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High End Luxury Cars

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  • blkhemiblkhemi Posts: 1,717
    I wouldn't be so fast, Dewey. This is still a computer rendering and I doubt highly that it will be green-lighted this way into production. For it to be the picture alone, this car doesn't seem to be at bigger than the current A4, a car that will inch up in size in '08.
  • blkhemiblkhemi Posts: 1,717
    Now you understand why Lexus lost my business in '99 with the wifes LS400.

    Didn't have oil sludge buildup, but continued piston slap(from day one), carbon build-up, and constant transmission problems plagued what would've been a nice car.

    Funny, the CR :lemon: of the year, the '01 S500 was flawless.
  • blkhemiblkhemi Posts: 1,717
    Glad to know we won't be getting it over here. The current Phaeton is still in production.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Didn't have oil sludge buildup, but continued piston slap(from day one), carbon build-up, and constant transmission problems plagued what would've been a nice car.

    Funny, the CR of the year, the '01 S500 was flawless.


    The 3.0L V6 in my wife's RX300 was the exact engine from the range of years known for sludge buildup. When we turned it in with 80K on the odo, it never had a single engine or transmission problem, or any problem at all requiring an unscheduled visit to the dealer. Luck of the draw I guess.
  • drfilldrfill Posts: 2,484
    Yes, Dewey. The Chris Bangle influence is everywhere.
    See most 2007 Toyotas and Lexi; and now Audi!
    A great compliment to Bangle's creative genius!


    Let's not break an arm patting Bangle on the back.

    He did ruin the Z4, and the 3-series has taken a step back in style.

    It's like Lexus thanking Acura for coming up with the Japanese Luxury sedan.

    The only thing Toyota/Lexus can be accused of is executing the idea better.

    Don't matter who does it first, but who did it best!

    I'm sure someone invented the wheel (who was that again?), but everybody knows GoodYear.

    DrFill
  • houdini1houdini1 Kansas City areaPosts: 5,903
    My wife's 2000 RX300 never had a problem either. This sludge problem has taken an Audi unintended acceleration type turn.

    When some of these attorneys smell blood in the water, look out, whether there is really a problem or not.

    2013 LX 570 2010 LS 460 2002 Tacoma 4x4

  • tagmantagman Malibu, CaliforniaPosts: 8,441
    Today I drove the Mercedes S-Class. The salesman that went with me was the one that sold me my previous three Mercedes vehicles, and also my previous ’97 Boxster (before the Porsche Franchise got its own facility) and he placed no restrictions on testing the car any way I wanted.

    After just a few easy adjustments to the driver’s seat, I achieved a very comfortable driver’s position, and got a nice sense of the interior. I adjusted the side mirrors and rear view mirror and immediately noticed that the typical placement for the shift lever was totally gone. Instead, in a very natural and comfortable position was the Mercedes COMAND knob. The feel and weight of the COMAND knob is absolutely perfect… as though it is forged and polished out of a solid piece of stainless steel and turns with the precision of ball bearings. And as it turns out, that is a good thing because the COMAND knob can be used to control many of the car’s functions. It appears to be a good interface that doesn’t get too complicated to render itself useless. Instead, I wanted to spend more time with it, but there were more pressing matters at hand, such as a test drive.

    I started out by driving around town to let the engine warm up and also to listen to the interior noise level. The car was very quiet, although not what I would call the near silence that I experienced in the Lexus LS, but, nonetheless very quiet and the difference between the two cars was very small. The S550 was also noticeably very smooth.

    The S550's steering was precise, smooth, accurate and connected to the road. It was definitely better feeling then the remote steering of the Lexus LS in every possible way. This difference between the two cars is a significant one, considering that steering is a constant driving function.

    I made my way to the freeway on-ramp and hit the gas. The S550 pulled ahead quickly with smoothness and determination. I believe that the S550 and the LS I tested were fairly equivalent getting up to speed. Tests can prove this one way or another, but in my opinion it would be splitting hairs. The two cars are very close at 0-60, IMO. However, once at speed and going into a passing maneuver, the S550 is superior. There is less lag time for the tranny to achieve the gear shift and once engaged it feels quicker.

