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Luxury Performance Sedans

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  • jimbresjimbres Posts: 2,025
    The "rise of the machines" from an automotive perspective is underway -- and that rise is a rapid shift to AWD starting, in many cases, with the LPS machines.

    Wouldn't you agree that the "shift to AWD" owes at least as much to the low cost of today's AWD systems as it does to whatever intrinsic goodness this drivetrain configuration has?

    In 1988, BMW introduced an AWD variant of the E-30 3-series: the 325ix (not xi). As I recall, the ix cost fully $5K more than a base 325i, which amounted to a 20% premium. Perhaps because of this, the ix's sales were underwhelming & BMW did not bother to develop an AWD version of the E-36.

    Flash forward to 2001, when BMW introduces the xi versions of the E-46. Now, the additional cost has been reduced to $1750, which, for a 330, represents a premium of only 5%. To no one's surprise, the xi's are best sellers from day one.

    When AWD adds no more to the cost of a car than a stereo upgrade or factory-installed nav, it will soon become the default layout. Dealers order more for their inventory & buyers soon find it easier to say "yes" to AWD than "no".

    My fear is that at some point, manufacturers will decide to drop RWD for all but the high-performance versions of their LPS offerings. RWD will be available only to the well-heeled enthusiast who can afford an M5 or an E55, while the merely affluent masses will make do with AWD.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    "My fear is that at some point, manufacturers will decide to drop RWD for all but the high-performance versions of their LPS offerings. RWD will be available only to the well-heeled enthusiast who can afford an M5 or an E55, while the merely affluent masses will make do with AWD."

    Would "making do with AWD" really be so bad? I suspect that probably around 80-85% of the US auto buying public are not car enthusiasts, and thus wouldnt miss RWD one bit. For us 15-20%, how often would we really get to use what RWD can do that AWD cant? Also, with proper balance, even AWD cars can go into tail-out power oversteer. The 911 Turbo and Ghallardo are both AWD, and I dont think owners are complaining.

    I think the perfect AWD system is what ATTESA (and I think X-drive does this too) where they can shift fully 100% of torque to the rear wheels, and power the fronts when needed. If you take away the nose-heavy front end plow typically associated with traditional AWD, then whats the prob?
  • dave330idave330i Posts: 893
    "If you take away the nose-heavy front end plow typically associated with traditional AWD, then whats the prob?"

    Weight. AWD system will add 200-250lbs to the car. Also the suspension on AWD cars tend to be ~1 in higher than RWD with factory sport suspension.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    The G35x adds just 180lbs to the standard G, which is no more than the average passenger. 0-60 is probably around .2 of a second slower, and the AWD option is $1800, when comparing base MSRPs. Considering that the G35x adds the ability to drive in winter, I think its a fair trade. Is your average driver really going to notice a 1in. difference, even if they would've gotten the RWD sport version?
  • jimbresjimbres Posts: 2,025
    Would "making do with AWD" really be so bad?

    No, it wouldn't be the end of the world. Somehow I'd find the inner strength to soldier on.

    But I do subscribe to the notion that AWD adds weight & complexity, thereby diminishing the "tossability" of an otherwise well-balanced sedan. If one doesn't need AWD, why should one put up with that? I have a 4WD SUV that gets me to & from work (actually to & from the train station - my real workday ride is a Long Island Rail Road M7) & that I use for weekend driving when the weather is bad. Thus, I don't need an AWD car - LPS or otherwise. I have all of the bad-weather mobility I need, & I don't believe that AWD enhances one's driving experience during the warmer months of the year.

    When I bought my weekend car - an '01 BMW 330i with sports package & stick - I test drove the 330xi. It's a fine car, but it felt heavier & was noticeably less nimble. (Back then, the xi's sport package was largely cosmetic & did not include hig-performance tires or firmer suspension. That may still be true.) I'd give up some agility if I needed AWD, but I don't, so why should I?
  • dave330idave330i Posts: 893
    "Considering that the G35x adds the ability to drive in winter, I think its a fair trade. Is your average driver really going to notice a 1in. difference, even if they would've gotten the RWD sport version?"

