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Luxury Performance Sedans

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  • deweydewey Posts: 5,243
    The percentage of buyers demanding sticks are decreasing but the models offering manual trannies seem to be increasing.

    Acura TL, MB C350, Lexus IS(300 and 250), Infiniti G have all begun solely as automatics but now they are also offered with a stick.

    It appears that LPS vehicles that emphasize the "P initial" will continue offering manuals.

    The most surprising exceptions are the new Lexus IS350 and the Audi A4 3.2 which do not have sticks. Shame, shame, shame.

    Manual is not only a German obsession. Just try imagining a Subaru WRX sti or a Honda S2000 without a stick?
  • sergeymsergeym Posts: 262
    That's exactly my point. He was granny-shifting, but who does not? Auto tranny drivers routinely put pedal to the metal. Manual tranny drivers try to shift smoothly, need to worry about clutch life, miss shifts and so on and so on. Too much to worry about not enough time to go fast. BTW Cadillac claimed 4.6 0-60 mph for CTS-V. Most magazines got 5.0-5.5 sec and they tried very hard and many times to achieve those numbers. No sane CTS-V owner would push his/her car as hard as mags do. So an average CTS-V owner can only dream of low-5th. 545 auto on the other hand when tested by the same magazines showed 5.2-5.5 0-60 mph. So I knew I will not be embarrassed by CTS-V.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Still, as SMGs continue to improve, and costs decrease, I could see SMGs being offered in more and more of these cars. BMW did not originally plan for there to be an M5 with a MT at all, and there still will not be one in Europe. A Honda S2000 with a SMG could be fun.
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,243
    There is no denying your 545i is one very fast car and the performance differential with a stick can be considered insignificant. It all boils down to preferences. For a few folks having a stick in a sporty car is a deal maker while for most folks it is a deal breaker.

    As Lexusguy pointed out new trannies like SMG/DSG may make a stick redundant for even more people than now. In my case it makes no difference since I would still pick a manual 6 speed Audi over a DSG Audi.
  • At the time I got my A6, I was driving a 2003 allroad with the 6spd. I shopped for a "like sized" car that had AWD -- at the time, the new BMW 5's w/6spd were not on the market.

    AWD was a deal breaker.

    I am very pleased that BMW has continued to offer the 6spd in the 5 series. I am, however out of the market for at least 2 years.

    My evaluation of my current automatic is that it is the best one I have ever had -- but still not as good (subjectively considering, fun, performance, control, etc.) as the manuals I have had and that my wife has in her 2005 BMW X3 3.0.

    I curse if forced to sit in traffic with an auto, too. I still see no reason for the transmission to be chosen due to traffic congestion. Were congestion of that sort -- frequent and regular gridlock, perhaps -- I would hope there would be public transportation.

    I am happy you can have what you want. I don't want anyone to not get the transmission in the car they want. What used to be the key differentiation for me was first and foremost AWD (which Audi has had for over two decades), followed by a manual transmission offering (also which Audi had even through the C5 A6's.)

    Now after these decades, "all" the LPS cars come with or offer AWD, and only BMW offers AWD + Manual transmissions. The conclusion (not based in reality of course) that I have come to is that these LPS cars have much more alike than different. Further, it would seem to me that the distribution of purchases (again not based on reality) would be overwhelmingly manual in the BMW and of course auto in everything else.

    Couple this completely non-fact based opinion with the statement that in less than 6 months, my local BMW dealer is selling 40% of the 5's as AWD and you would think there would be an even stronger migration of folks (like me) who want both AWD and manual to BMW -- apparently, it just isn't working out that way though.

    My only other choice, at the time, included a BMW X3 and ordering an Audi A4 3.2 (which was not yet offered with the stick shift.)

    Wanting a car of the size of the LPS crowd, my choices, sadly were limited -- I took what I perceived was the best compromise du jour.

    Either the SMG or DSG, however, will probably suffice -- so, I await, "next time."

    It is good to see a sub subject (transmissions) is stirring up the conversations. If nothing else, that is a good thing. :shades:
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    I have had to creep in frequent and regular congestion for thirty to forty-five minutes on a daily basis - it made me forego my beloved manual transmissions, also. I think if you had to do it, you'd understand. We're not talking about being stopped - yes, you can deal with that by shifting to neutral and waiting to go again. We're talking about creeping where you are constantly shifting to second, either from first or third - not only does it wear out a clutch, it wears out your left leg - and your patience. :)

    Oh and no, there is no public transportation that will get me from where I am to where I was going. :mad:
  • tayl0rdtayl0rd Posts: 1,938
    ... There are two carmakers that will always offer MTs and they’re both German—BMW and Porsche. ...

