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Luxury Performance Sedans

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  • sdiver68sdiver68 Posts: 119
    Let us not forget, the Infiniti M has only been out for 6 months in competitive form. So, to achieve 1/2 of the sales of the long benchmark 5 series in 6 months in this ultra-competitive and rightfully picky segment with strong badge preferences and loyalty, EVERY SINGLE ONE of those CONQUEST sales...you are right, sales figures for the Infiniti M DO tell the story.

    Congrats to BMW 5 series this month, they finally won a comparo, having already lost with Car and Driver, Road and Track, Consumer Reports, etc...
  • rich545rich545 Posts: 386
    Wait a second. There was a previous M model just like there was a previous 5. It's not like Infiniti just created the M out of thin air. Yes, the previous version was awful, but I do see them often on the road. You can't just discount the previous car because you didn't like it. Plus, the sales aren't ALL conquests. There are always new buyers entering the LPS marketplace so the M isn't just stealing sales from BMW and MB.
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,243
    Sales are not measures of performance or handling.

    You want proof of my above statement. Look who is number two in terms of sales.

    The MB E. In fact the E is close to a tie with the BMW5 in terms of sales!

    Have any auto mags picked MB E as number one or two in terms of performance/handling in any comparison tests? Nope not what I know of!

    How many forum members here rank the MB E as a better performer and handler than either the Infiniti M or the BMW 5? At least one forum member or maybe none?

    So again why is MB number two in terms of sales?

    Is the MB E's success due to its reliability record? I dont think there are that many masochists!

    1)Could it be because of MB's history of classy luxury cars? Maybe!
    2)Could it be because of conservative MB E styling? Maybe!
    3)Could it be because of status seekers? Maybe!

    If the sales of the E are high mainly because of points 1, 2 and 3 then MB as a company is in big trouble. Why? Because if you did the same kind of survey during the 1980s on Jaguar customers a majority would justify their purchases based on points 1,2 and 3. And we all know about the trials and tribulations of Jaguar since the 1980s.
  • sdiver68sdiver68 Posts: 119
    Yes, I can, and being a former retail corporate controller I think I know how to analyze sales figures :)

    Regardless if the old one was not likeable, the old one had virtually zero sales in '04 and '05. To go from virtually zero to 1/2 of the 5 series in 6 months represents (mostly) conquest sales. Even IF there are new buyers entering the marketplace, these are buyers who mostly otherwise would have purchased an Audi, BMW, Lexus, or M-B.
  • jjacurajjacura Posts: 808
    I wouldn't pretend to know....that's why I asked you. Thanks for answering me. (No secondary agenda.) :)
  • As for being $10,000 more expensive than the M, you get what you pay for.

    So true and for that we can truly be thankful. I can not imagine paying $10,000 EXTRA to sit inside such a god-awful ugly interior :blush: For the life of me I do not undertand how people can stand the interior looks of the 5-Series :confuse:

    Of course we are speaking subjectively hear :) ; however the $10,000+ I saved seems very objective at the moment :shades:
  • tayl0rdtayl0rd Posts: 1,938
    There was a time I would have agreed with you, msu..., but now I've come to actually like the 5's interior. You should go check one out for a while. It's not so bad at all.

    The difference between the M and the 5 is like seeing two people of the opposite gender of you, only one has her/his "appendages" clearly visible for the world to see (the M) and the other has very nice "appendages", but they're neatly and tastefully concealed (the 5). You know they both have great "appendages."

    Being that I'm male and most of this audience is male, I have to use the analogy that the 5 is "a lady in the streets, but a hooker in the bedroom" whereas the M is a firecracker all the time and flirts with everybody. :surprise: :blush: Not that it's a bad thing. ;)

    They're both excellent vehicles that go about the same business in slightly different ways, but the end result is the same; driving excitement.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    "It's commendable that a nearly $60,000 automobile can finally reach reliable status"

    Since when is price an indicator of reliability? I understand Ferraris as horrendous in the reliability dept.
  • drtraveldrtravel Posts: 395
    Now, to the final proof of BMW being worth the premium. They sold more 5's than Infiniti sold M's. What a shock! Perhaps you believe that units sold is an indicator of the premium's worth but I, for one, do not. This particular line of logic has already been discussed as it relates to Audi A6 figures and it applies here as well. Sheer number of dealers (BMW's 340 US dealers vs. Infiniti's 169) could explain plenty. BMW - 14.35 units per dealer - Infiniti - 13.20 units per dealer. Blah blah.

