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Luxury Performance Sedans

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  • chef_jmrchef_jmr Posts: 41
    NEW THOUGHT (it's late, I had some great Burgundy (red) tonight, and I'm tired of discussing the supposed "Real Estate Bubble"):

    I have always consider the "value proposition" when making any purchase (digital cameras, big screen TVs, cellphones, computers, cars...even some wine!) However, we are discussing Luxury Performance Sedans; do we look for value in Luxury items? Luxury goods are those that we purchase, not out of need, but desire...?

    In the comparo, where the "Audi A6 snagged a distant second", the writer states the RL has a "standard features list that'll impress the neighbors" (value?) but "lacks in distinctive styling" (luxury?). If it lacks in one area-- luxury--how does it "win" a comparison by a long-shot? What defines the luxury in today's autos? Where does technology surpass fit,finish,materials and styling in a luxury auto?

    Chime in...good night.
  • greenbeltgreenbelt Posts: 55
    I agree with your self assessment.

    Your writings here take up a great deal more space than your preferences about cars do in the marketplace.

    CR, like JDPowers, represents a broad swath of the automobile buyers and goes far beyond the appliance-seeking under-35 family of four. THE dominate segment of buyers of virtually everything in the U.S. economy for the last 40 years, from toys to bikes to college educations to cars to homes to vacations with the grandchildren,has been the now-graying 50+ year old baby boomers.

    The car companies that are addressing this segment with high quality, reliable, sylish, good performing cars are gaining share and making lots of money. Those that aren't dispite adoring fans that love to rant here and there, aren't.
  • frisconickfrisconick Posts: 1,275
    I think many Acuras are judged as, not doing anything one thing great, but do everything very good. And how can anyone hate the RL or the 49ers :P
  • dhamiltondhamilton Posts: 873
    As far as the forty-niners go, I grew up in the seventies in nor-Cal and everybody loved the Steelers, and hated the niners. When the niners started winning, everyone jumped ship.
    As far as the RL, I think this is one of the most controversial cars in a while as far as people either hate it, or love it. I realize the design is accord-esque, but it seems like people are throwing out the baby with the bathwater. It's kind of like the love em, or hate em attitude towards the last two presidents. Very few people in the middle. If any of the other cars would have won I don't think there would have been as near as much weeping and nashing of teeth. At the same time I'm one of those Acura people that loves almost everything that they put out.. All of this again is just my opinion. All of the cars were awesome and if given one of them, I'm sure not to many of us would complain. Those that would, would complain if they were hung with a brand new rope..... :)
  • bondguy1bondguy1 Posts: 228
    I think that a lot of people if they are happy with there current brand go along with it again...maybe it's the extra loyalty or the no termination fee on a lease that may do it for them. I know that they gave me loyalty of $1,500 on Audi and waived my disposition fee of $250 from my 02'. These aren't the only reasons but sometimes it's just out of convenience. To some people it's just a car and Lexus stands for reliability and quality just like BMW stands for performance. Not that you can't get both in any other or either of these two but most people that I know that drive Lexus whether the LS or GS get another one every three years when lease expires. Nobody I know ever leased an Infinity before the G35 or M35 but maybe those two cars IMO single handedly changed the Infinity company reputation for being able to compete in the sporty and luxury brand sedan markey...because you never see older model M45's on the road (rarely) or Q45's for that matter. Am I right?
  • cstilescstiles Posts: 465
    The reason you see so few older gen M45s or Q45s is because Infiniti sold relatively few of them in the first place. It's just simple numbers.

    Lexus has sold 10 times as many automobiles as Infiniti over the past decade, spanning mulitple segments. They have established a significant base of brand loyalty. Here in the conservative Midwest, there are still thousands of people who just buy one Buick or Cadillac after another every 3 years. There are fewer of these people with each year, but there are still quite a few based on what I see on the road.

    You said: "G35 or M35 but maybe those two cars IMO single handedly changed the Infinity company reputation for being able to compete in the sporty and luxury brand sedan markey..."

