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High End Luxury Cars

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  • I've got a 2001 A4 1.8T. It's been great so far. Only been in the shop twice, both times for scheduled maintenance in 10,000 miles.

    Quattro in snow is unbelievable. My previous car was a 1998 4Runner and the A4 is better in the snow than the Toyota was. The only drawback in bad snow is less ground clearance, but that wasn't a problem this winter.

    If I could have any car right now (under $45k), it would be an A6 2.7T with a manual tranny. Either that or an S4. I think Audi has some of the best looking cars (subjective, I know), with beautiful interiors and gives you a lot of bang for your buck.
  • edarteedarte Posts: 41
    Granted it is a bit of a jump from a C320 to an LS430. I didn't start out comparing a C320 with the LS430. I started out looking for something new to replace my ES300. After spending several months testing and researching Lexus, BMW, MB, Audi and others I felt the C320 gave me the handling I felt the ES lacked but a better interior and features than most others (especially MB) - in short a good compromise for what I was looking for.

    However after putting my money down I had to wait and wait for delivery. While waiting I reread the boards (see the C class board here on Edmunds) and saw all the problems.

    So I went back to my alternatives. By then the new ES300 was out. It was better but still too much like my old ES. The dealer had a new early production 2001 LS430 that they had priced to sell as the 2002s were arriving. I had not considered it up until then as I thought it was out of my price range. However, after driving, and appreciating the car and Lexus quality control even more due to the C320 problems and as the cost was not such a huge jump after the no-haggle price I had settled for on the fully-optioned C320, I bought.
  • edarteedarte Posts: 41
    While I was in the process of buying a C320 I spent most of my time on the C class board here on Edmunds. I will try and paste a link here:

    sysop "Mercedes-Benz C-Class (Sedans Board)" Apr 17, 2002 3:09pm

    Before I decided to buy I read every post on that board from the beginning (there are now over 5000 posts). I saw there were some problems but I too assumed that they were teething problems and would go away. When they continued I pushed my order out to the second production year. Then, after waiting for three more months for delivery I had enough time to see that the problems were still far too frequent for me so I bailed.

    The problem posts started to appear around Nov 2000 and continue to today. I am amazed that so few appear on the MBZ site now as they were there last October when I last spent any time there.

    There have been problems with (purge valves, electronic keys, seats breaking, trim falling off, trunks-doors-sunroofs not opening, engines stalling, doors not sealing and others). And these are not one offs, many posters had the same problem.

    Now not all the posts are negative but I think a conservative estimate is that 1 in 5 (while I was active)deals with a problem. And this is well into the second year of production. I waited through the first year for the problems to go away but they are still occurring.

    And if you read a recent post of mine you will see I ended up buying a 2001 LS430 (first year of production) and the only problem I have had is that the Automatic Sound Level control had to be corrected. So I don't accept that poor quality is a given on a new production vehicle - Lexus has proven otherwise.

    I was at first very disappointed in having to pass on the C320. I think it has great styling, handling and a lot of potential. But my experience has made me believe the news articles I read that state MB has fallen recently from 3rd to 10th in automotive quality control.

    And some may say that all those who post their C problems are over-represented on the site because they want to solve/share their problem. But I think you would be hard pressed to read about so many problems with one model on any other board.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,675
    Read some of those posts. You made a great move. My car is fabulous and letter perfect after 25k miles so far. Go to the LS board and you'll see the main issue is nav system updates. The cars are as close to perfect as can be. Now if I can only get Lexus to stop sending me maintenance reminders in the mail. I always go 10k miles and if you lease the notices are timed to the lease miles you chose and of course are on a 7,500 mile basis.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Ok, I guess....I still don't see what the two cars have to do with each other. There seems to be this attitude on here about Mercedes-Benz's problems being the norm for everyone that owns one, which I think is being overstated by some in order to justify purchasing something else, the thing is, I wonder if a Benz ever really had a chance with some from the start. A C320 could be the best built car in the world, it still wouldn't compare with a LS430, nor is it supposed to. One is much larger, has a V8 and way more features. It would be like test driving a S500 and C320, no comparison.

    M
  • edarteedarte Posts: 41
    But in my case I started and had committed to the MB C320. I really liked the car. But there were (and still are) too many problems with it for me. So then after rejecting the C320 I started to shop around and eventually went with the LS430.

