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High End Luxury Cars

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  • ... for a moment, please. Anyone have information on where production stands? Has the GT been cited state side yet? For that matter, has anyone seen it on the road in Europe?
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    "When you sit behind the wheel of the car most people are ready to drive, not fiddle with computer technology, which should be passive and in the background"

    Except it's not, and this issue is pervasive on many vehicles. Friend just bought a new Honda with Nav. As I sat in it, I asked how to turn the radio on, how do I switch stations, how do I engage the XM, how do I adjust the A/C, how do I use the nav. etc. It wasn't obvious without spending time familiarizing oneself with the vehicle. Even my first ride in a Lexus LS430 I asked, how do I....?

    So I can't fault BMW for making one sit down and familiarize themselves with a $75K hi-tech "German" vehicle, when I have the same issue in a $28K "low-tech Japanese" vehicle. Whether it taks me .5 hour as in the Honda to learn the controls or .75 hour as in the BMW to learn the controls, or 1 hour in the MB to learn the buttons is irrelavent considering I'm going to have the vehicle for some time.

    And as ksurg pointed out, the MB is at the other end of the spectrum with button clutter.
  • mariner7mariner7 Posts: 509
    "There are actually a lot of people out there that like idrive. They're just not posting on this board or complaining."

    A product should be designed for at least 95% of its target users. Even 80% is too low. So how many owners actually like iDrive? 20-30% would be much too low.

    "BMW is painfully finding out what today's high school teachers already know: Western society is dumbed down almost beyond recognition."

    Maybe overall. (And without evidence, I don't know why that should be accepted as matter of course.) I doubt seriously MB/BMW owners have dumbed down over the generations! To put it another way: the brightest people are as bright as ever!
  • With all due respect to our host, Pat, here is a proposal:

    For 48 hours (just 2 days), can we forego any postings dealing with Lexus, BMW, and Mercedes Benz? No comments, no complaints, no praises, nothing, nada, zip, rien. Is that possible? Can we do it?

    Are there other "High End Luxury Marques" we can discuss or will the board become eerily silent?

    To participate, all you have to do is post about a different car or just wait. For some of us, the "just waiting" part may prove too much to bear. We'll see. :-)
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    I think that is a great idea! There are other vehicles in this High End category that we forget about or barely mention. I'm sure you folks have thoughts about other marques ...

    Who is going to go first?

    :)
  • ljflx said: "When you sit behind the wheel of the car most people are ready to drive, not fiddle with computer technology, which should be passive and in the background. The moment computer technology enters the drivers seat as anything more than passive, a mistake has been made - imo."

    Of course you're right. I was trying to point out that iDrive is designed to set up the car BEFORE driving so you don't have to fiddle with it WHILE driving. Instead you just hit the preset buttons. As with their Nav system design, BMW does not want its owners fiddling with complex controls while driving.

    Mariner said: "Maybe overall [dumbing down has happened]. (And without evidence, I don't know why that should be accepted as matter of course.) I doubt seriously MB/BMW owners have dumbed down over the generations! To put it another way: the brightest people are as bright as ever!"

    There is plenty of empirical evidence of reduced reading/writing/comprehension skills, along with math and problem-solving skills, among today's generation in comparison with previous generations. What troubles me even more is their apparent lack of intellectual curiousity -- this comes from watching TV sitcoms rather than reading books, I suppose.

    As for the "brightest people" being the ones buying high-end German and Japanese luxury cars -- if only this were true! In America the brightest and most thoughtful people tend to be marginalized and poor, while the greediest and most insensitive have more money than they know what to do with.
  • In response to Pat's request for discussion of other marques, I pose this question: Is Jaguar making a big mistake building their new XJ series in aluminum?

    I think so, because:

    1) The XJ is already the lightest model in its class, so losing weight need not be the updated model's first priority.

