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Luxury Performance Sedans

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  • Perhaps you have been invited to the Road & Track / Car & Driver "editor for a day" event. If you have, and it was the same one that seemed to be touring in our neck of the woods (Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, & West Virginia) you know that you were treated to the chance to ride and drive and evaluate a BMW 530 vs a Cadillac STS (V6) and a Lexus GS. You actually had a couple of different comparos, so if you have participated in this event, you may have had different cars to compare.

    But, no matter what you are comparing, there will always be a Cadillac in the mix.

    At the time, this didn't seem odd or out of place in any way -- the cars under eval were in theory at least competitors.

    I fully expected the BMW to be the accelerating, braking and handling champeen.

    In both of the day's comparos, the Cadillacs flat out beat the other competitors. Objectively, or at least quasi-objectively, the CTS and STS models "kicked butt."

    Of course, by asking appropriate questions AND then after all the Sturm und Drang being ushered into a tent that was obviously a portable Cadillac showroom, it hit me: this "editor for a day" event was rigged.

    The BMW was a 2005 225 HP car with standard everything and this means small wheels and tires -- especially since the STS was "sport everything," including big and wide 18" low profile balonies on shiny optional chrome wheels.

    The interior of the BMW's were all black, the Cadillacs had a creamy ecru interior that somehow made the car seem less confining and open.

    I'd even bet, but I can't prove it, that the BMW had the minimum allowable air pressure in its High Performance All Season tires and that the Cadillac had the maximum allowable air pressure in its Ultra High Performance Summer Only tires.

    The Caddy with its sport suspension and w-i-d-e tires was composed and calm, and by comparison, the STS's 255HP made the Bimmer seem downright anemic.

    Three people plus a "pro" driver were given the opportunity to drive the six cars each twice around "the track" (cones set up in a huge asphalt parking lot.)

    Most of us were "car nuts" (men and women alike) -- and most of us were biased in favor of the BMW. Until the very end, I think most of us couldn't figure out why the BMW seemed to wallow, understeer and have difficulty with probably over 700 pounds of passenger mass.

    Had they NOT ushered us into the Cadillac tent after the festivities, I am convinced I would be here telling you I might have given the Cadillac a short shrift while I was shopping (I had had my new A6 about one month at the time of this event, so there was no turning back.)

    Instead, I am here to tell you that these cars are obviously more alike than different and that they are indeed quite sensitive to suspension settings, tires and wheels. More sensitive than I would have imagined.

    Indeed, to underscore that point, I must remind you that I have now been living for ONE FULL WEEK with my new higher air pressure and with more air pressure in my front tires than in my rears -- and loving the significant improvement in "turn-in" and at least the reduction of the sensation of plowing (that Audis, and some other nose heavy LPS cars are "famous" for.)

    What cannot be rigged, of course, is predilection -- that is your predilection for an Acura, Audi, BMW, Cadillac or whatever.

    Many of us have been saying for some time now that our passion for these LPS cars has little basis in logic or the scientific method. We are, as noted earlier, quite badge influenced (some of us, more than others.)

    I had to smile when reading the pronouncement that "The fact of the matter is that most people buy a BMW because most models have the best drivetrains/chassis combo in the industry."

    If we would change the word "fact" to "opinion" and "most" to "many" I could support this statement.

    As it stands though, the fact is that Cadillac has the best drivetrain/chassis combo -- and it is verifiable by your amateur peers and the pros alike.

    Of course, as noted, the results, from one point of view, were rigged.

    And, make mine Finlandia -- because it really, really is the best, no really.

    Badges, we don't need no stinkin' badges!


    Oh yes we do. :shades:
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    I also wouldnt be surprised if the Cadillacs at this event were ringers themselves. Are you 100% sure that Cadillac's engine and suspension were completely stock? The engines could have custom ECUs on them, new intakes, exhausts, etc, and new Bilstein or Eibach shocks and custom sport springs for the suspension. Being GM, I would be surprised if that was not the case.
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,243
    As it stands though, the fact is that Cadillac has the best drivetrain/chassis combo -- and it is verifiable by your amateur peers and the pros alike.

