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High End Luxury Cars

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  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Very good reading. I've often wondered why Mercedes and Porsche didn't do more since their headquarters are literally across the street from each other. I guess this is why Mercedes sold their stake in CTS (Car Top Systems) a few years back. CTS is the company they both started to do convertible tops for both Porsche/Mercedes and others like Ferrari and Jaguar. Now it is fully Porsche owned, or at least it was last time I saw something online about it. They've done the tops for the SLK, SL, 911, Boxster, XK, and F355/360 Ferraris.

    M
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I agree, very well said.

    I think Audi just has a perception problem with being associated with VW for so long in this country. Then there are those who still believe in the unintended acceleration stuff and lastly Audi just doesn't have the infastructure here like MB and BMW. Audi has got to get more dealers in the right places, in other words on dealer's row with MB/BMW/Lexus/Cadillac because from what I read here and elsewhere the average Audi dealer seems to be more accomodating than the average MB or BMW dealer.

    M
  • oacoac Posts: 1,594
    Somewhere on this board, in memory I recall us discussing about the A8. One of the key points I agreed with then, and will re-state now, is that in the HELM space, a car need something to distinguish it - call it its "calling card", if you will. S had the history/heritage and brand recognition, 7 has the BMW performance-inclined brand awareness, LS has Lexus's luxury, refinement and reliability, what does the A8 have ? Nothing really... Maybe that the previous A8 was an all-aluminum shell. But what does that impart to the buyer ? Jaguar had an aluminum body and that did not buy it any more market share than it already had.

    Len (ljflx) alluded to something missing in the A8... Yes, there is something missing... a DNA... something the NA market buyers can attach to the brand. Currently, nothing. It remains a pedestrian brand, unable to rise to the level that a HELM buyer would associate to a "gotta-have". Maybe the fact that VW remains mirred in a reliability slump, and a third-rate German brand behind MB and BMW in the NA market, is not helping Audi at all... Lexus had Toyota's reputation to buoy its name/brand, Audi had the baggage of VW.... Not something to build upon...

    Finally, a comment about the term *loser*... IMO, there are no HELM car that can be described as a *loser*. Those who argue the SC430 v SL500 really are arguing out of turn. The SL is a roadster, the SC430 is a 2-door coupe version of the 4-door LS430, that is, a plush, luxury cruiser, with 2-doors. Nothing more than that. The SL is a true roadster, powerful, refined, performance-inclined and the top dog in its class. Like the SL, the SC430 is one of a few cars with the least amount of days spent on a dealer lot - about a 13-day average. That is a winner any way you define it.

    And Designman, excellent piece on the VW/Porsche-MB saga... If I didn't look at the poster's name, I'd assume it was written by Len, who has a keen business view to everything. I am surprised you had an interest in the business side of these fine cars.... Great piece. Please do more of this...
  • oacoac Posts: 1,594
    Thanks Tagman and GaryH. I do indeed appreciate the welcome.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    True, Audi doesn't have a calling card like BMW or Mercedes. They used to have an advantage of offering AWD on everything, but BMW and especially Mercedes really have erased that advantage.

    Audi is however has gained a reputation for the best interiors in the business and they're gaining one for leading technology and edgy, crisp design. From what I'm reading here on Edmunds they're also gaining a good reputation at the dealership level too.

    As far as the SL vs SC430 I have no problem with your description of the SC430, which is basically what I said years ago and more recently a few posts ago. It is the comparison of the SC to the SL that really doesn't make any sense to me. The SC430 is sorta like the ES in the way it competes in a segment of similarly priced cars while not having much of anything else in common with them. This it-must-be-a-winner because it sells theory totally disregards a whole host of other factors.

    M
  • psychdocpsychdoc Posts: 147
    272hp, swiveling headlights, heated and A/C'd front seats, power driver and passenger seats with memory, keyless entry and start, xenon headlights, panoramic moonroof, bluetooth, Mark Levinson audio with ipod connectivity, upgraded 5th generation nav system with huge touchscreen that can play DVD's in park, backup camera, radar based cruise control!!!

    All in a package that comes in under $45k. In a world populated by overpriced and underperforming BMW 5 series (pushing $60k for 530Xi) and M-B E350's (@ $55-60k) this thing is an unbelievable steal.

    The only car that even comes close is the Audi A6 but the "3.2" (actually it's a 3.1) engine is slow, slow, slow off the line and it's nav system is a joke. At least the interior is on a par with the Lexus.