    2) Aluminum vastly increases the costs of manufacture and repair. Even though Ford are setting up additional aluminum body repair facilities across the country, the fact is that a fender bender will result in a long period of down-time for your new Jag. And gawd help you if you have to pay for the repair.

    3) Resale value will likely be adversely affected. Though the general public are unaware of Nikasil and weak cam chain tensioner chains, the aluminum cost-of-repair issue got into general knowledge right away. This issue above all, IMHO, is what has tanked the (excellent) Audi A8's resale value. It could do the same to the XJ line.

    My conspiracy theory of the day is the Ford is using the Jaguar brand as a guinea pig to assess the possiblities of alumminum bodies cars. If the experiment fails, only a secondary brand is affected. And its owners, of course!

    I'm happy to have my steel-bodied, Nikasil engined 1998 XJ8 with its smaller and sleeker form factor. In fact, I'd not trade it for a new X350! (High suplhur gas has been illegal in California since 1996 so Nikasil is a positive here, not a negative.)
  • JohnCal: The vision of driving around in Reynold's Wrap is not very appealing. I liked the brushed steel look of the DeLorean, but we all know what happened to the man and the car. Too bad, I think.
  • That car was actually stainless steel, unpainted.

    My dad's 1963 Olds Starfire had a wide strip of stainless down each side. Good ol' American engineering prevails once again!
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,687
    On the LS430 with nav you have three ways of changing the radio stations, cds etc. The easiest way is right at your fingertips on the steering wheel. The mode changes from radio to cd to tape etc and the up down switches station or songs on the CD. A layer below that is the volume controls and a layer below that is the on/off switch. Hold down the up/down switch for more than about 5 seconds and it moves to the next CD in the carousel. But you can also adjust the old fashioned way on the dash or the hard way through the audio in the nav system menu. I rarely ever do the latter and nearly always use the steering wheel controls. Occasionally I forget I have all this and reach for the dash controls. It's simple as pie. Never had to be explained it's so simple and in this case - at least to me - using technology for the better and simpler solution.

    Pablo - excellent post earlier re MB, Audi, BMW and Lexus. The pot shots taken at Lexus are a clear indication of how successful they've become. The ultimate emulation of MB was in how they build cars the way MB used to. I get your point about overmarketing cutting into prestige and uniqueness. But in the auto world the competition is so fierce it's hard not to overmarket. I'm not sure what the right solution is. There really isn't a clearcut leader anymore. They are all reactive to what the other does. Hence the late entry into SUV's by BMW and the late entry (as planned) by Lexus into tuned cars and MB having to build so many different choices to be all things to all people. The latter strategy will hurt them in the future if they don't modify it. There will be a CFO standing up at a budget/planning meeting at some future date saying many of the same words Alan Greenspan said last week.
  • ksurgksurg Posts: 48
    First of all my recent post wasn't meant to be a sermon . I was just getting a little intimidated about posting my opinions.
    I'm fascinated about how people differ in how much effort they are willing to put into using their cars. Admittedly I vascilate. Sometimes I want to drive my C4S. All I want is a wheel, clutch, shift and brake. Don't bother me with even the radio. Other times I'm towing a boat in my Yukon XL with my eyes fixed on the tach and temp gauges. When it comes to luxury I'm Ok with the tech and taking the time to make it work for me. If you consider how much money people spend on the cosmetic issues and options that make their cars unique you would think that a couple of hours invested on "programming" their vehicles wouldn't be a big deal. It took me longer to figure out how to order the options on my Porsche than it did to configure the 745i. So I don't think it is an issue of dumping down but rather one of effort and expectation.
    Once again my perspective is different. I'm spoiled and have multiple cars. It would be different if I expected everything from one car. I don't blame people for not wanted to program their cars but for me its the best way to get the most out of the technology while customizing the vehicle to my taste.
    P.S. My local paper carried an article comparing 2002 and 2003 sales. It suggested that Jaguar sales have been really slipping. I have to say that the new generation of Jaguars seem light years beyond previous offerings without compromising their English nature. Consequently, the XJ-8 and XJR would be on my short list of luxury vehicles to consider. However, I'm not a touch screen fan as I think it can be even more distracting to the driver than a pointing device or joy stick.
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    You've heard it before. Different isn't better. Better is better.

