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High End Luxury Cars

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  • sv7887sv7887 Posts: 351
    Hi All,
      I think the GT has a refreshing look. It's definitely unique. That sort of underscores what is routinely discussed here. Each manufacturer needs to have it's own look. I am not terribly impressed with the latest offerings from MB, BMW, Lexus, and Jaguar. Here are my gripes:

    1) BMW= I think Bangle says it all..It looks like something out of a Taiwanese cartoon..The Z4 and 745 just look too bloated
    2) MB= For $90K You think they could design a rear end that doesn't look like it was stolen from a Honda. The low profile of the car, however, is great. The interior design is pretty good, but you'd think it would be more luxuorious for the $$$.
    3) Lexus= Competely insipid designs here. The RX330 gives me some hope for the future. I wish they'd made the LS430 with those new headlights from the beginning. It adds a bit of spice to an otherwise dull design. I wasn't going to trade in my '02 though for just that. The Interior is like a palace, but it isn't as sleek as the Original LS. The dash seems abit bulky to me.
    4) Jaguar=Ahh! Why did they mess with Perfection? The new XJ looks too much like the X type. The lines of the new car seem less well defined. The rear of the car is just disappointing. It lacks the flair of the previous model. At least it retains the 1st class interior.

    Any one want to agree/disagree with the above?

    SV
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    I wasn't trying to be critical, just genuinely curious. BTW, I was an economics major myself.
  • footiefootie Posts: 636
    There's a good and easy to understand reference to hydrogen extraction at:

    http://www.alternatefuels.com/hydrogen.htm

    No discussion there about membranes.

    Proton exchange membranes are used in some fuel cell designs where hydrogen and oxygen are fed to a cell to produce electricity.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,662
    S-class - It's my opinion that the rear of the S-class and the overall silhouette of the car took a lot of cues from the Ford Taurus. Merc1 disagrees entirely but put them side by side and decide for yourself. Particularly look at the lines on the side, its side profile, rear deck lid and rear lights. They didn't copy it - just lifted some styling cues and in my opinion perfected them into a gorgeous car. Personally I don't think there's anything wrong with lifting styling cues from another design - nor would it ever affect a purchase decision on my part - but some MB lovers need to think that the company does everything from scratch and leads in everything. It doesn't and it can't. No company can. Interior of S-class is nice but it leaves a lot to be desired given the cost of the car.

    7 series - 2-4 different car designs combined into one. Great front end though. Decent interior that is very mens clubbish.

    Jag - timeless to so many - just never appealed to me before or after re-design. Also too cramped inside for my needs but a stunning interior.

    LS430 - I think the new 2004 brings back some of the LS400 look. The latter was a timeless classic car as far as I'm concerned. Interior is stunning and a lot nicer than old model. But I liked that interior as well. It was more business like, this one is more homey.

    A8 - beautiful in and out - very original, probably the most, along with the 7 of any car here. But Audi got it right. I just don't like the ride of the car or its reliability record. But there are so few on the road and thats nice if you own or lease one.

    Phaeton - Have yet to see one but its a re-packaged A8 - just not as appealing.

    Q45 - Don't like anything about it.
  • This board seems to be only about Lexus and Mercedes. Does anyone here own an A8L? If I had about $80k to put down on any car, it would be an A8L--until the A8 SWB arrives. The exterior is gorgeous. The interior is beautiful. The ride is a little sporty for it's size (which I like--not too soft or too sporty). I like the roominess, because I'm always driving people around. I like the trunk space, because I'm usually carrying something. The only thing I wish it had was a better sound system and a quieter interior like the Lexus LS430. Other than that, this car is great.

    Hopefully, A8L owners will sing its praises too. I currently own a 2003 A6 and absolutely love it. Maybe when I come into some money soon, I will go and get one for myself.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,662
    They need 2 years to sell what Lexus and Mercedes combined sell in 4 weeks. That's why the Audi gets lost here.
  • merc1,

    Thanks for the MB future engine update. I have been traveling for business and had to catch-up on the postings.

    I am still very interested in the current and future S600. I think that the current S-class are just beautiful automobiles especially after the recent slight exterior updating. Also, although I like the brief new S-Class pictures on Autospies, I am concerned about the potential looks of the future S-Class if it looks too much like the new E-Class. Basically, although the new E-Class looks good it is not wearing on me as well as I believed it would.

