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High End Luxury Cars

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  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    A Jaguar will always, for better or for worse be a unique, low-volume car. Their uniqueness limits their sales and market penetration, but their appeal and image are still up there with BMW and MB, and for those who like Jags, nothing else will do. Well maybe a Bentley if you have the $$.

    I like the XJR and XKR myself. Classics.

    M
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    ksurg, I enjoyed your description of the Porsche experience with one reservation. With regard to the 911 you said "it is not lightning fast nor does it have the best spec sheet." I appreciate the modest perspective but would like to add this to keep it in PROPER perspective. There is bragging-rights fast and there is lightning fast. THE 911 IS LIGHTNING FAST ;-)

    The Porsche experience is about driving perfection, and the "luxury" of the Porsche brand is its ultimate combination of form and function. But one of the most eloquent, powerful descriptions of the Porsche experience I have ever heard comes from the February 2004 issue of Automobile magazine when they gave all-star awards to cars in 14 categories. The Boxster was the recipient in the sports-car category. What overwhelmed me is that it not only qualifies the Boxster but it also speaks volumes about the manufacturer and the revered 911 by default. I could not possibly put it into words any better than this:

     "The two seat roadster segment is based largely on impulse and emotion. New roadsters sell well for a few years until they are deemed passe by the mix of enthusiasts and poseurs who consume them. In this constantly evolving segment, the Boxster is so immediately perfect and timeless that only slight tweaks are necessary to keep it on top. Porsche knows when to change, and more important, when change is unnecessary. A true Porsche, the Boxster feels crafted instead of merely built. It is beautiful to behold, still or in motion, and even better when you are the one putting it in gear. Boxsters speak so clearly through the controls that driving becomes an existential quandary of human getting lost in machine, in the snarl of the flat-six and the gentle pulsing of the leather wrapped steering wheel. Cynics will claim that there are less expensive sports cars that duplicate, or even surpass, a Boxster’s quantifiable abilities, but none has its noble grace, which is rarely found in machines at any price. Mesmerizing and involving, the Boxster is a living being in a segment full of automations."
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,687
    That old MB leather - it looked cheap, more like vinyl - but that doesn't mean it was cheap. Obviously its durability proves its quality. Nevertheless - as a leasee I prefer the beautify of today's leather but as a long-term owner - should I go that route - I would have preferred the durability of the past leather on the older MB's. Leasing changed a lot of things. Back then some of these cars were bought for 10-15+ years of ownereship.
  • motownusamotownusa Posts: 836
    The main reason Lexus trails the competition in the car lineup is due to a lack of variety. The LS only comes with one engine choice. Although that will change soon. The Merc S class offers four choices from the S430 to S600 to S55 AMG. Same with the GS only two choices. BMW offers 4 powertrains from the grossly underpowered 525 to the lightning fast M5.

    I think the problem with Mercedes begun when they switched from DOHC 4 valve per cylinder to SOHC 3 valve per cylinder in 1998. All the pre 1998 Mercedes were built to last forever, the same cannot be said for the current generation. It is good to know that Mercedes learned their lesson and going back to DOHC engines. My dream car is a 911 Turbo with automatic.
  • mfullmermfullmer Posts: 819
    I don't understand all this Porsche talk. It's hardly a "...Luxury Marque".

    Nice sports cars though.
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    I guess we'd have to debate the word "luxury". By definition it qualifies.

    In my opinion there are two types of luxury cars:
    1 - couch-potato luxury
    2 - sport luxury

    If you want to throw it out be my guest, but as a fine upstanding citizen of Edmunds, I'm doing my part to provide a respite from that MB/Lexus topic. And besides, I think you couch potatos can use a little exercise.

    All in fun ;-)
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    No reason why we can't talk about Porsche here from this corner ... :)
  • oacoac Posts: 1,594
    Seemed appropo to me.