    The road noise is near identical for both cars on the freeway, but again the LS is a wee bit quieter around town. The handling is not as close. The Mercedes S550 is more responsive and deliberate and precise when making quick maneuvers. It makes the car feel smaller and sportier than the large sedan it really is. Very tight and even agile for such a large car. Mind you, it is no BMW 545, but it is definitely a better dancer than the Lexus LS.

    Brakes were absolutely perfect in every way. Go easy on them and the stop is easy. Go hard on them and the stop is quick and yet smooth. The S550 brakes are confident and assured without the grabiness of the LS’s brakes.

    The S550 was a joy to drive and the interior style and layout are first-class in every way. Modern contemporary styling is the theme with top notch materials and workmanship throughout. I could not find any imperfections no matter how hard I looked. This car felt, looked and drove like a true high end luxury car, with a terrific COMAND system, precision buttons and switches, and nice instrumentation.

    The exterior styling is dramatic, fresh and exciting. The one glitch with this car’s styling is the appearance of the rear trunk, IMO. It’s not that it’s bad… it’s just that it is not quite right, as is practically everything else about this wonderful car. It’s a personal observation and opinion, but I believe that Mercedes could have achieved a similar look with a slightly better approach. Other than that small criticism of the vehicle’s styling, I am quite impressed with this S-Class. It is darned near perfect.

    Real-life reliability data is still not readily available, as it seems most data is extrapolated from the previous model. The salesman insists that it is very good so far, and that in the end, the S550 will be known to be a reliable car. Of course, Lexus owns that category, and I don’t expect them to be toppled in reliability, but I do think it is possible for the gap to shrink considerably. We’ll have to wait and see. For now, Lexus is the most reliable, and Mercedes is not any threat.

    The price of this car seems realistic to me, and does not seem to be massively more expensive than a well-equipped LS460L. For slightly more money, Mercedes clearly delivers a superior car that looks, drives and feels better than the Lexus LS. If anything, the Lexus LS460L may be reaching too high with its price tag, but the Lexus reputation for reliability and value is very strong and it may very well command it’s price for considerable time. We’ll all see as time goes.

    One thing for sure… I know first hand why most comparisons place the Mercedes S550 at the top of the list… It truly deserves it.

    Next up... BMW 7-series and Audi A8L... I'll keep you posted.

    TagMan
  • reality2reality2 Posts: 303
    This is not an official Audi rendering. This is a concept done by an independent artist that has no ties to Audi. Please read the full article. Audi has not even greenlighted the A7, yet alone posted any renderings of what one would look like. This is just an interpretation by an artist in France.
  • drfilldrfill Posts: 2,484
    Your background as a previous Mercedes/Porsche owner is insightful, as the ride dynamics of the S seem custom built for you. Your chariot awaits.

    When I drove both cars, I didn't notice any brake problems on the LS, or easy to use ergonomics in the S, as the seat controls were befuddling to say the least, and COMAND can't be used quickly to make adjustments on the fly.

    It seems Lexus is building a car to a market demographic, but the car can be flogged without complaint, but without vigor. It will take rough treatment, but the S may enjoy it more.

    If the S floats your boat, salud! I wasn't as impressed. The LS looks much better to me, and has many intangibles that offset it's staid personality. A Porsche driver I would expect would like a Mercedes more. I have no question that the S550 is an excellent luxury car, just not for me.

    The LS has nothing to apologize for. If it's not worth the money, a market correction will be made. I think it'll be just fine.

    Keep the posts coming! ;)

    DrFill
  • tagmantagman Malibu, CaliforniaPosts: 8,441
    When I drove both cars, I didn't notice any brake problems on the LS, or easy to use ergonomics in the S, as the seat controls were befuddling to say the least, and COMAND can't be used quickly to make adjustments on the fly.

