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High End Luxury Cars

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  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,679
    For the record I think BMW makes great cars. I don't think all that much of the looks of the 7 and I'll have to see the 5 better. But styles notwithstanding it would be ludicrous to say BMW is not an exceptional car maker. I was in a RAV once and found it to be harsh and noisy so I'll go on your side there.

    I don't think syswei or anyone else wants to show contrary figures - just accurate ones. And what's the difference anyway. In dollar sales MB wins. But profits is what counts. In that regard Toyota is the most profitable and powerful auto company out there right now.

    Why do you think that MB has hurt it's corporate image?
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    Around my parts, MB still carries the most mainstream weight, and is most respected. BMW is probably second, followed by Lexus. I don't think the merger or anything else has really hurt MB's corporate image any. All that being what it is, if you want to have the "best", or impress (and you can't afford your Bentley), the Benz is the car.
  • sv7887sv7887 Posts: 351
    Hi all,
      We all need to keep in mind how young Lexus is. 14 yrs is pretty young for a car company.
     For all those Auto Historians..How long did it take for MB to carve it's niche out in the industry?

    From the beginning Lexus has played it safe. As a young upstart they simply took what the Best (MB) was doing and attempted to improve on it. If you remember their Marketing in 1989-90, you'll recognize the textbook job. Infiniti took a different route and got poor results. (Even though the Q was a fantastic cars.) Sometimes it's how you present things.

    Lexus' prime Marketing tool is the Reliability coupled with Service and High end electronics. They definitely do follow MB's lead in deciding what options belong in cars. Given their young age, it's hard to blame them for that...BUT, I think we're going to see Lexus start to establish themselves as something other than a Benz imitator. Models such as the RX330 (Hybrid) and Future GS are indications of this.

    Now that Toyota has really given Lexus their own identity, I hope it will translate into a distinctive Brand Identity. I'd love for them to embrace their initial designs of the LS and SC and apply them to the future designs. This upcoming Hybrid launch may indicate Lexus' niche will be in technology. Time will tell.

    SV
  • bluestar1bluestar1 Posts: 112
    Nice post.

    Yes, everyone that piles on the Lexus easily forgets how young Lexus really is in the luxury car market, compared to its competitiors. That is what makes it even more remarkable how far Lexus has come in so short a time.

    With the HPX concept, Lexus truly is branching out on its own identity. There is a real anxiety as to what the new GS will look like. That will truly be the beginning of the new-look Lexus. Like someone predicted here, that Lexus may overtake Mercedes in 15 years. I'd like to believe that, but only time will truly tell.
  • tasillotasillo Posts: 51
    I'm a little confused by the constant reference to Lexus "copying" Mercedes in their offerings. In my experience (again, having owned both), Lexus has not copied Mercedes (or BMW) in declining reliability, reduced customer satisfaction, poorer dealer experiences or accerated depreciation curves. Yes, the original LS400 looked a lot like the S-class, however Lexus failed to copy the Germans 50k + sticker.

    The most interesting part of this debate for me is how Lexus and Infiniti have been able to methodically move their mainstream product up in price and content, while the Europeans have been forced to hold or in some cases reduce pricing despite obvious advances in their products. Witness a 2004 E500 vs. an early 90's E400 or 420.

    The Germans engineer great cars. They've expanded their product offerings to touch most price points north of entry-level. They've become more accomodating to American requirements of options, colors and trim choices. But while the Japanese were smoking the world on reliability and owner satisfaction, the Germans seemed to be concentrating on playing catch-up with the electronics and "features", at the expense of their well earned reputation for engineering excellence. Not to confuse engineering with execution, but a well-engineered car still sucks when the NAV doesn't work, the reliability is less than stellar and the dealer is less than empathatic. I'm glad my BMW feels like it was carved from granite. But I'd also like the trip computer to work more often.

    Finally, just because I respect the Japanese manufacturers, don't think I'm not an enthusiaist. I'm a motorsports junkie, have raced both motorcycles and showroom stock and generally love anything that consumes gasoline! I just also respect great quality, customer satisfaction and constant improvement. When Mercedes and BMW match Lexus and Infiniti in the reliability and durability classifications, we can settle this debate once and for all.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,679
    Great post - again. I know I said that to you once before on another post a while ago.

