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High End Luxury Cars

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  • My first MB was an 82 300D Turbo purchased new. Most of my friends were making the switch from American to MB because they were sick and tired of the quality issues with GM etc and because MB's were the new status car. Safety was a good "justifier" for the price and of course I don't minimize the importance, but if the image and status weren't there, I must say that I don't think that alone would have motivated us to buy.
    These cars had the reputation of running for hundreds of thousands of miles with only minor service. They also leased at very good rates due to high re-sale. At this time in the LA area there was a shift from Caddy to MB in the high rent district. Having owned 2 Caddies, 2 MB's and 2 Lexus' (Lexi?), I think I can differentiate between perception and reality.
    The Caddies were great riding boats whose quality issues as the best of the American cars chased people to imports.
    The MB's while very solid and much better build quality, were far from bullet proof. They were a big step up from the American cars and it was true that if you handled the repairs as they came up, you could keep it on the road for many miles.
    Lexus cars became the new standard for reliability and to me are about as bullet proof as one can get. I had the original GS300 and only did oil changes for the 60K and 4 years I had it. Absolutely nothing ever went wrong.

    In the end I think the bar has been raised significantly as far as quality and reliability go.
    MB was reliable in comparison to the playing field in the 80's. They have great driving dynamics and safety.
    Lexus is the new gold standard in reliability. It's driving experience is different than MB. It is softer and if I were on a track or making quick turns going for speed, I would prefer to be in an MB or a BMW. But in choosing my LS430 over the S430, which my heart preferred, I couldn't ignore the defects in 2 separate road tests on 2 different cars (a steering wheel that would not tilt due to a blown fuse, and a window that would not open)
    The American consumer is just too savvy to continue to buy status alone and I hope that MB improves the quality because it is a great company with a great heritage. They need to remember that in the long run luxury and status will only remain if it is backed up by quality. After all, the higher quality was the catalyst for their growth and the beginning of the status symbol status for MB in America.
  • obviously you have been miss understanding my posts when it comes to re badging. Toyota makes
    fine vehicles and so does Lexus. the only problem i have is that the Lexus "brand" is built on the re badging of Toyota products. i think most posters on this forum would have a big problem if Mercedes Benz sold re badged Chrysler products. this is a big sticking point with me because in my eyes i see a massive difference between MB and Lexus.

    a couple of weeks ago i was lurking on Edmund's and i came across this thread. after reading all of the German bashing....MB in particular i couldn't resist jumping in. i hope that the past 30 pages has made more posters aware of what the differences are between Lexus and the German brands. also the importance of MB in the market place...historically and presently.

    like i said in my earlier posts...i also own two GMC's...so status is not what drives me when i purchase an automobile.
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    IF (hypothetically) Chrysler made a car better than say an S in every possible way, and then MB "rebadged" it with somewhat different sheetmetal and a more luxurious interior, I wouldn't have a problem with it and I don't see why any true enthusiast should.

    "Rebadging" may mean less status that building from scratch, but the car itself is no less worthy as a car, and an enthusiast should like it no less.

    BTW I actually don't count myself as a true enthusiast.
  • michael your missing the point.
    when MB designed and tested the S class
    they didn't design it around the normal
    crash testing parameters. when i saw
    these photos i was convinced without a
    doubt that the S quite possibly the safest
    automobile on the road.

    this is only my
    opinion but i believe that many
    of the automakers today design their automobiles
    to test well in the test crash that are
    currently being used. they design to the
    parameters not beyond them. to go beyond those
    parameters is what separates automotive
    companies.

    the person i contacted on the photos emailed me
    and said he doesn't have them anymore. maybe
    someone else will come up with them. sorry.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,665
    Excellent post but it will be lost here because the German lovers base best car emphasis on performance dynamics even though it can't be used 99% of the time. I've been saying that for years. Better than average handling is all you need. The sales argument got so ridiculous that someone said RX sales should not count. When you see that type of silliness you no people are groping and can't handle the situation. Meanwhile I just read a story in the NY Times which I'll link in another post that said 44% of all BMW unit sales are 3 series, a relatively inexpensive car. But I doubt the same poster would say 3 series sales shouldn't count.

