and others 7 photos
Photo: VW / Bentley / BMW / Aston Martin / Audi
Bentley Continental GT SpeedAston Martin ValiantBMW M5Volkswagen Jetta & Jetta GLIAudi RS Q8 PerformanceVW Golf R
Sure, some will say I'm crazy for thinking that automakers actually care about mainstream customers - but nevertheless, I'm vexed by how the planets aligned this past week to see the automotive industry launch such rides.
Let's overview them. So, there was the tank-like-heavy BMW M5 saloon, the refreshed 2025 Volkswagen Golf R and Golf R station wagon, the fourth-generation Bentley Continental GT Speed with 782 electrified ponies, the Aston Martin Valiant hardcore track star with a manual, and Audi's most powerful gasoline-powered model ever – RS Q8 Performance.

By the way, all these come after the week before Bugatti dropped the curtain for its Veyron and Chiron successor, the plug-in hybrid V16-powered Tourbillon. Frankly, I wasn't really impressed with the new hypercar, which is becoming even more exclusive with just 250 units, and it has nothing to do with the craftsmanship or the new 1,775-horsepower PHEV powertrain.

Instead, my one and only huge beef with it is that Bugatti failed to innovate – it sacrificed the opportunity to bring something new to the table for at least the next half-decade on the altar of tradition and continuity. What I mean is that Bugatti didn't change the design of the Tourbillon enough to make it stand out next to a Chiron – at least when you look at them from the front or the side. The rear, indeed, thanks to the waved LED taillights, it's easier to recognize.

But when you pay around $4 million (before taxes and customization ideas) on a hypercar, and the kid next door confuses it with the predecessor, you're going to scratch your face and howl at the moon. I know I would do that if I were crazy enough to spend that money on something I could only drive safely after months and maybe years of driving courses. But that's just me. So, back to the week we just finished.

Is it only me, or are carmakers striving to make the honest-to-God $20k vehicle disappear forever? Polestar, for example, has finally started deliveries of their Polestar 3 all-electric mid-size luxury crossover SUV, and the US listings reveal that the Long Range Dual Motor begins at $73,400. Wasn't it that the EV burst, and now people want more affordable zero-emission cars or won't buy them at all, instead going for the safe, reliable, and more affordable hybrid next door?

Heck, even the little Kia Seltos starts at more than $25k for the 2025 model year – but at least the higher base price reflects in more standard kit. Also, the 2025 RS Q8 Performance is the most powerful SUV Audi has ever made, and of course, it starts from a pricing point that is equal to a nice condo in a very cozy European capital - 141,900 euros or more than $152k! No worries, BMW is not too far away – the US pricing for that fatso of an M5 sedan kicks off at $119,500 (all prices are sans destination charges).

That's almost $20k compared to its predecessor when it arrived in America – all for an extra 100 horsepower and a whole lot of lbs. It's not worth the extra effort, if you ask me, even though I am not among the BMW fans who believe the 2025 BMW M5 is extremely ugly. In my opinion, the XM is that BMW. Or the iX or the 7 Series, and I could go on for a while. Sorry, BMW, your designers need a slap or two, so stop letting them smoke weed during work hours. It melts their brains and also has an impact on our white-blue love of automotive wonders.

I can't say much about the Aston Martin Valiant – that's a car for the one percent of the one-percenters, frankly, and I'm okay with that because the Brits never offered a popular model in their life. The 2025 Bentley Continental GT Speed is the most powerful street-legal Bentley ever, and that's just the beginning of PHEV shenanigans with 782 horsepower on tap. Again, Bentley never offered a $20k vehicle in their life, so that's to be expected of them. But how about the 2025 Volkswagen Golf R, which keeps getting more expensive? Luckily for them, we have an alternative in America for something honest and 'almost' cheap – the newly refreshed 2025 Volkswagen Jetta, which starts from $22k and keeps the Jetta GLI around for anyone looking to spice up their family sedan a little bit.

In the end, it's clear that even though customers have said no to expensive EVs and are now asking for hybrids instead, it's not going to be long before those become useless – BMW created a new generation M5 that's slower in a straight line than its predecessor just to put a PHEV powertrain in it. Also, that added mass won't allow it to feel nimble in the corners, either. So, what happened with honest models that don't cost an arm and a leg? Are they becoming a dying breed, and do we all need to start digging for gold and diamonds just to afford a daily driver or a work and shopping commuter?!
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About the author: Aurel Niculescu
Aurel Niculescu profile photo

Aurel has aimed high all his life (literally, at 16 he was flying gliders all by himself) so in 2006 he switched careers and got hired as a writer at his favorite magazine. Since then, his work has been published both by print and online outlets, most recently right here, on autoevolution.
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