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Entry Level Luxury Performance Sedans

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  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    I've come to the conclusion that the best car for the OP is actually none of the above.

    He wants something affordable and sporty and luxury, that's also reliable and gets good gas mileage. Unfortunately, they stopped making this car 2-3 years ago, but that's fine, because used like-new examples run about $20K.

    Get a Mercedes C230K Sedan with manual. This is the *4 door* sedan with the 1.8 supercharged engine in it. It was the exact same model that they sell in Europe(slightly larger engine) and is actually fairly reliable. Mercedes makes two types of cars. Cars and Taxis/Rentals. The way you can tel the difference is if it comes with stick-shift, since 90% of Germans get a license that allows them to drive manuals. If you are one of the 10% that gets an automatic-only license, you are literally laughed at and considered to be a child driver.

    Mercedes puts no effort into their fleet sales and models, and especially their automatic transmissions. Just enough to get by and no more(S class aside of course). This is why an E class, well, *is* a Taxi in 90% of the world. And it's why their SUVs suck. They are made for basically U.S. markets and taxis.(see a pattern? heh)

    In Europe, it's all about the A, B, and C class. Manuals are the norm and diesels are better. The closer Mercedes you buy to this sort of vehicle, the better it will drive and last.

    In Europe, it's called the C200 Kompressor and is a great car. Unfortunately, you have to go back to the previous generation in the U.S. to get that engine.

    Of course, the BEST Mercedes is this:
    C 220 CDI 4-cylinder 190 hp 460 Nm
    If we got this over here, it would obliterate the entry-level segment. 460Nm is an outrageous amount of torque, and 190HP is equal to the IS250. All while getting 30+ mpg.

    http://autocar-show.blogspot.com/2007/06/first-drive-experience-mercedes-c220.ht- ml
    Bummer we can't get it here...
    ****

    Now, if you're looking for automatic(sigh), get couple of year old IS300. This car has the IS250's looks and feel, yet is lighter and lots more powerful, plus it has a nice I-6 engine as well. It'll blow the doors off of a new IS250 or A4 in overall driving, and is somewhat useable in the rear for kids.

    Note - while the IS300 was good, it honestly reminded me exactly of the Volvo 850, but with RWD instead of FWD. It had a very "European" feel to it. Something abot the balance and suspension and size and all the rest - it felt better than the base 3 series.

    The Lexus messed up. they made a compromise version that's honestly not any better than the stuff GM puts out, and they put a mega-speed transmission and a V6 in the IS350 in a quest for power, when all it did as turn it into a muscle car.

    Remember, the original luxury performance sedan was... a BMW 2002. Light, agile, and well rounded are musts. Bloat, muscle-car power, and in search for a purpose... that's most modern cars.

    Or you can get a classic. :) There's no shame in driving a classic car.
  • louisweilouiswei Posts: 3,717
    they put a mega-speed transmission and a V6 in the IS350 in a quest for power, when all it did as turn it into a muscle car.

    For some reason MB agrees with Lexus' strategy as they are doing exactly the same thing with the new C-class.
  • cdnpinheadcdnpinhead Forest Lakes, AZPosts: 3,262
    ". . .once you guys get the full range of Euro/Japanese diesels."

    As if. . .

    I can guarantee you that the car I bought this week would have been different if we had access here in the land of the EPA and the state of California to "the full range of Euro/Japanese diesels." I don't think it's ever going to happen, but I'll be very happy to be wrong.

    Bring me a 2.0 - 2.5 litre turbodiesel with a manual transmission & RWD with room enough in the back (fold-down seats or wagon/avant) for my bicycle, and I'll be happy. Several vehicles which meet these requirements have been available in Europe for over six years that I know of, but aren't here even yet.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "If I put 800 miles/week, I will be worry more about the depreciation than the gas. 800 miles/week x 52 weeks = 41600 miles/year = a lot of depreciation. I rather buy a small/sport economy car (~18K) instead of a luxury car."

    Yup, one of the several reasons why the 530i went back to BMW-FS at lease end, and why, instead of replacing it, I chose to drive our old "spare car" (home depot/dump run hack with ~80,000 on the clock at the time) for the duration of that contract. During the 21 months that I serviced that client I put on just shy of 80,000 miles in spite of the fact that I was occasionally traveling and it sat in the garage.