    I think it's much too early to conclude that. I think it takes 3 to 5 years of sustained market acceptance and credibility to reach that point. Lexus has earned that. BMW and Mercedes have earned that. Audi, Infiniti, and Acura are still scratching to try to get there, although each has begun to carve out their unique niches.
  • jrock65jrock65 Posts: 1,371
    2005 Consumer Reports - AWD Mid-Luxury Sedan Comparison

    The Audi came in the 2nd place again, which is a good consistant showing for Audi. The A6 had the best fuel economy, but got a low score for controls & displays. The RL placed more at the bottom this time and got a low score for trunk space and controls & displays . The GS got the lowest scores for emergency handling and driving position. The STS placed mid-pack, but didn't get good scores for fit & finish and trunk space. The M got a low score for trunk space and fuel economy as did the others with 18 MPG. Trunk space was an issue for all of them. The GS and A6 had the best scores for noise. The M35x is now CR's overall top rated sedan.

    1. Infiniti M35x
    2. Audi A6 3.2 Quattro
    3. Cadillac STS V6
    4. Acura RL
    5. Lexus GS300 AWD

    Infiniti M35x:
    0-60 MPH - 7.0 Seconds
    60-0 MPH - 128 Feet
    Fuel Economy - 18 MPG

    Audi A6 3.2 Quattro:
    0-60 MPH - 7.7 Seconds
    60-0 MPH - 129 Feet
    Fuel Economy - 21 MPG

    Cadillac STS V6:
    0-60 MPH - 7.1 Seconds
    60-0 MPH - 131 Feet
    Fuel Economy - 18 MPG

    Acura RL:
    0-60 MPH 6.9 Seconds
    60-0 MPH 131 Feet
    Fuel Economy - 18 MPG

    Lexus GS300 AWD:
    0-60 MPH - 7.4 Seconds
    60-0 MPH - 133 Feet
    Fuel Economy - 20 MPG

    Credit: DrewSRX
  • jrock65jrock65 Posts: 1,371
    This is how the luxury sedans now rank, according to Consumer Reports:

    1. Infiniti M35x
    2. Mercedes-Benz E320
    3. BMW 530i
    4. Audi A6 3.2 Quattro
    5. Cadillac STS V6
    6. Acura RL
    7. Jaguar S-Type 4.2
    8. Lexus GS300 AWD
    9. Volvo S80 T6

    Previously, the Lexus LS430 and E39 BMW 5-Series were the best luxury sedans.

    Credit: DrewSRX
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,269
    According to the last issue of CR, the Avalon was supposed to be included. I'm glad they went with the GS instead. I eliminated the GS because I found it difficult to manipulate the seats to find a comfortable driving position. I see CR agrees with me.
    I pick up my new 545i tomorrow.
  • frisconickfrisconick Posts: 1,275
    Not Steeler fans in nor-Cal, we hated the Steelers, Raider fans in the 70's :P

    Yes, these are all truely great cars. I am a new fan of Acura and think the TL is a far more exciting design than the RL, however, I test drove the RL and loved it.
  • Every month someone posts the sales results for the LPS family here on edmunds. At the top of the list, often, is the BMW 5 (sometimes the Mercedes E), at the bottom of the list, often, is the Acura RL or the Audi A6.

    The 530xi (and the 255HP 5 series) haven’t been out long enough to determine what, if any, impact the new urge and AWD will have for the BMW, but there is local evidence that the new engine and the availability of AWD will only serve to make the BMW more popular.

    Regardless of what edmund’s editors or Car and Driver editors, etc, have to say on the subject, it is clear that the BMW 5 series is selected (by customers) about 3 times more often than either the Acura or the Audi. The Infiniti, Acura and Audi may have “beaten” the BMW time after time based on comparison test reports and one-off reports such as the ones in “national” newspapers (USA Today comes to mind.)