    You also capture an essence that Merc1 misses badly, perhaps because he doesn't have a car in this grouping. That being that many of those who want to dismiss the reliability issues - which seem to be deepening for the Germans - comfort themselves by saying it is not related to the drivetrain or other mainstream automotive components. Wow. When and if the real automotive stuff starts to misfire it will be time for someone to turn the lights off for the last time and put up a "for sale" sign. When you pay this kind of money you want something as close to bulletproof as possible. Isn't that a true luxury that is a required component to match all the other great amenities of these fine cars. I think I'd be pretty pissed if I'm paying $86k or $1300 a month on a lease and my car is in the shop while my neighbor's kids' Honda Accord or Toyota Camry, at less than a third of that cost, works flawlessly all the time.

    I've read a lot about pre-collisions systems here lately and other new technologies and who is innovating first. That is ridiculous because competition requires the others to follow suit. Does anyone really think that the others won't follow Lexus once the hybrid technology hits? That is normal (and natural) business and the last time I looked auto manufacturing was a business. Many of these innovations will be governed by mastery of electronics in your car. That means the more important question is which one of the manufactures do you have trust in when the need arises which hopefully, in the case of pre-collision systems, is never. Well I'll put my money (and trust) on the Lexus systems working best as they have demonstrated great mastery of electronics while the Germans still have a lot to prove in that arena.
  • fennfenn Posts: 197
    An everyday driving and ownership experience is the essence to most of us. The earlier comment about the importance of a car's reliability and a positive ownership experience is a really important issue to a car owner. The fantasy crowd, who has never dealt with these issues can lust for the car of their dreams, but owning and dealing with a car on a long term basis is a total experience. It is real life.

    I must admit that I had a hard time giving up my Infiniti Q45 ownership experience. That experience was a pleasure. Bullet proof, no trouble, and a fresh free loaner waiting for me when ever I went in for service.

    I love my new XJR, and have not had it long enough to comment on the ownership experience. If it proves to be a problem, I will not look back on it favorably, no matter how nice the car feels.

    The people that I know who have jumped the Mercedes ship did not jump because they disliked their cars. They jumped ship as a result of the issues related to the ownership experience. I imagine that owning a Lexus can be much less stressful.

    A great performer is a nice thing, but it is not all about 0-60 times or slalom times with this class of luxury cars. Sure, I love to let my car loose on Mulholland Drive, or a open highway, but most of the time I am just stuck in traffic. Most folks who drive luxury marques want a balanced relationship with the car that they drive. They do not want frustration with the service and reliability. Or frustration with new-fangled complicated gadgets like BMW's I-drive.

    By the way, I have no axe to grind. In fact, I have never owned a Lexus, and I admit that I have periodically lusted for a Mercedes or Beemer from time to time.

    However, I think you will find far more former Mercedes owners driving Lexus' than you will Lexus owners switching to a Mercedes. It seems to be a matter of ownership satisfaction.

    I really enjoy hearing from the folks that have real-life experience with these cars. I consider "the source" when I read strong commentary here.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I'm done with the innovation discussion, because you're simply turning things around because you have nothing to back up your original statement. After NOT being able to tell me which innovations Mercedes came up with before Lexus, that Lexus so-called "perfected" you write:

    "Are you now saying that Lexus has NOT copied any of Mercedes Innovations? because if Lexus has they have made it better as evidenced by their dependability ratings."

    And I was merely asking you, since you say Lexus has done so much better with MB's innovations, what those "innovations are. If you're so sure of Lexus' accomplishments, you should be able to tell me what these items are.

    callmedrfill,

    Every criticism is a considered a bash now right? You're right its not like Lexus couldn't have those things, but they don't.

    lenscap,

    I'm sorry, but all of which you've stated I see an excuse for one reason:

    "Yes, they have "Toyota" spelled out on the trunk but that is a very misleading comment."