    The truth is Lexus has replaced MB as the gold standard in build quality and reliability and it just can't be handled or accepted by many people who love the MB name. So they grope and find ridiculous things to bank on. That is the story of the last 250 posts.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,665
    Interesting reads.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/26/business/worldbusiness/26bmw.ht- ml

    Last line of paragraph 3 should interest merc1.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/26/business/worldbusiness/26factor- y.html

    Maybe someone is getting to Bangle but personally I still think the 3-series has a bad look in its new form. Just not as bad as the 5 or 7. But like the others IMO it's great looking on the front end and then loses it fron the rear seat back.
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,269
    Of course we will never know, but somehow I feel as fine a vehicle as the LS 430 is, if it was originally sold here as a Toyota Celsior, sales would not be as successful as they have been. Yes, Pablo, a lot of it is in the buyer's head especially to status-happy Americans. Toyota recognized this. Absolute marketing genius rebadging this car as a "Lexus" for the US market.
    Let's face it. Toyota put one over on us and it worked.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Something has happened lately to break links that are over some (not very long) length. Here are the links that ljflx posted in working forms:

    Link 1

    Link 2

    (The NY Times website does require free registration to view their site.)

    I'm told the link issue will be fixed within a couple of weeks ...
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,665
    The Celsior came after the LS - why does everyone get this wrong?
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    "Yes, Pablo, a lot of it is in the buyer's head especially to status-happy Americans."

    Of course it is. Why do you think they created the separate Lexus badge to begin with. And in spite of the inherent merits of high-end Toyotas, high-end buyers want status to go along with it. Camp Lexus is like the second-born child who wants to prove he's just as good as big brother Mercedes. They know that Lexus has something going, but o-o-o-h they want that recognition. Most of them say they could care less, and indeed this may be the case for some, but I think I have a good idea of who's who around here among the usual suspects ;-) Not that it matters, I just find it to be funny.

    Status is no different from money. Many of us know that worshipping the golden calf is not the noblest of endeavors, hence the proclamations "I don't care about status," but deep down inside some do it regardless, and reveal themselves without even realizing it.

    "Let's face it. Toyota put one over on us and it worked."

    Well, I wouldn't go that far. Going into a Toyota service department is no different from Ford service. In addition to the luxury accoutrements, Lexus service seems to be in class of its own.

    "…the German lovers base best car emphasis on performance dynamics even though it can't be used 99% of the time. I've been saying that for years. "

    Ljflx… this is where you really identify your priorities and at the same time vilify those of the German-car buyer. I've been saying the following for years also. The benefits of ANY higher-performance car are 100% available even to super-cautious old ladies who drive well-within the speed limits. A performance car is a safer, more secure car, whether one chooses to exploit the car at its limits or not. My wife knows nothing about cars or performance. However she knows what she simply feels. I submit that there are many German-car buyers who are EXACTLY like my wife. Your 99%-of-the-time thing is simply a convenient rationale for those who neither desire or appreciate the qualities of cars like BMWs. The Lexus buyer is a Lexus buyer. The BMW buyer is a BMW buyer. Never the twain shall meet. And then there is Oac ;-) Personally, I think the BMW buyer is a breed unto itself, especially the 7-series buyer. It's incredible what the latter have had to put up with.
  • I've been an MB buyer, a BMW buyer and a Lexus buyer so the twain have met:)
    I had a 330i which I loved and was very dependable. My needs changed (a much longer commute) and I decided I wanted a luxury car. That's when I went on the LS, Audi 8, BMW 745 and MB S class odessy. Finally went with the LS430 for what I think is better quality at a lower price. I respect each car for what they bring to the table, sport, luxo, technical goodies etc. But in the end for 60K plus you better get quality and reliability along with the attributes you loved in the car. I would have gone with the S Class if I thought only a few minor issues would come up. But the thought of major repeating problems at that price were enough to turn me away. I don't need every car company to be equal to Lexus in reliability but they should be close at those prices.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,665
    Agree with you on BMW. It's not the BMW guys that get me. I wouldn't argue your BMW point for a second. Most MB's are hardly performance cars and whenever MB handling is cited it is in the very samll percentage of performance cars they make not the mainstream cars. That's why Lexus and MB will always be cross shopped the majority of the time. BMW shoppers should cross shop with Audi and probably more and more often with Infiniti and Acura in the future. We all know what BMW does to Audi. We'll have to see if the Japanese start cutting into them.
  • oacoac Posts: 1,594
    Denali:

    "i think most posters on this forum would have a big problem if Mercedes Benz sold re badged Chrysler products. this is a big sticking point with me because in my eyes i see a massive difference between MB and Lexus"

    Have you been to Europe ever ? Have you seen the kadzillion stripped-down MBs that litter the Taxi ranks on the streets and airports of Europe ? These cars are as spartan as a Kia ! Vinyly seats, no A/C, no sun/moonroof, steel rim wheels with covers, etc.... have ridden in many many MBs in Europe on business trips, so I know what I am talking about.... These cars are what adds a lot of units sold to MBs worldwide sales. Only here in the US and parts of Asia does MB categorically positions itself as a pure luxury brand.