    Hmmm, interesting! I cant challenge your view since the last Cadillac I drove was a 74 Cadillac Eldorado 25 years ago! The first car I ever drove!
  • We need an "Emotorcon" that signifies sarcasm. While I am of the opinion that the BMW and the Cadillac were both stock, the differences seem to boil down to the fact that the STS we were offered had the optional (but I would imagine fully stock componentry) sport suspension, tires and wheels -- and as I conjectured, inflated to the max.

    The BMW although technically a 2005 was the OLD lower horsepressure engine with a 5 speed steptronic.

    The "comparable" in my opinion, BMW would have been the then current vintage which would have had a 6 speed steptronic and a 255HP 6.

    Yes, seriously, no sarcasm, the Cadillacs were able to be tossed about with greater aplomb than the BMW. The Cadillac was crisper, tighter and overall just better. It is a shame (if we really wanted to be objective) that cars cannot be tested back to back EXACTLY this way. Then, the performance aspects -- the objective aspects -- could be ascertained both via stop watches and the seat of your pants (literally.)

    I seriously doubt, however, that being afforded the ability to test drive thusly would do much to wear down the predisposition to "wanting" a certain fill in the blank LPS car.

    My buddy won't have anything but BMW's -- he knows it, I know it, he knows I know it, his wife knows it, we all know it. Yet he tests Mercedes-Benz "comparable" offerings and the whole time is calling them "porky" and "an old man's car" and probably some other funny at the time epithets. Now, the fact that the Mercedes did seem less athletic and perhaps "porky" to me too is besides the point. The Mercedes was an S class and my friend ended up [testing and buying] with a BMW 7 with some "sport package" option that gave it huge wheels and tires, sport suspension and a lower final drive ratio.

    The test in this case was rigged -- but heck, he rigged it himself, he tested the porky Mercedes against the much more athletic (as configured) BMW. Assuming there is a sport package offered (optionally) on the Mercedes, I often wonder how things would have gone had he tested a sporty Merc against a porkier Bimmer (bygones and it probably makes no never mind, since he was biased in favor of the BMW and against the Mercedes.)

    I'll bet the non sported up 7 would have been no less porky (he said in hindsight.)

    My friend points to "the little blue and white propeller" and says that makes "all the difference."

    Hogwash.

    At that price level either one of these cars would be great -- and since both of them at that test drive were RWD cars, I wouldn't have either of them here in "we have winter don't you know" Cincinnati. Puzzling, too, in the winter my friend drives a Jeep Liberty 'cause the Bimmer is useless on slick surfaces. Rather, he calls me and says "bring your 'innie' today" thinking it clever calling my Audi an Innie (yea, I groan when he says that, but it is funny the way he says it.)

    The point is -- my friend is probably more like most of us LPS posters here on edmunds than he is different. He is 99.999% certain the BMW is the best. And, even moreso than I think even I am, he is unwilling to change brands.

    He would have been mortified had I actually taken delivery of that Infiniti M35X even though he thinks I have "settled" for a car with four rings instead of a blue propeller.

    I was (past tense) getting fed up with the value proposition as I then saw it with respect to the LPS from Ingolstadt. There was no 530xi for sure for sure at that moment in time and the M35X is so darn close to having most of the driving dynamics of the BMW and the cool technology of the Audi [and it was $200 bucks less than the Audi on a lease] it truly was a no brainer.

    But, the Infiniti was NOT my first choice for a car, it was my "optimum" (read compromise) between the car that I wanted and the price that I had determined I was willing to pay.

    The badge (in my case, Audi) mattered -- but not $200 per month for what seemed to me to be a comparable vehicle.

    My wife, too, wanted a new Audi A4 3.2 ($44K MSRP) but when a new BMW X3 ($47K MSRP) was $103 per month less AND could be had with a stick shift, the blue propeller won over her certainty (at that moment) that the Audi was the better car.