    If driven back to back, people should notice a difference between AWD & RWD version of the car. Especially a performance sedan.

    A RWD car isn't helpless during winter if you put snow tires on. If the snow is heavy enough, even the AWD version won't have the ground clearance to move.

    How many bad weather days are there in a year? Let's assume 60 days (high for most of US). That means during those 60 days, AWD will have a performance edge over RWD. That leaves rest of the year (305 days) where RWD will have a performance edge (more fun) over AWD.

    I'll take swapping to snow tires and carrying some chain vs. AWD.
  • mnrep2mnrep2 Posts: 200
    This exact discussion went on last fall in the Entry-Level Luxury Performance version of this forum :D Look for postings in the 4th quarter of 2005. I come down firmly in the awd camp, and specifically chose the g35x over the BMW or Audi. The fact that ATTESA awd can be 100% RWD was just one of the reasons. The X drive in 2005 was never able to be 100% rwd. Driving the car this winter has proven to me that I made a great choice. The car is really quick, has the awd powering the fronts as well as the rears when I need it, and drives like a rwd sports sedan when I don't :P
  • dave330idave330i Posts: 893
    Could you tell the difference between G35 & G35x when you test drove?

    How many snow days did you have this past year?

    Grats on choosing to carry ~200 lbs of ballast all the time for those snow days.
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,243
    "The Acura RL's price point is in foreign territory for us," Mike McGrath, chairman of the Acura dealer council, said at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention here. "Maybe Acura doesn't have the brand image" to sell a vehicle at that price.

    link title

    I disagree with the above statement. An expensive RWD V8 Acura could compete any day with the cars from Lexus or Infiniti.

    So now there will be a new de-contented Acura RL that will sell for about 40k! I guess this proves that the Accord platform has its limits in the luxury area.
  • mnrep2mnrep2 Posts: 200
    Grats on choosing to carry ~200 lbs of ballast all the time for those snow days.

    Well thank you ;) I already knew that I wanted awd so I didn't need to test drive the 330i, the rwd g35 or the a4, although I have ridden or driven the Audi and the 330. On the roads that I drive I loved the small compromise that the g 35x offered vs the rwd version.

    In 12,000 miles both my wife and I are thrilled with the performance and handling of this car. It is great fun pulling away from rwd or fwd cars at slippery intersections. It is also nice to drive right up our steep driveway without having to get running starts.

    More food for thought: Snow tires don't handle very well compared to summer/all season tires on roads that aren't snow or ice covered. For 6 months of the year my Goodyear RSA all season grand touring tires provide better cornering grip than snow tires :)
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,269
    Oh well Tagman, it's the same as with computers and HDTV's.
    After you commit to one for the long term, you must agonize as the newer, better and usually (but not always) cheaper stuff parades in front of you over the ensuing months.
    I am committed to my 545 lease for another 29 months.
    I enjoy the power of the V8, but do notice the small but noticeable diminishment in refinement compared to the wonderful inline 6.
    That 330 turbo pretty much sounds like my next vehicle if it is all it is cracked up to be.
    I can't wait to test one when it hits the showroom.
    If I like it, I will just have to suffer in silence for a while. :(
  • Traction is based on coefficient of static friction X weight X cosine of slope. Odds are you had the most weight over your drive wheels, so you made it up the hill.

    I agree and that's why I basically disagree with the original poster regarding FWD in snow and ice.
  • 2WD configurations will (I don't know when, of course) "soon" be relegated to the entry level cars and the ultra ultra expensive performance cars with more of a nod to nostalgia than performance.

    In terms of performance, although not so much TODAY in the LPS marketplace, AWD variants are often a manufacturer's highest performance cars already. Some are, of course, the ultra high cost versions of such nameplates as Lambo and Porsche, some are the pocket rockets from guys like Mitsu and Subaru and of course who could forget the the RS4, RS6 and arguably even the S8 and W12 Audis.