    I am not saying they are in similar types of cars. The C320 being a very sporty, entry level low-end luxury car. The LS is much bigger, not as sporty, high end luxury car (IMO). But the LS gave me much more than I started out looking for in most areas (and a little less in the sport area). But the relatively small difference in cost was worth it.

    And the original purpose of my post was to respond to the person (who I believe is a MB fan) who did not think any other car company would introduce a new model with as many problems as BMW has done with the recent 7. I think the C situation disproves this.

    It is true, considering the price differences, one should not expect the same level of refinement in a C320 as a 7 series. However, I think MB has a problem on its hands if the C is an attempt to win over customers who will go on to buy other, more expensive models. While the C looks great (IMO) it continues to be plagued with problems - turning off future buyers.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I truly believe that Mercedes has their problems, but I can't see every single car they make as being this problematic. There about 10 or so people in the C topic that post quite regularly about problems. The C-Class can't be that bad, I think it's being overblown now.

    M
  • v12powerv12power Posts: 174
    I went back and read through the last 60 or so posts on the C-class topic. Part of the discussion was about how the cars are not nearly as bad as the board makes them sound. I think Merc1 is right, there are a few vocal posters with problems. They all sounded like resolvable issues. I have to wonder if as C-class buyers they were coming from Japanese brands? There is undoubtably a gap between the two. The difference is with the MB you get a better driving car, a better looking car, a safer car, and without a doubt in my mind a car that will hold up better in the long run. If you want to minimize your dealer visits, the Lexus is better. Consider that the MB maint is paid for 3-4 years, at Lexus you pay for everything.

    I personally didn't see anything in the C topic that would have stopped me from buying one. Consider this, I pulled a service history on my 45k mile '98 BMW. How about 19 visits to the dealer for service work since new. Only five of those are scheduled events, the rest are repairs. My '95 had that many in the year I owned it. I love the way they drive, I love the way they look. I could have bought Lexus, but I wouldn't enjoy the car. Others get the most enjoyment from not having to see their dealers at all. Different strokes.
  • edarteedarte Posts: 41
    I accept that it is possible that recently the problems on the C are being reduced, I have not taken the time to examine this. If they are reduced, I think this should have happened by the end of the first production year. We are talking abut MB here not Kia or some other low cost brand. (The C may be low cost by MB standards but it is not low cost compared to most cars.)

    But back in October 2001 if you were considering the C, as I was, you would have seen that there were problems serious enough to have many of the same cars in the shop multiple times in a month. And this was into the second year of production.

    There were theories going around that, because many of the Cs were being asembled in Brazil and other places, maybe the quality was dropping.

    But for me, "coming from a Japanese brand" (i.e., accustomed to reliability) I did not want to pay more money for a car that, granted, had good style and handling,(safer is debatable and only time will tell if MB continues to last longer) but spent too much time in the shop; so I stayed with Lexus.

    And I could have bought a MB but I would not have enjoyed the "lack of a car".

    And I, like I suspect, many Lexus owners, could have bought much more expensive MB models - we just don't necessarily equate more expensive with better (even if it does give you the opportunity to become very close friends with your dealer service manager).

    It appears to be true that you don't see your dealer as much with a Lexus but that is only one of its many virtues.

    Yes, some of the posters claim that the cars are not as bad as the other posts make them appear. It is true it is hard to get a representative sample form these posts. My point is that "relative to other boards" there is a disproportionate number of negative posts. And for a car manufactured by a company that has a (past, at least) reputation of high quality.

    I suppose you can consider all the C problems as resolvable - if you read the posts you will see that some of these "resolved problems" involved the customer swapping their C for an E model!

    Again, my original reason for posting was to challenge the comment that no other car company would introduce a new model with as many problems as BMW's new 7 series - I suggest that MB may be just as guilty, or worse with the C.

    I have rambled enough on this topic so I will stop now and let you have the last word.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,675
    Edarte - great post.

