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High End Luxury Cars

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  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Oh I dont know about that. German prices keep skyrocketing, and their quality continues to stagnate. Infiniti has only become a player since the G35 came on the scene, which is just a few years. How long have BMWs been on sale here? Given until the end of the decade to fill out its product line, BMW will have much to fear from Nissan. Acura has come out of its slumber as well. Both should put even more of a dent in the European's already eroding sales and market share.

    Oh, btw, the first generation Lexus SC coupe was pretty much universally praised as a gorgeous car for its time, and its styling beat the pants off the ugly, big and blocky first gen CL coupe, that was basically a 2-door S.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    We'll just have to see what happens. For Infiniti or Acura to do anything to Mercedes or BMW they'll have to become global brands and in Acura's case they'll have to build a real luxury car. This means no Accord based fwd/awd V6 powered vehicles. They'll have to do an S-Class/LS/7-Series type car and it will need to be badged an Acura all over the world. As far as I know they aren't going global with the Acura name. I'm not even concerned with Acura past 35K. Infiniti is going global, but it won't be complete until 2008 or so. Infiniti will pose the biggest threat to BMW, but the Germans aren't going to stand still until then either.

    You're right about the previous generation Lexus SC400/300, it was good looking for a Japanese car, but Lexus neglected the car in the marketplace. My how things change because the CL of today beats the pants off the SC430 as does the SL. One good looking car in 14 years of existence is pretty dismal.

    M
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,665
    Go back and read. The person inquiring asked about an LS euro vs a base S430. It's not a mag contest and I don't insist on comparing the two at all. The euro costs the same as the regular edition mod lux car in the Lexus line-up which is why the comparison to a base S-class is valid anyway. Can you even get an S430 sport? I thought it was limited to an S500 in sport edition.

    I have never seen a 600HP V8 from Benz available on their base cars. Thus my other remark.

    Audi only sells 80K cars a year here. I actually think the comments are quite valid. People will hesitate to make Audi a big seller here until they prove to be very reliable and the acceleration problem (which I never bought as a real problem anyway) was the first manifestation of an unreliable car - at least in public perceptions. As for the folks i talked to - they are all $250K+ players and two have equity ownership positions in their dealerships. I think they know their industry a lot better than you or I know it. It's also a close knit industry.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    I was refering more to the North American market, where Infiniti and Acura are already established. BMWs sales here dont come from the 7 series, the come from 3 series and X5. If the G35 and FX45 are faster and better values than comparable BMWs (which they are) it spells big trouble for BMW. For Acura to jump into the tiny volume full size lux market (which there already was not enough room for a VW) would be pointless. What they need to do is, just like Infiniti, beat BMW (and M-B) where it hurts, with a hopefully AWD TL, and an eventually redesigned MDX.
  • I think Acura could do to Lexus what Lexus did to Mercedes...Especally when they started up....Come in with big luxury package price the car at $50,000 with a package similar to the Ultra.

    But first they will need to come up with a nice V8 and then an attractive design both in and out...

    Acura however is the only one who I think could crack into the market...The Germans are just not competitive enough.
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    “Lastly they are all upset about the NSX as well despite its low sales volume as it could have and should have been a halo car matched with a true V8 flagship sedan to compete with Lexus, Infiniti and the Germans.”

    Been meaning to respond to this. NSX is an awesome car. However, I think it is living proof that when it comes to Japanese cars, the world is not yet ready to pay “more for more” in the ilk of German cars. As expensive as Porsches are, NSX is one non-European car that Porsche wallops on price. And at one time not too long ago, it was almost twice as expensive as the extremely popular Corvette. Low sales of NSX tend to show us what the world expects from Japan, and that is “more for less”.

