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Luxury Performance Sedans

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  • I'll be in Munich later this month (Oktoberfest, don't you know?) -- and it will be perhaps my 20th visit to Germany. I almost always wander into a couple of car retail outlets whilst I'm "in country."

    I have found that -- based on MSRP -- Audis and BMWs and Mercedes retail prices are closer THERE than they are here.

    Earlier this year, I moaned and groaned about the lease price differential between an A6 and a 530. The 530 was (and remains) more from the MSRP perspective. Then -- 7 months ago perhaps -- the lease per month on a thousands more 530 was over $100 less than an A6.

    Subvented leases, bumped residuals, etc etc etc aside, at MSRP, the BMW 530 and the Audi A6 3.2 shows the Audi at a several thousand dollar advantage IF you option them as closely as possible. The disparity widens if you attempt to configure "option identical" Audi A6 3.2's vs BMW 530ix's.

    Yet, when you go to Germany and price cars, the prices are closer together -- depending on how you look at it, Audis cost more or BMWs cost less.

    Go with this for just a second. Politics aside, Germans and Americans are "modern" countries. We have similar access to information and products. And, we have similar wealth that would allow us to acquire LPS cars with an eye toward preference rather than mono-vision favoring the least cost product.

    So. . .I saw this:

    LPS sales (for August) numbers for Germany:

    Total LPS cars sold: 15,723

    Audi A6 = 5,739
    Merc E = 5,601
    BMW 5 = 2,749
    The rest = 1,634

    The rest = Lexus, Jaguar, Saab, Volvo and a cast of plaster.

    In the US Audi or Acura seem to fight tooth and nail to see who can be last on the list.

    Using the basic rules of price's ability to effect demand, wouldn't you think that since Audis are closer in cost to their German cousins IN GERMANY than they are here, that Audi would be at even a greater disadvantage over its rivals?

    Once again, I wonder how much of Merc and BMW's market penetration and performance is due to the number of retail outlets?

    Who knows how many Audi, BMW and Mercedes dealers there are in the US?

    Inquiring pea brains want to know. :confuse:
  • jrock65jrock65 Posts: 1,371
    Do you know the YTD sales of those cars in Germany?

    More than # of dealers (although I suspect this has to do with it to an extent), I honestly think that it has more to do with "brand" image in the US.

    1) Americans LOVE luxury brand names. MB and BMW has a much higher status cachet in the US relative to Audi.

    2) MB and BMW, relatively speaking, do not have the brand status in Germany that they have in the US. In Germany, people probably don't differentiate THAT much between Audi, BMW and MB in terms of status. All three makers sell a LOT of decontented, downmarket cars in Europe, like the A class, etc.

    3) The A6 is the newest model out of the 5 and the E. Domestic (in this case German) shoppers tend to go for the "newest" thing out.

    4) I would think that because of adverse weather conditions in Germany, the fact that most A6's are Quattro gives it an advantage over the 5 and the E, most of which are RWD.

    just my 2 cents
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    "MB and BMW, relatively speaking, do not have the brand status in Germany that they have in the US."

    I believe you're right. Surprisingly they have that brand status in Japan.
  • jrock65jrock65 Posts: 1,371
    And Asia in general. They love MB's and BMW's over there.
  • ksomanksoman Posts: 590
    I agree with jrock.

    I think outside Germany, the brand image of MB & BMW far outweighs Audi. Heck I've friends who live in UK who clamor for the E rather than either the 5 or the A6...

    As such you see far too few A6 sized cars in europe, compared to the state-side. They are much more into the 3's and C & A4 & A3's... You do see a heck lot of A3's though, don't you?