    Of course that's just my opinion.

    :P
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    Now that’s better. The forsythias are rocketing, the daffodils giggling and the sun just kissed the morning dew. Yep, the birds have returned to sing their sweet spring tunes.

    I think Audi is a good brand but it’s just curious why they are missing their piece of the pie. I think it all goes back to Piech who’s abilities are a tale of two cities. VW is a mess and Audi does not have the footprint over here that they should. They’ve got to get their act together as a business... bad, bad business. It’s like the kids selling lemonade from the garage. Some daddy needs to give them a clue.

    Thanks to all for the compliments.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,683
    The one DNA element the A8 has is quattro. In fact it's been the Audi calling card across the board even though half to two /thirds of the US is not concerned about snow and just about all of the US now has an SUV for those conditions. The very few and very far in between A8 drivers I've known actually cited AWD as the reason for buying the car and complained that only the S with it's then (and probably future)$4K extra as being a costly alternative that they had no interest in. When the LS is available in AWD and if the 7 becomes available with AWD then A8 sales may get hit hard. It speaks to Audi's poor marketing that many simply see it as an AWD alternative to the major selling lux plates. On top of that people in the south have little or no interest in AWD and likely view it as a forced option built into the MSRP.

    What's worse is that Audi - with all it's emphasis on AWD in its marketing strategy - completely missed the SUV boom. It makes you wonder how you can have an AWD strategy as your ace in the hole and then you completely miss an exploding vertical market that emphasizes your ace in the hole. As Designman pointed out somethiong is missing in the Audi braintrust.
  • drfilldrfill Posts: 2,484
    :P You are too late! :) LOL!

    "Every time I try to get out, they pull me back in!"

    Re: the SC vs. the SL, part of the reason for the HUGE success of the SC is the SL-matching V8 within the Sc430 engine bay. Whether the Lexus built the SC to compete with the SL primarily, at $25k less is debatable. But the SL, for 3 years, would struggle to outrun the Lexus. I'm sure this was used in "walkarounds" often.

    Re: the original SC, having been knocked-off several times (Mazda MX-6 and Buick Riviera the most blatant), and being called, at $45k, "Possibly the best car on the planet!" by C&D, the 1992-99 SC resume wants for nothing. It had to be re-engineered to bring the latest safety equipment cars started to bear in '95+, and Lexus had other plans.

    As Mercedes CLK has ALWAYS shown, matching style with the original SC was futile, so just slap two doors on an E, and call it a day!

    Considering Mercedes had several years to build an SC competitor, the 1999 CLK430 was another weak effort, hoplessly derivitive of the E-Class sedan, as was it's forebearer. I was truly disappointed! The 2002 (?) CLK was less derivitive, but no more attractive. Better interior, doh. :)

    Since you brought up the CL (Comparing it to cars costing half as much smacks of desperation, Merc. You know better!), if Lexus built cars that cost as much as S550, SL550, or CL55, you wouldn't be so apt to hide in an Ivory tower.

    Mercedes better have an anwser for the 600h! That could be 10-12k sales a year, by itself. Those aren't gonna come from Cadillac, or BMW, Merc. :shades:

    What ya gonna do? What ya gonna do when they come for you?

    DrFill
  • drfilldrfill Posts: 2,484
    The other shoe drops Wednesday, in New York, at 9:25AM!

    Tough act to follow, especially 10 minutes later!

    Be thur!

    The End is near! :surprise:

    DrFill
  • bdr127bdr127 Posts: 950
    The one DNA element the A8 has is quattro. In fact it's been the Audi calling card across the board

    Exactly... oac: How could you not associate Audi with AWD? That is their calling card, no question. AWD for the A8, in particular, absolutely is what sets itself apart from its competition.
  • benzsterbenzster Posts: 152
    Mercedes better have an answer for the 600h! That could be 10-12k sales a year, by itself. Those aren't gonna come from Cadillac, or BMW, Merc.