    None of these compares has, apparently, done much, if any damage to BMW’s perception in the market place by those who are buying the cars. Heck, Audi’s A6 came out on top in Automobile magazine’s comparison report – yet Audi still fights for its place at or near the bottom of the sales reports month after month.

    Moreover, based only on MSRP, the BMW is often much more money or is lower in content than the Japanese LPS cars; and, a BMW 5 and an Audi A6 when “comparably equipped” often demonstrates a significant price disadvantage for the BMW – yet it still easily outsells the Audi.

    Clearly BMW – for whatever reason – is able to market a car that people want regardless of what is said here and in the automotive press.

    So, as a member of the BMW club (by virtue of my wife buying a 2005 X3), I went to the BMW Store here in Cincinnati yesterday and asked for a test drive of a new 530xi.

    I was given the keys to a $54,500 530xi with the new 6speed Steptronic transmission. I was told that stick shifts and sport package equipped versions (and the sport package does NOT include either bigger wheels and tires or sport suspension) are “ordered” cars only. In fact, the car I was given was an ordered car, for it had a $1200 option that the BMW Client Rep claimed was a “waste” – it had “comfort seats.” BTW, no matter what I did, I could NOT get comfortable in these seats, despite their multiple power articulated capabilities.

    A $54,500 the 530xi is, believe it or not, a “strippie” – no upgraded sound system, no satellite navigation, but skinny 225 x 50 x 17” A/S tires and wheels were part of the deal. Although there are really great and colorful interior combinations offered by BMW, this 5 series was built with the popular (apparently) black on black on black interior color combinations – it was confining and depressing. Black gloss wood built into a black dashboard and the interior was awash with dull black leather. The fit and finish, however, was great.

    My personal dislike of black interiors is just that, personal. I was told that the black gloss wood could be replaced with birch gloss wood – that would have really been a major improvement. Indeed the interior of this car could only be described as “stark.”

    Otherwise, the BMW 530xi automatic was clearly tight, fairly responsive, “adequately” powered (in the same way that an Audi A6 3.2 can be said to be adequately powered.) The 6 speed Steptronic transmission works virtually the same way as the Audi Tiptronic works – i.e., it thinks it is smarter (in full auto mode) than the driver. Thankfully, just like the tip, the step can be shifted manually. Oddly, the Steptronic upshifts when pulled back and downshifts when pushed forward. This seems backwards to me, and I believe it has nothing to do with the fact that the Audi tip is programmed exactly the opposite.

    I could easily get used to either configuration – I just wish all the manumatics behaved with the same “logic.” Pick one, that is my message.

    The 5 needed the extra grunt the new engine offers. The torque seems to come on a little later than either the M35X or the A6 3.2. The 530xi does not feel slow, but it is, to repeat, only adequately quick. Both the Acura and the Infiniti clearly have more urge than the BMW. Subjectively, the A6 between 0 – 80mph feels slightly peppier.

    The new 530xi configured as the one I drove (no sport, unimpressive wheels and tires, etc.) clearly emphasizes luxury. At 85mph it felt like it was barely moving – it was very quiet and stable. Even at 95mph the car did not seem to be in any way even breathing heavily. This new BMW could, were it legal, make the 100 mile run between Cincinnati and Columbus a quiet, comfortable one hour ride, of this I am convinced.

    This car was not floaty at all; it was very very comfortable and very very quiet. Even the engine’s sweet sounds were mostly muted even at full throttle at high RPM’s. This is so uncharacteristically BMW, I was slightly disappointed. One of the things I really like about the Audi 4.2 V8 and 3.2FSI engines is the sound they make at full cry. Even the M35X makes more “noise” than the 530xi – although the M’s engine lacks the refinement of either the Audi or the BMW.

    I’m “used” to BMW’s turbine-like engines, and although I know it was there, it was muted – too much.