    I'd like to see you in one of these stripped MBs before you start castigating Lexus as re-badged Toyotas. Besides, how can MB be a pure lux brand when it sells the A-class, Smart, and that God-awful G-class ???

    Finally, do you recall MBs of the 70's and 80's ? Tell me what luxury features you can point to ? They were not the nicest looking cars on the road. Their claims to fame were their rock-solid build, quality of engineering, safety, and the three-pointed star. Now, the most striking thing about MBs is their exterior styling.... That does not make a luxury car, imo.
  • oacoac Posts: 1,594
    I join Len to not take issues with your post on BMW. You owners are just on a different planet than the rest of us :)

    "The Lexus buyer is a Lexus buyer. The BMW buyer is a BMW buyer. Never the twain shall meet. And then there is Oac ;-)"

    You humor me, my dear Designman. And I thank you for this....
  • hfanghfang Posts: 31
    Just visited london and paris in the last two years, and there are all kinds of crappy MB's out there, especially the budget A class, Smart cars, and the scads of cheap, stripped down C and E classes out there used as fleet vehicles and taxicabs-

    and syswei is right on as well- Denali- why does it matter what the badge says- isn't it what's underneath that counts? Would the LS be an inferior car if it were called a Toyota? Would your A8 be a lesser car if it were a VW? Still great cars with or without the badge-
  • Oh so true about MB in Europe. They sell E class looking cars as cabs, but they have absolutely nothing in them. It was kind of a shock for me when I was in England, because the MBs weren'y luxury. Also, good point about the G-class. I dispise that car, and I think that MB is a dumb bunny for selling that. Maybe if they wait another 20 years, then everyone will forget what it looks like.... (shiver)

    Anyway, that's a good point about badging. And the A8 is rebadged into a VW, the Phaeton (which doesn't make sense to me). That doesn't make it a worse car at all. Lexus has the LX470 (and soon a JX470 based off of the Sequoia) that is based off of the old Land Cruiser. But it's been changed enough in the smaller dynamics to be a Lexus. And the Maybachs are just rebadged S-Classes stretched, but does that make them bad? bad point, chris. Bad point. Anyway, that's the way GMC works (as far as I can see) From what I've driven of GMC, they seem a lot like Chevys.

    OK I'm out
    Chris
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    Status. Well, for me personally, I used to think I didn't care too much. But I've realized now that's wrong, I do care. I started thinking about my wife's next car, which is maybe a 18 months away, (she is currently in an LX) and in many ways a Sienna AWD would be a great choice...but the minivan configuration combined with the Toyota badge probably will rule it out for us. So it may be an MDX instead, but even there I'm not 100% sure it projects the "right" image.

    For me personally, Lexus lacks MB's prestige, but Lexus has "enough" prestige. And I don't think I would buy a R or next-generation G at least in their first year of production, because to me reliability needs to be proven for MB, and this outweighs MB's incremental prestige.

    As I said in my last post, I don't count myself as a true enthusiast. And I still don't see why a true enthusiast should care about the badge.
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,269
    Sounds great on paper but in the American real world, that's not how human nature operates. If the Lexus LS was originally marketed as a Toyota, do you think it would have been as successful in the American market? Same car. Different perception.
  • pablo_lpablo_l Posts: 491
    > .. German lovers base best car emphasis on
    > performance dynamics even though it can't be
    > used 99% of the time ..

    I'd change that to say "performance car lovers", and it happens to be that a large portion of the luxury car market is performance and "sports" oriented (though I've never understood the latter acronym, it's not like anyone gets any fitter driving a "sports sedan" than a Taurus). The car market *is* irrational. It does appeal to emotion, no matter how much people try to rationalize it away.