    BTW, I have declared a self-moratorium on Lex/MB debate. I enjoy the talk about Porsches although I don't own one nor plan to own one. Hence, you can put me in the *couch potato luxury* camp

    All in fun, as well :)
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,687
    If you see 10-15 new posts in a short period you will know the cease fire has ended.

    merc1 - I'm curious - have you ever had a chance to drive the new A8, the Phaeton or the 7-series? Would you ever consider a Boxster for yourself?
  • pablo_lpablo_l Posts: 491
    I've always thought about the 911 because it has a classic's appeal: authenticity, proven track record, instantly recognizable etc etc

    However, I found the interior *very* underwheling unless you're willing to customize the heck out of it and spend left and right for the never-ending list of options Porsche offers. I love the fact they allow you to customize your own car to the point you'll hardly ever encounter one that is the same, on the other hand the base version should have a bit more appeal.

    My favorite Porsche: the 911 Targa. Nearly a convertible, good practicality. I'll go for it one day in the none too distant future - in my opinion, everybody needs to have owned a Porsche once if they claim to be car enthusiasts. :-)

    The cheap options is to go for the earlier generation 911, but that one is too coarse for me, it's like a European Corvette with way too much chest hair and not enough refinement.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,687
    You will enjoy Automobile this month despite its cover which is devoted to SUV's. There is a story about the hard to get SL55 and another one about the Quattroporte with the A8L along for a bit of comparison.

    After reading the latter story I can tell you I would hate the day I bought the Maserati Q if I ever were to buy one. It's really a sports car dressed up as a 4 door luxury sedan. The Audi blows it away as far as I am concerned. And you know where the Audi stands with me. The Audi also blows it away in looks - imo. This wasn't a road comparo - it was just a review of a new entrant vs an established one with luxury as the benchmark. What is funny though is that there are 100k large sedan lux cars sold each year - give or take - and these two will only represent 6% of those sales. I'm not at all sure why the A8 sells so poorly given all that Audi puts into it (engineering wise and marketing wise - I do see plenty of A8 advertisements) as well as its competitive price. It's a great car and deserves better but the Maserati Q looks like it better be kept to a low production quota. It's a name people will aspire to, and it's a sports car people will aspire to but as a lux car it will probably disappoint (except for the fact that it's a Maserati, its different and thus will get a lot of stares) - unless you really want a 4 door sports car and not a lux car.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Your post # 4309 is right on the money. They built cars for the long term, and thus were appreciated for such. Now the competition has forced shorter production cycles and more people are leasing so the first impressions are more important than 10 year qualities.

    Gee, that is exactly the point I was trying to make, and you understood it perfectly. The root of MB's problems is having to adjust to that. Older models also stayed in production for 10 years or more in some cases. This practice is no longer competitive, and 7 years is about the norm now. The Germans are still learning how to build a cheaper car in less time, for less time and for less money, not their specialty.

    Nope, I haven't driven the A8 or Phaeton. Yes, I have driven the entire 7-Series range. I drove the 745Li and 760Li. I was able to keep the 760Li for about an hour since nobody else was in line to drive it BMW's charity event last fall. Awesome car, but too complicated to master in such a short drive. It's not even idrive that bothers me most it's the styling. I simply can't stand it. Now believe it or not, I'm starting to like the 5-Series. Gulp!

    Well you know how much I like the A8, but I'm quite fond of the Quattroporte too. The biggest mistake Maserati made with the Quattroporte is not offering a conventional automatic transmission. Thus it will remain a sports car with 4 doors. I look for their connection with Audi to yield them a proper 6-speed auto in a few years. I think the car will sell well though because people looking for regular luxury cars, MB/Lexus/BMW etc, aren't going to be interested, and those who want something different with 4 doors have just found their ride.

    The SL55 AMG remains my favorite car on the market period. Either that or a CL. No Boxster for me, surprisingly I've never like it much.

    As usual you've received your mags before me.

    motownusa,

    Unless you know something I don't, 1998's change over to SOHC isn't even close to being one of MB's problems. The new SOHC engines are much simpler compared to the old DOHC I6 and V8s, which were great, or better depending on who you ask, but they weren't perfect either.

    M
  • I think the aluminum body has a LOT to do with it.

    It's amazing how that bit of news got around. The "masses" seem aware of the repair hassles, and IMO that has resulted in the kiss of death for both new and used units. Here in the Bay Area you can pick up a late-model showroom A8 privately for the high-teens! Owners have told me they advertise theirs at giveaway prices and go months without a call.

    It's a fantastic car by the way. If I lived in a snowy region I'd have one in a trice.