    The car was under-tired and although it was typical BMW responsive, it easily pushed its skinny, 50 series, H-rated rubber beyond its comfort zone. I don’t know how much the 18” wheel/tire option costs – it has to be worth whatever it costs, however. I would can the $1200 comfort seats and get the up rated and bigger shoes. Indeed, I would get the “free” transmission and cut the costs an additional $1250, too. I don’t know how much it would cost, but it would seem that the new 530xi would be an even better compromise of luxury and sport if it had been equipped with the bigger wheels and tires, manual transmission, sat nav and high zoot stereo.

    My guess is, that it still would have had its wonderful engine still muted too much, isolated its passengers from the road a little bit more than I would like (but I say the same about the A6), but these “swap” changes would’ve transformed this car from the “Buick” of BMW’s into the car that I, for one, always imagined it really is, the BMW of LPS’s.

    But, why even bother? When you are, repeatedly, the sales leader – nothin’ you or I say (and no review penned by edmund’s editors either) matters. People are voting with their dollars. BMW is on a roll.

    The “buyer” at Ohio’s largest BMW dealer’s revelation that no stick shifts and no sport packages will be ordered for “inventory,” tells me something else. People apparently want a “gentrified” (Buick-like?) BMW 5 – the BMW buyer orders what sells, not what is the most inspiring and enjoyable performer. Luxury is first and foremost, Performance must be, to quote an edmund’s review, “a distant second.”

    Drive it like you live.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Interesting report. I think part of the reason the 5 still sells so well here is that I'm willing to bet that many buyers either arent aware of new competition such as the M35, or they simply arent interested in paying $40+ for an Acura or Infiniti badge. The E still sells at the top too, despite the fact that its now much older than most of the class. That makes me think that people are buying it because of the 3-pointed star, and not because it and the 5 series are still the best cars in the class. BMW selling a lot of luxury leaning 5s backs up my hypothesis. These buyers arent interested in slalom speeds.

    While you were testing the 530xi, I was at Audi\MB\Porsche in Hunt Valley, and the keys being handed to me were for a brand new 911 Carrera Cabrio with the 6-speed - the only one they had. The sales guy actually caught some heat for letting me drive it at all. An absolutely amazing car.. I was over 120mph on the highway, and having the top down at that speed was no problem. In my XKR, the wind gets out of control around 80mph. Oh, if only used Porches were affordable. Anyway, that should prove that at least some of us Lexus drivers still know what a real driving experience is. If Lexus could make the SC430 a little more like the 911 Cabrio and a little less like a 2-door ES330, I might actually be interested.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Very interesting results, but is that really the E320 or did you mean the E350? Has CR tested a E350 yet?

    M
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    The E still sells at the top too, despite the fact that its now much older than most of the class. That makes me think that people are buying it because of the 3-pointed star, and not because it and the 5 series are still the best cars in the class.

    The E and 5-Series still sit at the top of the charts due in part to status, but more importantly they offer much more choice than anyone else, especially the E-Class. Only Audi offers awd on both their V6 and V8 sedans, but MB has wagons with a V8 or a V6 with or without awd, a diesel, and a AMG models that now comes in wagon form too. The most awesome people carrier on the market, the E55 "Estate" as they say over there. Now why the new A6 isn't doing better is beyond me, it offers as much choice (minus a AMG-like model and the diesel which are niche models) in sedans as Mercedes does.

    M
  • jrock65jrock65 Posts: 1,371
    The dramatically redesigned RL went on sale last year as an all-new model featuring a 3.5-liter VTEC V-6 engine and the groundbreaking Super Handling All-Wheel Drive™ system. The increased performance, exciting new styling and an assortment of exciting interior features have pushed the RL to record sales in 2005. For 2006, Acura introduces an optional Technology Package for the RL, which adds three advanced new features:

    * Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) - uses a grille-mounted radar unit, motorized seatbelt E-pretentioners on the driver’s and front passenger’s seats and an automatic braking system to monitor potential frontal collisions and help reduce the impact on occupants by alerting the driver, tensioning the seatbelts and slowing the vehicle.
    * Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) – To compensate for changing traffic flow, ACC adjusts vehicle speed automatically by applying throttle and/or brake to maintain a consistent following distance.
    * Michelin PAX Run-Flat tires - helps provide enhanced safety and security with continuous mobility of up to 125 miles at up to 50 mph following a tire puncture.