    I'm now in the market for a new contract, and the two companies that seem to be the most likely candidates will have my mileage drop to a more normal 15,000 to 20,000 miles per year. Assuming one of those two actually happen, I'm thinking the 2009 Audi A3 (which will have the new "clean-sheet design" EA 888 engine), with a 6-Speed manual of course. The only rub with that car is that it is "wrong wheel drive", however, it does sport a spare tire well complete with a donut spare (but room for a full size wheel/tire), a jack, real GFTs, a dip-stick tube for checking/changing the oil, and room in the back to schlep around our new mutt.

    The flip side is that the company I was with for those 21 months is, A) talking of giving me another juicy contract, and B) has moved their offices some 20 miles further (each way) from our home. If I end up back there, geez, I'm thinking either a new Honda Civic EX-L 6-Speed or a 2009 Jetta TDI 6-Speed, cars I can put 100,000 miles on in two years and not suffer too much from the depreciation.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • nyccarguynyccarguy Stamford, CTPosts: 7,567
    I'd buy a BMW diesel in a heartbeat if I were in the market. As blueguydotcom said, diesel costs a bit more up front and a bit more to fill up, but you get tremendous range and they last forever and a day. It is amazing how quiet modern diesels are. One of my customers has a Freighliner Sprinter with an MB CDI engine in it and you can barely hear it idling from 5 feet away.

    By the time I'm ready to pickup a new car for me, BMW will hopefull get their wits about them and offer a diesel with a stick shift. I'm a manual transmission bigot like shipo :shades:

    2001 Honda Prelude Type SH/ 2011 BMW 328xi / 2011 Honda Pilot EX-L w/ Navigation

  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,372
    Blueguy, what about the driving dynamics of the 3? You were not overjoyed with the '06 330i. I assume not much difference in the 335d. Would you still give it a shot (if MT gets built in)?

    I remember that the actual mileage of the d is around 28 - 30 mpg combined for the US version but I have also read Euro versions of 37 mpg.

    Regards,
    OW
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,372
    I don't mind the AT but the better half would destroy it. The AT is good for me anyway.

    I would consider the d along with the 3'er on my ext leas in December. You guys are steering me but I wonder the cost trade-off if the d runs in the low $50'sK verse ~ $47K I could get a NA version. The one I drove was a rush compared to the 255 hp 330.

    The diesel twist is very tempting also but I need to get a better handle on the drive difference on the power curve vs. each variant. Once the fuel savings is measured vs. price and driving pleasure I can make a move after testing each one.

    My next monkey wrench is the 1 series thrown into the mix! I am reeling but the availability of the d might make my decision easier and the one will be well documented by year end.

    Regards,
    OW
  • blueguydotcomblueguydotcom Posts: 6,257
    When I consider a 3 again it'll mean a kid is on the way I have to have a car bigger than the cooper. For the sake of having a vehicle that can fit the family, I'd suck it up. The far better mileage of the diesel really raises my eyebrow. I love the idea of 30 mpg and 16 gallons...stopping for gas every 1.5-2 weeks sound great!
  • chirocatchirocat Posts: 73
    Count me in as well. I remember seeing a magazine article on a Tuner 330d and 530d a few years ago, and it was damn impressive. Impressive enough is this C@D article, it says volumes. Near gas performance with up to 40 mpg? Cool!

    check this out;

    http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/hot_lists/high_performance/performance_files- _tested_by_c_d/2006_bmw_330d_road_test

    When I was looking for car last year I was a total manual trans biggot and actually sneered audibly at any "performance" sedan on the lot that had an auto. :P

    I only considered 2 cars that were not manuals; a R32 with DSG, can't call it an automatic if it doesn't have a torque converter though, and a pre-owned C55. The badass V-8 in that Q-ship almost made up for the lack of a clutch. :blush:

    Hopefully America will pull it's collective heads out and realize diesels are not what we saw in the crude 80's gas conversion crap? IMHO all trucks 3/4 ton and over plus large SUV's should all be diesel. If we had more diesels, maybe the price of the damn gas would come down because they would have to refine more and can't artificially keep the price up with that old "supply" rhetoric.
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,372
    I knew you had at least some satisfaction form the E90 bloated version of what you would consider the ultimate sports sedan. More than my eyebrows raised with the torque numbers. I gotta try that equation for myself.

