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Luxury Performance Sedans

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  • nmdrivernmdriver Posts: 23
    I, too, am waiting for a 6 cyl. comparison. (5, E, A6, GS, M, RL). That is what most people will be buying.
    However, I would throw in one more thing to make it interesting: since most people who are considering the 6's have also at least considered the 300C, this should be included as well.

    While I am at it, let me ask for something I really do not expect to see: since all the major players (Including Chrysler) now offer at least the option of AWD, I would love to see this be an AWD test.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    I dont know about Audi, but the article seems to conflict with Mercedes recent quality reports. Perhaps the other poster was correct in that this article was referencing only cars that needed towing? The article specifically lists the M-class as a reliable vehicle, where as CR lists it as one of 5 or so "least reliable" cars for 3 years in a row. Mercedes definitely wouldnt be sending out "quality squads" to their suppliers and spending $600 million in recalls and repairs if their cars were as good as the article claims.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,069
    I posted the URL without any vetting of the article -- for all I know it was a paid political announcement.

    It is just that it seems there is a lot of German reliability bashing (not just here). When something like this comes along, I thought it would merit our review.

    I too wondered what the remarks about Toyota were about -- they seemed somewhat implausible.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,069
    . . .article 4 Feet Forward -- for those considering (debating?) the arguments relating to AWD (quattro is the focus) and LPS cars, this article may provide data points and viewpoints for the decision making process.

    Most of the LPS offerings now offer AWD (mostly with the 6 cylinder version) and their manufacturers and marketing/brand managers are finding they underestimated demand.

    When picking up my wife's new X3 a couple of days ago, I asked about the 525 and 530xi inbound inventory -- "every 5x we have coming in is already sold and we have already ordered our allocation of 5x's for the next delivery."

    When I spoke with the Infiniti dealers (two bricks and one clicks) they said that the M35X and the M45 were both selling above expectations. It does make me wonder if the M45X is possible (unless gasoline prices kill or slow the V8's popularity).

    As we may all know, Audi currently sells more than 25% of its cars with AWD -- and at this time, the A2 isn't even offered with AWD, so when the A2 model is dropped, it is only logical to assume the percentage will be higher and all evidence suggests that the new 40/60% F/R bias coming in the next AWD Audis will only super-charge this trend.

    IF BMW offers the 7 series in AWD and Jaguar (if it can afford to) expands their AWD (X) program, the transformation to "all AWD, all the time" will have taken another big step forward. Then if Cadillac gets its head out of its nose and kills Pontiac and Buick and offers more AWD across the entire line of some new Chevvies and Cadillacs (probably excluding the Corvette, of course) -- we may even save GM (for although the health care costs may be onerous for GM, I do believe a lot of GM's problems would minimize if they had products customers wanted -- increasingly AWD CARS -- not just AWD Trucks and SUVs).

    Perhaps Lexus has the right idea incorporating AWD and hybrid technologies in their Lux-ute -- where is GM in this regard?

    Anyway, I started suggesting that you check out the new Automobile Magazine (6/2005 issue) for a write up of "how AWD revolutionized the high-performance car," and that's where I'll conclude.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    I dont know if an M45x is even possible. There are two stories as to why Infiniti didnt do one. The first is that Infiniti didnt think the demand would be enough to justify the costs, same reason (according to Honda) they decided against a V8 for the RL. The second is that packaging simply doesnt allow for the AWD gear to fit with the 4.5L engine. If thats true, I think you can pretty much rule out an M45x.

    I also wouldnt expect to see anymore AWD Jags, except possibly the "non-SUV cross-over" that they are working on. Its pretty clear that Jag is very nervous about this car, and they definitely do not want the Jag name associated with a traditional SUV. The XJ, XK, and the next S-type definitely wont have AWD (though the 500 derived Lincoln LS probably will), not until at the very least this aluminum platform is redesigned, and considering this is Jaguar, who knows when that will be. Jag was forced into AWD because of the constraints of the Mondeo platform. If they could've used RWD with it, they would have.