    V-12power - The Lexus is very safe and given the 90-95 models I see on the road probably holds up as well if not better than the S-class of the same period. The car is extremely satisfying, at the top of the shelf in luxury, has the best service by far from dealers and the company and dealer network make you feel like royalty. It has a great ride and more than adequate handling. I could easily have written a check for an S-600. But I don't prefer to spend that much money on a car. Seriously considered the S-500 (as did many of us on the LS board) but found the LS430 better for my tastes. Money was not the issue. I prefer the LS430 for its virtues which are many and all of which are important to me. The fact that it rarely needs service is wonderful and important to me but the primnary reason to buy are its luxury appointments, phenomenal ride and serene quiet cabin. You seem to live in a surburban area where you may find yourself alone at the wheel and can get a bit free on empty highways. In the big city areas that is very rare. And it is in the big cities where 80% of these cars are sold. Besides the LS430 makes 0-60 in 6.3 seconds so it is hardly a slouch. I always see a high proportion of 7, S-class and LS owners driving conservatively. A few, like me drive pretty fast but they brake pretty quickly on turns - so as I've said many times before - the handling may be there, particularly on the 7 but it doesn't seem to be used by this class of buyers. Nothing personal or mischevious intended here - I just don't think you really know the reasons LS people choose their cars.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    These are types of post I like to read at Edmunds. Informed, but different opinions from the actual owners. Thought I'd have to take exception to that ljflx, I think the 1992-1999 S-Class is the most durable car built. Maybe not the most reliable, but the build of this car was unbelievable.

    M
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,675
    I had an interesting return drive home from JFK last week went I went to London. It was a first for me. The limo driver who picked me up had an S-430 that he just picked up two weeks earlier. Never had an S-class limo before but the guy who owned it said the superlux cars are starting to sell as limos particularly MB and Lexus because of reliability and durability. Anyway I got to experience the ride for about an hour and a half from the back seat. Very good ride but definitely not as smooth or quiet as an LS430. But by no means is it not quiet or smooth. One major advantage the S has is the extra rear seat stretch room. From a driver standpoint it's irrelevant but for someone who has to get a child out of a baby seat the extra space is nice. Now I can sit very comfortably in the rear of the LS430 (I'm 6ft) with the front seat at its maximum depth. Plenty of space for my legs even if it was possible to move the front seat even further back. But I can't stretch the way you do in an S. I would think at some point Lexus has to go to 199-202 inches.

    By the way the driver lives in the next town over from me. Needless to say I'll use him whenever I travel which thankfully is a lot less than in the past. Without question a great car but I still prefer the LS430.

    Last thing - I noticed many more LS400/430's on the road in London than in the past. They must be penetrating the market there now. I also see that they still make the S-320 in the new style in Europe. I've also come to appreciate that an S-class with tinted glass is much more striking than one without it. I think as DVD players become standard or part of option packages in the future we'll see cars all such cars have the tinted windows direct from the factory, which is the only way I would want them.
  • v12powerv12power Posts: 174
    I have a pretty good handle on why people buy the Lexus. I certainly do not mean to infer they could not afford the S-class, though in some cases that is true. Witness the poster going from a C class back to a Lexus LS430, I doubt the S500-600 were real considerations. The value of the LS430 is undeniable.

    You acurately describe why many chose the LS430. They do not drive in an enviroment where the added capabilities of say and S600 would be noticable or worth the added expense. Dealer service is the best, no dispute there. Beyond that everybody has their own priorities on car buying. I can see/feel/hear the differences in my 750 and 600 vs the Ls430. I am willing to pay more for the cars to get that advantage. It is just one of my priorities. I am also going to become a Ferrari owner soon. Not much point in that either, a new Vette has all of the performance. But it lacks some of the feel, heritage and mystique, all things many find foolish, but things I am willing to pay for. I can't fault anyone for buying a Lexus, they just are not for me. It is not for a lack of trying either. I have looked at every new LS since their inception, more than once in all cases. It is just not me. My mother in law still has her '94 SC400, it has 120k miles on it with very few problems and great service from the dealer. She will probably replace it with a RX300, a car I think is a joke. She will not waver from Lexus, and who can blame her. Still the styling and general feel of the cars does not appeal to me at any price.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,675
    It really comes down to what you want, what you can afford and getting your money's worth. No one is foolish for spending money they have on the things they want. You only live once. Enjoy.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Well you know the European market enjoys quite a few more S-Class variants than we get here. There is a S320 V6 and a S400 V8 direct-injection turbo diesel that is really a torque monster. I don't particularly like the new S-Class in limo form, the previous model had a much bettter body structure to begin with and it looked better stretched. Nevertheless, there are S500 and S600 Pullman models in Europe too. We do get the S500 Guard here though for a mere 150K. I've actually seen 2 since they've been on sale here. Thats one of the things I like about Mercedes is the diversity of their model lineup; trucks, taxis, limos, dump trucks, Unimogs, vans, 2 two-seat convertibles, 4-seat convertibles, a modern SUV, an old-school SUV, big coupes, little coupes, mid-sized coupes, they have it all. They're the only company in the world that can make turn out one bodystyle in both taxicab form and at the same time produce a hi-po variant (AMG) all the while having some of the highest prestige and one of the images worldwide.