    Is it any coincidence how the minimal Porsche 911 has the best resale value yet undergoes the fewest changes to its styling? The performance always gets better, the look has a timeless quality, and for the most part, they are reliable. 40 years of 911 and every model that has ever been made has an interested buyer somewhere. Hopefully Porsche can maintain its independence and simply exist. In my opinion their design philosophy is so right.

    I think auto manufacturers have always been too drunk on change. We need cars with a sense of purpose, integrity, experience and heritage. MB and BMW have lost their sense of classic; the Japanese brands never had it and are doing little to establish it.

    Too much fashion in automobiles. Wouldn't mind it, but most of the fashion trends just don't work and are relegated to the trash bin of history.

    Another car I am rooting for is Jaguar. Too bad they have always been plagued by reliability issues. There's nothing classier than the XJ and XK. Hopefully Ford can honor the design heritage and keep it right.

    I don't care what the short-term financial implications are—super-mall auto marketing is anathema to the finer things in life and it's a bloody shame to see luxury marques like MB and BMW slip into the muck of mediocrity.

    ksurg writes ... "Sometimes I want to drive my C4S. All I want is a wheel, clutch, shift and brake. Don't bother me with even the radio."

    Amazing why this is, and how it just never gets old.
  • Blame the supermarket marketing/bling-bling styling of high-end brands on the new generation of owners.

    When I was a kid in the 60s, only "car guys" bought BMWs, Mercs and Jags. Now they're bought by the upwardly mobile types to enhance their social standing in traffic backups. It's a different world, from both the owner demographic and the real world of driving.

    In the "old days" owners of high-end cars used to actually take them for drives on the back roads and enjoy them. I cycle the back roads of the San Francisco Bay Area and hardly ever see this anymore. Just the occasional old Alfa, Ferrari, and yes, 911s of all vintages.

    IMHO Ford have been remarkably scrupulous in retaining the XJ series mystique, but have diluted the brand with the X- and S-series. They seem not to have had a choice -- justifiably, they want the brand to earn a profit.

    While I'm concerned about the X350's somewhat bloated styling and aluminum body, at least its look and feel continues the XJ tradition. Other manufacturers -- BMW and Mercedes especially -- have very nearly lost contact with the virtues that made the original 7-series and S-series appealing to enthusiasts. Their intention, I am sure, is to widen the market to include non-car people. They may well succeed, but at the risk of losing their core market. Porsche have proven that by staying true to the original model's principles they can keep the core market and expand it.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    About the X-Type, Warren Brown of the Washington Post says something similar to what you've said in this review of the 2004 Jaguar X-Type 3.0 Sport: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A12950-2004Feb27.ht- ml (free registration required)
  • Considering Audi A8 vs BMW 745i. BMW has a lease of 789/month on base car with no extras with 10000 miles tax/title extra. Any thoughts on the 2 cars. I am concerned about the idrive as it seems difficult to use during test drive. I am looking at a base version of either. Could anyone relate how much have you have paid and are they offering any discounts. Thanks
  • Car and Driver call the X-Type a "Jaguar for wannabes." The Post review similarly contends that it's merely a Jag pretender. I think this attitude is a bit arrogant -- it's a damn good car that meets the needs of the people who buy it.

    Still, the word is that the upcoming X-Type will be on its own platform, not a Modeo's. I think Ford have learned from the current model's lukewarm reception by the auotmotive press, and are really trying to do right by the Jaguar brand.
  • jrock65jrock65 Posts: 1,371
    Let's not forget that the RX300 practically invented the car-based, mid-sized SUV segment. Before it, there really was nothing like it, whether in style or in function. There is a reason why the M-class is going from frame-based to unibody in the next iteration.