    I think a large part of GM's problem is that its cars suck, not that they dont have AWD. Altima, Camry, and Accord all continue to do well despite being FWD. Camry in particular is the poster-boy for how to design a car for this market. I think eventually there are going to be a lot more AWD cars, but its going to take a long time. Look at Subaru. In a way they push AWD even more than Audi does. Subaru doesnt sell a car without AWD, you cant say that about Audi. If AWD cars was what the mass-market wanted right this minute, Impreza and Legacy would be dominating Corolla and Camry, but it isnt quite working out that way.
  • I leased a 2004 E320 just over two years ago and I only wish I had taken the time to review forums such as this 29 months ago. I see the same aggravated customer complaints that I have experienced and I see the same lousy treatment by Mercedes and the Mercedes dealers reported on, by many unhappy customers.
    I have had numerous electrical issues including a defective stereo, headlights shorting out when I go through a carwash, mirror signal lights shorting out, front signal lights shorting out when the car goes through the carwash. The moonroof sticks open occasionally and just keeps opening up over and over again on its own.
    The rear struts both broke at between 10,000 and 20,000 miles. ( at separate times because they never fix anything even though they know it is defective). The front control arm on the drivers side was the last thing to just "break". Upon inspection they determined that the front coil springs were also defective. Upon tearing it apart further on my insistance they finally determined that the entire passenger side was shot also and they reluctantly replaced that also. The front end of this piece of crap car now clunks every time my wheel drops slightly into a road dip.
    The attitude of my dealer in Massapequa, New York has been one that would shame any legitimate dealer. They told me the problems with the radio was unusual which I since found out was very common for the series of malfunctions. The service manager told me that the electrical issues were unusual but my service advisor pulls a bag of blown bulbs out of his desk drawer showing me what a common problem it is. He also tells me he never saw these type of "minor" problems at a different manufacturing company that he used to work at. (Starts with L). The service manager tried to tell me that the bulbs did not short out but rather were just worn out. Upon my continued screaming in the middle of the dealership that THREE LIGHT BULBS (that is $274 by the way) cannot short out at the same instant as they pass through a car wash they finally sent me home with my three lights replaced under warranty. A couple of months later the service manager then tells me that the shorting problem was my fault because the car had body work (which it never had) and that the seals were not properly done. Once again they sent me home with my free light bulbs replaced because I refused to leave the showroom floor to discuss the issue. Amazing how many customers AND MANAGERS listen when you do this in the showroom!!!!
    The strut problems the same service manager tried to blame on excessive mileage (first at 10k, second at 20k, third and fourth at 70k).
    I almost forgot to mention the funny hydraulic sounding noise my breaking system has decided to start doing. Seems to be from the front and sort of sounds like hydraulics releasing slowly or sort of stuck and then beginning to release. Just another thing for me to mumble about for the next 6 months until I can dump my beloved first and last Mercedes.
    To my amusement and pleasure this service manager was dumped the last time I went in and I spent a few minutes talking to the new service manager. He confirmed the issues that I referred to and told me that they were not that unusual, unfortunately, for my year and model car.
    The unfortunate thing for Mercedes is that it was obvious that no one cares. I got through to regional managers who just send you back to the local dealer. I got through to a corporate manager who only referred me back to my local service manager. What they do not seem to care about is that customers like me (54 year old married professional) buy two new cars every 2 to 3 years.) I have owned Corvettes, Nissan 340Z, Saab Aero, Audi's, Dodge Stealth, Misubishi Diamante. Mitsubishi 3000GT, Subaru's, Mazda Millenia, etc over just the last few years and I have never had such a miserable experience, IN GRAND TOTAL, from all of those other cars and dealers combined.
    I now go out of my way to be sure that I tell my story to anyone who is interested as to what a lousy car Mercedes has made and most importantly what a LOUSY COMPANY MERCEDES has proven to me to be. Problems can happen, especially in a redesigned car, but the lousy attention to customer needs and problems, have to be deep seated in Mercedes, right from the top.