    I think there is a rule in Japan about their cars being a certain length in order to avoid taxes or something like that. Thats another reason why Lexus went to such a tall body in order to get the most room from the least amount of space on the outside.

    M
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,675
    It wasn't a stretch limo just your base S-class. What surprised me was the driver telling me that base S-class cars and LS430's are becoming the choice for some limo drivers. I would have thought the cost too high but I guess the durability evens things out in the long run. But even the base S allows for good stretchability in the rear for your legs. By the way having ridden in the rear of an A-8L pretty often I would honestly say the S blows it away. But you know what my favorite car still is.

    They're giving you a hard time on the S-class board. You need to put out the fire - but in a nice way.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I'd been away for a few days. Consider it done. I get a real kick out of stirring up the GM lovers. I could talk about Cadillac for days on end. You should hear some of the excuses they come up with. Like "the car will be out of production soon" when reguarding a car that's been on the CR list of cars to "avoid" one year after another.

    Have only driven an A8, never rode in the back seat. I doubt that it blows away the S as you put it, but it could be better...Audi tends to make better seats than MB or BMW (non sport seats) anyway.

    M
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,675
    No. You got it backwards. I said the S blows away the A-8. I've driven both and I've been in the rear seat of both now. I like the styling of the A-8L but you see it will always come down to a Lexus LS vs the MB S for me. Both companies make the cars I prefer over anything else. Great ride, luxurious and quiet. And if I go the more sporting route it will be the SC vs. the SL. Man I love both of those cars.

    By the way the A-8 doesnt't seem to be all that reliable.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Oh my fault. I've been debating so much today. Seems like to me Mercedes and I have to do something to get you to come on over. You're definitely the type, as they say. The A8 has just always been one of my favorites. It's a unique offering in the class.

    M
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,675
    We may differ on certain things but I'd have a drink with you and want you as a teammate in sports anytime. I do want your opinion of the LS430 when and if you experience it though, particularly the euro version.

    Can't make myself like that BMW 7 no matter what. I'm 100% with v-12 power on that one.

    v-12power - great looking car in your pix on the S board. Much prefer the S over the 7. I hope your neighbors don't read these boards.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Well thank you sir, appreciate it. If I ever drive an LS430 I'll be honest about the experience. Funny you should mention it, one was riding beside me just the other morning. I really never noticed how tall the car is for it's relatively short length. The car was making child's play of the bumps in the road though.

    M
  • fredvhfredvh Posts: 853
    Edmunds has a new feature called "True Cost To Own". It is listed when one researches out the various vehicles on the new car heading. It is one of the 13 subjects when you click on a particular vehicle. It is very useful when comparing one vehicle to another. "True Cost To Own" takes the purchase price and adds things like depreciation, insurance, license fees, etc. and gives you a figure for 5-yr ownership. They even tailor it to your particular zip code. I tried it on a few vehicles and it is very useful.
  • jefftpjefftp Posts: 11
    I have never been in a modern era Mercedes (while it was moving, anyway), so cannot speak on that. As for the reliability of the Lexus, however, one experience comes to mind:
    I recently bought a 4-year old LS400 from a Lexus dealer. Lexus gives your car an extended 3 year bumper-to-bumper "certified pre-owned' warranty. The dealer then offered to add two years to that warranty for $1,400. This means for $1,400 I can have a car with a bumper to bumper warranty up through nine years of age. I feel safe in saying that BMW would never consider doing anything like that, because the major repairs would eat their lunch.
  • v12powerv12power Posts: 174
    BMW does offer extended warranties. They have a program called Certified Pre Owned(CPO). As long as the car is sold through a dealer and is within the original warranty period the car is eligible. It extends the warranty to 6 yrs, 100k miles. I have it on my BMW, wouldn't be without.