    I think Lexus's reputation as copycats is undeserved. Other than some versions of the LS, their cars don't really mimic others.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,687
    BMW745 LI in NJ priced at $849 per mo, 0 down and either 10k or 12k miles per year. Sticker was around $77k so that lease is heavily discounted or heavily subsidized on residual or has almost o% interest rate. A lawyer friend of mine just passed on it and is between an LS430 and an S-500. I haven't shopped it so this data is not first hand. But the 7 is a helluva buy at that price if you like it. This was a BMW standard deal so there was virtually no negotiation on the price as per my friend.

    Good luck.
  • ksurgksurg Posts: 48
    I drove the A8L and 745i. Both are great cars. Right now the A8 is only available in long wheel base form. Though the prices on the A8 are better, residuals are worse. All in all you will get a better lease deal on the 745i. You can get the present lease specials on BMW of NA. The deal quoted above is probably real but a little optimistic. Markets also vary depending on where in the US you are. Nonetheless it seems cheaper to lease the BMW over the Audi. If you can live with idrive over MMI, don't need AWD, or want the SWB I definitely go with BMW. Be aware that BMW has scheduled an early release of the 2005 745i. I'm not sure yet what all the changes will be. When it's announced you can either wait or try to get an even better deal on the 2004. Happy shopping!

    P.S Beware that people are not listed their total drive off fees with their numbers and some of the quotes may be "teaser deals." At BMW of NA the deal outside of NY is about $5169 drive off and $819/month. However, that's for a base model 745i excluding taxes, license, and registration. Also it only allows 10K mi/yr on 36 month lease. Hope this info is helpful.
  • pablo_lpablo_l Posts: 491
    I don't think there's anything wrong with the Jag X-Type because it is based on a Mondeo platform. That is a very good platform, and if platform sharing is a sin, Lexus would be guilty with several of their cars. A good platform can be shared. The problem with the X-Type is convoluted styling - Jag loaded up on the traditional design cues, and invariably the car looks too busy, with way too many creases and lines and lacks overall elegance.

    And someone mentioned the 911's recipe for success, and rightly so - but I read somewhere 911 sales are down significantly, and that if it wasn't for the Cayenne Porsche would be troubled. Moreover, the 911 went through a reliability slump in the late 90s. I know several guys that got 911s -it was a popular car choice during the bubble- and all of them had issues, except for the two people that got the Turbo, ironically.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    The C-Class isn't the most direct competitor for the Buick-clone ES330, nobody else is even playing the fwd, Buick-like game in the entry-level market anymore. Even Acura has moved to making, or at least trying to make the TL a sports sedan.

    Where does Mercedes have the lead in sales?

    Let's see the E-Class outsells the GS, and the C-Class outsells the IS300. Some here talk about Lexus' sales like everything they make is at the top of the sales charts and nothing could be farther from the truth. Period.

    The SL and SC sell nearly equally, despite the SL's much higher price. Wow the LS430 outsold the much more expensive S-Class by something like 2000 units last year, somewhere around a months worth. Wow.

    The one point that you and others never seem to be able to get is that most of the Mercedes' competing models cost more than Lexus', yet either outsell or sell very close to the same volume. The only place Mercedes is hurting sales wise compared to Lexus is in SUVs. Mercedes sold way more CARS than Lexus did last year. The GS, old or not, that's and excuse and if it can't be used for the M-Class, then you can't use it for the GS, and the IS300 are duds sales wise.

    You're also trying to imply that Mercedes' wouldn't sell much without the C-Class. Wrong. Look at what the E, S, and CLK did last year, all up over 2002, especially the E-Class.

    Typical Lexus rant, it's not even current on the facts. There is no C280.

    A 400hp GS400H would be nice, but it will still get its windshield and lug nuts handed to it, by an E55 AMG, M5 or RS6. I doubt very seriously Lexus will make a 400hp GS of any type, hybrid or not for the same price as today's GS430.