    NEVER EVER AGAIN. Buy any other car but don't get sucked and treated as if you are the problem. The repeated stories about Mercedes quality dropping fast are not exagerated.
  • I leased a 2004 E320 just over two years ago and I only wish I had taken the time to review forums such as this 29 months ago. I see the same aggravated customer complaints that I have experienced and I see the same lousy treatment by Mercedes and the Mercedes dealers reported on, by many unhappy customers.
    I have had numerous electrical issues including a defective stereo, headlights shorting out when I go through a carwash, mirror signal lights shorting out, front signal lights shorting out when the car goes through the carwash. The moonroof sticks open occasionally and just keeps opening up over and over again on its own.
    The rear struts both broke at between 10,000 and 20,000 miles. ( at separate times because they never fix anything even though they know it is defective). The front control arm on the drivers side was the last thing to just "break". Upon inspection they determined that the front coil springs were also defective. Upon tearing it apart further on my insistance they finally determined that the entire passenger side was shot also and they reluctantly replaced that also. The front end of this piece of crap car now clunks every time my wheel drops slightly into a road dip.
    The attitude of my dealer in Massapequa, New York has been one that would shame any legitimate dealer. They told me the problems with the radio was unusual which I since found out was very common for the series of malfunctions. The service manager told me that the electrical issues were unusual but my service advisor pulls a bag of blown bulbs out of his desk drawer showing me what a common problem it is. He also tells me he never saw these type of "minor" problems at a different manufacturing company that he used to work at. (Starts with L). The service manager tried to tell me that the bulbs did not short out but rather were just worn out. Upon my continued screaming in the middle of the dealership that THREE LIGHT BULBS (that is $274 by the way) cannot short out at the same instant as they pass through a car wash they finally sent me home with my three lights replaced under warranty. A couple of months later the service manager then tells me that the shorting problem was my fault because the car had body work (which it never had) and that the seals were not properly done. Once again they sent me home with my free light bulbs replaced because I refused to leave the showroom floor to discuss the issue. Amazing how many customers AND MANAGERS listen when you do this in the showroom!!!!
    The strut problems the same service manager tried to blame on excessive mileage (first at 10k, second at 20k, third and fourth at 70k).
    To my amusement and pleasure this service manager was dumped the last time I went in and I spent a few minutes talking to the new service manager. He confirmed the issues that I referred to and told me that they were not that unusual, unfortunately, for my year and model car.
    The unfortunate thing for Mercedes is that it was obvious that no one cares. I got through to regional managers who just send you back to the local dealer. I got through to a corporate manager who only referred me back to my local service manager. What they do not seem to care about is that customers like me (54 year old married professional) buy two new cars every 2 to 3 years.) I have owned Corvettes, Nissan 340Z, Saab Aero, Audi's, Dodge Stealth, Misubishi Diamante. Mitsubishi 3000GT, Subaru's, Mazda Millenia, etc over just the last few years and I have never had such a miserable experience, IN GRAND TOTAL, from all of those other cars and dealers combined.
    I now go out of my way to be sure that I tell my story to anyone who is interested as to what a lousy car Mercedes has made and most importantly what a LOUSY COMPANY MERCEDES has proven to me to be. Problems can happen, especially in a redesigned car, but the lousy attention to customer needs and problems, have to be deep seated in Mercedes, right from the top.

    NEVER EVER AGAIN. Buy any other car but don't get sucked and treated as if you are the problem. The repeated stories about Mercedes quality dropping fast are not exagerated.
  • drtraveldrtravel Posts: 395
    Here's my E320 tale of woe:

    Fixed under warranty:

    8.2K Replaced trunk lock assembly
    22.4K Replaced rear tail light lamp unit
    27.6K Replaced front windshield (cracked because the car's shell flexed)
    29.9K Replaced cylinder head front cover
    29.9K Replaced rear axle center piece (not sure what this was)
    29.9K Replaced auxillary fan belt
    38.7K Rebuilt automatic transmission
    38.7K Replaced automatic transmission shifter
    38.8K Replaced cylinder head gasket
    39.0K Replaced sunroof motor
    44.6K Replaced air mass something or other - adjusted a bunch of engine electrical sensors
    51.8K Replaced electrical wiring harness
    51.8K Replaced propeller shaft flex disc

    Paid for these:

    67.3K Replaced dashboard cluster bulbs
    67.3K Replaced turn signal (broke when they did preceeding repair - free)
    67.3K Replaced transmission shifter bushings
    71.9K Replaced stop lamp switch
    71.9K Replaced coolant pump and hoses
    Haven't fixed yet - rear view mirror is loose (need a new one), lower control arm bushings are cracked

    Plus replacing brake pads 8 times and rotors 3 times.