    The distinction of being able to do “more for more” still belongs to the Germans. When this changes, the Japanese will truly have arrived as prestigious brands. Mind you, I am not saying the Japanese don’t make superior products in many cases, it’s just that they haven’t proven they can get the price that the Germans command. Discounting is a crack in the German armor, but there is still quite a way to go. The interesting thing is that I think we are right in the middle of witnessing that tranformation.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,665
    I agree with you sbout Acura and Infiniti. I have no doubt that Lexus can command over $100K pretty easily for a V12 equivalent car and will probably introduce a $150K car in the next few years. Lexus has separated themselves from the rest of the Japanese. I think the high German prices are already running into plenty of resistance and won't hold. The resale values are far too low in percentage terms to hold the high prices for the new cars in place. It's already pretty obvious but you'll never know it from the Edmunds TMV. But a $77K MB S is less than $150 different in lease price than a $62K LS430 now and the 745LI at $76K was barely more than my $64K custom LS a few months back. On top of that its the LS that holds 60-62% of its value after 3 years. The others are in the low 50's. Without that resale foundation the upfront price just won't hold unless its heavily subsidized and disguised which is what is happening already.
  • oacoac Posts: 1,594
    Lexus truly have separated themselves from the rest of the Japanese. It is now up to Infiniti and Acura to duke it out as the next up-and-comer brand in the US lux market. That's whay these two companies are taking on BMW knowing Lexus pretty much sowed up the MB level competition.

    By 2006, the competition at the upper echelon of the lux market will truly heat up. If the 2006 LS is the LF-S design, and if by MY 2007, Lexus comes out with the LWB version, with the 600HP hybrid-ized engine, then MB will truly face its stiffest competition yet. No amount of gnashing of the teeth, or the wringing of hands will wish away the poor reliability and quality of MBs going forward. Truly, their marqueness is slowly eroding, and the evidence is overwhelming. Like most historical things, it may take a while for its full effect to manifest.

    Time, always, is the enemy (or friend) here.

    ps: Merc1, you need to tone down your lambasting of Lexus-fans at the obvious ugliness of the new and improved 2006 S-class spy pics. There is no need to focus on Lexus-ophiles, rather you need to direct your anger at MB for their poor judgement in coming up with such a disastrous design for their top brand. Are they that scared of Lexus to rush through such poor design???? Hehehehe.....
  • I think Mercedes is also hurting it's image with it's cheap line of cars. They look like Mercedes but an inspection reveals that they are really cheap..

    When the image goes what will Mercedes have left to sell?
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Yes you can get a S430 Sport. The Sport package is an option on the S430, S500 and S600. My point had nothing to do with what someone was comparing this time around, you've always stated the same thing that a Euro LS will outhandle a base S-Class.......that shouldn't be a shock. My point is that when you evenly spec the cars you can't say such a thing about the LS. You always state as such like a better handling S-Class can't be had.

    "I have never seen a 600HP V8 from Benz available on their base cars. Thus my other remark."

    I'm not sure what you mean here?? No car in this class is going to have a 600hp V8 or any other cylinder configuraton as the "base" engine, with that much hp. Please explain what you're talking about here. You think the next LS is going to have a 600hp V8 as the "base" engine?

    "Audi only sells 80K cars a year here. I actually think the comments are quite valid. People will hesitate to make Audi a big seller here until they prove to be very reliable and the acceleration problem (which I never bought as a real problem anyway) was the first manifestation of an unreliable car - at least in public perceptions. As for the folks i talked to - they are all $250K+ players and two have equity ownership positions in their dealerships. I think they know their industry a lot better than you or I know it. It's also a close knit industry."

    I agree that Audi has a problem, but it isn't unintended acceleration. Anyone who thinks that Audi is still suffering from something back in 1985 is just lost imo. If these people are truly in the industry then they should know the facts surrounding that whole episode about Audi. Audi's biggest problem is reliability.........and it had nothing to with that acceleration mess. I'm wondering if you even know what the true problem was with Audi back in 1985?

    lexusguy,

    I just can't get worried about Acura. They're not even willing to make a rwd or V8 car. There is only so much you can do for under 50K with fwd/awd and V6s. To take on Mercedes and BMW at the top of their game and brush aside their image and market power you have to build a true upper-class car that plays their game. So far Lexus is the only one openely talking about a 100K V8 or V12 luxury car or who competes with the Germany's best cars (sedans at least) right now. Neither Acura or Infiniti can give away their most expensive cars. Bold prediction: I expect Cadillac to place above Acura in the next few years because they're willing to push boundaries that Acura simply won't.