    Merc: Are you going to start bashing Masers now?
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    "Merc: Are you going to start bashing Masers now? "

    What are you talking about??

    M
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    For all you guys that think big hp is a waste, the biggest exercise in waste has just been revealed in Geneva.

    It is the 500hp V10, 7-Speed Sequential Transmission BMW M5.

    E55, RS6, S-Type R, XJR, S55 and any other sedan with sporting pretensions you're done.

    M
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I don't know how I missed this earlier, but Rolls-Royce also debuted a new car today. Well it's a concept, the 100EX. In reality this is a 2-door convertible version of the Phantom. Think Corniche replacement.

    Pretty good looking except for the front end, as with the sedan. Actually I like it better than the Phantom. Those trick, rear-hinged doors won't make production though.

    See Maybach.ru. and autonews.com or car.kak.net.

    M
  • lenscaplenscap Posts: 854
    Since you mentioned getting the new Automobile magazine, did you happen to read Jamie Kitman's article titled "Crapulent Luxury"? He rattles through a series of problems with a new Jaguar XJ8, BMW 7 and Mercedes, most dealing with the electronics.
  • pablo_lpablo_l Posts: 491
    Well, it is very successful in Germany, where it claims the title as Autobahn cruising king. Audis by the way in Germany have the reputation for engineering, BMWs for trendy yuppie image, and Mercedes is Germany's image Lexus, though that's been changing. It's interesting to see the different international perceptions on brands.

    In the USA, Audi's downfall in my opinion is simply image. It is not regarded as $70k plus material, it's seen as a Euro ride that clearly ranks below Mercedes and BMW in prestige, whereas in Germany it is a BMW peer. I don't think most people know or care about the light metal structure, and if anything I think most customers would see it as an actual advantage, since it suports a high-tech image of innovation that luzury buyers typically like. Few people plan on crashing their cars to the point where they need extensive bodywork...
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,687
    When the market changes the manufacturers have to change with it or anticipate and lead it. Leasing was a natural occurrence for volume to be maintained or increased as the prices rose. MB would not have been able to sustain that 80's type of business model profitably long-term unless they became a small niche company. The very high prices opened the door for competion, hence Lexus, and at the same time brought about the desire to drive high luxury cars with minimal money down while your money was put to better use elsewhere. It was actually a normal business check and balance effect and one can argue that the Japanese anticipated this better than the Germans in 1989. This is the business side of auto manufacturing. A new entrant has to change the rules to be successful.

    You are correct - the Germans have to learn to build the cars differently in today's highly competitive market and at the same MB has to maintain an image above everyone else somehow in doing it. That is no easy task particularly given that mastering sophisticated electronics (which is a big part of the problem) favors the Japanese. In the past they were able to build the best and charge the most and then people held the cars for a lomg long time. Even though the cars were expensive the value was excellent because of the ownership longevity. But that was a different market in a different era before the technology and Wall street booms.

    Let me know what you think of the Automobile article on the Maserati. Also why do you think the A8 is such a poor seller? A throwback to the Audi accleration problem in the past maybe? I always thought that was overblown.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,687
    I read it. That just shows you how they are in over their heads on electronics. I didn't realize MB finished in 31st place of 32 brands in Germany!! Wow.

    Selling cars without code written - as per the story - is rather scary. In the computer world we call that beta testing. In the auto world peope are paying $40-$80k+ for cars that certified mechanics, from the manufacturers themselves, don't know how to fix (certain things but it is the most problem oriented things) and even worse have no reference manuals.

    That article is probably the most honest article you will ever see in an automobile magazine and is written from a consumer - not enthusiast - viewpoint.
  • I misread a Maser-bashing post as having been authored by you, when it was not. For some reason I reflexively think of you when I come across a non-Mercedes bash. <G>
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I just got the issue tonight. I haven't read the entire article, but I did see where they said that A8L is the better choice for most luxury car buyers. I agree with that assessment. The Maserati doesn't have the proper transmission to be daily-duty luxury car. I just like the fact that there is such a chic alternative in the class.