    How about the tri turbo MB diesel? That is if you wanted a safer, better handling, more stylish, vehicle with better gas mileage and more power?
    Oh wait, we already have an E320 with 369 fpt at 1800 rpm, 0-60 in 6.6sec, and range of over 700 miles on a tank of fuel. 27/37 mpg. Is the point of the Lexus vehicle mileage?
  • volvomaxvolvomax Posts: 5,274
    Actually I do love cars.
    That wasn't the question. The question was what makes a car a winner or a loser.
    I think the A8 is a good looking car, better looking than the Lexus or the bimmer. I really liked the previous body A8 also.
    However, when you are spending your own money, the smart decision is usually the best one. i like the A8, but wouldn't buy one new because of the depreciation.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,683
    Good luck selling diesels here.
  • benzsterbenzster Posts: 152
    Here meaning US or the area in which you reside?
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,683
  • benzsterbenzster Posts: 152
    I understand your point. I have been a diesel geek for a while. It is still an outstanding auto. Availability and cleanliness of dispensing are always a drawback. The torque and engine noise are leaps ahead of vehicles of the past. There will always be a market for that technology but it seems that the segment will always be small. Our light truck segment will most likely benefit from the new availability the most.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,683
    I understand your point also.

    I used to work in the liquor industry a long time ago. It's always been the rule that the first to market in that business was the success. There were countless second generation liquors that were better than the ones that were successfully introduced. Can't tell you how many amaretto's I've tasted that blew away Amaretto di Sarona. In a testing 10 out of 10 people would pick Di Sarona behind a new intro in taste and smoothness. It was that way in just about every case of a new entrant. But put them on the shelves of stores and the new entrant just sat there. So it is with diesel - it'll just never get started here and it's so hard to invest in a technology that has been rejected. Hybrids though are a natural and seamless extension of gas.
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    cleanliness of dispensing are always a drawback

    I've wondered why my local service station has "diesel mitts" available at the diesel pump. Why is pumping diesel so different from pumping gasoline?
  • bdr127bdr127 Posts: 950
    I've wondered why my local service station has "diesel mitts" available at the diesel pump. Why is pumping diesel so different from pumping gasoline?

    A lot of people find the odor far more offensive than gasoline... I'm sure you've gotten some gasoline on your hands before? Imagine if that was diesel and smelled a lot worse...
  • benzsterbenzster Posts: 152
    It STINKS!
    Diesel is less refined and therefore oilier. Plus with the sulfur content, it just smells and is hard to wash off your hands.
    I have yet to see mitts. Nice touch.
  • oacoac Posts: 1,594
    How about the tri turbo MB diesel? That is if you wanted a safer, better handling, more stylish, vehicle with better gas mileage and more power?
    Oh wait, we already have an E320 with 369 fpt at 1800 rpm, 0-60 in 6.6sec, and range of over 700 miles on a tank of fuel. 27/37 mpg. Is the point of the Lexus vehicle mileage?


    The point of the LS600h is NOT just about vehicle mileage. Its the entire package - a LWB, Hybrid, AWD, car with a V12-like performance, at a v6-like fuel efficiency, straight-line performance will be sub-5s 0-60, with a top speed exceeding 150mph. Of course, priced at just under $100K, it will be cheaper than the targeted competition (S600) by another $10-15K. This car then gives Lexus a true high-end luxury sedan that moves the "brand" further upstream into the exclusive and rarefied HELM range - the Bentleys, Maybach, S600, etc... club. That is what the LS600h provides for the Lexus brand - at least, that's my reading of it.
  • volvomaxvolvomax Posts: 5,274
    More importantly, it gives the Lexus owner the appearance of being environmentally conscious.
    "Look, I drive a hybrid".
  • oacoac Posts: 1,594
    Exactly... oac: How could you not associate Audi with AWD? That is their calling card, no question. AWD for the A8, in particular, absolutely is what sets itself apart from its competition.

    Reason is as provided by ljflx... AWD is less important to more than 50% of the buying public here in the US. I live in So Cal and have a 4WD SUV for those few times of inclement weather... Subaru has had AWD like forever, that is their calling card as well...

    Merc says that people are noticing and praising Audi for its interior quality and technology innovations. I'd like to see the sampling of the buying public that agrees with that. Edmunds is a very small, narrow, viewpoint of the whole market. Most of us are car junkies.... The real world buyers are nothing like us... So I suspect Audi's interior quality and technology hasn't helped it much, but with the VW albatross on Audi's neck, little wonder it has had problem gaining traction (no pun intended) here in the NA market. It may well be too late for Audi to gain any respect, unless Lexus stumbles badly, and Acura and Infiniti fall off the face of the earth. Audi, totally overshadowed by its higher brand German counterparts...
  • blkhemiblkhemi Posts: 1,717
    The A8, with no DNA or calliing card?