    Now, the badge and the actual experience of owning the BMW have changed her tune -- indeed, she pokes much fun at me for getting the A6, as she now knows the 530xi is out and can be had with a stick shift.

    Probably we all have a singular predilection when it comes to our LPS cars.

    Audi was either very smart or felt forced to figure out a way to get me into a nearly $54K A6 for less than we had been quoted for a $44K A4 about 2 months prior.

    We'll see what happens next time -- I just mailed payment #6 of 36 today, I figure I'm back in the hunt a scant 24 months from now.

    Wish I could "justify" an S8.

    But, I might "settle" for a BMW 530xi, especially if they still offer manual transmissions on the 2008 models.

    :shades:
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,243
    We need an "Emotorcon" that signifies sarcasm

    In this case the Emotorcon would beep negative in terms of sarcasm! During 1980 I did learn driving in a Cadillac Eldorado, no kidding!

    I will revise one of my prior statements as suggested by you to the following :

    It is the opinion of many most BMW models provide the best drivetrains/chassis combo in the industry.

    There that sounds less rhetorical than my prior statement! ;)

    Also I am not 99.9% blindly devoted to BMW like your friend! I would pick the BMW3 or BMW5 over all the competition not because of the BMW brand but because of the models themselves! If Honda sold a car like a 3 series I would say the hell with luxury badges and buy a Honda instead!
  • I felt so unclean after this event -- I dutifully took the clipboard they gave us with the form for the test of each car and filled it out.

    This was before I knew this was a Cadillac "sponsored" event.

    Now, the "guys" from both C&D and R&T were there (but not any of the big names, of course) so while I tend to think the rigging was real, I also think it was done within the parameters that could be ordered off of the option list.

    The Cadillac had had all the sport option boxes checked off, not so the BMW.

    All the cars had about 2,000 miles on them, so while I guess there could be reasons to doubt the veracity of this "editor for a day" event -- I think it would be a slippery slope for C&D and R&T to put their names on such an event and have it be subsequently revealed that the cars tested were special "one off" versions rather than "available to all willing to custom order their cars."

    Knowing what I know now just about the air pressure in my tires, I can think of plenty of ways to enhance the Cadillac and hobble the BMW with impunity.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Heh. You youngins! I learned on my Grandfather's '67 Galaxie 500.
  • jrock65jrock65 Posts: 1,371
    http://www.detnews.com/2005/autosinsider/0511/10/C01-377888.htm

    "The engine and transmission have plenty of expansion room. The V-6 could easily be scaled up to deliver 300 horsepower and is designed to support turbocharging and direct injection, said Samardzich."

    You guys think that this engine is going into the successor to the Lincoln LS?
  • mexibecmexibec Posts: 114
    >If Honda sold a car like a 3 series I would say the hell with luxury badges and buy a Honda instead!

    Would you buy a Z4 or an S2000? Why?
  • I have to believe that the Cadi/BMW comparison was a fair comparison of a “sport” equipped Cadi vs. a standard 530i. I have driven all of the cars covered in this forum (multiple times) in an (as yet unsuccessful) attempt to find one that I wanted to buy. I always use a base comparison car when I do this so that I have a common frame of reference. Although I am not supposed to mention it on this forum, my reference standard is a $28,000 manual transmission 2005 Subaru GT Limited (fitted with 225 summer performance tires rather than the crap AS Bridgestones which come with the car).

    I will admit that I am biased towards BMWs. From my first Alpina 1600 in 1967 through 1990 I always owned BMWs. That said, I really did not like the base, non-sport 530i. It floated. It wallowed in turns. The steering was scary at high speeds. The Subie whipped it. I am certain the sport-equipped Cadi did too. The fairer comparison would have been a 530i Sport.

    Out of all the cars on this forum, the one I like best is the M35/M35x. I would probably rationalize the fact that they are thirsty. But, they are just flat too noisy – clearly noisier than my reference car which costs 2/3 as much. I wish they had more sound proofing and a taller 6th speed top gear.