    The cars are still branded as Toyotas, just like I stated. You're first few statements contradict the end of your post. If there is no need for an upper-class nameplate in Japan because of the culture, then why would the go through the trouble of introducing "Lexus" in Japan. Also, there is quite a difference between Maybach/Mercedes and Toyota/Lexus. The Maybach started out as purpose built car for seperate nameplate, it wasn't an existing Mercedes rebadged for the purpose of selling it somewhere else. Nor was Maybach thought up at a board meeting, it's a legendary nameplate in it's own right.

    syswei,

    Haven't we been over this before about ABC? I said Mercedes did it before Lexus, I didn't claim that particular innovation was done first only by Mercedes-Benz. One such innovation would be SBC.

    ljflx,

    What you're missing is that reliability is either a) not as all encompasing as you'd like to believe it is for everybody. Obviously it isn't becasue why would anyone continue to buy German cars. Or b) the reliability of these cars isn't as bad as the survey clutchers would like to believe it is. I don't know how many times this has to be stated. People place different weight on different things. For you it's reliability, stereos and nav systems. For others its styling, performance, and design. When you can find one instance of Mercedes' safety technology not working as advertised, let me know. FYI, Mercedes' fall in the surveys has nothing to do with any of their safety technology, which they were pioneering before Toyota even had a clue about automotive safety. Mercedes keeps track of nearly every severe accident involving their cars in Germany for the sole purpose of advancing safety in their cars, they've done this since the 1950's. Even the most unreliable brands (per the all important surveys) don't have much in the way of problems when it comes to safety equipment.

    M
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I respect the Japanese makes and admire their quality, but some of the things claimed here are so low on actual facts to the point where it makes it seem like I'm always bashing Lexus in pointing out the facts. I'm really not. The only thing I really ever bashed Lexus on is was their styling. I've never gone as far as to question a persons sense as to why they'd purchase brand a over brand b, like some have.

    Thought it seems that reliability is the counter for any and every criticism of Lexus, no matter what is is being "discussed". Then it gets personal on how you have to own a car to even speak about it. It's ridiculous.

    M
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    Hey folks, we're splitting hairs here. These cars are the best of the best, and frankly, I have no personal ownership experience with any of the most mentioned ones. I'd probably be in heaven with whichever marque you all thought was the worst of the bunch. Does that bring a little perspective back?
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    I have read that Toyota has licensed hybrid technology to both Nissan and Ford, which seems an indication of how far ahead they are in this area.

    As far as MB, I ran across this: "Toyota Motor Corp. and Daimler-Benz AG of Germany have agreed to open negotiations on a wide-ranging environmental technical cooperation" here (see second story):
    http://www.evworld.com/archives/newsarchives/shoptalk042.html
  • lenscaplenscap Posts: 854
    Check out the link below. It shows concepts of the first two Lexus models for Japan - both will be at the Lexus display at this month's Tokyo Motor Show. One is the HPX we've already seen, called the LF-X here. The other car, the LF-S, I would think is a disguised next-gen GS simply because the GS will be the first Lexus to have the new styling theme and the link below talks mostly about the styling theme.

    http://www.toyota.co.jp/en/event/auto_shows/lexus/index.html
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    Great find! Thanks. The LF-S looks a little radical, I'm not sure I like the prominence of the upper hood, but maybe I'll like it better in person.
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    Now that I've clicked on the arrow for the rear view, I can't say I care for the rear of the LF-S either.
  • sv7887sv7887 Posts: 351
    Hi All,

    I think the branding issue is just part of the maturation process of Lexus. They were smart enough to realize that no one was going to shell out $50K+ in the US for a Toyota. We all can look at VW's Phaeton as an example of what not to do. (Incidentially I hear this car sells well in Europe)

    Of course, when you pay that much $$$ for a car, there is a certain snob factor to it all. I'm surprised it took Toyota this long to give Lexus their own brand identity in Japan. It doesn't help the prestige argument when MB fans point to the fact that the LS is sold as the Toyota Celsior in Japan. As I've discussed in my last point, it's just part of the growing process.

    Tasillo,
    The MB crowd knocks Lexus for copying styling cues from MB models and stealing certain options. I'm assuming they want Lexus to have their own identity rather than borrow from others..I've always felt the first LS was the best..The next models got blander and blander. When I look at my LS430, I do see a strong resemblance to the old S class.

    It's annoying. Lexus has shown us that they can build unique looking cars with the RX, old SC, and GS. However, the future of Lexus looks good with the HPX. That's once nice looking car..

    As for stealing options from MB, it's just smart business. (Although bad for prestige discussions like this) The Japanese are known for mimicing others. They take apart someone else's invention and simply make it better. Sony did this with TV's and chased the American companies out of business.