    In most mfgs pipelines there are high zoot ("zoot" meaning either performance, luxury, cost or all or some of the above) cars "a comin'" and virtually all of them (virtually but not literally) are AWD.

    Perhaps this is because the cost to produce them is lower -- but it would still seem unless AWD was "no charge" that folks wanting pure Performance (or Luxury and Performance in a Sedan aka LPS) would go with a 2WD platform over a 4WD platform, if that were the case. Instead folks increasingly are seriously considering cars with "more than 2 driven wheels" for both performance and luxury.

    Oh yea? Says who? :confuse:

    Recent data, both from the mfgs and such erudite sources as Wards, Car and Driver and Better Homes and Gardens, suggests that AWD is growing in popularity (as measured by, what else, demand :surprise: ) faster than even the pundits and mavens had predicted.

    I have some "performance" imbued [AWD/4WD] literature that I would be happy to email to "anyone" (well almost) who wants it -- you know my e-dress.

    My wife's last BMW magazine was "devoted" (well practically) to x-drive and BMW's commitment to AWD as their next technology to retain the Ultimate Driving Experience (which for the record just goes to underscore my contention that Audi squandered their prowess in this area by virtue of benign neglect of the subject in their Marketing Campaigns [what Marketing Campaigns?] [exactly!])

    Drive it like you live in LPS land! :shades:
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,243
    am committed to my 545 lease for another 29 months.
    If I like it, I will just have to suffer in silence for a while


    You make it sound almost like a 29 month prison term.

    Enjoy that fine piece of engineering of yours!
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    Aye! A couple of posts glorify BMW’s slighty less-shaky inline 6 and you’re having a meltdown? SNAP OUT OF IT!!! I’ll take an E39 M5 with V8 any day of the week over any BMW inline 6. Also think of your dreamboat 911 with boxer 6.

    Poor little non-inline engines ain’t good fuh nuttin’. Sheese!
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    "Snow tires don't handle very well compared to summer/all season tires on roads that aren't snow or ice covered."

    Excellent point. My experience is that most snow tires are terrible at everything but snow covered roads. I've had some snow tires that were literally horrendous in rainy conditions, nearly spun my car. They are also limited in terms of top speed, and are generally noisy and do poorly on the highway. The Blizzaks are the best snow tires I've used, but I still am happy to get them off the car ASAP in the Spring.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    "An expensive RWD V8 Acura could compete any day with the cars from Lexus or Infiniti."

    I dont know that it could. While the Q has never really worked for Infiniti, they've at least been trying since the beginning with a V8 powered, RWD sedan to compete with Lexus. They did a better job with the M than Lexus did with the GS. More importantly though, the GS and M represent luxury and sport, leaving Acura in the akward middle spot, similar to Audi when compared to Benz and BMW.

    Acura's method since day one has been FWD cars that offer luxury approaching a Lexus, but for significantly less cash. The old RL was supposed to compete with the LS400. The new one competes with the M and GS, and is not all that much cheaper. If you take away value from Acura, what's left?
  • tagmantagman Malibu, CaliforniaPosts: 8,441
    Oh well Tagman, it's the same as with computers and HDTV's.
    After you commit to one for the long term, you must agonize as the newer, better and usually (but not always) cheaper stuff parades in front of you over the ensuing months.


    That 330 turbo pretty much sounds like my next vehicle if it is all it is cracked up to be.
    I can't wait to test one when it hits the showroom.
    If I like it, I will just have to suffer in silence for a while.


    Suffer? It wasn't that many days ago that you had explained to me how happy and content you are with your 5 !
    I knew you would appreciate that I showed you the new upcoming biturbo inline 6, but I think you are losing sight of what you still have for the next 29 months.

    Snap out of it, dude! ;)

    Keep enjoying that terrific 5.