    One thing I love about the MB V-12 (versus the BMW and Audi) is the loads of torque - thanks to the dual supercharging. There has been a lot of post that are focusing only on HP but with typical USA drivers and overcrowded highways high torque is more practical.

    I spend much of my driving time in the US either driving on the eastern I-95 corridor (mostly around NYC or DC) and then in Texas. This is also with a few occasional cross country drives when my schedule permits during rare weeks. (Note: Even though I have one of my homes in Texas, I have to say that Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma must have the worst drivers in the US - many no doubt directly from Mexico).

    That being said, the US has to have the worst average drivers of most any industrial country in the world. It is a joy to drive in Europe or even in parts of California and Washington (other then clogged metro rush hours) where drivers move to the right lane and other wise display proper driving habits and training.

    A luxury car with lots of torque allows me to shot away, between and beyond these $@*%#& drivers. I guess this is much like the postings many of you were doing on luxury cars getting scratched.

    Jim
  • I bought my 1998 XJ8 (anthracite/black) two months ago with 50K on the clock. It's going in this week for an oil change with 54K miles, and highly enjoyable ones, too.

    I'll be using an honest and competent Jag specialty shop -- like most enthusiast owners I avoid the dealer service departments whenever possible. They're exorbitantly expensive for routine operations like oil changes, and prone to swapping components rather than repairing them -- a costly approach when the warranty is expired. (I don’t bother with third-party warranties.)

    I bought my XJ8 privately from a VERY fussy original owner (I had to prove I’d take good care of his car!) and have all the car’s records, including the original bill of sale. Most of my test drive involved my watching how the owner drove the car. I'd consider buying an XJ from the used section of a Jag dealership, but would never buy a used Jag from a non-Jag used car lot -- they can provide no service history, which is essential in my opinion.

    My '98 already had its weak points attended to: the water pump and throttle body had been replaced under warranty. The 1998 - 2000s have Nikasil engines but I'm in California so don't have to worry about high-sulphur gas. If you're in a high-sulphur region you should consider getting a leak-down test to see if high-sulphur gas has damaged the cylinder bores. If the answer is no, your Nikasil engine should run for hundreds of thousands of miles – they virtually never wear out.

    The secondary cam chain tensioners are a weak point on this engine. They usually give warning when prematurely wearing -- rough running at start and clattering in the timing chain area. My engine runs like silk from fire-up but at 80K miles or so I'll spend $750 to replace the cam chain tensions purely as a precaution.

    Why did I buy the XJ? My previous car was a 1995 BMW 740i, an outstanding car in every way. I wanted something more intimate and was willing to trade some performance for luxury and ambiance.

    The Jaguar has proven to be a peerless cruiser. It makes my 75-mile daily commute in the Bay Area's chaotic traffic almost a pleasure. Unlike the BMW, where I'd boom along in the fast lane in a futile attempt to "make time," the Jag and I happily putter along at 65 in the middle lane while I enjoy music from my iPod through the excellent (optional) Harman Kardon sound system.

    As the old saying goes, you'll know within 10 minutes of driving one whether you're a Jaguar man. If you discover you are, be ready to get a lot of attention. Even in the affluent area I live in, XJs are, if not rare, not commonplace either, as are all the big German, American and Japanese luxury models. The XJ gets more admiring looks than any car I've been in since my 1970 XKE roadster. Unless you're big (over 6 feet tall, or obese), you'll find the interior a warm and relaxing environment. So much so that to my surprise, I don't stress about making time anymore -- I just sit back in that Connolly leather and, while making room for the tweaker from the adjacent lane to butt in ahead of me, make a mental note to replenish the Gray Poupon so we'll have something to go with the leftover roast leg of lamb.

    The ’98 XJ8 is functionally "all there." You won't miss anything if you're transitioning from a luxo-car of similar vintage. If I had my druthers (and the big dollars required) I'd look for a 2002 – 2003 Vander Plas Super V8 variant of the XJ. But they are extremely rare and their prices are staying well up in the stratosphere -- while at the same time you can get a well-kept '98 XJ like mine for well under $20K.

    Be careful of used XJRs: while good ones are to be had, a lot these supercharged models were leased, thrashed, not regularly maintained, returned to the Jag dealerships, and, failing to qualify for Jaguar’s stringent Select Edition standards, auctioned off to be sold by independent used car lots. My service shop says such cars will have far more powertrain issues than regular or VDP XJs.