    I did write MB a letter complaining about all the problems up to 52K miles hoping that they might want to stand behind their products and offer me an extended warranty. Lexus fixed things beyond the warranty period as a show of goodwill. Their reply was that they couldn't do this (why not?). My reply was that they just guaranteed that I would never buy another MB car in my life. Had similar issues with my previously owned Porsche. The wife wants a BMW - understandably I'm leary of buying another high quality German vehicle.
  • nmdrivernmdriver Posts: 23
    If it is any consolation, you are not alone. Mercedes quality problems run across the entire product line and are world-wide. Most of my friends who have purchased Mercedes in the past three years have tales of woe. And, most of them say that they are not going to buy another.
    The problems appear to have started when Mercedes decided that it had to pay attention to costs. Unfortunately, a company with a tradition of engineering the "best", then charging whatever it cost to build the "best" did not know how to build a quality product to a target cost.
    What is surprising is that it has taken so long for this to catch up with them in the market. It is still true that if you are buying a car to impress other people, there is no substitute for a Mercedes or a BMW.
  • Sounds like I should quit complaining about my piece of crap 2004 Mercedes.... sounds like I got the "GOOD" one!!!!!!!!!!
  • bw45sportbw45sport Posts: 151
    My condolences to you on the problems you've experienced. It's a pity your first Mercedes didn't come at a time when they still built great cars.

    I've posted numerous times in regards to the problems that I've experienced. I hope that the venom that seeps through when discussing Mercedes does not become tiresome but I do feel obligated to pass along my experiences. NO ONE deserves the treatment that I've received and have personally witnessed others receiving. If I cause one person on the fence to reconsider their purchase it will be worth my time.

    As Mark noted in a reply to me, it's entirely possible that the M35x he receives could turn out to be a lemon. I certainly hope this is not the case but the undeniable fact is that all manufacturers produce them. It's the frequency with which they are produced and the manner in which dissatisfaction is resolved that make the difference. I've dealt with Mercedes for over 20 years and they've always had an arrogant swagger to them but they used to build great products and would stand behind them. That's no longer the case. Maybe they fear that if they stand behind their cars their customers will back over them.

    Mercedesstinks, the only good thing that has come out of my recent experience is that it forced me to go back and test drive cars again and see how anxious other people were to have my business. I've found that I prefer the drive of Infiniti to Lexus but note that both offer well-built products that are feature laden and work. These two companies complete the ownership experience by offering unmatched customer service as well.

    BTW, Lexusguy, the article regarding quality (breakdowns) was not the full length version I'd seen in the newspaper a couple of months ago, but the source is the same. In the newspaper article they stated that the data were compiled from call-out records from emergency vehicle (towing) companies.
  • cstilescstiles Posts: 465
    I, too, am an AWD-proponent. But I'm not so sure I subscribe to the "AWD all of the time" mantra, or believe that AWD will substantially gain market share in segments outside of LPS or SUVs/crossovers.

    Mark, if you happened to live in L.A. or Miami or Phoenix or even Dallas, I bet you would be singing the virtues of RWD....

    AWD brings several drawbacks....

    1. It adds a 300~500 pound weight penalty to the car, and weight is the enemy of performance and gas mileage.

    2. It also adds cost...probably an additional 5% to 15% to average MSRP, with the higher rate applying to lower end cars, if we assume AWD extends to those segments where most normal folks turn for their transportation needs.

    3. AWD cars are also more complex, and I would suggest their tendency for maintenance, break down, and repair will be higher on average compared to FWD or RWD.

    4. Another significant benefit of FWD platforms is that it helps with interior space, packaging, and design. AWD and its additional driveshaft/drivetrain components add cost to the process of maximizing interior space.