    The motorcycle market is a nice case study in the irrationality of motor vehicle. Not even the best riders in the world can exploit a 100HP+ sports motorcycle capabilities to the fullest on the road and expect to live. However, the average weekend rider likes to project the image that *he* can. And would never want to admit he can't (and shouldn't if he wants to live) and buy a more rational package based on that fact. Ergo, sharper and sharper packages with 140HP+ and ridiculously radical seating positions dominate the market. And if, like me, you go buy a BMW, which is an utterly satisfying and capable motorcycle (not even remotely a performance leader, though), the other riders just *know* you're boring and slow. No matter if you just trounced them coming up the canyon road when a couple of turns came up...

    Same with cars. For some reason people want to project the image they exploit all those horses of the traffic light, and that they know to exploit the limits of the car's cornering capabilities...

    Don't get me wrong - I do like some tautness in cars, since excessive roll angles and boat like floating over any ondulation of the surface is a bit too much. But there aren't many cars like that driving around these days. Responsiveness is good. Cart-like connection to every road imperfection is not, though. Engine responsiveness is good, and some decent power needs to be present for that. But bizarre power engineering that needs tobe contunuously reeled in by dynamic aids to protect the integrity of the mechanicals as well as the rider's is a bizarre trend... but the odd thing is, many buyers are intensely irrational and go for it.

    I do think Lexus is a balanced, conservative approach to building luxury cars. Load them to the gills, don't go overboard with power or sporty dynamics. Which incidentally used to initially be the Mercedes differentiator against BMW when they first crossed swords, long before Lexus entered the scene. So one could argue that Lexus out-Benzed Mercedes in their traditional approach, emphasizing balance and an overall softer approach combined with a "built to last" label. It's interesting how the new Mercedes has increasingly lost itself in exhuberance, trying to crank out new models as it feels it loses a grip on their traditional bread and butter market segments. I am mesmerized they don't have a "back to basics" initiative going. That they have this paranoid tendency to emphasize tradition and heritage in their advertising while all the while they try their hardest to be a radically different, far more exhuberant and irrational company than they were in those times...

    I like quite a few cars in the Mercedes line-up a lot, especially the CL to me has always been among the classiest grand tourers around, and I love GTs. The CLK convertible has a lot of appeal. But I would not buy ther cars these days, I may however consider leasing them. With Lexus, while the design doesn't blow me away, the balance and vault-like solidness of the package impresses, and that is a car I would buy cash. BMW? They've lost their way design wise, their shapes don't do it at all for me, with an odd mix of overly angular and aggressively dynamic and then droopy, sagging shapes thrown in. I also have to admit I like Audis a lot, but than new grille doesn't do it with me. Audi and chrome - who would have thought. Jaguar also has taken a wrong design turn, with all their cars now having become charicatures of traditional British car design, as opposed to pioneering new ground. Remember the XKE. Try something new, but they may have ridden themselves too far into the geriatric choice. One of my favorite brands 10 years ago winds up being the one I'd be least ikely to buy again... strange.
  • iancariancar Posts: 31
    Lexus and Mercedes are building their cars with totally different philosophies. Lexus' focus is building a car that emphasize reliability, tranquility and comfort rather than styles, performance and handling. In fact, Lexus's cars and light trucks performances are comparable with German counterpart but the first rush of thrust is replaced by gradual acceleration. For example, when I am looking for a replacement for my 2002 LS, the first car comes up to my mind is 2005 CLS. The CLS is the most beautiful sedan i had seen in years and the attraction is growing on me by days. I had test drive it and its driving experience and style just fit with one word, fantastic. But when i look at the Brochure, CLS looks slick but its coefficient of drag is 0.30, comparing to 0.25 with LS, and its acceleration is only 6.1 0-60, comparing to 6.3. Therefore, even the statistic is comparable, Lexus' cars just don't feel as fast as its German competitors. Lexus is also lack in performance department for high-tech sport tuners like AMG and BMW-M to raise its brand image and boost profit further. I believe this is the main reason why Lexus is losing sales battle with SC and GS. Furthermore, Lexus is also fell behind for its limited range of engines and length selection for LS. Fortunately, Lexus regains those lost by expanded with its 3 SUV lineup during this SUV crazed period. In the end of the story, I walked out from the mercedes and asked my friends and neighbors who owned mercedes in their garages, and the answers r unisonous, "Benz needs a lot of fixes and repaire". Due to its flaws, I dont believe Lexus will dominate the luxury market but it may attract most of the frustrating customers who wants trade for a more reliable ride. For me, I think i will stick to my good old lexus and replace it with 2007 LS.
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