    I like ALL cars and don’t see why so much time is wasted on this board in pointless debate about German vs. Japanese. At some other phase of my life I’d gladly have a big Lexus or Mercedes. I’ve already had a big BMW and loved it. My honeymoon with the XJ has been such a success, however, that I won’t find myself missing any of the others anytime soon. To carry on your analogy between women and cars, and bring back a George Harrison song at the same time, there’s just SOMETHING about way she moves. . . .
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    It's just like I said before if you can't count all those taxi Mercedes, then you can't count all those so-called "Lexuses" running around in other countries as leathered up Toyotas. We disagree on what makes a "luxury" car obviously. Leather doesn't define it for me.

    I'm not trying to say you don't know what you're talking about here, but with the engine thing you really would benefit from doing some research first. Mercedes-Benz has used DOHC 4-Valve-per-cylinder technology in 1980s with the 190E 2.3-16V and again from 1989-1997 with all of their V8, inline 6 and 4-Cylinder engines during those years. The 3-Valve-per-cylinder SOHC engines were/are the "new" designs that Mercedes "implemented" not the DOHC 4valve setup. If you're going to say that Lexus was first with a V8 setup like this, you'd be wrong there also. Ferrari and other sports car makers did it back in the 50's and Mercedes also launched a DOHC 4v V8 in 1989 with the 500SL. I know you'd like to think otherwise, but Lexus is hardly "first" at anything.

    Mercedes, Ferrari, Maserati, Porsche, Alfa-Romeo, Audi (among others) used this technology before Lexus was even thought about. Toyota does not hold a patent on DOHC 4-valve technology so no other company has to consult Toyota about anything, much less a patent. Audi does a 5valve per cylinder layout as does Ferrari and Toyota wouldn't have to ask them anything if they wanted to design their own 5-valve per cylinder engine. BTW, Toyota had 4-valve per cylinder engines (I4 and V6s) before the 1990 LS400 also; I'm surprised you didn't know this. Aluminum, DOHC 4valve-per-cylinder, V8 engine construction all in one combination wasn't Toyota "first" either, Mercedes was there as was Ferrari and others before the mighty Toyota.

    syswei,

    I'm not sure what happened with that, but I too remember something about them at least "talking" with Toyota about their hybrid technology. I couldn't get a straight answer from any of the MB reps at Detroit about anything pertaining to drivetrain of the GST, so I'm not sure. Mercedes and the rest of the European makers are so heavily invested in diesels so their hybrid tech and plans are obviously years behind Toyota and Honda, so I'm not sure. All MB has said is that hybrid S-Class will be sold here, I'm guessing with the next generation.

    Toyota must feel pretty good. I mean really you have your competitors (Ford and Nissan) scrambling to buy your OLD technology, I'm impressed. (Rare moment, take note..lol)

    ljflx,

    Well as always my friend we are on opposite sides of the world when it comes to styling. You see "cues" from a Ford in an S-Class, but you can't see where the LS430 (especially 01-03) looks like a smoothed over Avalon. You say that every company can't be original or do anything from scratch, which is the reasoning any Toyota fan must come up with when looking at their various styling blunders and c____s I guess. European car makers as a whole are far more original than the Japanese, this isn't even debatable when you look at BMW, Jaguar, Audi, MB, Porsche, and others, their designs connect with the past without looking retro at that. Lexus has nothing to draw on here, but the car the consider to be the target. A Jaguar will never, ever look like an Audi.

    The difference between MB and Lexus is that MBs don't look like their competitors, like Lexus' premier car does. So what if the S-Class resembles a Taurus (in your opinion), they'll never be confused like the old S and LS could be by the casual observer, nor are they competitors. That everyone can't be original is just a grand excuse. All the rest of the cars in this class manage to do just that, from scratch and very original. I mean really, think about it, none of the cars we talk about this board look anything alike until you bring the LS into the fold then you're reminded of 12 year old Benz. Lexus with their LS is the one that can't seem to be original or do anything from scratch, not the rest.

    Anyway, past that S-Class/Taurus thing I pretty much agree with your summation on the other cars. I really want to drive the A8 or Phaeton to see what all the complaints about the ride are all about. Design wise I find the A8 to be the best car in this class now, just a hood ornament ahead of the S.

    sv7887,

    I was ready to "disagree" with your post #4601 Item #2, but then I read item #3 so..... I was going to say how in the world could anyone liking Toyota design say anything about anyone else "borrowing" anything from any one else when Toyota is the king of such practice???? However since I did read item #3 ignore the previous sentence.....

    jamesfletcher2,

    Well I'd say go for the current S600 if you're worried about the next generation styling changes. Plus the reliability of the current S (one of your concerns) is much improved since 2000 and you won't have to worry about the next generation car's newness in that area.