    ljflx, My wife seems to agree with you. The 750 hasn't left the garage in a week or so. She seems to have grown roots in the S600. I can't blame her. The 750 is a great machine but, the S is so much more. It is faster, quieter and has more usable luxo features. Of course the 7 debuted in '95 and the S in 2000. It is amazing how fast things change these days.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I had been wanting to ask. Do those wheels affect the ride much in the S600?

    M
  • v12powerv12power Posts: 174
    The honest answer is, I dunno yet. I do know that it rides better than our 750 with 18" wheels and 45/50 series tires. The 600 is on 255/35s. I have winter tires in the stock 225/55-17 size but they have never been on the car. I accidentally hit a major pothole with the 600 a few days ago. Hard enough that I was sure I damaged the rim. Those Brabus rims must be awfully tough, there was absolutely no damage. They work just fine for my driving. We do not venture into the big city much, that is where the big potholes seem to live. I might be a little leery if I did have to make a metro type commute daily. We did make a 2400 miles drive home in it over all sorts of roads. The ride was great. I think the low profile tires give the car the handling edge it needs to satisfy me like the bimmer has.
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,675
    Anyone ever notice the games manufacturers play with leasing deals and how they use disconting through the lease rather than the msrp. A friend of mine is interested in a new Q and asked me to check lease deals he has received. That led me to check today's NY Times auto section and I found a couple of interesting deals.

    One deal is for a $52.3k Q which you can buy for $50k or lease for $639 per month for 39 months with $3k down. I then wandered looking for another Q deal and I came across a 745I which you can buy for $71k or lease for $849 per month for 36 months also with $3k down. The same add offered an X5 V8 for $54,300 or lease it at $699 per month for 36 months but with $4k down. All are 10k miles per year and BMW throws in the free maintenance. These are all deals through the Mfrs. so clearly sponsored programs.

    Now I applied some math to this and I found that while the Q is discounted $2300 it actually costs more relative to MSRP (on a lease deal) than does the 7. The Q sells for 70% of the 7's price but its' lease is 75% of the 7's lease price plus 3 extra months. The X-5's lease is an additional $1k down and while it sells at 76% of the 7's price it leases at 82% of the 7's lease price and this is in the same family. Interesting. It would seem the 7 is set-up for leasing and BMW is taking a big chance on residuals. Infiniti with the Q - so heavily criticized for discounting - is taking no such risk. The X-5 is hard to understand. Here BMW seems to be betting on a lower residual relative to the 7 even though the truck is hot now thus you are paying the higher price. Thus they are taking no risk and letting the buyer pay in the same way as Infiniti.

    Another interesting item is the total cost. The Infiniti's all in cost after 39 months is $57,211 (3000+24921+29290 residual) which is is 115% of the $50k sale price. The 7 is $79,000 (3000+30564+45437 residual) which is 111% of sale price and the X-5 is $62,284 (4000+25164+33120 residual) which is 114% of sale price. Infiniti is certainly holding up a lot better than anyone would think looking at the real TMV vs. MSRP prices on Edmunds. Remember that the TMV becomes that $50k and not the $52k the way Edmunds does it. Lexus and MB don't seem to ever advertise lease deals (except the IS300 and the C) anymore so I couldn't bring them in.

    With BMW taking the risk on the 7 this is certainly not a car to buy but one to lease and decide on in 3 years. Look at the factors. If you assume you can get 5% interest return (treasuries are yielding more than this) on your money now then a compound interest factor on $71,000 means you are paying $82.2k for a car that you can lease and then buy for $79k (plus maybe a $500 application fee). And if you think you can better the 5%.......
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
  • ljflxljflx Posts: 4,675
    The Maybach is a gorgeous car but limited to a very select few. I often wonder though why manufacturers seek that space as there is so little money to be made, if any, on such low volume cars. A car like an S-600 will be quite profitable because it's part of a bigger breeed but a Maybach is a stand alone car. Nonetheless it's a hell of a car.
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