    TagMan
  • tagmantagman Malibu, CaliforniaPosts: 8,441
    Wow you actually have to drive 3 hours to see snow during winter. What a wonderful escape

    It's not only a heavenly escape, but it's a great experience to return back from huge snow to the warm climate or beaches within only a few hours drive. It's enough to spoil someone, but I count my blessings every day, as I imagine many others do as well, no matter where life takes them.
    :)
    TagMan
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,269
    I don't want to leave you with the impression that I am unhappy with my 545.
    Of course, I'm happy with it!
    The point I am trying to make is that the inline 6 engine is smoother than my V8 and I do find that mildly disappointing.
    The power of the latter is of course quite intoxicating.
    Then when I found out from Tagman's post that BMW has a turbo 6 330i coming out soon with no power lag, I admit-I lost control of myself.
    But, I am better now.
    My insatiabilistic urges (regarding LPS') are back under control for the moment. :blush:
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,269
    Yeah. That 911 is a rather elusive goal.
    All I'm saying is that when power is taken out of the equation, the I6 is more refined than BMW's V8 in the 545.
    No meltdown. Just a little restlessness-could be the change of weather down here.
  • james27james27 Posts: 433
    Hakkapolitas (sp?) are the best snow tire I've used. They don't make the one I wanted for my current car so I bought some Michelan PA2's. They are quieter than the stock all season Goodyears that came with the car and handle nearly as well as those RSA's (the snows are smaller, slightly). This is on an M35x. I've got a nasty long, steep driveway, and the all-wheel drive and snow tires means I've never been stuck at the bottom where others have. The thing I don't like about the Blizzaks is when not even 1/2 the tread is gone, you've worn off the special rubber compound and they get noisier. Prior to wearing that layer off, though, they probably are nearly as good as the Hakka's.
  • moxiemoxie Posts: 33
    Thanks for the link Dewey. As an added bonus, the link (under "Other Stories") contains spy pics and write-up on the E90 turbo coupe as well as an 330i - IS350 comparo.

    :D
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    When folks make claims that "All-Season tires handle better than snows" or some such, I find myself gritting my teeth. Why? Because not all winter tires are created equal. Blizzaks? Couldn't tell you, I've never owned them. Michelin Arctic-Alpins, Pilot-Alpins and X-Ice tires? Yup, I've driven them. All I can tell you is that either my butt dyno is very faulty or those things handle just as good (if not better in the case of the Pilot-Alpins) as any All-Season tire I've ever driven. Do they handle as well as Pilot-PS2s? Nope, but that ain't the point.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • Grandaddy
    Please forgive me if I came off as harsh as well. Just a German car fan having fun at the expense of a Lexus fan :P
    Apologies
    Dan
  • I had an '82 Accord hatchback that could go anywhere.. Of course I was coming from a '77 Cobra II with RWD and a V-8 upfront, so anything would have been an improvement..

    I hear ya! I had a 68 Mustang (289) followed by a 77 Celica hatchback, both with A/S. The Celica was far superior to the 'stang in snow (duh). BUT--I will never forget the time I had to negotiate the Celica up a long, steep hill in a driving sleet/snowstorm. It didn't happen, even with help (people pushing). In fact, I bailed and spent the next two hours or so pushing other cars up the hill until the plow came through and I could make it to the top.

    When I bought my 530 in December 04, I kept my 92 ES for two reasons: I have a 16 year old, and I wanted a weather car. The ES with A/S unequivocably beats the 5er with A/S. But this year I put snow tires on the bimmer. There hasn't been much snow so far, but the little I've had to drive in has shown me that if I am careful, I can get where I need to be. I admit that I feel more comfortable in the ES in weather, but I don't know whether that is a function of my lack of driving in snow (I generally stay home when the weather is bad), the fact that my last three cars were FWD and I'm just not used to RWD, FWD being the better option for snow, some of the above, or all of the above.

    FWIW, it makes more sense to have the engine over the drive wheels for best traction in snow. But that doesn't render RWD useless. The unmentioned variable here is driving style. You might think it's common sense, but common sense ain't all that common. Maybe that's why Shipo has more success in snow with RWD than some of the other posters. And before anyone jumps down my throat, I'm not implying lack of common sense--at least, not among the members of this forum. I'm saying that some drivers have a lighter touch on the gas pedal than others, which could account for the differences of opinion expressed here.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Thats not the impression I've gotten from them. I used to use Artic-Alpins, I found them noisy and the dry handling rather sloppy, much worse than any top ranked A\S tire.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "You might think it's common sense, but common sense ain't all that common. Maybe that's why Shipo has more success in snow with RWD than some of the other posters."