    As others have stated, Audi has an image problem in the country. The unintended acceleration problem isn't on too many people's minds today, but I'm sure it hasn't been completely forgotten. When I think of the idiots behind that it makes me sick. It's funny how none of those cases ever showed a defect with the car. Audi was guilty of placing the pedals in their manual transmission cars too close together for fat American's feet. You know heel and toe style. Anyway, it's pretty much Pablo stated, people just don't think as high of Audi as they do BMW and MB in this country. Their associate with VW doesn't help either, plus the reliability concerns all conspire to keep Audi below BMW and MB when it comes to the A8. Believe it or not even Audi's really hot cars like the RS6 sell out like E55s and M5s do. The dealer here has 3 of them, and has had them for a while now. The E55 moves much faster and the new M5 will be all but unobtainable this fall/winter. Audi just doesn't have the draw with the rich like BMW, and they're even further away from Mercedes-Benz. Mercedes can just about sell whatever they put a star on, not even BMW (Z8, 760Li are examples) can so easily do this.

    However the A8 just had its best sales year ever in this country, a whopping 4K cars!! With a new W12 model coming this fall, and a rumor short wheelbase model also arriving at the same time, they might be able to move 5K a year. Still only half of what the XJ does, and about 1/4 of what the S, LS and 7-Series do.

    M
  • mariner7mariner7 Posts: 509
    It's unbelievable all the glamourous projects VW undertakes: Bugatti, Lambo, Bentley, W12, Phaeton. I'm sure I'm missing 3 or 4. Meanwhile they're losing profits and market shares everywhere.

    How do you think the Germans should solve their reliability problems? First, they got to admit it. Before you can solve a problem, you've to admit you have it. MB's beginning to, I'm not sure VW and BMW know they've a problem.

    Second, do not be at the forefront of electronics. I don't think many people will miss idrive. Let the Japanese try out the new electronics in the cars first, and stay half a step behind them. The saying, 'Americans are best at computers, Japanese electronics, German mechanical things' still stands. People buy German cars not because of electronics, but in spite of them.

    Third, establish some research centers in Japan, and in China in the future. The Japanese have design and research centers in California and Europe. The big 3 and Germans have zero centers in Japan, I think. They're saying they don't have anything to learn from Japan. Well they're wrong!
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Just a clarification:

    Audi was guilty of placing the pedals in their Automatic transmission cars too close together for fat American's feet.

    All of the cars that "Unintendedly Accelerated" were automatics, it seems that us manual transmission drivers were able to keep track of our feet a little better. ;-)

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • Great comment!!!!

    I was about to put my feet on a diet...Just in case I went insane and wanted to buy an Audi.
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    http://autoweek.com/specials/2004_geneva/volta/pages/index.htm

    I think they should produce both Lexus and Toyota-badged versions. Both brands suffer from a stodgy image.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,876
    A reporter is hoping to connect with anyone who has placed an order for the new Bentley Continental GT, or has seriously buying considered the vehicle.
    Please respond by Wednesday, March 10 to jfallon@edmunds.com with your name, daytime contact information and a few words about why that vehicle got your attention.
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    Share your vehicle reviews

  • jsb16jsb16 Posts: 64
    I just sold one of these last week for my dad who was the original owner of the vehicle with 67K miles. I agree that it was solidly built but was more costly to maintain than my 1990 LS which had 100K more miles. The MB was much larger and made the LS look like a compact. Even the MB lovers out there have to be glad that Lexus came along since the sales price on that 1988 exceeded the sales price on the 2004 LS he bought to replace it. Time will tell if the LS holds up as well and is a 16 year keeper. I just replaced my 1990 LS with a 2004 LS as well and went to the Chicago Auto show the day before I closed the deal. I was surprised that the Phaeton was up on a carousel and unavailable to be more closely inspected. How VW misses an opportunity to take business from MB, Lexus, BMW, etc. owners is beyond me. So far I am liking the new LS but I have to get throgh the 700+ page owners manual/Nav manual to figure the whole thing out.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,687
    That car is gorgeous.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,687
    You have to wonder if they will use Giguaro in the design process.

    Syswei - if a supercar is going to be built it makes no sense to do it as anything but a Lexus. Also that design stays true to the LFS style. It is also a revolutionary car to say the least and defines an entirely new segment that everyone will have to follow in. Now if they build it that will be a car you will wait a long long time for. I can imagine the waiting list.
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