    As an A6 owner, though not the latest avatar of it, I'm simply not passionate about it's ownership. I like the overall wholesomeness of the entire package, and i think the interior is far more personable than most others despite the irritating excess of buttons and switches. However, it just doesn't make me passionate about it. Now of course, if the plethora of things that break doesn't reign in anytime soon, i'm looking to boot the thing out of my life.

    on the other hand, i'm irritated as hell by the little issues and the # of trips i have to make to the dealer for the 3 series convertible. i'm pissed by the gremlins in my car. it also has a fairly boring interior. but man the delicious drive... now that's a car that makes me smile, just by firing up the lovely inline 6 engine and oh la la, the drive.... yumm yumm good.

    ksso
  • I won't bore you with the whole story but I own an '03 SL500. Most wonderful car I've ever owned. Most unreliable car I've ever owned. Local Sales Manager sympathized with me and called the car **expletive deleted** yet will do nothing to satisfy a 20 year customer. Regional Manager made promise to repurchase car and reneged. Same manager made promise to make payments for time car was in service. Reneged.

    Prior to that owned a '00 CLK430. Not as unreliable as SL but still had plenty of visits to service for electrical problems.

    When the current version of the C-Class was introduced over 30 percent of it's owners reported significant electrical problems within the first year of ownership.

    The prior version of the ML-Class was the worst car Mercedes-Benz has ever put on the road. My local service advisor indicated that they could run a profitable service shop working on ML's alone. There were few of those vehicles that made it any significant time without electrical problems, window problems, and air conditioning problems.

    The last E-Class? Sumptuous ride, wonderful materials, and for the most part very classy. Reliability? Ask the many frustrated E owners and you'll know the answer.

    For almost three years now M-B has stated that they understood that they needed to return the quality of their vehicles to the standards they had set the previous 90-odd years. Long term reliability tests have not indicated that they have effectively done this. Rather than an improvement in quality, '04 vehicles actually showed more problems per vehicle than the '03's.

    Perhaps the greatest indignity and the one I found most amusing was former CEO Jurgen Schrempp's adventure in attempting to drive back to the office in Mercedes-Benz's home city of Stuttgart. Mr. Schrempp found that the navigation system misguided him three straight times in his attempt to get to the office. It's sad that the navigation supplier couldn't manage to get the info right for M-B's home city, and it's even sadder that it took Mr. Schrempp three times to figure out it was wrong. I'm afraid the company has suffered from this same inability to recognize significant problems for some time now. It pains me to make these comments because I've respected what this company has done and had great experiences with M-B autos prior to the last two. I for one, however, will no longer pay premium prices to be their beta tester.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    I would be curious to know how the A8 does in Germany vs. S and 7. In most areas of the world the A8 seems like it is the unwanted step child ridiculed by the BMW and Benz, no matter how good the A8 actually is.
  • I picked up my new M35x this weekend. Got a very satisfying deal from a highly classy dealership in NJ. I have only driven it home and docked in the garage. I will continue to use my '00 Maxima until I am ready to part with her, a loyal and faithful partner for five years. I know the M will be a dramatic improvement to my Max, but my love for Nissans (had '90 240SX and '79 280Zx first car ever) led me to choose over the soft Lex and Accordesque RL. I know my choice is best and can't wait to roar up and down my block day after day in my new M. Infiniti has separated itself from the other boring brands in the LPS market and is superior to its BMW and Merc competitors. It will take a carmaker like Porsche or Mazrerati to make a car to compete with this new M.
  • jjacurajjacura Posts: 808
    I believe Porsche and if I may correctly spell Maserati for you, are in a class that the M can't touch and they have already made hundreds of cars that M can't compete with...IN MY Opinion.
    And also, you might find some others in this forum that believe their LPS choice, quite to the contrary IS not boring. I personally don't like the Infiniti design and would choose Acura, BMW, Lexus, and even Audi over Infiniti...but again IMO.
  • You are entitled to your opinion.

    I looked up the word, "hooey," to make sure it applied however.

    It does.

    I ordered an "M35X" because at the time I felt it was of very high value and the Audi A6 3.2 was priced out of touch with reality and there was no 530xi at the moment.