    New horsepower/torque ratings: 290 horsepower SAE net (Rev 8/04) at 6200 rpm, 256 lbs-ft torque SAE net (Rev 8/04) at 5000 rpm
  • sergeymsergeym Posts: 262
    I drove 2006 M35x several times and honestly believe that my 2005 545 is a better car. Actually M35X felt underpowered even compared to my 2002 540.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    "record sales in 2005"

    Heh. Some nice spin there. Sales are up 200%!... over a car that was selling 700 units a month.
  • jrock65jrock65 Posts: 1,371
    "Actually M35X felt underpowered even compared to my 2002 540."

    Well, that's not surprising. The 540i has a stronger V8 engine and is lighter, while the M35x is a V6 and is encumbered by the weight of an AWD system.
  • mnrep2mnrep2 Posts: 200
    You would need to drive the M45 for a more direct comparison. RWD, and a V8. The M35X is a V6 and AWD. Yes it should feel slower than the 540/545 :surprise:
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    While the number of available choices plays a role I think that the brand is a bigger reason for sales performance. The M comes in 3 primary flavors...if you take the 3-biggest-selling 5-series variants, they still total a higher number of units than the Infiniti M.
  • rich545rich545 Posts: 386
    Thanks for the report. I can confirm that the "real" wood for the dash looks a lot better with the black on black interior. My 545 came with the anthracite maple trim and I made them switch it to the poplar wood grain at no charge since I was taking a car from their inventory. The anthracite was depressing, and really fake looking IMO. Anyway, about the sales figures for the 5. One thing that I find happens everytime anyone mentions that it is selling very well compared to its competitors (especially on this site) is that people feel inclined to try to speculate on why that is as if it's impossible to imagine that people simply "like" the new designs eventhough they may not. It's always "it must be brand loyalty" or "they must not be aware of what the competition offers" or some other completely speculative justification for the purchase that has absolutely NOTHING to do with the car itself. It just seems like people have a hard time saying that BMW and Mercedes build cars that a lot of people like. I realize in this Bangle era for BMW it's difficult for some people to imagine, but I've met vastly more people that love (not just like) the way the E60 look than those that don't. The one's that don't just seem to be more vocal in their dissent which is their right. Anyway, this is a long-winded way of saying that MB and BMW clearly build cars that people want justifications aside. Let's just give them some credit for that.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    "I realize in this Bangle era for BMW it's difficult for some people to imagine, but I've met vastly more people that love (not just like) the way the E60 look than those that don't."

    Exactly. And to my post up a bit. The people who do these comparos are out of touch with the marketplace.

    With the exception of a few people on this forum, the people I meet tend to really like the new Bangle styles.

    I can't understand why condescending remarks, such as buying a car for status is said in these forums? Quite frankly if I want to spend my $50K I'll spend it however I like for the reasons I like, for the cars I want.
  • jjacurajjacura Posts: 808
    Gee and I thought this was a "No Spin Zone" forum! :P
  • cstilescstiles Posts: 465
    I sure hope Capt Phil is okay. We haven't heard from him in a long time, as we motor on in our own little worlds.
  • jjacurajjacura Posts: 808
    Thanks for the reminder cstiles. "SUPPORT OUR TROOPS! WE LIVE IN THE LAND OF THE FREE, BECAUSE OF THE BRAVE."
  • msu79gt82msu79gt82 Posts: 541
    I can't understand why condescending remarks, such as buying a car for status is said in these forums? Quite frankly if I want to spend my $50K I'll spend it however I like for the reasons I like, for the cars I want.

    Couldn't agree more. I imagine it will be very difficult to justify needing any of these fine LPS vehicles we are talking about. Any LPS is not a NEED it is a want/desire. Therefore any LPS purchase decision is absolutely about fullfilling the buyers own personal wants and desires - and not every seat meets every fancy :shades:
  • aas5aas5 Posts: 50
    The E still sells at the top too, despite the fact that its now much older than most of the class. That makes me think that people are buying it because of the 3-pointed star, and not because it and the 5 series are still the best cars in the class.