    I don't know about BMW since they're really pushing that SMG. You can even get the SMG for FREE on the 550i. Porsche, on the other hand, probably will always offer a true manual, considering their decision to use one instead of the cliche paddle shifters on their best car ever, the Carrera GT.
  • My first 10 or 12 cars were stick shift. My first "sporty" car was a '57 Triumph TR3. When
    I had to start a 2 hour-30 mile--stop and go--commute from Orange Co. to downtown Los Angeles in 1963, it became one huge headache and got rid of it. My '72 Mazda RX-2 was a real ugly little 4 door, but it could get second gear rubber and embarassed a couple Porsche 911 T's in the "Stop Light Grand Prix".(wouldn't stick with an "S" though and red faced Porsche upped the hp/torque on the "T" in '73--dang). Those were the "good old" days? My current "toy car" is a '91 Mazda RX-7 convertible. It is fun to "troll" for babes with my little little Yorkie--sadly she gets all the attention--but the point I'm getting to is that it has automatic. Around town in heavy traffic a manual is a pain for most of us in my opinion. On the open road I would still enjoy one I think.(Lucky for you younger folk I don't plan to drive that way again although I did enjoy the power of my '94 Cad CST when passing on a 2 lane highway or merging onto the freeway). Even when"speed shifting"--tough on cars--broke an axle once and stripped the ring and pinion gears another time and blew more than one clutch--an automatic is only a little slower and less costly in the long run if you are aggressive as I once was. And if you really blow a shift, repairing a manual costs more than replacing an auto as I discovered.
  • . . .too old to rock 'n' roll (shift for myself, apparently) and too young to die (willing to accept either the DSG or SMG, however.)

    Brings to mind that phrase from Robert Frost, "nothing gold can stay." But in my case perhaps it should be "death be not proud."

    Or while I'm being literary, maybe, "Death of an Automatic Transmission. . . ." or something like that.

    This "clinging to the manual transmission" is itself an inability to see reality.

    I'm doomed. :shades:
  • dhamiltondhamilton Posts: 873
    I'm with you. I have had sticks all my life, my last 2 cars and current truck have auto tranny and I am going nuts.
    For me it's the engagement factor. It's the difference between the driving experience, and the driving spectator. My S4 will have a 6 speed manual. I live in Houston one of the most heavily congested areas of the US. I'm sure I'm one of the few,The proud, the tired left footed... :P
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,243
    I don't know about BMW since they're really pushing that SMG.

    Economics dictates that BMW will keep manuals within the next decade at least. Why?

    Supply and demand. BMW would cherish the day when it will be the only company offering manual sport sedans. Once the manual market is monopolized by BMW, the profit margins for such a narrow niche will be too tempting to give up.
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,243
    In this world there appears to be two types of drivers in which the majority fit somewhere in the middle


    Active drivers who want to be engaged even if it means pressing a clutch during traffic jams every single day. In fact I have nostalgic memories of driving a VW GTI without power-steering.

    Passive drivers who prefer electronic nannies and conveniences that will minimize the level of driver input involved with commuting.

    Ofcourse the above two categories are a bit extreme in describing a majority of drivers but I am willing to wager most driver have more in common with the passive description.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Ah, but was the DSG ready when that car was in development? Or was Porsche looking at a different SMG for it? Porsche's tiptronic autobox is no better than anyone elses. That would've been a VERY poor choice for the Carrera GT.
  • . . .transmissions will probably put an end to all this debate if they turn out to be as good as many say they are.

    I, for one, have test driven an Audi TT 3.2 DSG and I found the feeling when depressing the go pedal to be "strong" -- there was NO driveline "lash" or whatever that slightly disconnected feeling is that one gets with even the best autos today.

    I, for one, will be quite happy with that outcome, considering that I am doubtful that BMW will really continue to pay the price to certify their 5's (for instance) for the US market in both auto and manual.

    Perhaps it is that they will "rule the world" by virtue of being "last man standing."

    We'll see.

    I read an article, wish I could remember where, that proclaimed (well, sort of) at least a near term cure for our energy woes (and it wasn't a hybrid nor was it a fuel cell since they are not yet ready for prime time -- neither are hybrids if you asked me):

    Super efficient turbo diesel engines mated to [7spd] CVT transmissions -- offering immediately the best of all possible worlds (so the article suggested.)

    CVT provides the ability for an engine to maintain essentially a steady RPM level (result, better economy gas or diesel) and diesels can provide the requisite torque to make almost all of us giddy with the power.

    The two technologies are here, unlike battery and fuel cell technologies.

    I can't remember what, if any, drawbacks there are, but heck, there must be something wrong, it seems too easy, too logical, too affordable.

    When I saw the test report on the speed channel of an Audi A8L 4.2 diesel that went on a round trip from London to Wales and back (800 miles) on a single tank of diesel fuel(which means it achieved, in traffic, 40+mpg) -- and it was just a "normal" A8L 4.2 (not some super efficient mule that had been stripped of all the power do dads that an A8L would come with) with one very determined journalist behind the wheel, I became darn near a believer.