    My problem with test drives is the limited feel you get from driving a few miles. The 335i I drove for 1 day ~ 40 miles was much more of a drive to understand the car. It's an easy sell for me because the extra weight doesn't bother me as I am accustomed to US fare, sloppier handling and control. Stepping into the '06 3'er did it for me.

    Now if I can get 30 MPG, it just depends on the cost trade off of a lease verse the efficiency gain.

    Regards,
    Ow
  • pcampospcampos Posts: 12
    I don't have much experience buying cars (I bought a new Corolla in 1987, drove it for eight years, then bought an Accord which I've driven ever since). I've decided I want to get something nice. Situation: I drive about 8000-10,000 miles a year. For the next three years I don't want to spend more than around $300 a month on car payments. After that, I'm going to be in a far more flexible financial situation and will be able to afford a very expensive car if I want to go that way. So I'm considering the following options: leasing something for around $300 a month for 36 months, or buying something used but fairly nice in the the 12K-15K range, and then trading up three years from now. So far I've looked at the Acura TSX and the Audi 3 to lease, plus a five-year-old SAAB 9 to buy. Thanks in advance for any feedback!
  • blueguydotcomblueguydotcom Posts: 6,257
    Buy used. A used TSX will run well, serve you nicely and in the end you'll have something, unlike a lease.
  • pcampospcampos Posts: 12
    I've noticed the TSXs don't seem to depreciate much at all in the first 2-3 years. I also understand that a redesigned model is coming out in a couple of months. So maybe I should be looking at something around five years old? It's tempting to lease, which I've never done, but since I'm a low mileage driver and am pretty easy on cars in general maybe it makes more sense to own something used for three years and hope it doesn't depreciate much in the interim.
  • jpstax1jpstax1 Posts: 197
    Instead buy a Buick LaCrosse Super. It has all the features of most of the entry level foreign-made cars for a lot less money. Test drive one if you don't believe me.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I assume that you're joking. Yes, no? Ain't no way a Buick anything should be mentioned in the same breath with any of the cars categorized as "Entry Level Luxury Performance Sedans". :P

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • cdnpinheadcdnpinhead Forest Lakes, AZPosts: 3,262
    ". . .Acura TSX and the Audi 3. . ."

    Since I decided I could tolerate FWD this time around, I ended up looking at exactly those two cars. Since the RWD choices may improve over the next few years, I wanted something that wouldn't depreciate horribly over a 3-4 year period. I went with the TSX, and that'd probably be your best bet as well -- Audi depreciation is nothing to write home about. Going used, as has been suggested, is the only way to keep the payment as low as you want it.

    Honda depreciation is amazingly low; I'm shopping for a car for my mother-in-law, and Civic vs. Corolla used car prices have to be seen to be believed. A 1-2 year older Civic with 40-50K more miles sells for the same money as a newer much less used Corolla. Audi isn't even in the same ballpark.

    You'll enjoy either car, by the way. The TSX is working out nicely; it's meant to be an interim solution, but if I bond with it in a big way, I may still be driving it in 8 years, as I did my last car. I've driven rental A3s in Europe & really loved them. I did serious Audi research, going back seven years, as a result.

    Let us know how this turns out.
  • ucalucal Posts: 2
    Can I install Alpine after market head unit in my 2003 Acura TL Type S ?
    What installation kit is needed ? and what are the pros and cons of installing such a head unit ?
  • tayl0rdtayl0rd Posts: 1,938
    ... (instead of my previous car, a 1993 Geo Prizm)

    Nothing wrong with a '93 Prizm. I had a '92 back in '93. Wanted a '93, but was duped by the salesman. (Oh, the joys of youth and inexperience!) Anyway, Motor Trend wrote of the '93 Prizm that it was Lexus-like in it's quietness. I drove one and agreed whole-heartedly. How has yours held up? Is it still quite and smooth?
  • It has been a great car for me -- the engine is still very smooth, and the transmission is also OK. In 14 years, I have only had one repair issue (electrical). It has been a GREAT car, and also gets very good gas mileage (28mpg in mixed driving).

    It is not quiet -- my main complaint about this car has been the plastic inside is very cheap, so all of the door handles are cracked or broken, several knobs have broken, etc. When it runs, it has lots of rattles, and is noisy with all of the vibrating plastic. Also, 3 of the 4 rims are slightly bent, so that also makes the ride quite rough.