    The E and 5-Series still sit at the top of the charts due in part to status, but more importantly they offer much more choice than anyone else, especially the E-Class. Only Audi offers awd on both their V6 and V8 sedans, but MB has wagons with a V8 or a V6 with or without awd, a diesel, and a AMG models that now comes in wagon form too. The most awesome people carrier on the market, the E55 "Estate" as they say over there. Now why the new A6 isn't doing better is beyond me, it offers as much choice (minus a AMG-like model and the diesel which are niche models) in sedans as Mercedes does.


    I don't know the breakdown of Mercedes sales by type but I think E would be by far the best seller and model choice would not have as dramatic effect on sales as you would think.
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    Status may mean less to people on this board than it does to the 'typical' LPS buyer. And maybe it means zero so some of the people on this board (though if it really means nothing then such folks might as well remove the badges from their cars).

    But status is a very real, and imho major, factor in the real world. BMW and MB sales would be quite alot lower if their cars didn't include the company badges and were somehow unrecognizable as products of BMW and MB.
  • rich545rich545 Posts: 386
    Wouldn't you think the C Class would sell better than the E given that it's cheaper which means that a larger group of buyers can afford it? The 3 is the bread and butter of BMW sales for that reason so I would think it would be the same for MB.
  • hihomikehihomike Posts: 111
    I was very impressed with your report on the 530ix. Those points you covered, you covered exceedingly well. I just got my 06 530i (new 255 hp engine), and found it more potent than the 05 530i, which I test drove before making the choice on the 06.

    I work at an Infiniti Dealership and the major reason I did not purchase an M35 or M45 was because of the stiff ride and stiff seats. I have a very bad back and found the Audi, the Acura and the M series much too hard for comfort. When I drove the Mercedes E350, I found the same uncomfortable experience. Then, when I sat in the BMW 5, it was so very satisfying to be comfortable in a sedan without having my back ache for hours after driving it, I had to have one.

    You mentioned the "skinny" tires. I agree that an 18" version might be more adept at handling the stresses of the highway, however I've also found that 18" and 19" tires and wheels add a stiffness to the ride that I am trying to avoid. The M series sport models are very hard riding and stiff due to the 19" wheels and tires and are very noisy on the road. The luxury sedan version of the M series uses 18" tires and wheels. My Dad just bought one and I still found it a bit harsh.

    I have never owned a BMW - I have had Mercedes Benz vehicles in the 80's and 90's, however after reviewing the data on their lack of quality build, and after driving the new ones, I found them unappetizing. I've also had Audi's and Lexus vehicles, and of all of them, I found the Lexus vehicles more suited to my lifestyle. Then, I drove the new BMW 5 - and I was sold on the spot. Since I am in the automobile business, was able to get my BMW for 1000 over invoice + MACO, or about $1350 total over invoice - which was excellent considering the fact that it's an 06.

    You are correct in your assessment that, even though comparative reports on competing vehicles found the 5 series behind the 8 ball, they are still selling more units than any of their competitors - even with the higher price tag. That says something about the quality of the vehicles they produce and the reputation they command, something Mercedes had, but is fast losing. A friend of mine is the General Manager at a Mercedes dealer on the West Coast of Florida, and he told me he has been experiencing more and more customer complaints about the lack of quality build and problems associated with every vehicle he sells. He told me he took back 9 Mercedes vehicles in June, and last month, had to take back 14. That may not sound like many vehicles, but his dealership only sells 70 or 80 a month, or a 10% return. Many of the returns are lemon law related.

    In summary, I agree completely with your assessment of the 5 series and stand firmly behind BMW - I've had my 06 since mid April, and haven't had it back to the dealership since I took delivery - not one problem, not one issue, not one complaint. Let's hope this continues for a few more years.
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