    And, that one didn't even have a CVT transmission, just a plain ol' tiptronic.

    Give me strength. :confuse:
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Whatever. :)

    I'm waiting to hear from anyone who negotiates a 30-45 minute "drive" every day at 0-30 mph (on a supposed 55 mph "freeway) for all that time say that a manual shift is the best thing since sliced bread for said commute.

    I'm not one who can afford a beater and a weekend driver, so my daily driver is it. And that commute very unfortunately swayed me to an automatic transmission in my last purchase. I don't like it and in just the last six months I find myself pressing an invisible clutch, trying to shift into 5th and reaching for an emergency hand brake that is not there. These things are happening after a number of (not tellin' ya how many!!) years driving an automatic tranny.

    I'm thinking my muscle memory is telling me something!! ;)
  • warthogwarthog Posts: 216
    "Were congestion of that sort -- frequent and regular gridlock, perhaps -- I would hope there would be public transportation."

    So where the LPP (Luxury Performance Pulman) board?
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,243
    I'm waiting to hear from anyone who negotiates a 30-45 minute "drive" every day at 0-30 mph (on a supposed 55 mph "freeway) for all that time say that a manual shift is the best thing since sliced bread for said commute.

    Ok here is my excuse for manual driving in slow congested traffic:

    Medically clutches are good for your left leg blood circulation. Healthwise double-clutching would be even better(although neither clutching or double clutching has been recommended by the American Medical Association) :)

    I guess to each their own.
  • tayl0rdtayl0rd Posts: 1,938
    Ah, but was the DSG ready when that car was in development? ...

    Yes. They made the conscious decision to go with a standard 6-speed manual. As I recall, Porsche commented that the 6-speed manual was more pure for the car, or something to that effect.
  • tayl0rdtayl0rd Posts: 1,938
    ... BMW would cherish the day when it will be the only company offering manual sport sedans. ...

    I don't think they will get that luxury. Lexus offers a manual in the "down-market" IS250 and even Mercedes offers a 6-speed manual in its C350 Sport as well as Cadillac's CTS.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Well, the clutch doesn't need all of that blood circulation ... have you lived with that need for upwards of 20 years?

    Anyway, this is not what this discussion is about, is it. I'll get out of here with this thread now. ;)
  • james27james27 Posts: 433
    Problem with the 'performance' diesels sold in Europe is that they and their catalytic converters only work properly with low-sulphur fuels. Same problem with the gasoline engines...we waste about 10% of the same engine's fuel economy vs the European equivalent so that our less efficient converters can be brought up to temperature on each cold start. The European converter can be 'lit off' quicker, and thus run leaner by use of a different set of noble metals in their converter vs ours. Now, I've not seen a study determining if the extra cost to refine out that sulphur would make up for the increased efficiency, but that would be an interesting study. The feds are slowly restricting the sulphur in the gas sold at the pumps (and the diesel), and eventually, we may be on the same level playing field.
  • aflcaflc Posts: 8
    AWD was a deal breaker.

    Mark, I've been following this forum for a little while now waiting for my new 2006 A6, and I am glad to see how much you are behind the Audi brand. But, when you mentioned that you would switch brand loyalties based on the fact that others are now offering AWD, I was a little let down. Especially, after reading this article:

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05259/572879.stm

    "We were surprised to find marked differences between one all-wheel-drive car and the next, both on and off the ice, thanks to obscure-sounding factors buried in their spec sheets (see: "torque split"). While the Audi A6 traveled the 60 feet in our ice-rink test in a speedy 6.25 seconds, others were so pokey we wondered if they could beat even the rink's ice-resurfacing vehicle. (The result? BMW 0, Zamboni 1.)..... Out on the slick ice of Northford Ice Pavilion's "Red" rink, the extra power to the rear made the wheels spin, making the BMW feel the least steady of the models we tested..... its front wheels often locked under light braking while the rears kept pushing. Either way, it's far from the fastest machine on the ice. We asked rink employee Chris Ardito to hop into the Zamboni and run a few time trials. He crossed the line in 7.6 seconds, beating even the all-wheel-drive GS by a second."

    I too was looking for an AWD, and after test driving the Audi I was happily surprised by the control. The other AWDs that I drove did not even compare, as is supported by the article above.

    So, I would say that even though you repeatedly state that the new crop of LPS are more equal then not, there is still a lot of catching up to do on the AWD side.

    So....
    If you want a stick go for the BMW.
    If you want an AWD you have to stay with Audi.
    (Deal Breaker?)
  • docnukemdocnukem Posts: 485
    I don't get it. The article was written six months after the M35x came out (more of a competitor to the GS300 AWD, A6, and 530xi than the Cadillac or E). How could the Infiniti not be included? Makes me wonder if the writers were really up on the news (also, they seemed at times to equate AWD with 4WD).
  • tayl0rdtayl0rd Posts: 1,938
    And where was the RL?
  • Given all I know now, what I could get then and what has been happening to this group of cars here is what I would do today. This may completely change in the next 24 months when once again I begin cycle.