    To me, it really doesn't matter who invented it, but who makes the best product. But I suppose when the discussion involves high priced luxury cars, things aren't so clear cut.

    SV
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    "To me, it really doesn't matter who invented it, but who makes the best product." I agree with your sentiments, and lets keep in mind that what's best for one person isn't necessarily best for the next guy.
  • tasillotasillo Posts: 51
    The interesting thing about Lexus styling is that the only vehicles that receive criticisim are their two flagships, the LX470 and the LS430. Both of these vehicles play to a pretty conservative audience and have been well received despite their bland appearance. The ES, RX, GS and certainly SC lines all have unique styling, regardless of whether you think they are pretty or not. I find the LX470 most disappointing in that there's no attempt to differentiate it from the Toyota Land Cruiser, an exceptional (and expensive) vehicle in it's own right. I agree, Lexus needs to be a little more adventursome with their styling, but avant garde hasn't exactly worked well for Infiniti with it's flagship, Q45.

    Different strokes for different folks...
  • lenscaplenscap Posts: 854
    "We all can look at VW's Phaeton as an example of what not to do. (Incidentially I hear this car sells well in Europe)"

    Actually, the Phaeton is not doing well in Europe. I believe it is only selling around 1/3 of what they thought it would.
  • lenscaplenscap Posts: 854
    "If there is no need for an upper-class nameplate in Japan because of the culture, then why would the go through the trouble of introducing "Lexus" in Japan."

    With Lexus having succeeded in North America they are turning their attention to the global marketplace. In order to be a global brand it's best to have your products branded the same everywhere.

    "The Maybach started out as purpose built car for seperate nameplate, it wasn't an existing Mercedes rebadged for the purpose of selling it somewhere else."

    Nearly all Lexus models have also been purposely built under the Lexus nameplate. The Celsior (LS), Aristo (GS), Windom (ES), Harrier (RX), etc. did not exist prior to the start of Lexus. They were not existing cars rebadged. Since the Lexus name was not used in Japan these cars were sold under a new premium channel, which also did not previously exist.

    "Nor was Maybach thought up at a board meeting, it's a legendary nameplate in it's own right."

    What's wrong with creating a new brand? That's excellent marketing. In fact, the creation of Lexus was so successful that a Harvard Business Review case study was written about it. The best marketers in the world develop new brands all the time. Mercedes hasn't been around forever; at some point it had to be a new brand also.
  • oac3oac3 Posts: 373
    Lenscap stated:

    "Nearly all Lexus models have also been purposely built under the Lexus nameplate. The Celsior (LS), Aristo (GS), Windom (ES), Harrier (RX), etc. did not exist prior to the start of Lexus. They were not existing cars rebadged. Since the Lexus name was not used in Japan these cars were sold under a new premium channel, which also did not previously exist."

    Thanks lenscap for pointing out the obvious that Merc1 and the Lexus bashers fail to understand or even know. So, what's next to bash besides styling ? Which btw, is too subjective to make it a worthwhile discussion topic.

    I own an LS and love it. Not a single problem since day 1 of purchase. I am looking to buy an LX470 anytime from now. Just looking for the right color and price point. I put my money where my mouth is ! Like DonnFen, I have more respect for owners than from wannabe's, who only hypothesize from the few times they have access to their nephew's, niece, or friend's Mercedes car. Add in a good writing skill and voila, you are a Mercedes officianado and auto enthusiast extraordinaire !

    Guess many 50-ish business people driving their S-class Mercs around are buying it for the *performance* or for the *marque* name brand. Jury says: name appeal and snob appeal of the 100+ yr-old Mercedes BRAND. Performance cars are left to the Porsches and Lambo, and Ferraris, AMG's and M.
  • digital_bdigital_b Posts: 126
    the original lexus es was based on the camry and actually the lowest end es250 WAS a camry. the old boxy version before they created the early 90s sensational camry. even after that the es 300 was just a camry with a different nose and in fact one of the car mags which I cant remember the name of did a comparison between a loaded camry and an es 300 and asked the question was the es worth the extra 5000 dollars over the camry.
  • pablo_lpablo_l Posts: 491
    The VW Phaeton is outselling the 7 series and selling head-to-head with the S class since its launch in Germany. I posted a link to the article in AutoBild on that a while ago. How it's doing in other EU countries I don't know. But it is doing well, and VW from the beginnign expected to lose money on it. It's part of a brand-building strategy.
  • pablo_lpablo_l Posts: 491
    ...would seem to prove the point Lexus copies other brands. It is an Infiniti FX with a removed pair of doors. And Infiniti iteself had "borrowed" design elements from that Saab study that GM in their wisdom pulled the plug on...
  • oac3oac3 Posts: 373
    We've had this discussion in the past about the HPX versus the FX. I personally don't like the FX design cos it looks bloated, with its oversized 20" wheels. But it has been a success, so others must have a better appreciation of design than myself (see why I drive an LS ?). But, the HPX is a much sleeker looking concept, imo, than the FX is. Remember, it is a concept car, and the final release may have little to no resemblance to the concept. I guess we shall see by Summer 2005 what Lexus does with its new releases purported to be based on these new concepts.
  • lenscaplenscap Posts: 854
    1. "the original lexus es was based on the camry and actually the lowest end es250 WAS a camry."