    M
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    There will be no winners in this endless Lexus vs. Mercedes debate because most of the folks doing the debating are unwilling to concede anything, they all think they are right and other side is blind.

    This makes for pointless, repetitive, aggravating and often way-too-heated conversation that accomplishes nothing but to drown out the other comments in here. It needs to stop.

    Let me say that again - it needs to stop.

    Anyone here who can't find anything else to talk about but this Lexus vs Mercedes argument is invited to find another discussion to join.

    I'm calling a halt to it in this one as of now.

    Thanks.
  • jrock65jrock65 Posts: 1,371
    The majority of Lexus sales come from four models: ES, LS, RX, and GX.

    One of the reasons the ES sells so well is because it is practically the only choice in its category. With the death of the I35, and the sport-emphasis of the TL, there is no other 30k to 40k import sedan that emphasizes comfort and cushy ride above all else.

    There are a lot of shoppers who look for the above qualities and don't really care about handling, and they select the ES330 almost by default.
  • sv7887sv7887 Posts: 351
    Hi All,
      A question for Ksurg: If you could sum up the Porsche experience in one sentence, what would you say? I ask this b/c I found myself gawking at one earlier today. (I think it was a C4, but I don't know how to distinguish between them. Imagine Porsche building a Luxury car..That would be something..

    As for Jaguar, I'm in their corner too. I've been thinking about retiring the venerable 92 LS400 in favor of a 01 Xj8. The design of the XJ just shouts out "Class," and Elegance. I don't think anyone does a better job in the Lux brand in terms of aesthetics. Jag has done

    I agree with Designman about the 911. It brings me to the old aphorism, "If it ain't broke, Don't fix it!" I find that the automakers are redesigning perfectly good models just for the sake of calling it new. The old 80's S class Benzes were perfect examples of this.

    As for the Endless MB vs Lexus argument. Give it a rest, it's not like either side is going to concede. Call in the UN to negotiate a Peace Treaty between the MB and Lexus camps, LOL.

    SV
  • mfullmermfullmer Posts: 819
    On the other hand, I have a good MB story. Now, granted, I'm a Lexus guy and the only reason I'm telling this story is because I'm waiting for my new Lexus to arrive...

    ...So, I'm waiting for my lexus to come in, sometime in March, but I had to return my STS from lease. Lexus offered a loaner but for a couple of weeks I just used my friends car that he offered. Talk about SWEET!

    1988 300SEL, 241,9xx miles, Two owner. Every single maintenance record (every 5k miles) in the glove box.

    Now if MB made them like they used to, I'd buy them in an instant! Yes, the car was a bit underpowered with the straight six but the quality of the vehicle is phenomenal! The 16 year old leather looks better than the three year old leather in my STS when I returned it. The dash and all interior materials look great, save for a little fade of the top dash and the wood.

    Two weeks in my garage and not ONE single drop of any kind of fluid. Stereo (Becker Grand Prix) works flawless, even the antenna.

    Took it in for a wash before I returned it (I decided to take Lexus up on their loaner offer) and the detailer was flabbergasted. He thought it was MAYBE 10 years old.

    I'm still a Lexus guy but I definitely know how MB earned their [former] reputation That car is like a vault!