    It only has 116k miles, so I wouldn't be surprised to see the engine/transmission to last another 60k or 70k miles at least. I will sell it to someone fully confident that it will be a good car for them. Do you want to buy it? :) Just kidding. :P

    Jeff
  • jpstax1jpstax1 Posts: 197
    The LaX Super IS categorized as a "luxury performance sedan". And it IS head and shoulders above any other 2008 Buick LaX. However, a Caddy, Lexus, BMW, or Mercedes it is not. But, it's a great performance sedan at a bargain price, with a lot of the same equipment and amenities found in higher priced sedans:

    http://www.edmunds.com/new/2008/buick/lacrosse/100900863/researchlanding.html
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Dude, put that pig on a track and its lap times will be absolutely laughable compared to each of the cars that actually are in this class. It seems that you think that by taking a large FWD sled and then dropping in a big motor and slapping on some sticky rubber, it will suddenly be transformed into a "Sports Sedan". Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings, but the LaCrosse doesn't even come close to meeting the criteria as a Sports Sedan.

    If you don't believe me that the LaCrosse doesn't measure up, that's fine, consult the car comparison web site of your choice and look at the cars the "experts" think the Buick competes with. My bet is that you'll see a list that looks something like the following:

    - Chevy Impala
    - Chrysler 300
    - Dodge Charger
    - Ford Tarus
    - Honda Accord
    - Hyundai Sonata
    - Kia Optima
    - Mazda Mazda6
    - Mercury Sable
    - Mitsubishi Galant
    - Nissan Altima
    - Saturn Aura
    - Subaru Legacy
    - Toyota Camry

    Not exactly a thrilling list of car that one would want to go "sporting" with now is it.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,372
    Exactly right! At least I am getting some enjoyment from the US cars now that I gave up on them.

    Take a modified LaCross and carry some speed, let's say 40 mph, into a switch back turn and you will be out of your misery once and for all!

    image

    Regards,
    OW
  • jpstax1jpstax1 Posts: 197
    Dude. Like some of the other so-called "experts" that post in this forum, you don't know what you're talking about. The Super's 0-60 time is 5.7 seconds, and its top speed is 155mph, making it the fastest Buick ever. And according to professional test drivers, it does pretty well in slalom too, with its sport-tuned suspension (with tuned Bilstein struts) and more precise steering (using Delphi's premium system).

    BTW, where are the Caddy CTS, Impala SS, and Pontiac G8 GT on your list?

    Link: http://www.edmunds.com/new/2008/buick/lacrosse/100900863/compare.html

    A word to the wise, next time check your facts before running your mouth.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Yeesh, some people don't get it. :confuse:
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,372
    FWD and into the wall on the turns. Here's a good review from someone who drove one. Another re-badge to a dying brand. How utterly boring.

    Does anyone remember the Buick Grand National??? :cry:

    link title

    Regards,
    OW
  • sls002sls002 Posts: 2,788
    Cadillac spent the ninties trying to make the STS into a serious sports sedan contenter. They failed. Cadillac's solution was the RWD sigma platform CTS, STS models which are a much better set of cars.

    The Lacrosse, like the Impala and Grand Prix, have a bit too much engine for the platform, and while faster in a straight line, still are not well balanced for twisty mountain highways. They are probably better in snow though.
  • sjaievesjaieve Posts: 252
    If I am offered this Buick for $5,000 (five thousand), fully loaded and brand new, I would pass on it. :P
  • sjaievesjaieve Posts: 252
    Dude. Like some of the other so-called "experts" that post in this forum, you don't know what you're talking about. The Super's 0-60 time is 5.7 seconds, and its top speed is 155mph, making it the fastest Buick ever

    I remember being blasted on this forum for prioritizing track times over handling and driving dynamics. Had I gone this low, I dont think so :P
  • tayl0rdtayl0rd Posts: 1,938
    Wow. You must've beaten it up pretty badly. :sick: I drove a brand new one way back in the day, and it was as quiet as a tomb. I had a '94 Corolla (loved that car!) and you'd never guess that it and the Prizm were "twins." The Corolla exhibited mucho road noise, and the Prizm of the same era was smooth and quiet.
  • louisweilouiswei Posts: 3,717
    making it the fastest Buick ever.

    That, my friend, really doesn't help your case at all...

    Anyway, the Lexus ISX50 is the Buick in this group according to some people so your beloved LaX is out of luck (and spot) what-so-ever. ;)
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