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High End Luxury Cars

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  • pablo_lpablo_l Posts: 491
    When I had an XJR during the downturn it got some nasty scratches, which is one of the reasons I decided to get a more down to earth everyday car and sell the XJR. Some brands seem to invite more hostility then others - my wife's Merc ML got a really nasty deep scratch all down the side...

    I am in Japan on a business trip right now for 10 days, and watching the car landscape here is interesting. The Toyota's seem to own the high end market for the most part, in several days I have only spotted 2 Mercs and 3 Beemers here, while I have seen the Toyota LS4xx equivalent relatively often. And if you see Japanese roads, you see why the cars handle differently than Autobahn stormers - lots of very slow speed extremely low radius turns, lots of wheel turning that needs a lot of assistance in a heavier car. What's odd is how "right" cars feel in their native environment: I got carted around in an older LS400, and it was great, a 3 hour drive passed by quickly. On the other hand, a one hour drive in a 3 series made me very glad when it was over. Similalry, when I lived in Germany a 3 series was the tool of choice for high speed highway business drives for several hours, it just felt marvelously planted.
  • saugataksaugatak Posts: 488
    Because it's a mercedes or because it's a good engine? Unfortunately/fotunately trade journals/panels often reserve a spot for past winners (like the last gold medalist automaticly get a spot in the finals)

    Wards engine awards are trumpeted by ever automaker that gets 'em and you're some guy on the net.

    Whose opinion has more credibility?

    That must be why the the 3.2 liter MB consumes more fule than the 3.3 liter Toyota and not meeting ULEV standards whereas the Toyota does.

    Um, OK, I wonder if gearing, aerodynamics or weight might have an effect on fuel efficiency IN ADDITION to the engine?

    Was Toyota's 3.0L v6 ULEV compliant when it was introduced? I don't know. I thought the 3.3L v6 from Toyota was updated last year. You'd expect some improvement in an updated engine.

    That must be why MB is finally replacing the 3-valv/2-spark engines with 4-valve engines in the upcoming lineup.

    I think the more likely reason is that unwarranted criticism from buyers who insist on DOHC and 4 valves in the luxury market.

    You do realize DOHC engines come with tradeoffs, don't you? The extra cams take up more space and limit displacement, which is what's needed to provide low end torque and up max. torque.

    Mercedes is able to offer a 5.0L SOHC v8 which has more torque and power than their competitors', all of whom are offering 4.3 to 4.6L DOHC v8s.

    I'm not criticizing DOHCs with continuous VVT on intake and exhaust. I'm just saying there are other ways to get things done. And technology ain't gonna move forward if companies aren't allowed to explore alternative solutions b/c of market demand for DOHC.

    Being 90 degree unit is a cost-saving meassure because the block is a chop-off of a V8. In other words, it's hardly a point worth bragging.

    It's both cost-saving and a bragging point. I have never driven a 90 degree v6 as smooth as MB's. I would never be able to tell that it's not a 60 degree v6. That's impressive, b/c it's usually not too difficult to tell when you're driving a 90 degree v6.

    Honda uses the SOHC on family sedans for the low-cost markets like the Accord V6 for North America (the Euro Accord is sold here as Acura TSX, costing more than the North America V6 Accord even having only a DOHC I4). Honda puts a DOHC V6 in the NSX. That goes to show you where SOHC engines belong nowadays (cost savings); it's a damn shame that MB still puts those (and have one less valve than even the Accord V6) in a car that costs twice as much as an Accord V6 (E series, where the most frequent useage of 3.2 V6 is found)

    I guess I'm less concerned with cost savings and more concerned with performance than you are.

    If the SOHC v6 performs just as well as a DOHC v6, why do you care that the manufacturer is saving $? Is it your goal to extract every ounce of value out of the manufacturer?

    Besides, the SOHC v6s are in Honda's luxury line. Acura TL and MDX are going to have SOHC v6s. No one yet knows what engine the RL will have other than that it's a 3.5L v6, but it will probably be a SOHC v6 as well.

    Did they win on name brand, or low-cost? The MB 90degree 3-valve twin-spark V6 certainly is not a smooth running engine, compared to either the Toyota VVTi V6's or even the Honda SOHC V6's, and make significantly less power than either Japanese competition. No wonder MB is finally moving to 4-valve designs in the near future.

    Hmmm . . . if all this is true, how come MB's 90 degree v6 is on Ward's 10 Best and Toyota's 3.3L v6 isn't? I'm not knocking Toyota here, their old 3.0L v6 was also one of Ward's 10 Best but I've never found the MB to be a thrashy engine.

    As for NVH, every Lexus typically has better NVH than the comparable MB. It's something that Toyota focuses on, I don't know that it's due to the engines.

    As for its power, the MB v6 was powerful when it was introduced. I'm sure MB could update the technology to produce more power, but they've chosen to go with the standard DOHC game. It's clear that's what the luxury markets demand, and MB has to comply.
  • footiefootie Posts: 636
    The LS was designed for the U.S. market.