    Hmmm, are you saying that since I have good success in snow with a RWD car that I lack common sense? ;-)

    "And before anyone jumps down my throat, I'm not implying lack of common sense--at least, not among the members of this forum."

    Ahhh, got it. :shades:

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    A couple of points here:

    1) I've yet to see ANY manufacturer use "top ranked A/S tires" as OEM equipment.
    2) The 225/55 R16 Arctic-Alpin tires that I had on my 530i were quiet and very capable (as in handling) in the dry as well as the wet and were easily a match for even the best OEM A/S tires I've ever driven.

    The above having been said, there are indeed a few high end or "top ranked A/S tires" that are quieter and/or perform better than the Arctic-Alpins on cold dry pavement, however, the trade off for me at least simply isn't worth it, I want winter tires in the winter and summer tires the rest of the year.

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • I do not know the tires used by the LPS crowd by chapter and verse. I have a broad observation however.

    LPS cars sold in the US generally speaking seem to come with or be offered with "name brand" Ultra high or Maximum performance (summer only) tires OR "name brand" all-season tires that are usually just "high performance."

    Having driven on High, Ultra-high and Maximum performance tires of summer season and "all season," I find the lack of adoption of UHP A/S tires (to my knowledge there are NO Max performance A/S tires) to be at the very least, odd and more likely I find this to be a huge oversight (for the US customer.)

    If you are not from the US and have come across this site, there may be some possibility that you don't know how most Americans behave with respect to their tires: ummm, well, we like to leave the same tires on year 'round even when we may live in areas that have a nominal temperature spread of, say 0- to 90+ (F.)

    When I visit Germany and tell the local folks that we do this, they seem somewhat perplexed as if to say "you wear shorts in the summer and long pants in the winter, yet you expect your car to wear the same shoes regardless?"

    What's up with that?

    Beats me.

    I have become lazy, perhaps, in my older age, but were I given the option sheet ability to check off an ultra-high performance A/S tire from a choice of two or three name brand tire providers, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

    Full disclosure -- look at the map -- we do have some snow here in SW Ohio, but rarely, if ever, is a snow event more than a few hour event and we have gotten so darn good at "pre-treating," plowing and "post-treating" our freeways, secondary and residential roads it would be a rare year to actually NEED winter tires (even without my fave drivetrain: AWD.)

    If I lived "north" -- even Cleveland, perhaps -- and I had to use winter tires, well I would probably use UHP summer tires and the highest performance Winter tires I could find during the appropriate seasons.

    Perhaps it is because of our locality/climate/etc that 95% of all the Audis sold locally have all season lower performance tires on them.

    My issue is NOT so much with the all season rubber although many here call them "ignorant" tires or "no-season" tires -- my issue is why we get UPH or Max Perf summer only rubber OR way off the scale lower performance rubber at the other end.

    The only other reason I can imagine is "life span."

    High performance tires of the A/S persuasion can exceed in terms of treadwear the lease term for some folks. A 36 month 36,000 mile lease with some HP A/S tires is a marriage. The UHP summer only tires generally offered may need replacing in less than half of that time/distance.

    Give the customer lower performance but long tire life and they will, ummm, er, gee "rebuy" the car brand since it clearly is easy on tires?

    My $53,286 MSRP Audi A6 is under-tired. The tires, however, have almost nil cash value when the car comes off the truck -- so, I feel somewhat "obligated" to drive my car at what I am certain is only 8/10th's simply because the tires are, shall we say, underwhelming.

    I wonder what would happen if they delivered the car with only 5 spark-plugs?

    Why do we cripple our LPS cars by under-tiring them is the general theme here folks? :confuse:
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