    M
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    I really dont see Acura doing much damage to Lexus. The two brands are just too differently focused. Lexus' strength, at least right now, comes from ES, RX, and LS. Acura cant do a car like the ES. The MDX cant sell for $43K+ so they will not be able to offer the level of refinement and materials quality that RX has. Acura has no LS fighter whatsoever.

    Infiniti also wont do any real damage because Infiniti and Lexus are pretty much polar opposites. The cars that Infiniti has tried to position against Lexus, I and Q, have both been huge flops. You'll notice that the I did not get a redesign with its Maxima cousin. I think it will not get one. Same goes for Q. As OAC said, I think they are content to let Lexus gun for M-B, and generally avoid them. Theres fresh meat on BMW and Audi, and thats where Acura and Infiniti can get stronger.

    As for the Germans themselves, they are at an interesting cross roads at the moment. They want to preserve their luxury prestige here, but at the same time, they want to offer increasingly lower and lower priced models. Europeans might not even blink at the idea of a C230 taxi cab, but I think that would definitely give American C-class owners some pause. Because they have no "regular" Toyota or Honda or Nissan type badge, they must offer the C230 coupe, Audi A3, and upcoming 1 series with the same badge as their $100K machines. I'm not sure in this market that is a good idea. The global auto market at this point is probably the most brutal it has been in history. If you take away your own badge prestige by offering $20K cars with the blue and white prop, 4 rings, or 3-pointed star, how do you continue to justify your asking prices as the Japanese (and Koreans) get stronger and stronger?
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Good points. This Japanese onslaught happened 20+ years ago with regular cars and Detroit survived, barely. The British as a whole had their entire automotive industry collaspe and wind up in German (VW, BMW) or American (Ford) hands. Think about it, Jaguar, Rolls-Royce, Bentley, and Aston-Martin....some of the most prestigious names in the history of the automobile are no longer British owned. The difference is that Germany is the driving automotive force in Europe and they aren't going to just roll over, they'll at some point re-invent themselves to deal with all these new challenges.

    The one I'm the most worried about overall is BMW. This styling is going to catch up with them at some point. So far they have stood by their design department's (Chris Bangle didn't even personally draw the 6-Series or X3 people, only the 7-Series was truly "his") new styling direction. The real test will be the 2006 3-Series. Will they destroy the most critically acclaimed car in the 30-40K bracket just for the sake of change? We'll find out in Sept of 2005. The 2005 Frankfurt autoshow will also reveal the next S-Class, which certain people are desperately hoping turns out to be an ugly car.

    You're right about Acura. They're limited not by talent, but by Honda's smaller is better thinking and smaller budget compared to Nissan and Toyota. A shame really because a big rwd Acura with a Vtec V8 sounds really nice. In theory they could do to Lexus what Lexus did to Mercedes, but to execute this will require a fundamental shift in Honda thinking, that isn't going to happen.

    I think the brands to watch with varying degrees are Audi, Cadillac, Infiniti, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz. BMW has a new 3-Series coming, but after that things will cool down for them somewhat.

    Audi will introduce a new model every year from now until 2008! A new TT, A6, A6-based Coupe (think Novoluari Concept), S8, RS6, updated 2005.5 A4, RS4, and a production version of the LeMans Quattro. All Audi needs to do is improve reliability because unlike BMW their designs make all Japanese and some European cars look like toasters and refrigerators.

    Cadillac is working on a 100K+ car to compete with the S600s of the world. They'll have performance variants of the CTS, STS, XLR, and possibly the SRX. There is a new smaller Cadillac on the drawing board for Europe. Naturally the car I'm most interested in seeing is this 100K car they keep talking about. Unfortunately I don't see Cadillac becoming the "Standard of the World" again though. The XLR and CTS just aren't the worldbeaters they promised. Cadillac will gain a lot of attention with all the new product, but unless it is executed right....