    Two other things to consider here:

    1) M inventory levels are still quite tight especially when compared to BMWs and M-Bs. The owner of my local Infiniti dealership wished his allocation of M was twice what he receives. Based on comments about tight inventories by others this appears to be a common trend among most dealers. In a completely unscientific experiment I visited my local BMW, M-B, Lexus and Infiniti dealerships. Had plenty of choices for all except the M.

    2) Don't underestimate the importance of brand longevity in the segment. BMW and M-B have been associated with prestige for a long time now. Infiniti is the new kid on the block - some would say they really weren't a serious player until a few years ago when they introduced their G35. I'm speculating here but I would guess that everyone who bought an M also considered the 5-series. I'm not quite sure that everyone who bought a 5-series had even heard of the M let alone considered it for purchase. A few years back I was sitting in the M-B service department waiting for my E to be fixed for the zillionth time. I was talking to others in the same situation and we were talking about what car to buy next. What was amazing to me was that many of these same unhappy owners were only considering german cars - few considered a Lexus or even knew about their products.

    Infiniti is very happy with their sales figures.
  • . . .sorry, couldn't resist the Monty Python reference.

    I looked, initially in earnest, at the Cadillac STS AWD (my earnest-ness wilted away completely when I saw $63,000+ MSRP.) I believe I quipped that I had not checked in the glove box, but that "if there was $13,000 or so" in there, well that was how the price was justified.

    Since at least 75% of these cars are leased (in the US at least), it would seem almost irrelevant what the MSRP is in this day of manipulated residuals, money factors and all the ways car companies and their finance arms subvent leases.

    My Audi A6 [non-permissible content removed] for tat (as much as possible) was presumably commanding +$200 a month more than a comparably priced BMW 5 and over $100 a month more than for a comparably equipped BMW 5. A comparably equipped and couple grand less Infiniti M35X was about $200 less than the Audi A6.

    I plunked down a deposit on an M35X and it was placed on order with a four month lead time +/- two to three weeks. When my Audi dealer found out about my order and simultaneously when my wife broke ranks and bought a new BMW X3 (which was priced slightly above the A4 3.2 she had been eyeing), someone, somewhere either at the dealer or higher level approached me with the exact car I wanted (including colors and options) and that $200 price delta had magically vanished.

    The Audi A6 3.2 with almost every option box ticked off was about $53,300; the BMW similarly equipped was $57,000 (and that was PRE the 530xi which is what I would have wanted anyway) and the Infiniti was south of $51,000.

    My who cares about money choice was Audi, Infiniti, BMW in that order. Since I do care about money, the order (at that moment in time -- April or May 2005) became Infiniti, BMW and Audi.

    Once Audi priced the car competitively (actually a few bucks less than the Infiniti and I factored in the "free maintenance" on the Audi as a bonus), my preference reverted back to the car I wanted since price no longer was a barrier.

    Perhaps we all, to some extent, rate things thusly: price independent and price dependent.

    Heck, if an Audi S8 could be had with no money down for 36 to 39 months (lease) for less than $700 per month, I'd be there in a heartbeat. Not gonna happen, I bet.

    Now, having driven EXTENSIVELY my A6 3.2 and having tested and retested the 530xi (only in automatic, unfortunately) and the M35X, I would say the differences between these three cars is REAL but is subtle.

    Probably the BMW is the best performer; perhaps the Infinti has the best "feature and option set" (thinking of the Journey and Technology packages on top of the base M35X) maybe the Audi really is the pick of the litter as Automobile magazine (virtually alone) bestowed upon it.

    I would be happy with any one of these three -- they are far far more alike than they are materially different. Now in terms of "curb appeal" well that is entirely subjective -- even though I would argue the Audi has the best interior (and I would not be alone in making this argument), when all is said and done, even that is entirely subjective.

    I like the glossy wood look of the Germans, but the matte finish in the Infiniti certainly didn't make the glossy wood of the German [fraternal] twins worth hundreds more per month.

    I love the debate we all have here -- and I hope we each and all continue to rally behind "the best car of the lot of 'em." We can't win any argument about best and "prove it." We can accurately say the BMW outsells the M and that either Audi or Acura dutifully brings up the rear in terms of sales each and every month.

    These facts do not necessarily suggest anything other than quantity sold. But I would assume the one with the most sales is certainly "the most popular."

    My Audi dealer told me that a customer came in and was just about ready to plunk down his money until he found out that the radio station preference cannot be tied to the key fob in use. Now, for me, that transcends anything I could comprehend as rational. But, it was reason enough to kill the deal (or at least it made an excuse of merit in the customer's mind.)