    It's native environment is the U.S.

    The fact that it works in the tight turns of Japan shows how well the design worked when taken back to Japan.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,665
    There are large volume sales of Lexus equivalent cars in all of Asia. They just don't count as Lexus because they are sold under the Toyota name plate. That's why the volume of actual Lexus + Toyotas version of Lexus cars are a lot closer in overall worldwide sales volume to MB and BMW than people think.

    Footie - The original LS400 design - as I remember - was bred to be a US car but I am sure Toyota had the Japanese and Asian markets in their radar scopes. They didn't count on Europe since they weren't going to build the cars there and knew that would take a long time to penetrate. Anyone who goes to Europe often enough knows that you need to build your products in Europe to win over the market unless you are a monopoly. That's why its funny to read all the dissing comments on the board about Lexus from European car lovers. If Lexus was invented from an enthusiast standpoint it would have been out of business in 2 years or less. Business usually rules over emotion. There are exceptions though - witness VW these days.
  • jstylejstyle Posts: 129
    Yes AutoBild magazine in Germany has what they said was the first true picture of the interior of the new S Class. I did a double take because it looked like modified 7 Series with a curved dash. Looks like what you said was confirmed. They had no exterior pictures (I think they used a camera phone to snap the inside) but said there are huge wheel wells that put the Audi A6 4.2 to shame. It was said that the car's body shape is absolutly stunning though.
  • lenscaplenscap Posts: 854
    A Forbes article on Lexus states the LF-C concept that will be at the NY show is a prototype for the next-generation IS coupe they hope will provide a youthful, sporty image. Here's what they say about it:

    1. The V8 is meant to signify the new IS will be even more sporting than the current IS and is an acknowledgement of America's love of cubic inches.
    2. As a coupe it helps reposition the IS as a sportier car (although there will be a sedan).

    The article also says the current IS buyer's average age is 30, the youngest for any Toyota/Lexus. Also, Toyota is dramatically rethinking the next IS because of its poor sales.
  • oacoac Posts: 1,594
    A few questions for you:

    All reports to date speculate that there was going to be 3 variants of the next gen IS - coupe, sedan and conv. Does the Forbes article confirm this ? Does the article say anything about a hybrid engine (V6 or V8) for the IS ? How many trims/engines will the next IS have ? And will it have the I6 or a new V6 (like in the 2006 GS300 ?

    Pablo: I do travel to Japan a lot and can confirm some of your cursory observations. Last December on a business trip to Tokyo, I was toted around in my company VP's black/black 2002 S500. That drive was the most pleasant and soothing I had ever had in 5+ years of trips to Japan. It was superb. Loved it. Graceful, smooth, comfortable and rode like walking on air (must have the air suspension). I had only rode in a Celsior while in Japan, an older model (2nd gen), which also drove quite well, but I must admit, the MB rode better. Granted it was an older Celsior (LS in the US/Europe and Australia). I'll be going back to Korea and Japan in June and hope to do more car-toting around (altho' right hand steering is downright dangerous if you are not used to it)
  • footiefootie Posts: 636
    Maybe you are right. But the design work for the LS started in 1983, over 20 years ago and it took six years to get to market.

    Maybe in their long term thinking the LS might have a place in Japan or in Europe.

    But I think they were very, very focused on the U.S. because that was the market they wanted to crack, and crack it they they did.

    Did you see the Lexus sales figures for 1Q04. Best ever March and Q1. 65,394 vehicles!
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    In case anyone wanted to see the data footie referenced: http://pressroom.toyota.com/photo_library/display_release.html?id- - =20040401

    It's interesting that the LS was up 98% for the month and 73% for the quarter, despite the 2004 facelift being, imho, relatively minor. Wonder how they'll do when the all-new car is introduced in CY06.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,665
    The RX has a shot at 100k vehicles. The GX was only supposed to be a 20k per year SUV and the LS430 looks solid at 25-30k+ cars. It's easy to see the 2 holes in the line-up - the GS and IS. Also they've got to do something about the fact that the LX competes with its sibling Landcruiser. But if you combine the LX and TLC you have pretty good volume in that space too. Never met anyone yet who doesn't speak glowingly of the RX330. Did Lexus ever hit the sweet spot with that car/suv. Most people I know think of it as a tall station wagon and don't even consider anything else when their lease is up.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I'd be interested in seeing the worldwide sales number for Lexus and their Toyota badged versions. I hardly think they even come close to a million cars a year like MB and BMW. At some point the Toyota version isn't going to count since a Lexus is seperate from everything I've been told here.

    jstyle,

    It will be interesting to see what happens. By this time next year we should know more.

