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High End Luxury Cars

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  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    All this talk about different cars from different countries has me thinking about how each nation goes about building what they think is the ideal luxury/performance machine.

    The Italians go for three things IMO, looks, handling, and sound. I see LG and Designman have touched on this. Proof of this is the recent comparo at C&D between the 911 Turbo, F430 and Z06. The Z06 beats them both in nearly all the measurements of performance, yet it came in last and slowest of the 3, the Ferrari came in first. That is simply called charisma. Nothing sounds, looks or goes like an Italian car, even when they aren't the fastest in instrumented testing, they apparently feel and more importantly sound like they are! Nothing looks or sounds like a Lamborghini or Ferrari to their owners even when they're being passed on the highway by a mere "Chevy". I won't even bring up the huge cottage industry the Italians have going on with sports cars like the Zonda. This lineage and heritage is what makes a car like Quattroporte Sport GT so irresistible to those who drive/own them. Just take a look in the Quattroporte thread and you'll see what I mean. There is an immediate sense of thrill and adventure and come what may attitude with the car as long as they get to enjoy it. Only old-time British car owners from the dark periods truly understand this disposition. Many German car owners have bailed on this point.

    Germans go for cold efficiency and technical brilliance and superior/detailed construction. This makes them juggernaughts on the road, but next to Italian cars they come off "soulless" by many accounts. The 911 Turbo, a car with its engine in the rear and a shape that could only be pulled off by years of conditioning rich folks to accept it, is for all intent and purposes is a something a German rocket scientist would come up with. Cold, brutal, efficient performance during which form must follow function.

    The British are similar to Italians in regards to going for how a car looks, sounds, and smells. Jaguar, Bentley, Rolls-Royce and Aston-Martin all share these elements. The difference here is that while an Audi A8 or S600 may be better "put together", their leather and especially wood work isn't lovingly wrought as say a Bentley or Aston-Martin. The British are somewhat the opposite of the Germans in another regard also, they'll stick wood and leather anywhere they please, function be damned. This creates charming if sometimes ergonomically flawed interiors that stun passengers, but at the same time would infuriate a driver coming from say a Japanese car to a Bentley or Aston-Martin. The British are pretty skilled with a V12s too.

    One area where the British and Italians soundly whop the Germans is in the area of customization. For example, take a look at the Bentley or Maserati websites. The level of details that can be specified is mind boggling. I mean you can choose the color of the seatbelts for goodness sake! German, Japanese and American car company bean counters would drop dead at such a suggestion.

    The Japanese are similar to the Germans in the way that they typically, but not always put function before form. Their problem has been that the “form” end of that hasn’t come out to well. They also bring the whole reliability, ease of use game to the table, which has proven to be quite successful for Lexus in particular. The Japanese still miss out on a lot of the finer points when it comes to what makes European cars in general so desirable, but they’re attempting to make up for that with a more trouble free ownership experience. This works, but it has limits.

    M
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    I was really shocked to see EVO pick the CLS55 over the Quattroporte Sport GT recently. The E63 beating the M5 in several German mags, what in the world?

    I can see why a mag might choose the CLS55. It's got good looks and great performance, but it can turn into a normal everyday car, which the QP can't really do. It's always in sport mode, which some may not want in a four door sedan.

    I'm not really a big fan of the new M5. I think it's pointlessly over computerized and complicated, for example offering a choice between 400hp, 500hp, and 500 "Sport" hp. Why is that necessary?
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I'm not really a big fan of the new M5. I think it's pointlessly over computerized and complicated, for example offering a choice between 400hp, 500hp, and 500 "Sport" hp. Why is that necessary?

    I agree with this for the most part, but I can see the point of the having different power modes. The M5 is trying to be more versatile I guess. Around town 400hp is all you need, but at the track you want the instant gear changes and blade-sharp throttle response hence the 500 Sport mode. I think BMW knows they sorta over did it with the M5 because a much easier to use good ole fashioned manual is on the way!

    The comparo I'm waiting to see in a U.S. magazine is the Audi S6, E63, M5 and Quattroporte Sport GT. Maybe MT or Road and Track will do this, C&D will find some excuse not to put these 4 together I bet.

    M
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    The British are pretty skilled with a V12s too.

    Skilled, yes, but the Germans and Italians are masters of the V-12. The English can't match BMW's McLaren F1 engine, or the Zonda's AMG engine, or any Ferrari V-12.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    The English can't match BMW's McLaren F1 engine, or the Zonda's AMG engine, or any Ferrari V-12.

    Oh I agree. The British V12s aren't really "British" anymore anyway.

    M
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Around town 400hp is all you need, but at the track you want the instant gear changes and blade-sharp throttle response hence the 500 Sport mode. I think BMW knows they sorta over did it with the M5 because a much easier to use good ole fashioned manual is on the way!

    I think Ferrari's system is much better, with a single switch that offers Sport, Race, and all driving aids off mode. Suppose an E63 wants to drag race, and you're in 400hp around town mode. You have to tell the Benz driver "hang on, I've got to set up my car for this. Give me a few minutes".
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Yeah I've heard that one before on MBWorld. The E55/E63 guys love to tell how they're half-way down the road before the M5 guy figures out how to get his car going.