    The software in these cars could be made to do so much more -- gee I wish my car knew it was daylight savings time -- it took me the better part of 30 seconds to change the clock while I sat in my driveway. Yet, perhaps I will demand such a feature as the price of entry next time.

    The manual (instead of power) steering column (that I have had on three prior Audis) on my A6 3.2 doesn't bother me too much, but it seems odd that all the other guys had it on their "comparable" cars. Yet in the three cars that I had that had it, once I had adjusted it to my tastes and matched it with my ignition key, well, I never used it again. Perhaps the cool lane change feature that my wife's 2005 BMW lacks makes up for it.

    What we're talking about here, I think for the good, is almost always subjective.

    Of course, some of us actually can prove that our LPS cars ARE superior, while the rest of you folks have to be relegated to the lesser LPS cars. :confuse:

    Of course this is false -- these are all really good cars (some just a little moreso.)

    :shades:
  • rich545rich545 Posts: 386
    Knowing how to analyze sales figures is fine, but has nothing to do with the discussion. I work in finance too and I have yet to see a financial statement where "Units purchased due to badge" is an item. What I mean is, you're still speculating and I have no way to back up that speculation. The only fact we have is that less M's get sold than 5's or E's. So saying that people are only buying 5's for brand recognition is just speculation, that's never been proven and I know it's wrong in my case. You also don't know what percentage of buyers wouldn't have bought an LPS before the M. All that I'm saying is that without the facts we're all just stating opinions which may or may not be accurate. To say that X buyer was "stolen" from BMW or MB by Infiniti with the M is more than either of us knows for sure. AND we're more likely to make those types of assumption if we also happen to like a certain car. Meaning that bias comes into play with what we "think" is happening when looking at sales figures.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    There's no way the old Passat could make it into this class, but I think the new one at least deserves "honorable mention." It takes more than leather seats to be a real luxury sedan, so Avalon and 300 dont qualify. The interior of a loaded Passat 3.6 though is on par with the best in this class, its faster than the A6 3.2, and it is a sedan...

    http://automobilemag.com/reviews/sedans/0510_volkswagen_passat_02_900.jpg
  • jjacurajjacura Posts: 808
    VW has come a "long way baby". My first "Brand New" car was a '66 Bug. $1,636.00
  • tayl0rdtayl0rd Posts: 1,938
    It takes more than leather seats to be a real luxury sedan, so Avalon and 300 dont qualify.

    Huh? :confuse:

    I don't understand. What could those two possibly be missing that the Passat has?? :confuse: Have you looked at either of them in person?
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,243
    The Passat 3.6 as a LPS?

    Now we are going down that slippery slope again? If a Passat 3.6 is a LPS why not a Avalon?

    The Passat 3.6 is faster than a A6 3.2, but so what? So is a Avalon!

    The Passat 3.6 will only be a worthy car until it is equiped with a new Haldex AWD system. IMO FWD torque steer is a big negative!
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    "I don't understand. What could those two possibly be missing that the Passat has?? Have you looked at either of them in person?"

    First, a luxury sedan cant have "wood" or "aluminum" trim that is wood colored or gray plastic. The Passat has real burled walnut or brushed aluminum trim, and quite a bit of it. The Toyota and Chrylser have the fake stuff. Second, just look at the Passat options list.

    By the way, I just read C&D's review in the Dec. issue. The FWD 3.6 they tested would make short work of any 6 powered car in this class, and could run with the V8s and not be embarrased.
  • Regarding analysis of sales figures and purchase rationale, the only aspect that I can speak with authority on is the one I personally made! I was looking for a 4WD sedan. My initial bias had been toward the Audi A6. I was prepared to consider the BMW 530ix, Lexus GS300 and MB E350. The M35x was a late add-on. It made it onto my "short" list the first time I test drove it and beat out the Audi A6 in the final analysis, i.e., in terms of price, feature content and "overall value" to my way of thinking. For me, the Infiniti M clearly stole "the show"!

    I expect that a lot of folks who have purchased/leased the Audi A6, et. al, may say the same thing about their choice.

    Presuming that we are looking for a clear trend, I think we have to wait and look at the cumulative M/A6/5/RL/E sales histories after a year or two to assess with any degree of confidence. Until then speculation rules! :shades:

    -- Bill Zide
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,243
    So the key to the LPS definiton is burled walnut wood?