    The original ES 250 was based on the Camry, yes. But there was no "low-end" ES 250, and they were not the same car. The similarities, though, didn't matter because the ES 250 was only meant to be around two years until the ES 300 arrived.

    2. "even after that the es 300 was just a camry with a different nose"

    Not true. The cars had far more differences. As an example the ES 300 from 1992-2001 had a unique pillarless hardtop structure which the Camry did not. Further, the only part shared by the two cars that a person could see, inside or out, was the windshield.
      
    The Windom (ES 300) and Camry in Japan have always been different cars selling through different sales channels. And, the Windom did not exist prior to Lexus coming - again, it was not an existing car rebadged. You are confusing platform-sharing with being the same car - which the Camry and Windom/ES 300 are not. No different than other platform-sharing cars such as the Jaguar X-Type/Ford Mondeo, Cadillac STS/Olds Aurora, etc.
  • nvbankernvbanker Posts: 7,285
    What in the world is wrong with platform sharing? I fail to see why this is such a sin for a car company to do? It makes sense, it's economically feasible, and if you didn't read about it, you'd never know! It's all about how the car performs and satisfies the owner/driver, not about which platform it's built on, or how old it may be. Just how I feel......
  • b4zb4z Posts: 3,372
    This topic seems to be limited to posts about Lexus, BMW and Mercedes.

    There is a lot of interesting high end iron out there, or debuting soon.

    Bentley, beautiful new coupe
    Rolls, interesting styling to say the least.
    Audi, new A8
    Maserati, probably the most exciting full size luxury car to come out since the 60's.
    Volkswagon, Phaeton?
    Ferrari?
    Porsche?

    Out of all those the Maserati is the most interesting.
    A truly beatiful piece by pininfarina.
    I hope that they can get any electrical and mechanical gremlins worked out before it debuts in the US.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Go here for reviews and other info on the 2003 Maserati Coupe and the Spyder.

    Also here: Bentley, Phantom, 2004 A8, Phaeton, Ferrari and Porsche.

    :-)
  • i_drivei_drive Posts: 35
    i just drove home today, and while on the freeway, a shiny new 2003 silver Q45. i couldn't help but realize the resemblence between the Q and the Audi A4 (ONLY the rear tailights). they have a similar shape and color.

    there is also seriously wrong with my S430. after getting into the garage in the morning to go to work, i find my COMMAND Nav-Tek CD out of the CD-slot! I don't know why. When I pull the car in the day before in the afternoon, it is still in, and no one goes into the car. but the next day, it is ejected, and most of the CD is sticking out. Also, the COMMAND switches into German, and if i leave the CD out, it says ACHTUNG! and other German words i don't understand (i studied German a long long time ago). i have to then manually switch the language back into ENglish and have to pop the CD into COMMAND. i am sending in my car to the dealership soon. has this happened to any of you?????

    i know this has compeltely nothing to do with cars whatsoever, but do any of you Mac-fans (i'm not really one) know if a Powerbook G5 is comming out? I was going to buy a 17" widescreen Powerbook for my son's birthday, but it only has a G4 processor, and wanted to wait for a G5. the guys at the applestore deny that there will be one comming out. could any of you help me???? i only have less than a week to decide...
    thanks!
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    i_drive, you might try researching cnet.com, zdnet.com and other similar sites for the Powerbook question, but maybe someone here has a thought for you.
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