    M
  • footiefootie Posts: 636
    Merc1,

    I thought my question was a fair one. Toyota is not quite so absent of patents and useful original technology in this area as you might have incorrectly inferred in your response.

    As I have recommended before, it is really helpful to look at patent data before you excoriate other posters:

    Go to USPTO website and look up Mercedes and Overhead Cam (to inusre you cover single and double). Do the same for Toyota (and GM and Tecumseh).

    Score: Mercedes 8
    Score: Toyota 43

    Maserati had the oldest one that I could find that was a real DOHC V engine.

    Here's a few Toyota ones for you to enjoy: The first is for a DOHC V multivalve engine. The second for a variable valve timing (VVT) engine. The third for multivalves (intake) per cylinder and the fourth is for a really neat light alloy rocker arm that could be adjusted while the engine was running. The prior art on that one was a cast iron BMW rocker arm.

    The assignee on all of these ( 4 for the 43 ) was Toyota.

    United States Patent
     4,658,769

     Horio ,   et al.
    April 21, 1987
     V-type internal combustion engine with centrally located drive gears coupling double overhead camshafts

    United States Patent
     4,305,352

     Oshima ,   et al.
    December 15, 1981
     Internal combustion engine

    Abstract

    An internal combustion engine is so constructed that the timing of the intake and exhaust valves can be changed during operation of the engine making it possible to select the optimum timing for the valves in accordance with the operating conditions.

    United States Patent
     4,285,310

     Takizawa ,   et al.
    August 25, 1981
     Dual intake valve type internal combustion engine

    Abstract

    A dual intake valve type internal combustion engine comprises a main intake valve and an auxiliary intake valve. The main intake valve is so constructed that the combustible gas mixture introduced into the combustion chamber therethrough is caused to generate a swirl motion. A variable valve lift type of auxiliary intake valve is constructed, and the valve lift of the auxiliary intake valve is varied in accordance with the changes in the engine operating conditions.

    United States Patent
     4,147,074

     Noguchi ,   et al.
    April 3, 1979
     Aluminum alloy rocker-arm
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    A couple of posters have suggested that GM may have abandoned its hydrogen fuel cell development project recently. I can't find anything to corroborate this and would welcome more info or links.

    I did run across a very interesting article from the MIT Technology Review explaining hydrogen's problems...

    http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/wo_romm031704.asp

    registration is required but is free and easy
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    The patents you list still don't disprove what I said earlier that Toyota wasn't first, Maserati or Ferrari were. Nor does MB have to even look in Toyota's direction for anything in the way of licensing or permission to do DOHC V8 because Toyota doesn't hold squat today on this type of engine design. A DOHC V8, Toyota FIRST did not offer 32Valve V8. Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and Mercedes all did it before (the first three) or at the same time (Mercedes) as Toyota did.

    Toyota wasn't first in the luxury area either, both MB and Toyota offered DOHC, multivalve V8s in the same year, 1989, for the 1990 model year.

    I don't need a list of patents to know this, hence the difference between you and I. You live for patents and stats about things like engines when they don't even tell the story, especially when it comes to who got the patent first vs. when the technology was actually on the street in the hands of actual buyers. I remember it when it was being done, not when a patent office told me so. You wouldn't even know any of this if it weren't for the patent office.

    Neither you nor I mentioned variable valve timing, so I'm not sure why you're listing that, it wasn't in question with me. Lets stay on track here.

    Didn't say Toyota doesn't have useful technology, I said that they are not first in most cases. They are the masters at improving technology that has already been laid down by others.

    Like I've said before you seem to always miss this, patents can be and are given for improvements to existing technology also. Toyota wasn't first to offer a DOHC multivalve V8, nor does Mercedes or anyone else have to consult them before offering their own design, which was my point. You tried to imply that Mercedes in 2004 would have to get some sort of permission or licensing from Toyota to "implement" DOHC multivalve technology and my answer to that is still that Toyota wasn't first to do a DOHC 32V V8, nor does MB have to seek their approval of anything and that MB has done this type of engine before. These points still stand, regardless of you finding patents about (irrelevant) VVT and rocker arm details, as these two details have nothing to do with what you said earlier.