    Hmmm, makes me appreciate that burled walnut chair in the corner of my office a bit more, I really should be using it more!
  • tayl0rdtayl0rd Posts: 1,938
    If the BMW 5-series can get through with leather-ette standard, I'm sure the Avalon and 300 can be forgiven for not having wood.
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,243
    VW's biggest error in its US history was to think that it is in the business of LPS!

    And guess who is going to be the new head of VWUSA? Mr. Hallmark the former head of Bentley! Hopefully Mr. Hallmark in his new job will wash away all those luxury notions from Bentley and treat VW as a company that sells to middle class Volks.

    And leave luxury and premium sport vehicles to its VW siblings:

    Audi
    Lambroughini
    Bugatti
    Bentley
  • wale_bate1wale_bate1 Posts: 1,986
    Darn! If only the metal trim in the new IS wasn't aluminized plastic...
    ;)
  • what the heck!

    Can the taillights of the Infiniti M be any more obnoxious? Reason enough not to buy!

    Passat may be an excellent car and all, but anything much over $30k is a poor value, considering VW's bottom-feeder quality these days, with ditto service.

    A properly-equipped, ADEQUATELY-powered 5 is $50k! Anybody paying $50k for an Infiniti M needs a nice padded cell.

    Looks like no one builds anything in the $40k range anymore? The RL SHOULD be there, but isn't.

    Not feelin' this "Performance-Luxury" class right now. Significant flaws litter the landscape. I wouldn't buy there now.

    I'd wait for a 5 with a new 3.5, 275HP and a MT. Then we have something.

    A $50+k something, but at least it's something.

    DrFill
    DrFill
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,243
    DrFill,

    I haven't seen your name in ages. Welcome!

    Agree with everything you posted except,

    I would favor the 3.5l engine in the 3 series more than in a 5 series!
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    I'm not saying it has to be burled walnut. My point was faux trim doesnt pass in the luxury realm.

    wale, the IS isnt a luxury car. Thats the "near-lux" catergory, which also includes the Avalon and Chrysler.
  • mnjoemnjoe Posts: 36
    I agree with markcincinnati (who can't). I went through a similar analysis and test drove them all. Would never have paid $63000 for my V8 AWD STS. But on a lease, it was very competitive. I liked its combination of ride and features. Purely subjective. I preferred its interior (I also liked the wood in the M35x). subjective. But MSRP is not very relevant to a leaser like me. Really liked the Audi, but things like lack of a power steering wheel with memory bugged me, so it came in third. All great cars. What fun to debate. What a privilege that we get to choose in such a stratosphere of sophisticated choices.

    Still love my Caddy.
  • jimbresjimbres Posts: 2,025
    If there's 1 thing that we can all agree on, it's that FWD automatically eliminates any entry, no matter how worthy in all other respects, from consideration for inclusion in this market segment.

    There is a lower rung on the ladder, generally referred to as "entry-level luxury", that includes such well-made & well-appointed autos as the Acura TL & the Lexus ES 330. One could make a case that the Passat & the Avalon should be part of that group.

    But the topic of this board is luxury performance sedans, with an emphasis on "performance". To be sure, straight-line acceleration is a key component of performance, but so is handling. And that's where FWD cars - particularly powerful FWD cars - come up short, unless you're the sort for whom "driving pleasure" & "torque steer" mean pretty much the same thing.

    FWD is simply too "mass market". An FWD platform is an automatic disqualifier for membership in the LPS segment, no matter how many goodies are standard equipment or what badge you slap on the deck lid. It's not an accident that the $30K Lexus ES is FWD while the $43K GS is not.

    Consider Cadillac. Not until it added RWD & AWD models to its lineup did LPS buyers even begin to consider visiting its showrooms. FWD simply has no place in this market segment.
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,269
    I was thinking the same thing. I saw 2 M's the other night. Never saw such ugly tail lights.
    The M looked like a pimp-mobile. Totally tasteless IMHO.
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,269
    Oh my gawd! But what if it's FWD but its got the boiled warlnut?
    What's a mother to do? ;)
  • Since when is price an indicator of reliability? I understand Ferraris as horrendous in the reliability dept

    Actually, that's part of my point. I don't think we should excuse poor reliability because a car is exotic or complicated. If I hear one more Mercedes salesman defend their numerous problems by telling me the cars have more computers in them than the original Apollo spacecraft I may resign myself to becoming a member of the Sing-Sing athletic club.
  • wale_bate1wale_bate1 Posts: 1,986
    OMG! Don't let oac read that... :sick:
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