    HMMM? Let's see. The A8 has the best finished interior in it's class hands down and standard(across the line) AWD, not just because BMW and M-B are knocking on the door of AWD. Those are just a few of the perks that separates itself from the bigger volume cars.

    True, the Audi/VW connection couldn't be worse, for it's U.S. line-up anyway. VW's as of late quality and reliabilty and customer service has slipped way down. But we can't use this as an excuse.

    For example, take a look at Ford. With all of the troubling problems in Dearborn, one would think that the PAG would be in serious limbo. Not so the case, in fact LR keeps breaking M-2-M sales records, and Volvo has so many new products in the pipeline, especially the awesome new C70 Convertible that it seems that these companies know how to separate themselves from the gruesome NA front.

    But that's not to say that all of the VW-linked brands are toast. Lambo is once again having fantastic year, and need I even say Bentley, with a 3 year wait for Flying Spurs and still 1 year wait for Conti GT's and convertible on the way.

    Audi needs a new direction, a fresh breath of air. It may be coming sooner than we know. The R8 sports coupe is sure to spark some desire and the newly released Q5/Q7 will at least drag more suburban families in than before with only the allroad and A6 Avant to offer as utility vehicles before.

    They're on the right track, let's not write them off just yet.
  • drfilldrfill Posts: 2,484
    It was brand new, with paper tags. Anthracite color. I drove next to it for a good stretch. Male driver.

    This is the best facelift Lexus has done since the '98 LS!

    Clear lens for the headlights. More chrome in the grille, with new bars. New taillights. Bright chrome exhaust finishers.

    That's a nice car! Maybe not SL-nice, but not a "Hard Sell" either! The roll bars is an oversight, doh. :blush:

    DrFill
  • volvomaxvolvomax Posts: 5,274
    Audi has come a long way since the late 80's when they almost died in the US.

    What has hurt Audi is the lack of a calling card or a trait that the public can identify with.
    Brand image is a powerful thing in this market. Lexus has their relentless pursuit of perfection, BMW has the ultimate driving machine schtick and M-B has a century of engineering. Volvo has safety etc.
    That isn't to say that there aren't cars out there as safe as Volvo, or as well built as Lexus or as "ultimate" as BMW, but luxury buyers already has pre-concieved notions that automakers strive to reinforce.
    Sadly, Audi really doesn't have any such preconcieved notions.
    Most people aren't aware of the history of Audi, of the epic battles between Auto Union and Benz in the 30's when Audi's were as advanced as anything on earth.
    That new grille on the Audi's is a tribute to the Auto Union heritage but most people don't know that. It isn't as readily apparant as the bimmer kidney grille or the Volvo diagonal or the M-B grille and star.
    Public perception is a very hard thing to change. It is why cars like the VW Phaeton fail.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    We've had this line of discussion before, its not going to work. You wont convince anyone that the ES is a bargain E-class or 5-series. Lexus is able to load up the ES with state-of-the-art gadgets while keeping its price very low thanks to its close ties with the Camry. Give the ES a unique platform and RWD\AWD like the competition, and you can jack the price up a healthy $10K. Come to think of it, Lexus has a car like that. Its called the GS300.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    There are quite a few reasons as to why Audi, and the A8 dont have a bigger following in the states. I think one of the A8's biggest problems is the previous A8. The last car was frankly lousy. It looked and drove dull as dishwater. The interior, the new car's best feature, was a copy and paste from the A4, enlarged to 400% size. It was an average car at best, and simply invisible in the segment.

    Audi has only had a car worth looking at in the segment for two years, and they have to go up against the S, 7, and LS. That's going to be difficult, and its going to take time, especially considering that, as has already been pointed out in several post, the 4-rings badge just doesnt mean anything to anyone. The badge on a $70K+ car is very important, especially in the US, and Audi's carries zero weight behind it.
  • psychdocpsychdoc Posts: 147
    Th new ES is a better car than the GS in pretty much every respect. More HP, more amenities and, perhaps most importantly, much more roomy, especially in the back seat. The only thing is lacks is awd and frankly, I'll take fwd any day as it cuts down on the inefficiencies of awd systems. For the 3 days a year there is actually snow in the road here in NY, I'll just drive really carefully.
    I've driven both the BMW 5 and the M-B E and I'll take the new ES any day. Throw in price as a variable and the comparisons get downright ridiculous.
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