    But if you are driving the cars covered on this forum, you should also try a 330i. The Sport model, in particular is a real, classic BMW, without all of the electronic game nonsense (iDrive, Active Steering etc.) of the more expensive cars. It is quick, comfortable and really sweet to drive. My only problem: it is a size smaller than I was looking for, and I have not been able to get past the value proposition: a properly equipped 330i Sport or 330xi costs $41 to $42K. That is awfully close to a comparably-equipped base M35.
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,243
    I have not pondered such a choice since both the BMW Z4 and Honda S2000 do not suit my family lifestyle! That is why I have to settle for the compromise of a sport sedan/wagon !

    But hypothetically if I was single or an empty nester I would pick the Honda S2000. Why? Because I love the idea of listening to its motorcycle pitch while reving between 6k to 9k rpm! I've heard the S2000 loves to rev. Also the S2000 is cheaper than the Z4!
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Yes. It may show up in the Zephyr as early as next year. The current LS is supposed to die off pretty soon. I'm pretty sure its replacement is going to be based on the AWD version of the Ford 500, itself borrowed from the Volvo S80.

    Apparently DEW98 will continue, but only in the next Jag S-type, which will not get a shortened version of the aluminum XJ platform as previously planned.
  • warthogwarthog Posts: 216
    Got all of you beat. I learned on my family's 1956 Chrysler Imperial. Now THAT was a back seat!
  • jjacurajjacura Posts: 808
    Maybe I can find a way to post a picture of me with my first learner a '52 Chevy! It was a :lemon: but I loved that car!
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,243
    Wow, and I thought I was an old timer!
  • My first recollection of a car was a 1951 Hudson Hornet, the first car I actually drove (illegally) was my dad's 1953 Hudson Hornet with "twin H power" and a turbo hydra matic transmission.

    When I became old enough to legally drive the thing, my dad helped me get the old relic running and other than the fact that it had both standard brakes and steering (the amount of pressure required to stop the car required literally "standing on the pedal,") it was clearly a car that had to have been as the saying goes, ahead of its time.

    This big car with this HUGE i6 and twin carbs was clearly the LPS of the early and mid 1950's.

    I don't miss it at all -- but I do have fond memories.

    God, I'm old.
  • sdiver68sdiver68 Posts: 119
    deleted pending further research
  • There are some "more seasoned" men here than I, but I wanted to share my embarrassment of driving my mother's 1976 AMC Pacer to high school. :blush: It definitely wasn't considered one of the "cool cars", nor did it have a rocket engine. But at least it got me from point A to point B... I heard every joke from "pregnant Volkswagon" to "moonbuggey"...

    On the other hand, why isn't the Pacer on the list up top of LPS? If we're comparing Avalon's, why can't I compare my Pacer?! ;)
  • jensadjensad Posts: 388
    Wow! You folks are reminding me to comb my white beard. I indeed remember the 1950 Plymouth "6" my dad and then my mom uses to teach me to drive.

    First car was a 53 Chev. Loved the car. Good memories from a gone bye era.

    Hope all is well with all. Good luck to all and stay safe.

    jensad
  • jjacurajjacura Posts: 808
    I well remember the Hudson Hornet and the radio commercials..."Step down into a Hudson". My grandfather always drove Buick Roadmasters with the dynaflows and if you rode with him in the front seat you were warned not to get too close to his coffee can (Spitoon) that rested on the hump in the middle. The luxury cars were Cadillacs of course but the owners of the Packards rode in style as well and that one might have been ranked among the Luxury cars but definately not an LPS. Studebacher and Plymouth were common family cars and it was always a kick to see a Nash Ambassader roll by! Hey at 64 it's easy to remember further back to Pre-WW2 cars. Rode around in many of them during the 40's.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    My friends actually liked the Galaxie. Granted it wasnt a Mustang, but it was a 500, and it was big and loud, which was all you really needed in those days.
  • Mark Cincinnati, it's good to see your words regarding the comparison tests... Cousin offered us a 'green slip' (works for D/Chrysler). We shopped the 300C which I liked, but the boss lady vetoed. I had never even considered a Merc, but, when at their 'store' I saw their E 320 CDI. The only 'green slip' available was for '05. Ordered an '06, knowing, at least a little bit, that Merc had build problems lately. I am a little anxious, and the E320 interior is a big disappointment compared to Audi's, but price, among other things, kept us out of another Audi. I admit my A6 2.7T was the best all around car I've ever had, the TT 3.2DSG was a lot of fun, but I AM an old man, and, finally going with Mercedes.