    Lexus has a new LS, GS, HPX (don't think for one moment this crossover won't be built), and most importantly a new IS. I think the next IS is the most important upcoming product launch for them, not the LS, GS or the hybrids. Why? Because this is type of car that BMW sells over 100K of each year. Lexus currently stands at 12-15K a year. They want to desperately crank up those numbers. A new IS Coupe, Sedan, Convertible and Wagon are very critical to Lexus' 350K a year sales goal.

    After Lexus, Cadillac and Audi...there is Infiniti on the watch list. The new M35/45 should do better than the current car. How could it not? Infiniti's biggest problem is Lexus. When people go looking for a truly upscale Japanese car, Lexus' LS is the one on their list, not the Q45. How does Infiniti turn that around? The next generation Skyline is coming here in 2007 as a Infiniti. If Infiniti is smart they'll do a G35 convertible and a hi-po version....a G45 Sedan with the 4.5L V8 tweaked for at least 350hp to take on the M3/S4/C55 etc.

    On a different note I predict the Koreans will introduce a luxury division complete with a real rwd V8 luxury car in about 10 years at the rate they're going.

    M
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    "The real test will be the 2006 3-Series. Will they destroy the most critically acclaimed car in the 30-40K bracket just for the sake of change? We'll find out in Sept of 2005. The 2005 Frankfurt autoshow will also reveal the next S-Class, which certain people are desperately hoping turns out to be an ugly car."

    I think the 3 is as good as destroyed. I read somewhere that iDrive will be applied only for nav. I think this is a sign that they perceive iDrive to be the problem with their sales, not style. Me, I'll take a thousand iDrives with great styling.

    On the other hand, I am desperately hoping all Mercedes turn out to be gorgeous. I root for all cars to be lookers… makes the pickins better. Unfortunately, I think the S we see in those spy pics is basically the one we are getting. It looks bloated and homely. The spy pics of test horses have been pretty accurate except for minor trim details. No?
  • topspin628topspin628 Posts: 373
    Without much negotiation, I have been quoted about 1K under invoice on an S430 4 Matic. I realize that there is 3K coming back to the dealer from the company so they will still net 1K.

    Do you think this is a fair price?

    They are also offering a 39 month residual of 53% and a money factor of .00255 on a lease. I think both of these may also be factory subsidized as well.

    Better to lease or buy on this deal?

    As posted earlier I am down to S Class vs LS and think both are great cars but the drive of the S and the 4 matic give an edge to the MB in my opinion. I am assuming that a well equipped LS can be had for around 65K that makes it "only" about a 5k difference.

    Any thoughts on the price of the MB? Can I do better?
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,665
    The write-up with one of the S-class spy shots photo said they would have a 600hp V8 as well as a V12. I don't understand the logic or see any need for both (unless they push the V12 up to 700hp) but that is what was stated. My "paying attention" point was simple - Lexus says they are coming with a 600hp V8 hybrid and right afterward you hear MB mentioned as coming with a 600hp V8. How they bring that in - base car availability or special order AMG is not noted. I'm sure the Lexus 600hp will be a special order car (though they probably will ship a bunch un-ordered that will probably be snapped right up the way the ultra was in 2001 - its the way they do things). But that mid level hybrid - which will probably be their $75K bread and butter car will likely be in the mid 4's on hp. What I'm wondering is what happens to the base 290hp gas engine. I think you see three trims - the gas engine probably moving up to 340-360hp and a $65-$70k car, the mid-level hybrid ($75 - $85K range) and the high-end hybrid ($100-$110k range). This probably carries through to whatever the SC becomes and to the big engine GS as well but without the 600hp option. When it is new lease time for me there will be no hesitation on my part to taking the $75K-$85k car. Its just going to be weird getting better mileage in the city than on the highway.