    Speaking of the M5.

    M
  • dhamiltondhamilton Posts: 873
    is a link on the LS460 board to a German review of the new LS. It seems to say [it's translated in english mostly, but at times hard to understand] that the new Lexus is on par with the Benz in quality and design but still lagging behind them and Audi/BMW in driving dynamics.
    It's kind of funny because they're sniping at each other over there, LOL.
  • tagmantagman Malibu, CaliforniaPosts: 8,441
    Yeah, I saw the link and saw the favorable remark about the better German driving dynamics. Of course, it is amazing that this comparison is even possible already, and also that this was done by Autobild.de. Considering that, I'd say that the LS got favorable remarks, and that once the North American reviews come in, there will likely be even more favorable remarks.

    BTW, I attempted some posting over there, but also noticed the "tension", as you have noted.

    I wonder when the major North American rags will make their first comparisons. You can bet that every positive word out of anybody regarding the LS will be bigger than life. It is amazing to me that the S-Class, well regarded and quoted as "the new benchmark" gets minimum reaction from the Lexus camp. Go figure.

    :)

    TagMan
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I wonder when the major North American rags will make their first comparisons.

    I'd say in either their November or December issues. I've seen it before where Lexus "asks" for these comparos whenever a new LS is introduced. Car and Driver of course will be first. The LS460L, S550, 750Li, A8L, and XJ8L will be the contestants. The Phaeton won't be asked back due to its pending death in our market and the Quattroporte is a different breed of car.

    M
  • tagmantagman Malibu, CaliforniaPosts: 8,441
    The LS460L, S550, 750Li, A8L, and XJ8L will be the contestants.

    When you think about it, the outcome is fairly predictable.

    TagMan
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    When you think about it, the outcome is fairly predictable.

    IMO, either the S550 or LS460L depending on how the price factor plays out.

    M
  • tagmantagman Malibu, CaliforniaPosts: 8,441
    I'll even take it one more step . . .

    IMO, the S550 as the preferred vehicle that is still top dog, and the LS460L as a terrific alternative nipping at the heels of the S550, and a better value.

    TagMan
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    IMO, either the S550 or LS460L depending on how the price factor plays out.

    Yeah, it will really depend on how much weight C&D decides to put on the Lexus' price advantage. I can see it going either way. The XJ has already managed to beat the A8 and 7 in their last comparison, so it will probably be 3rd, with the 750 in 4th, and the A8 bringing up the rear.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Yep and we know how fickle they can be on price!

    M
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,269
    The more things change, the more they stay the same:

    From Grant Yoxon after testing the 2007 LS460:

    "The big Lexus does not excel on twisty back roads. It is best suited to highway cruising.
    Tossing the big sedan around on tight curves too soon after lunch will have you wondering if you might toss something else.
    It is unlikely LS460 buyers will be too concerned, as those interested in the sporting aspects of driving will have something more suitable in the garage."

    But why, Lexus? After all this time you had to improve the car's driving dynamics, you apparently failed. Again!

    The Lexus folk are anxiously waiting for the reviews of the new LS from the autorags.
    Can anybody see C&D or R&T eagerly waiting to get their hands on such a non-driver's car as the LS460 apparently is?
    NOT!

    Meanwhile, the LS460 is batting a big fat oh for one!
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I read that review too. I guess the Premium Grand Touring Package: adds sport tuned front and rear air suspension, 19-inch wheels and tires, larger front and rear disc brakes and electric variable ratio power steering...is needed.

    M
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,269
    The reviewer hints that the car would make a fine chauffeur's vehicle. How emasculating is that?

    The Japanese Buick apparently lives on after a little cosmetic surgery.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Well in all fairness it appears that the press introduction didn't include any LS460s with the sportier suspension setup. There is another review, just posted on the British site Autocar. See article. A few quotes:

    At its core, the new 375bhp, 4.6-litre V8 provides excellent performance (0-62mph in 5.7sec) but needs to be worked hard to deliver it. That strongly suggests that it actually needs its eight gears rather the transmission being a thinly veiled two-finger salute to Mercedes-Benz with its paltry seven-speed gearbox.

    I asked one of the Lexus fans long time ago what the advantage was to having a V8 in a luxury car that needs to be revved (to a sports car like RPM) in order to get the torque/power to move the car, but never got an answer. Simply put a larger engine that makes better low-end torque doesn't need to work as hard. To Lexus' credit though I'm sure there isn't an ounce of harshness, but the reviewer hints that 8 gears are needed because of the high-rev nature of the V8.

    Their verdict:

    Should I buy one?
    However impressive the LS460 is on paper, in real life it’s a hard car to love, even though you cannot help but admire it. Technological overload is all very well but not when it’s achieved at the expense of that sense of occasion so critical to all true luxury cars.

    For all its undoubted abilities, it still feels like the world’s most grown-up Toyota. Its cabin functions effectively, but it is not the home from home customers increasingly expect from cars in this class and enjoy every time they step behind the wheel of most European rivals in general, and the Audi A8 in particular.