    Finally, there are many parts of the country where AWD is simply not necessary due to weather and driving conditions. Nearly all of the West Coast, the Southwest, much of the South, Florida, and parts of the lower half of mid-Atlantic, for starters. RWD and FWD offer far better alternatives to AWD.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Believe me I know where you're coming from. Many moons ago I used to drive German. The problems in those days were more mechanical than electrical, but the cars still made frequent trips to the shop, and I was always borrowing my wife's Honda to get to work. (Mysteriously, her car was always reliable). I tried the Q45, and it wasnt bad, but I was immediately sold on the LS400. I've been driving an LS in one form or another for over 10 years, and I'll never go back to german, not when the big Lexus has treated me like a king.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    Many years ago I used to believe the Japanese produced reliable vehicle. Well I guess statistically they do. But I had a string of bad luck with 3 Nissans in row. Each one going back to the shop every few months for this that and the other thing. Good thing I leased.

    Now I'm a smarter wiser consumer and I wouldn't bet the bank on the fact when I buy Japanese I'll get a reliabile vehicle and when I buy German, I'll get a lemon. In fact it was the other way around. YMMV.
  • cstilescstiles Posts: 465
    There's no question that Japan has built some lemons. Some of the Japanese models from the late 70s into the mid-80s were not paragons of cutting edge engineering, technology, or even quality.

    Their main advantages were that they were inexpensive and different compared to domestic models, and they emphasized value in their marketing. The Japanese took many ideas that were originated elsewhere, and simply improved on those ideas through hard work, teamwork, and discipline. Japan was intent on taking over the world in 1944, and after being humiliated and totally destroyed after WWII, had to literally rebuild everything in 20 years without the benefit of any of its own natural resources.

    I think the biggest difference is that Japan continues to learn, improve, and evolve. That rate of improvement is nothing short of scary. They are light years ahead of where they were 10 years ago, and I'm not sure you can conclude the same levels of advancement with domestic or European manufacturers. They still burn with a unique global superiority complex that drives their success.

    We are witnessing the same levels of progress and evolution among the Korean brands right now. (Note that Hyundai was dead last in quality 5 years ago, and witness how far they've come in such a short time.) And if China or India ever get their act together in terms of internal infrastructure, government policy, and social engineering, those two countries represent the future from a global perspective.

    Japan's biggest weakness is that they have virtually no natural resources of their own, so must rely on other nations for raw materials. No wonder they have built manufacturing facilities all over the U.S. and even in Europe. Moving those design and manufacturing bases into global locations makes imminent sense.
  • rich545rich545 Posts: 386
    My wife got the ML when it first came out, and had a similarly bad experience. The car kept burning through oil and the dealership actually accused her of TAKING the oil out herself! They went so far as to tape the oil cap so they'd know if it was tampered with! Can you imagine the aggrogance in that? They actually blamed the customer for what was an obvious problem with the engine. So of course the car burned through the oil again despite their tape job and the offered her a great deal on a new ML (her's was 2 years old at that point). Then they turned around and tried to rip her off by giving her a crappy deal. Finally after she shopped the competition and threw a similar fit to your's on the showroom of the dealership they gave her a "good" deal on a new ML. On the other side of it, she did buy another ML and had no problems with it to speak of. This past weekend we drove the new ML500 which is a beautiful truck (sorry to post about SUV's on the LS forum, but I'm maily taking about Mercedes in general). Thing is, how many problems is the new ML going to have. Being a first year model probably a lot. Though I will say, my 545 is a first year model and I haven't had a single problem with it. I know others have, but a lot of people I've spoken to that have them haven't had any problems either. It's amazing though that a 2004 E320 would have those problems. Sounds like the car got in an accident, and they "fixed" it and sold it as new (and then to add insult to injury blamed you for doing body work!).
  • cstilescstiles Posts: 465
    A dealer service dept taping an oil cap shut because they believed the customer was intentionally syphoning oil backwards out of the engine block has to take the cake for stupidity and arrogance. That is just plain bizarre.
  • cstilescstiles Posts: 465
    Insightful comments off vtec.net regarding the 2006 RL...

    Here's what we already know about the '06 RL. As per (Honda CEO) Takeo Fukui's remarks at the Detroit Auto Show, the 2006 RL will be fitted with Honda's Collision Mitigation Brake System (CMBS). Other than that we don't expect to see much else for the '06 model, though we would really love to see Acura offer a factory option wheel/tire upgrade package, and perhaps even a sportier suspension tune along with it.