    M
  • lexus0622lexus0622 Posts: 27
    Speaking of scratches, dents, and accidents, does anyone have any experiences with insurance companies with the best rates/services for the high high end cars (RR, Bentley, Aston Martin, Maybach, etc.)? Particularly with underage drivers in the household.
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    I have no idea how they are with RR, Bentley, etc., but I have a high regard for Amica Insurance, which I've used for both home and auto. Originally found them in a CR ranking. I didn't do exhaustive price comparisons but they were cheaper than my previous insurer, plus Amica seems to have very good service. www.amica.com
  • edspider1edspider1 Posts: 195
    That's exciting an LS with mileage. What do you think the premium for the LS500 will be? Anyone know what the premium is for the RS hybrid?
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    I don't know what Lexus is going to do with pricing. If they have 4 variants of the LS, 430, 430h, 500, 500h, then the 500h could well sell at a pretty steep premium (even though manufacturing cost difference wouldn't be dramatically higher). But if its only 500 and 500h, then it might be more reasonable. Personally a 430h would be fine for me.

    Rx400h pricing hasn't been announced. I think I've read that hybrid adds about 4k of cost to a Prius, but this is bound to fall over time, and Toyota priced aggressively to encourage adoption.
  • footiefootie Posts: 636
    I haven't seen the March world wide sales figures for Mercedes yet, but both January and February were down 10% from the same two months of last year. Around 75,000 cars/ month. They may make a million -- but not if their sales keep slipping away.

    Also, to have a fair comparison to Lexus and Toyota badged versions, we need to find a way to deduct all of the MB's that are sold in Europe that aren't really 'luxury' cars and wouldn't be thought of as luxury cars here or Japan. They include cloth interiors, lower grade accessories and some very small engines. The three lines are the Classic (it comes with steel wheels), Elegance (still has cloth) and Avant Garde (cloth too).

    How do we figure those?
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,665
    Lexus smells blood. The wait list for those new LS cars is going to be long.

    I picked up the 2004 today - It's absolutely fabulous.

    Edspider1 - you are gonna love it. Ride is great, handling is improved (this is very far removed from an old body 2000 LS400), there's more road feel but its quieter than 2001 and the new rims give the car an athletic look. The improvements are subtle to the non-owner but you'll notice and appreciate them alot. By the way I love the radar cruise and the swivel headlights. As for build quality - the glove box sounds like a bank vault when you close it.

    Footie - right on the money re how do you really keep track of true lux sales.
  • When I bought my '98 XJ8 a few months ago it had a few door dings and I elected to leave them in place, knowing that if they were repaired I'd start obsessing about it getting "pinstriped" by the local misunderstood youth.

    But . . . at my local car wash the manager made me an offer I couldn't refuse and within a couple of hours I had a near-showroom car. No more dings.

    That was a couple of weeks ago, and so far so good. But I realize it's only a matter of time.

    My underground parking at home is secure, and so is parking at work. I rarely park on the street and don’t go to bars late at night -- late-night street parking near bars is where 90% of vandalism happens I suspect.

    My biggest worry is shopping center parking lots. Since the day I saw some idiot use her Explorer's door to tag the fender of a Rolls Corniche and walk away without even a glance backward, I've realized there is a more sinister force than vandalism out there -- stupidity.

    The problem is, where do you park? Another poster pointed out that parking in empty areas makes your car more conspicuous. Too true! Another drawback of parking in an empty area is that your car is exposed on both sides. I've actually seen a beater driver park within a foot of my car in a huge near-empty truck stop parking lot. He took care not to strike my door when he got out, but I can't help but wonder what prompts this behavior of having to park next to another car -- some kind of primordial herding instinct perhaps.

    Anyway, somebody on one of these boards gave a piece of parking-lot advice that has stood me in good stead: Park beside another nice car. Your exposure is reduced 50% from the get-go, and chances are, the owner of the other car will be considerate. (I always try to park beside the driver's door rather than the passenger's.)

    Having a ding-free car is a short-term condition for anybody in today's world. (Same goes for windshields -- I got mine replaced last week and will actually be relieved when it gets its first chip.) Being ding-free is like virginity: of dubious real value, temporary by nature if not design, and gone before you know what happened.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,665
    You post made me think of something I saw once and had almost forgotten about. Once while waitning for the bus in a parking spot at my old bustop I watched a woman pull into a spot about 20 feet away. It was a brutal cold morning with snow coming in later that day so people stayed in their cars until the bus showed up. This woman parked in a row where there were about 4 or 5 cars than her open spot then two more cars and then the entire rest of the row - maybe 40 spaces were empty, plus the parking spaces behind those spaces were vacant. Worse still was that she decided to back into this spot and the spot was very tight. She could have parked 10 feet away and posititioned her car the same way without having to back in. But she chose this herculean task of parking. Don't remember her car or the cars on either side of her spot but they weren't high end. It must have taken her 3 or 4 minutes to park and she could barely open her door when she was finished. I was almost tempted to go up to her and ask her what in the world was she thinking. I can't even begin to understand the logic of people like that.
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