    Technocrats will doubtless love it, but for the rest of us, the LS460 suffers from the same fundamental problem as both its predecessors: objectively it does everything you could ask of it, subjectively it falls a little short.


    M
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    It's kind of funny because they're sniping at each other over there, LOL.

    Interesting. I took a peek over there and wouldn't you know it reads just like this board did a few days ago. One of Lexus' most ardent supporters is still trying to convince the rest of them that Lexus' prices are too low. Then you have the faction that actually thinks that because they aren't going to post here anymore that this board will "die off" and just like some of them wish for the end of MB, they're wishing for the demise of this board.

    This is the same thing that happened a while back when someone from Team Europe started another thread, but only this time it is the Lexus fans that have run scared. I still don't get the attitude that anything they aren't a part of will fail or is somehow not worthy - beyond ridiculous.

    M
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,269
    Because of your recent post, I glanced at the 2007 LS board.

    Their conversation seem to be most concerned with what we HELM posters are talking about.

    I wonder what a new poster looking for insights concerning the 2007 LS would think going over there for the first time?

    I would hope the Host over there gently reminds them not to snipe at us, but to discuss the new 2007 LS. :)
  • dhamiltondhamilton Posts: 873
    the review states what "team Europe" has always been willing to say, The LS, and Lexus in general makes great quality cars that severely lack in descent driving dynamics but for anybody that doesn't care about that it's truly a great car, at a great value price.
    Bottom line, don't feel bad about calling a car as you see it I think the veterans here Merc, Tag, Design, Lg, HP, blkhemi have way more knowledge of cars than I do, but ya can't lose sleep [not that anyone is] over someone that can't handle that their particular choice in cars isn't being worshiped in all categories. None of these HELMS do "everything" well. They can all stand to improve is some area. End of rant
    Now, back to the discussion of German vs Italian Vs English design philosophy. Very interesting IMO and hopefully not to off topic for our good host.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    What would also be really good is if the Host over here gently reminds all of you to discuss the cars and not the other discussion! ;)
  • tagmantagman Malibu, CaliforniaPosts: 8,441
    I asked one of the Lexus fans long time ago what the advantage was to having a V8 in a luxury car that needs to be revved (to a sports car like RPM) in order to get the torque/power to move the car, but never got an answer. Simply put a larger engine that makes better low-end torque doesn't need to work as hard.

    I recall that thread, and I remember how I mentioned the advantage of torque, as is relates to smooth quiet luxury, and then you sent me a link to the CLS AMG video which demonstrated torque at the extreme.

    To Lexus' credit though I'm sure there isn't an ounce of harshness...

    Not so fast, merc. That is not the case. They can deny it all they want, but there IS, I repeat, there IS harshness to the LS high RPM engine. Lexus has done a great job at isolating it, but it was one of the things that bothered me on my test drive of the LS last Thanksgiving. I wonder how much different this one will be.

    TagMan
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,269
    Thanks for posting this review of the new LS.

    What a great quote! "Objectively it does everything you could ask of it, subjectively it falls a little short."
    Really sums up what we Euros have been saying for years.

    Am I reading too much into this, or does the guy driving the new LS in the photo look completely bored out of his skull?

    As to the new sport package, I hope this version will be available at many Lexus dealers for people like me to test.
    I remember last year inquiring about the "euro-tuned" version, and both salespeople at 2 different dealers looked at me like I was nuts-they acted like they didn't even know it was available!
    Well, at least the coffee was good-served with cream from genuine Angus cows!
    It's pretty easy getting used to the "Lexus Experience." :blush:
  • drfilldrfill Posts: 2,484
    For a car with so many weaknesses, the LS (and accompanying board) sure gets a lot of airtime!

    I frequently hear that the LS430 rattles like a hampster cage when you put your foot into it. This is what is known as "common knowledge". Hopefully Lexus will correct that defect in the LS460.

    Does anyone else find it hard to fathom a 4300lb car that does 0-60 in 5.5 seconds being short on low-end torque, or NEEDING to be revved to draw power?

    Maybe it has the greatest mid-range torque in the Universe! :)

    I know everyone here is eager to see what the Next LS can do. In about two weeks, we will have more answers than questions.

    Time will reveal. The force is strong with this one. ;)

    DrFill
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,269
    only hope that if an auto rag tests the new LS, that they do so with the sportier suspension setup.

    Testing the base LS will be a waste of time because there is no way a performance-oriented magazine is going to rave about it.
  • tagmantagman Malibu, CaliforniaPosts: 8,441
    Does anyone else find it hard to fathom a 4300lb car that does 0-60 in 5.5 seconds being short on low-end torque, or NEEDING to be revved to draw power?

    Good question, of course, but the current LS has indeed relied on a high RPM power curve.

    Is this new LS packing a completely different engine technology that should change things in some significant way?

    TagMan
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    If Lexus is smart, they'll lend the sport-leaning car rags (which is pretty much all of them) sport versions of the LS for the comparos.
  • tagmantagman Malibu, CaliforniaPosts: 8,441
    Wasn't there a sportier version of the current LS that was made for reviews, but was subsequently very "rare" in the real-life marketplace?

    TagMan
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