    If any of you ever get a chance to drive a high-mileage, well taken car of S-Class from that era (is that the W124 body???) I would highly recommend it.
  • ksurgksurg Posts: 48
    The Porsche is pure driving pleasure. It's always engaging and never boring. The car is telepathic when it comes to response and extraordinarily nimble. Sort of makes you feel like superman. This is despite the fact that it is not lightning fast nor does it have the best spec sheet. Go figure!
    The down side is that it is not the best car to be a passenger in( probably downright uncomfortable when the driver is making believe he is Schumaker). Unfortunately, my life also necessitates multitasking in the car on a regular basis. Consequently like any tool I choose my car for the day based on the job at hand. Sometimes it's the C4S, often the sedan, and occasionally a Yukon XL( actually I drive the Yukon XL for awhile after I've been in the Porsche for a few days just to tone down my driving habits).
    Something that's not talked about a lot on this page is diversity. Even in the "high end luxury marques" I get bored of the same old stuff. I may still be a kid at heart but I enjoy change. Don't you remember when you were a kid looking at concept cars and every one was "cooler" than one before. I try to enjoy whatever car I have. Cars don't define who we are but they sure are fun to experience.
  • davieboy1davieboy1 Posts: 14
    Anyone with experience with the cars in snow in the midwest. AWD vs RWD. I hear the BMWs have problems with snow even with snow tires.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    The car you speak of is the "W126" S-Class/bodystyle.

    Not to get into the Lexus debate again, but the type of leather that Mercedes used back then was used for that exact reason, lasting quality and more importantly durability. None of that torn drivers seat mess you see on other cars of that era, but of course others saw the leather in older Mercedes as being cheap and not luxurious enough so they now use something that comes closer to pleasing people who are impressed by such things as how soft/supple leather is.

    M
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "I hear the BMWs have problems with snow even with snow tires."

    Nothing could be further from the truth.

    I have been driving in winter conditions (primarily in the Midwest and in New England) for over thirty years and have racked up an easy quarter of a million miles in the winter alone. In 1979 I switched from RWD cars to FWD cars based upon the "Hype" that they were better in the snow. Then in 1999, I switched back to RWD cars (2 BMWs) and as such, I can definitively say that my current car, a 2002 530i with winter tires (Michelin Arctic-Alpin), is the finest car I have ever driven in snowy and slippery conditions.

    Considering the fact that we had 114" of snow in our town last year (I live in southern New Hampshire these days), I have had plenty of opportunities to drive the BMW in snow as deep as 8" and have had no problems at all. In fact, on one snowy day last January I needed to go and get gas for my generator (the snow and ice had accumulated to the point where the power lines were down all over the place) I was driving down our very hilly and winding main road (which was covered in 6-8" of heavily rutted snow) minding my own business when I had to slow way down because I caught up to a conga line of 4x4s!

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • . . . in all the good ways, not the bad!

    SV7787 said: "As for Jaguar, I'm in their corner too. I've been thinking about retiring the venerable 92 LS400 in favor of a 01 Xj8. The design of the XJ just shouts out "Class," and Elegance."

    Having owned both the BMW 740i and now a Jaguar XJ8, I suggest the two cars have different missions and are for different drivers, or as in my case, the same driver at different stages of life.

    If you want to go fast the 7 will not disappoint. It's not really happy at 75 mph -- it wants to go faster. In the corners it's amazing for such a big car. The cockpit (of the previous 7 at least) is driver-oriented too, like an airplane.

    At 75 mph the Jaguar XJ8 is in its element. It's a cruiser that will not embarrass itself in corners but it doesn't urge you to tear through them either.

    A few years ago nothing less than the BMW would do -- I could ghost along the freeways at 100 mph in perfect safety and comfort.

    Now I don't feel comfortable driving that fast, and I've allowed myself to give in to the walnut-and-leather embrace of the big XJ. (Nobody does leather and wood as well as the English. Nobody is even second.)

    If you're coming from a Cadillac or Lexus, Jaguar could be your car. You'll know within five minutes of undertaking your test drive.

    Today I was in a co-worker's '97 XJ6. He's had 135K trouble-free miles, and he says he drives the crap out of it. My '98 is a different generation and I expect nothing less of an experience in reliability and owner loyalty.

    My point is, I was ready for a more "stately" sedan when I made the transition from German cars to English. Like Cadillacs of many years ago, Jaguar provides a luxurious and conservative driving experience with excellent reliability -- and there's plenty of motor when you put your foot down.

    If you want to strafe apexes or tear up the autobahn, though, there are better choices than Jaguar XJ8. (The XJR is one of them!)
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