    The M35X is a fine car, perhaps an excellent or great car.

    I would be happy to have one. It was my second choice, however.

    Your choice IS best for you. The "M" has hardly separated itself from the the other "boring" brands -- indeed IMHO it is the poster child for "boring" (in terms of its styling.)

    Superior? Well, while I am certainly NOT against the M35X, I would have to say that the Acura RL, Audi q, BMW x, Mercedes 4Matics and even the Cadillac STS (AWD) are not bad cars. These cars, in many respects are more similar than dissimilar.

    You should enjoy your car, be proud of your car and I hope the ownership experience is fantastic for you.

    Perhaps rather than declare the rest of us LPS owners of something OTHER than an M as having chosen "inferior" cars, you could regale us with stories about your vehicle without resorting to blanket statements.

    OK, so the M isn't boring to you -- and I already said I would take one -- but there are quite possibly others who will have strong disagreement and will fight tooth and nail the statements such as the ones where their choices have been put down.

    The LPS cars we discuss are not carbon copies of each other, but in terms of their overall features, functions and driving experience the differences are real and are subtle.

    I know that my Audi A6 3.2 is the best and it has separated itself from all these other lesser cars that have the audacity to claim LPS status. Or words to that effect. See? :shades: (Oh BTW, that last bit: just kidding!)
  • jjacurajjacura Posts: 808
    I would concur...the word "Hooey" does apply! ;)
  • I have only driven it home and docked in the garage. I will continue to use my '00 Maxima until I am ready to part with her, a loyal and faithful partner for five years.

    :confuse: I've never heard of anyone buying a car to save for later :surprise: :confuse: I mean, don't get me wrong, I stock up on a lot of stuff at the grocery store when it goes on sale - but I've never stocked up on cars before :blush: Good luck on your M when you finally get around to driving it (before the '07s arrive I hope).
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,269
    With my 545i I get 20 mpg in combined city highway driving and 27 mpg on the open highway from the unbelievable BMW 8. What kind of mpg have you been getting in your superior M 35 with the Infiniti 6? 15-17 mpg?
    If my 545i is boring, give me excess of it!
    :confuse:
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    A reporter is looking to interview folks who recently bought, ordered, or are considering ordering an AWD BMW 5-Series, Cadillac STS4, Mercedes-Benz E350 4Matic, Audi A6 Quattro or Lexus GS300 AWD and is getting the car to replace an SUV. Please respond to jfallon@edmunds.com no later than Thursday, September 15, 2005 with your daytime contact information and the makes/models of the vehicles coming and going in your life at this time.
    Thanks,
    Jeannine Fallon
    Corporate Communications
    Edmunds.com
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    I agree. The GS is probably the least entertaining car to drive in this class, (well except for maybe the base STS that I believe was bashed in C&D) but this is a class of VERY entertaining cars. Fortunately it sounds like Lexus has gotten the IS350 right. C&D had a few nit-picks in their review, but they did not bash VDIM other than to mention that there is no off switch. Its 306hp was good for a class busting 5.1 second 0-60 sprint with an autobox, beating the G35 6MTs 298hp by a good second or so. It sounds like the IS is packing BMW horses and not Infiniti ponies. I'm itching for a test-flog.
  • And I am getting an incredible 30-33 mpg on the highway in 6th gear with my manual transmission BMW 530xi. My average over about 400 miles for the past four gas tank fill-ups is about 24-25 mpg -- very respectable for an AWD car.

    The M is a nice car, but it was a clear second choice for me to the BMW 530xi I bought (first time BMW owner) because of the lack of a manual transmission, the awful gas mileage, the blah styling, and the overwrought interior with the canted-to-the-top console.

    Oh, and BTW, the extra 25 HP in the M35x does NOT make it faster than the 530xi because the M weighs almost 400 lbs more than the 530xi. In a previous post I had mentioned that the lbs per HP that each car has to move are pretty much exactly the same. So they are both equally fast, and the BMW has a MUCH higher fuel efficiency -- go figure!!