    The following assumes similar "deals" and content.

    If there are no manual transmissions: Audi A6, BMW 530xi, Infiniti M35X (or whatever they may call them then.)

    If there are manual transmissions only in the BMW: BMW, Audi and Infiniti.

    If there are DSG or SMG transmissions (and who has them):

    the test drive would tell the tale.

    Audi has had superior AWD technology. They have, however, decided that marketing rather than engineering will win (and they have the evidence to prove it?)

    Audis need to be better weight balanced. BMWs already are. Even the Infiniti is better balanced.

    Audi has caved into the RWD biased AWD camp for the main reason, I assume, to be able to say "we are RWD biased AWD" because unless or until they do that it may be implied that Audi is really FWD with a nod to AWD (like Volvo and Acura, for example -- Volvos brochure says 95% FWD 5% RWD with the ability to redirect power.)

    Audi has used a more expensive instantaneous mechanical torque sensing system with a 50 50 split for years.

    Audi squandered its differentiation (when it was virtually the only AWD premium car it made too little noise, IMO -- at least here in the US market.)

    Now that the majority of the LPS crowd offers AWD and AWD has been the fastest growth segment (from 0 to 40% in 6 months in the case of BMW's 5 at least locally in SW Ohio; and of course in the case of Acura from only FWD to only AWD in one model year, etc,) Audi is or has been IMO forced to say "we too are offering RWD biased AWD -- or will soon. . ." across the model line.)

    Today my A6 is special, my 29th and best (although for emotional reasons only my second favorite -- my '95 S6 holding the top spot) but it is no longer (or shortly will no longer be) differentiated from the other LPS cars the way Audis used to be just one or two short years ago.

    The playing field with the 2005 model years of most of these guys has been leveled greatly.

    I was going happily down the M35X path (at the price) until the Audi deal financially leveled the field and the car itself won out.

    Audi and BMW and Mercedes have to be looking over their shoulders and seeing the M's and even, perhaps, the RL's and STS's feeling the pressure to improve the breed, needing to differentiate themselves.

    My concern (which is actually good for those of you shopping) is that there is more, much more, alike in the group of AWD LPS cars than there is different. Audi WAS, past tense, in a leadership role -- now they are in the crowd.

    The differentiation by virture of manual transmission and very favorable f/r balance afforded by the BMW design is, at this frame of the movie, the best choice. Again, if the steptronic is all you can get in the BMW, I'm back in bed with Audi (or possibly the M35X.)
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    I'm getting a Zamboni!

    I always wanted an AWD convertible that was a stellar on the ice!

    -Paul
  • Plus it is a great "pick up" car (as opposed to a car with great pick up, if you get my drift) the opposite sex loves 'em (so I'm told, since I am happily married.)

    Zambonis Rule! But are they really performance cars or merely luxury sedans?

    :blush:
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,243
    Audi WAS, past tense, in a leadership role -- now they are in the crowd.

    At least Audi is more distinguished in the crowd than Volvo. In the past Volvo catered to people who were more inclined to driving safe environmentally friendly cars.

    That may not be the case today!

    The safest cars are no longer Volvos. Audi/VW is known to have some of the safest cars in the industry based on a recent insurance study.

    People who are inclined towards environmentally friendly autos are likely to drive Toyota or Honda hybrids. I read that the next generation of Priuses will be mainly composed of recycled materials. The new Volvo V8 XC90 refutes the notion of a environmentally friendly auto.

    So what is Volvo's distinction?

    Performance--No
    Handling--No
    Luxury--No
    Interior or Exterior fit and finish quality--No
    Desigh--No

    I cant figure out why anyone would favor buying any Volvo model over the competition? Especially when Volvos are priced like LPS vehicles that have far more to offer.
  • docnukemdocnukem Posts: 485
    The design aspect is subjective. I believe (as do others) that the old "boxy, but good" description of Volvos is no longer true. The S40 is pretty sharp. It is just very small in the back seat. They are still very safe cars. They have as many airbags as anyone. They are also known for some of the most comfortable seats in the industry. While the MSRP is up near luxo levels, nobody buys them for that. And if you were a university professor, I would think the Volvo would be a better choice than a Saab (stereotyping there a little ;) ).

    I am curious as to what the next iteration of the S80 will offer with regards to the other attributes you mention. Unfortunately, Edmunds spy shots make it look like a Taurus (hopefully that is at least partially due to the camo).
  • tayl0rdtayl0rd Posts: 1,938
    Volvo's hook is safety. How much do you value your or your lovedones' life? ;)
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