    Now, let's look at the bigger picture and beyond model year 2006 for a moment. The 2005 RL is selling much better than past RLs, but is it selling as well as Acura had hoped? Perhaps not. Acura projected sales of 20000 models annually, and in general their past projections have been fairly conservative. But in the case of the RL, the year to date total for calendar year 2005 stands at just under 5500 units after 4 months, so at this rate it appears they will fall short of projections in the first year. Generally that's not a good sign. It's not a disasterous result, but what's going on?

    By any measure, the RL is quite a superb car, but it's in a very competitive segment with a lot of appealing vehicles, many of which are all-new for model year 2005 or 2006. So it may be a tad early to say at this point, but it would seem that Acura may feel some pressure to do something more extensive than normal with the car when the time for an MMC (mid-cycle model change, or minor model change) comes. But if you think about it, there's not a whole lot that they can do to the car itself even if it is decided that changes are necessary. By virtue of the platform chosen by Honda for the RL, there are precious few options for the product planners to address much of anything with the car.

    Perhaps the most logical enhancement would be to fit Honda's IMA system to the car to boost performance and economy. This would make it Honda's first AWD high-performance hybrid vehicle, and one of the priciest on the market. But an IMA system would add weight, cost, and further reduce cargo area, and the car doesn't really have much wiggle room in these areas to begin with. Otherwise, it's not likely that there's any meaningful amount of additional power or torque that could be added to the car without extensive re-engineering of the package (there's not much that will fit besides the transverse V6 that is already found in the RL). To reduce costs, a 2WD version of the RL could be offered, but the platform virtually dictates that it would have to be FWD, and that doesn't make a lot of sense.

    Perhaps the only remaining option would be to add more gadgets, such as laser (or radar) cruise control, lane departure warning system, nightvision, in-car entertainment systems, etc... But it's my opinion that adding these sorts of options will not increase sales. It will be interesting to see how the RL matures over the next few years.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    I still think its a little early to decide wether the RL will ultimately be a failure or not. The TSX started out pretty slow, and has been steadily gaining in sales. On the other hand, the TSX still subscribes to the traditional "bargain luxury!" Acura formula. I think it just took America awhile to get past the EX-V6 Accord that can be had for similar cash. The RL is luxurious enough, but is it a bargain? IMO, not really. Acura's options with the car are hybrid power, which seems unlikely. HSD is buttery smooth enough in operation for Lexus duty, but IMA is somewhat clunky in its operation as it cant "mix and match" electric and gas power at once like HSD can. Its fine for a Civic HX, but I dont think people would be willing to accept it in what would probably be a $56K Acura. I dont think Acura could sell cars at that price yet anyway.

    The other option is an A-spec package, which probably will show up at some point. Again though, I dont see this making much of an impact, as maybe 1% of TLs are A-spec.

    Acura should've skipped the AWD, and made the car a more agressively styled RWD car. This could have saved hundreds of pounds, eliminated the understeer problem that requires SH-AWD in the first place, and gotten the performance more in line with the 300hp rating. Then price the car at maybe $43K, and Infiniti and Lexus might find it much harder to sell M35s and GS300s.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,069
    My use of the term AWD all the time was perhaps more of a "writing device" -- sort of meant to conjure up the sing-song like phrase from top 40 radio "all the hits all the time."

    On the other hand, the constant move forward by many auto manufacturers into AWD technologies (current fave of course being to point out that your AWD version is "rear biased" AWD or as Audi is now starting to use in their copy "asymmetrical" AWD) is expected to accelerate in the next 2+ years and newer (lighter, more efficient, better perhaps) technologies are presumably on the horizon that when coupled with hybridization (?) begin to make even more sense.

    Since we (my wife and I) have two cars (well, we have three at the moment) at any one time and we basically designate one "his" and one "hers" we will stay with AWD all the time (hers a new X3 mine a new M35X (soon).)

    I started out pointing out that I didn't mean to be taken literally.

    "Never mind." - E.L.
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