    Perhaps, in my next life, Audi will regain the respect it deserves as a true world class automobile, and retain its' resale value better. I hope the old lady who got all that money for the lawsuit on 'unintended acceleration' chokes on her wine cork!!
  • cdnpinheadcdnpinhead Forest Lakes, AZPosts: 3,312
    Keep us posted when you get your CDI. While Merc quality/reliability issues make me reluctant to follow you, as a diesel fan I'd be very interested in your impressions.
  • laurasdadalaurasdada Posts: 2,725
    My earliest auto recollection was of my father's Borgward. If I remember, and I was quite a young 'un then, it was red with a cloth, fold back sunroof. My Dad (I'm old, he's older ;) ) always had a place in his heart, and garage, for the slightly off-center car. Saab, before they became cool (and well before GM. I learned to drive in a '71 Saab 99, 4 speed manual with "freewheeling" tranny), Renault Le Car, 1956 MB 300C four door convertible (huge, had to flip the rear view mirror up like a periscope to see above the stacked convertible top). And a Datsun 260Z. Mainstream you say? It was a 2+2 automatic. Ok, not as wacky as the Le Car.

    My mother thought that the Pacer was so cute that every woman in the U.S. would want one. So, instead of the car, she bought AMC stock. Neither, as it turns out, was to be a brilliant investment.

    Fun posts here, I'm a lurker/reader. But only an "Entry Level Luxury Performance Sedan" driver. But maybe some day, if the wife stops shopping... :blush:

    Mark, "God, I'm old." Better than the alternative!

    '13 Jaguar XF, '11 BMW 535xi, '02 Lexus RX300

  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,269
    The "alternative" is inevitable.
    The E60 is a magnificent machine.
  • . . .or at least it seems that way, since there was substantial dialog about/from the Infinit M buyers. Moreover, the fact that the Mercedes E sells well is hardly represented here.

    Anyone with M's care to give a full report on 5,000, 10,000 or more miles? Ditto some of the other LPS's?

    Inquiring minds. . . .

    BTW/FWIW:

    My A6 turned 9,000 miles recently and other than the pushbutton starter button issues (the fourth one seems to be holding its own) and the fact that the DSP surround sound settings revert to "normal" from time to time, the car in every other way has been flawless and "most excellent." :shades:
  • docnukemdocnukem Posts: 485
    I have 8k miles now on my M35x. From a driving/handling standpoint, the car has been flawless. Mixed highway/city mpg is at 17.

    I had one of the first cars off the ship, and there have been two bugs. One is a rattle that was coming from the headliner. This was fixed on the second try (but they now need to re-seat one of the two backseat cushions as they did not re-install it completely--the back cusion juts out about 1-2 cm). The other problem is with the driver's seat. At about 6k miles, I began to notice it slip forward about 1/4-1/2 inch with heavy braking. They have a new bracket on order for this (at which time they are planning on fixing the rear-seat as well).

    Some M owners complain about noise. I know this is louder than the GS and RL, but noise (other than the now-fixed rattle) has not been a complaint of mine.

    I find I appreciate the styling more and more. The bourbon interior with the black exterior always gets positive comments (the people at the dealership always say they love the combo, but rarely see it).
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,243
    The death knell was heard month ago and here is confirmation: VW is no longer in the LPS market! The Phaeton will no longer be sold in USA. I believe the same applies to Canada?

    DETROIT -- Volkswagen AG will pull its pricey Phaeton sedan from the U.S. market in February following the car's mediocre reception from American buyers and the company's attempt to focus more intently on offering affordable products.
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