    Doc, just because you didn't notice the brakes doesn't mean that there isn't something going on with them. The brake pedal on the LS is much more sensitive at the first light touch. This is something that can likely be gotten used to, as I mentioned in my post after driving the LS. Initially it means that the operator has to be extra careful or the pedal gets touched too hard, and then the brakes grab. It's perhaps more about the smoothness and feel of the response to the brake pedal that is the issue, IMO, although in addition to brake pedal feel, I understand that the road tests so far have concluded that the Mercedes S550 brakes deliver significantly better stopping distances than the LS's brakes.

    I never said the ergonomics were easy in the S, although the COMAND knob is as natural as can be, the way it sits directly in front of the armrest, just waiting for your right hand to use it. And the seat controls are as simple as apple pie. No searching blindly for buttons. The Mercedes buttons are actually the shape of the seat in full view. Easy enough for a toddler, for goodness sakes.

    I do think that the Lexus LS has good ergonomics, but there would be a learning curve with all the buttons and switches. Likewise, I also think the S550's COMAND system would take some time to get used to, but once that is accomplished, it would be instant fingertip control. The salesman who was of course familiar with the COMAND system, was able to do use it at lightning speed. It was impressive and I felt comfortable with the menu and interface. Again, I see the COMAND system as just a learning curve, and then the reward is clearly at the fingertips, as well as the voice commands.

    My impression of serious road testing of these cars is that most real-life driving is not really that demanding anyway. The Lexus LS will do fine for most normal driving. For the more spirited driver, however, the LS would be a disappointment, while the S550 would be more fulfilling. That said, the S550 provides more realistic feedback to the driver than the LS, while the LS steering is remote and disconnected. I am positive of this difference. It is real and it is absolute... whether or not that difference matters is a personal choice.

    I know that the LS has its merits, but I have always understood you to be a guy that seems to often talk the talk of a spirited driver... y'know about the stick shift and all, and the EVO, and the MazdaSpeed, etc... that's why I can't understand how you could not prefer the truly wonderful driving dynamics of the S550. Heck, the COMAND system shouldn't be the obstacle... it's not as important and it can be learned... even by an old retired Doc like yourself. ;) It's the drive that counts and I'm surprised that you don't go for it like a kid with his candy.

    TagMan
  • houdini1houdini1 Kansas City areaPosts: 5,903
    Good review but I am still laughing about that Mercedes Command Knob!!! Is that actually what they call it? I can picture a Saturday Night Live skit based around the Command Knob!!

    2013 LX 570 2010 LS 460 2002 Tacoma 4x4

  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,269
    No surprises in your fine, COMANDing review of the Mercedes Benz S Class, tagman.

    Looking forward to your test drive of Edmunds top pick, the Audi A8, which would be the only HELC I myself would be interested in driving.

    Having driven the S Class already should prove a vital and interesting comparison.
  • Thanks for these test drive reports, very informative. Could you post the window sticker price for these testers? Interestingly, coming from an LS 430, I thought the 460 steering was more responsive, of course, I have never driven a Porsche.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Have you tried the Maserati before? If not, I would highly recommend a test drive, especially now that it's available with the world's best autobox.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Oh thanks for reminding me. You folks should check this out: First Drive: 2007 Maserati Quattroporte Automatica

    I tried to post that link yesterday and had a problem, then forgot it. :blush:

    What do you think?
  • tagmantagman Malibu, CaliforniaPosts: 8,441
    Great idea, lexusguy! Quite some time ago, we had briefly discussed driving the Q, but the tranny was always the deal-killer... until now. The new Ferrari- styled ZF 6-speed is exactly what the doctor ordered for that car.

    After I test drive the Audi A8L and the BMW 7-series, perhaps the Q!

    Even though I'm not going to buy one of these cars at this point, I'm having fun driving them. I usually do make a point to eventually drive most cars, but I think I have Pat to thank for being the catalyst this time around.

    TagMan
  • tagmantagman Malibu, CaliforniaPosts: 8,441
    Thanks for these test drive reports, very informative. Could you post the window sticker price for these testers? Interestingly, coming from an LS 430, I thought the 460 steering was more responsive, of course, I have never driven a Porsche.