    Funny thing - the hybids were hardly mentioned anywhere a year ago. Now they are popping up in stories everywhere as the "hot" item. They will be badly needed to sustain the SUV bull market. Newsweek or Time had a story on this just this week. I read a few days ago that the Google owners drive Prius'. Believe me - hybrids will be the rage. The momemtum is alraedy too far gone to stop it. Diesels may end up dominating in Europe but they have no chance here. This is a lot more predictable then the bust we knew the idrive was going to be on the 7-series and that one was pretty easy to see.

    Maybe I missed it but what's your take on those S-class photos. The ones Pablo posted look good to me though the back-end looks more like what you'd expect on a C-class. The other ones are a big drop-off in looks from the current car - if they are the real thing.
  • jstylejstyle Posts: 129
    Take a look at the uncovered shot of the new '06 ML testing in Alabama. It looks very Acura MDX like. I think MB is loosing its ability to make cars "lookers." Perhaps this for tells the S class.

    http://www.thecarconnection.com/index.asp?article=7247&sid=17- 8&n=158
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    I think it's a big improvement. I like the front, looks like a Mercedes. They should put those lights on the sedans. A little too much topography on the flares around the wheel wells but it sure beats the midriff bulge on the X5. I see Nissan influence. Would like to see the back though. I wouldn't be surprised if that part of it looks like an elephant that raided the pizza store. Getting both ends to complement each other is rare these days. And I think all SUVs could use slimmer C columns. However this one has a nice shape.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    The 3 series is definitely going to be a VERY important car. BMW has held on to its "better than all your cars" image with basically that car (and some help from the 5 of course.) But the new 5 is not that great. If the 3 is also not that great, G35 will jump on it like a wolf on a frightened bunny, with TL stepping in to mop up the left overs.

    The British auto industry's problem was it was all too high end for its own good. You cant survive in the modern age without being a volume player. What happened to Jag, Aston, etc, would've happened to Porsche without the Cayenne. It would be like if M-B was a company that just sold SL500s and SLRs. They'd get killed in seconds. The Germans arent invincible though. If sales trends just keep going down and down as they are now, they wont dissappear completely, but they may go the route of Alfa Romeo, Peugot, and Renault and leave the American market. Not that Im saying that is going to happen any time soon.

    The IS is definitely going to be a very interesting car for Lexus. The Altezza rebadge that we have now is absolutely nothing like the new car is going to be, but it will face competition from G35 and TSX\TL, which most of the rest of their line up does not. What would be nice is if the IS convinces Acura to fill out its line up some more.

    The new ML still doesnt do anything for me styling wise. I think its rather bland generic-asia in the front, while trying to retain some styling cues from the old car around the back. What makes it a M-B? It could have a KIA badge on it.
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    “What happened to Jag, Aston, etc, would've happened to Porsche without the Cayenne. It would be like if M-B was a company that just sold SL500s and SLRs. They'd get killed in seconds.”

    Well the last time I looked Porsche only has three model platforms plus the supercar Carrera GT. Theyre not dead yet. Cayenne is a prostitute… it’s about staying alive. No one has survival instincts like Porsche. They’ve been on the brink quite often. Tells you something about passion, the mission and not selling the soul. They are the only production manufacturer with a truly artistic personality.

    Porsche. There is no substitute.

    (I think their internal corporate slogan is “Business Shmizness.” I don't think they would have even considered Cayenne if a couple of accountants didn't sit them down and give them a lecture.)

    :-)
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,665
    You and lexusguy had some excellent posts about 8 or 10 posts back. His points about cheaper MB's and BMW's for the american market are so right on and you've always said MB would be nuts to go any cheaper. So enter business 101 logic. Why not introduce the cheaper MB's as Chryslers. Solves every possible American problem but maybe opens up a can of worms in Europe. If that's the case just re-work the grill or something on the front-end for the American versions. Just like I don't want to see a Lexus "corolla", no MB S500 or higher buyer will want to see an $18K car with the three pointed star on it. But business logic says why cut-off the whole American market because of prestige. Just re-badge those cars. Plus look at the box it puts BMW in. Lexus, Infiniti, Acura, MB, Jaguar and Audi all have outlets for cheaper cars. BMW is stuck without one. What am I missing?
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