    M
  • When did FIRST become more important then BEST?
  • footiefootie Posts: 636
    Merc1,

    If you don't think that the entire auto industry, just like high tech, food processing, pharmaceuticals and just about every manufacturing company that does business in this country doesn't 'look' at intellectual property held by others and try to insure that theirs is protected, then you have missed a key piece of how business works.

    Virtually all 'big' businesses also cross-license IP with each other. It's the smart thing to do, because you don't get caught with your shorts down. Their internal legal shops have IP lawyers and the companies sit down with each other every year at about this time to 'settle' on who's patents are in use and negotiate their relative value. You can bet that Toyota, Honda, DaimlerBenz, VW, BMW, GM, Ford, Nissan, etc. are all cross licensed.

    For example, Texas Instruments used to pay Bell Labs a significant net royalty on their patent portfolio because of Bell's fundamental transistor patents. However, when those expired and TI later gained key patents in the microchip area, the money flowed the other way.

    In general, all patents issued before 1987 have expired (the old 17 year rule). Starting with patents filed in 1995, 20 years is generally the life of the patent.

    Also, the larger and more current your intellectual property portfolio, the better your protection, the stronger your internal focus on developing and protecting innovation and the more likely the money flows your way.

    IBM was awarded 3,215 patents last year and has 23,000 they actively license. The generally are the largest recipient of patents each year in the world.

    Companies that develop proprietary technology and deploy it in production and sell it to others without patent protection, put the technology in the public domain. Anyone could use it.

    For example, if there was something unique and innovative about a 7-speed transmission then DCX would patent it, because selling it without protection would allow anyone to 'copy' it freely. DCX hasn't filed any patents on the 7 speed transmission because it's just incremental technology. DCX has filed a few CVT patents in 2001 - 2004, so maybe they've figured out that when the number of speeds in a transmission approaches infinity that it becomes continuous, sort of like a polygon with an infinite number of sides is called a circle.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Actually I'm quite familiar with patents as I've invested into one with a family members. Great idea (the patent), but wrong people to do business with (family), but that is a whole other story. Amazingly I don't really disagree with any of that, but maybe I should have just answered your original question in the first place.

    No, Mercedes doesn't have to get any licensing permission from Toyota for their upcomming DOHC engine designs, and no Toyota wasn't first at this, and yes Mercedes has done a many DOHC engines before.

    The fact that Toyota has so many patents for smaller details only goes back to highlight what I said before in answer to your implication that the LS400 was first with this engine design, Toyota only improves up existing tech, most of the time and they don't hold anything currently that MB would need to consult them on because A) Toyota wasn't first to begin with and B) the details that they had a patent on has expired, and MB or anyone else needs to consult them this particular engine design. Every automaker under the sun uses DOHC technology.

    Mike,

    If you can honestly tell me what was "best" about Toyota's 1989 DOHC V8 design compared to Mercedes' of the same year, then you'd have something to stand on here, otherwise you're just posting for the sake of doing so with nothing factual to bring to the table. Do you even know what those 43 patents are and what they mean or are you just arguing pointlessly again?

    M
  • footiefootie Posts: 636
    Merc1,

    It's fun to say stuff like that, and I am sure your feelings are heartfelt.

    I would guess that neither of us have any factual information regarding the patent details of the DOHC engine that MB is introducing.

    To say otherwise, you'd have to be member of their technical staff or IP law department.

    In fact, since I believe that since Toyota and virtually everybody else in the industry is cross-licensed, Mercedes would be crazy not to use what Toyota made available to them through licensing if it were more quickly available than internal development and the same would be true about Toyota using MB technology.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    But you're missing the point they've done DOHC engines before, back in 1989 the same time Toyota did, DOHC ENGINES ARE NOT NEW FOR MERCEDES-BENZ. There was also a DOHC engine 190E during the eighties. This is not new technology for MB!!!

    M
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    I think what Michael Mattox means is that doing something best is more important than doing it first, a sentiment I agree with. Some data on MY2004 engines:

    BMW 4.4 liter: 325 hp, 330 lb-ft

    Lexus 4.3: 290/320

    MB 4.3: 275/295

    So based on what is currently shipping, at least, BMW has done the "best" of the three with engines, MB "worst".
  • First I didn't argue anything...I just said WOW to another poster because I thought the sheer numbers were impressive.

    Argue, as you will, over the years the Lexus has proven to be more reliable then the Mercedes. Maybe all those patents had something to do with it and maybe not...I don't know, and frankly don't care because I believe BEST trumps FIRST.
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