    You're welcome, Mike... you owe it to yourself to drive a Porsche. Also, I suggest that you drive the S-Class if you haven't done so. If you noticed the difference between the LS430 and the LS460, then you will definately notice the clear difference between the way the S550 drives and the way the LS460L drives... a difference I believe that most drivers would just naturally feel and appreciate.

    That said, there may be other reasons to still prefer the LS over the S550, so I'm not trying to start any debate here. I just highly doubt
    that the LS's steering would ever be one of those reasons to choose it over an S-Class.

    TagMan
  • tagmantagman Malibu, CaliforniaPosts: 8,441
    Thanks for these test drive reports, very informative. Could you post the window sticker price for these testers? Interestingly, coming from an LS 430, I thought the 460 steering was more responsive, of course, I have never driven a Porsche.

    You're welcome, Mike... you owe it to yourself to drive a Porsche. Also, I suggest that you drive the S-Class if you haven't done so. If you noticed the difference between the LS430 and the LS460, then you will definately notice the clear difference between the way the S550 drives and the way the LS460L drives... a difference I believe that most drivers would just naturally feel and appreciate.

    That said, there may be other reasons for you to still prefer the LS over the S550, so I'm not trying to start any debate here. I just highly doubt that the LS's steering would ever be one of those reasons to choose it over an S-Class... the opposite would be more realistic.

    TagMan
  • tagmantagman Malibu, CaliforniaPosts: 8,441
    Good review but I am still laughing about that Mercedes Command Knob!!! Is that actually what they call it? I can picture a Saturday Night Live skit based around the Command Knob!!

    Yes, the system is actually called "COMAND"... spelled with one letter "m". Check it out on their website.

    I can see the SNL skit, too. The feature built for a total control freak... in total command... who goes crazy after he loses control. LOL.

    TagMan
  • tagmantagman Malibu, CaliforniaPosts: 8,441
    Looking forward to your test drive of Edmunds top pick, the Audi A8, which would be the only HELC I myself would be interested in driving.

    Yeah, that one should be interesting. I'm looking forward to driving the A8L myself... although I'd love to drive the S8 if there is one available. That might be a seperate event in the future.

    TagMan
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,243
    Great review Tagman,

    Did you notice what MT noticed about the S550's transmission:

    The world's first seven-speed auto (trumped almost immediately by Toyota, which put an eight-speeder into the new Lexus LS 460) sounds impressive over a martini at the country club, but out on the road you can become aware of the transmission constantly shuffling through the ratios to find the optimum one.

    Also I agree with you about the rear of the S550. Too much ostentatious bling IMO. It seems MB is trying to go out of their way to point out that the S Class shares some DNA with their Maybach.

    Your Porsche 911 Carrera for weekends (although I love my BMW335i for weekdays and weekends--cant think of a better sedan?) and my wife's BMW 5 series touring for family outings/shopping is all what I want and need in my garage. Never liked LWB cars to begin with. But if I had a choice it would be a 7 series hands down! The best handler among the HELC bunch despite its uninviting austere interior (I myself am a fan of low profile austerity).
  • tagmantagman Malibu, CaliforniaPosts: 8,441
    Did you notice what MT noticed about the S550's transmission:

    If MT did not warm up the car before making performance evaluations, then they are idiots. What other reviewer ever mentioned such a thing? I certainly never experienced any gear searching from the S550's tranny. It was a perfect shifter, and creamy smooth as well. IMO, however, the ultra-silky smooth tranny award goes to the Lexus LS, but again, the S-Class tranny was fabulous... smooth and deliberate... no searching at all, and no passing gear lag as experienced in the LS.

    Also I agree with you about the rear of the S550.

    It's really my only complaint... unfortunately it will likely be years before any updating.

    BTW, I'm not looking to purchase any of these cars. I'm just having fun checking them all out. I've already mentioned to you which car I'm thinking about for my next purchase... and I read about the Vishnu modification... very interesting.