    Every once in a while I have to put out a post like this after reading a hundred posts from M owners claiming they have the best car on the planet. Not true, just personal opinions like mine, of course!
  • ksomanksoman Posts: 590
    Thought the chances of me buying the GS are almost close to 0, i've to say, it looks far better than either of it's japanese neighbors. If you were to ask me a year and half ago which car excited me the most, it'd have to have been an RL, but, right now, sadly none of the 3 japanese cars stir my soul. i can bet, they will not break for twice as long or maybe 4 times a long as any of the 3 german contenders, from personal experience. I personally am unlikely to want a 8 cylinder in this category, i'd lie if i said i dont love power, but, my sanity prevents me from buying gas guzzlers and i honestly can say i'm one of the few who despite a family and two incomes still has never bought an SUV or dont plan to buy one in the known future.

    Now of course, my 40 year birthday gift, which comes in 7 more years is decided. Well it was decided when i was 13... It is a jaguar XJR van dan plas or whatever the long version is with supercharger is... that is of course assuming jaguar is still around. of course, if i was to buy purely for "fun to drive" and "as passionate as a lover" reasons, then it has to be a 750i or whatever is the equivalent at that point (and not the longer version).

    But since I've 7 more years to go for 40, i'm still in the sub 7/S category... and who knows, by the time I'm 40, gas might be so expensive that maybe BMW might be marketing the 730i in the US again??? hahahaha

    either ways, today, my ksoman id on edmunds turns 7 years. I'd another id for about 6~8 months prior to this id, but this id still made the 7 years. So i hope in another 7 years, i'll still be using this id on edmunds, ocassionally contributing "nothing" to the forums ;) and hopefully driving the car i dreamed of since i was 13...?

    cheers!
    ksso
  • jrock65jrock65 Posts: 1,371
    "Oh, and BTW, the extra 25 HP in the M35x does NOT make it faster than the 530xi because the M weighs almost 400 lbs more than the 530xi."

    In the only timed test so far that featured both the M35x and the 530xi, the M35x was half a second faster to 60 than the 530xi.

    http://www.edmunds.com/apps/vdpcontainers/do/vdp/articleId=106555/pageNumber=9
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    I definitely like the GS better in person than I do in pictures, which make it look kind of tubby. The M35 is a little more anonymous, but I do prefer it to the looks of the RL and 5. I would like the A6, but I still havent warmed to the Cyrano de Bergerac nose.

    I'll say it again, the logic of Lexus' engine juggling between the IS and GS still completely escapes me. If I were in charge, the IS would have the 3.0L as the base engine, and the 3.5L would come with a six-speed manual from day one. If Toyota doesnt have one thats suitable, buy one. I would also launch an IS350 AWD a year after the initial intro. Save the 2.5L for Japan and Europe.

    The GS would intro with just one engine, a 306+hp GS350 and GS350 AWD. The GS400\430 has never sold well, and surprise!, the current one is not selling well. Lexus crippled the V6 version of the car (which makes for some 90% of sales) with a weakest in class engine, when they could've had the most powerful engine in class. Just skip the V8 until the 4.6L is ready. I doubt anybody would notice anyway.

    I have to say, an XJR VP (or maybe a Super V8 Portfolio), is not the type of car I would expect a 13 year old kid to be drooling over. When I was 13, I wanted a 550 Speedster. Keep in mind that even with the highest end XJs you will still want to buy at least a 2 year old car. The blown Jags dont depreciate quite as badly as the NA versions, but the 1-3 year hit is still huge.
  • Through the first 5K miles with my M35 I have averaged 18.5 MPG in combined city/highway driving. On a road trip I averaged 25 MPG on the highway.

    I felt both the BMW and Infiniti were fine cars - the Infiniti was just a better fit for me but I'm sure I would have been just as happy with the BMW.
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