    TagMan
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,269
    I absolutely love driving the latest ELPS, LPS and HELC also, even though I would have no interest in purchasing/leasing most of them. Always a kick!

    Two things about BMW's across the board: Excellent trannys and steering (non-adaptive) are a given. Very difficult to give up one of the most satisfying driving experiences on this planet. And I probably won't. :shades:
  • anthonypanthonyp Posts: 1,857
    Tag---Another enjoyable report, although I haven`t driven the Mercedes,as I had the Lexus....I think you will find the Audi does not feel as large as the Mercedes....I look forward to your analysis of it...Tony
  • Is it due to lack of warm-up, or perhaps they got a malfunctioning car (if nobody else had the problem)? I have never experienced transmission hunting when car is cold. Also, I'd think they drive the car enough to warm it up before stopping the car and write up on it; so I hope :-)
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Your first hand reports are terrific - keep them coming!!
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,243
    Great article on vintage cars in this week's Barrons.

    So what costs more than many vintage Ferarris?

    OF COURSE, many of the valuation methods now shaping muscle-car prices have been affecting collectible sports cars for years, especially high-end pre-1970 models. Ferrari tops this list. After a crazy speculative price bubble in 1989, when Japanese investors shelled out $10 million to $12 million for top Ferraris, prices nosedived, along with Japanese stocks. They've quietly come back, increasing by more than 50% in the past few years.

    RM sold a 1957 Ferrari 250 Boano LWB (long wheelbase) Berlinetta for $720,000; a 1967 330 GTC went for $220,000. Rarity works in Ferraris' favor: Even the more common versions seldom numbered more than 1,000 to 1,200; others totaled less than 100. "Interest is very strong for vintage sports and racing cars," says Rob Myers, the founder of RM.

    A 1971 Plymouth 'Cuda convertible sold for $2.42 million at the recent auctions.

    Imagine owning a spanking new low volume low priced car like the Cuda and seeing its resale value increase faster than the stock price of Berkshire Hathaway?

    So far I have not seen a single BMW 335i sedan in Toronto. Who knows maybe if I keep my car for a few decades... (OK, ok I am just kidding)

    image
  • blkhemiblkhemi Posts: 1,717
    Interesting conclusion on your experience with the S550.

    Some of the same things you pointed out, I shared also. The rear end is polarizing, yes, but to me so is the disorganized bustle of the pseudo-Bangle LS. This is a new venture for MB to stray away from the conservative status-quo, and think they nailed it. Those wheelarches must be liked by quite a few folks as the S sells pretty darn well...

    As to the tranny, I didn't experience any hunting in my test of an S550. The LS on the otherhand searched at random for the correct gear, particularly on hilly terrain whereas the 7-G held it's cool, and switched gears seamlessly if needed be. Even the old-tech 5-speed in the S600 rarely if ever hunted for gears.

    When you test the A8, if no S8 is available, try testing an A8 Sport. The additional suspension tuning will make the experience even more exciting, altho the base suspension is definetely not lacking..
  • tagmantagman Malibu, CaliforniaPosts: 8,441
    Some of the same things you pointed out, I shared also.

    I think most people who drive the car should have a similar experience but with different personal reactions to it... after all, the variable isn't the car... it's the driver.

    The S550's 7-speed was perfect, as I posted. MT's observation seems quite isolated and unique.

    The wheel arches are dramatic, but absolutely OK with me. Only the trunk is missing the bullseye, IMO.

    When I test the A8, I want to test a long wheelbase car, since that is the comparison I am making across the board, as I want to compare apples to apples here as much as possible. If there is a "Sport" available, I would drive it as an additional drive, but not in place of the A8L. And I would never turn down a drive in an S8, if one becomes available.

    TagMan
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    The 7 handles well, but it's no match for the QP Sport GT. On an empty back road, the QP becomes a sports car. The 7 is a lot more sophisticated and has a lot more electronic wizardry, but its still an executive cruiser.
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