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Luxury Performance Sedans

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  • bjbird2bjbird2 Posts: 647
    Times change Mark, the competition continues to refine and improve. It wasn't that long ago when you posted the same thing about Infiniti not being an LPS table sitter, and this year you put one on your short list, and almost bought it.
    Times change....

    Anyway, you missed my earlier point. I said that Toyota has built a car with some outstanding performance and features at a reasonable price. My point was if they can accomplish that with the Avalon, why can't Audi, for example, build a car that is just as quick, averages 22mpg, is reliable, and burns regular, in addition to all the other subliminal ques that make the Audi an emotional attraction for some folks? I guess that's the beauty of a competitive market. On the flip side, I could ask why Avalon doesnt use their engineering expertise to replicate the Teutonic emotional appeal. Probably because they want to appeal to a broader market, or possibly there are reliability issues with cutting edge designs.

    We all dream that someone will build the perfect car one day.

    I used CR only for the stats, nothing else, not for the ratings.

    The new Passat may even be a more likely contender for LPS. The 6cyl outperforms even the Avalon (and therefore all these LPS) in the acceleration and mileage stats, does it with Teutonic underpinnings, and an interior up there with the best in class. The 4WD version is pushing $40k. The only thing holding it back is the badge, and Audi/VW reliability issues. The "peoples car" has the pedigree but it doesn't have the perceived prestige and status.
  • Well posted. Being a process development engineer I run into such cases all the time. We develop experiments and DoE’s to test what we can measure. Before that, we run R&R’s to test the reliability of how we measure the attributes we’re looking for. When the dust settles after experimentation (in a nerdy sort of way), we still sift through and ask ‘Does everything make sense’? The Avalon doesn’t quite make sense in the LPS class. The Avalon is a fine automobile no doubt, but there is so much more to the equation than acceleration and the like. I enjoyed driving the Avalon, but the features, ride and driving experience have got to be accounted for as well. All things considered between the Avalon and the LPS class AND if I were driving the cars cross-country repeatedly, I would choose the Avalon for dead-on reliability and great cruising characteristics. Otherwise, any of the cars in this class would take its place…
  • You snuck that post in on me bjbird. Anways, I agree that the MPG on these LPS autos is not a great attribute. That's one reason why I went with the '05 G35 MT. I manage a respectable 24 MPG (mixed driving). It's a shame that the M-series doesn't offer a manual tranny. It was a beautiful vehicle with that exception. Slushy-trannies can't compare to a manual in fun and MPG. I guess that puts me in the non-LPS crowd doesn't it. :(
  • Funny you should mention the 5 series unreliability. CR has recently upgraded it to reliable.

    It's commendable that a nearly $60,000 automobile can finally reach reliable status. I haven't seen the number for the '05's but I know the '04's were listed as one of the least reliable sedans in the market.

    To reflect on the relative reliability of brands I'll simply quote a number across brands. Problems per vehicle at introduction - Infiniti 11 per hundred....BMW 26 per hundred. Models at anywhere between 2 to 5 years of age....Infiniti still at 11 per hundred (industry leading), BMW over 30 per hundred. Not one European model ranked in the top 30 models for reliability.

    An interesting sidebar on Infiniti reliability. A recent report published indicated that there were even chinks in the Infiniti/Lexus/Toyota armor of reliability. The one Infiniti model that was cited as unreliable was the QX56 which is manufactured in the United States(Mississippi).

    The Toyota model cited as having less than their normal stellar level of reliability was the Avalon. The Avalon is manufactured in the United States(Kentucky)

    The worst model ever produced by Mercedes-Benz, from a reliability standpoint, happens to be the ML. Hmm, this model was manufactured solely in the United States(Alabama). Could this be a coincidence?

    As for being $10,000 more expensive than the M, you get what you pay for

    In your opinion of course. In my case, I could not find a single thing about BMW that would convince me to pay the premium.

    Statistically speaking, the M suffers nothing in comparison to the 5 series. The consumers of the "Ultimate Driving Machine" Kool-Aid can continue to state how they can "feel" the difference. The numbers derived from testing certainly do not indicate any clear advantage for the 5 series. To the contrary, many tests still indicate superior performance by the M, even when compared to the new 550. If you "feel" that the 5 provides a superior driving experience then you were right to pay the premium.

    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.

    I also firmly believe that Infiniti has greater difficulty getting people in the door just to test drive their cars. Until my recent experiences with Mercedes and BMW I did not even consider Infiniti as a viable alternative. Their history of rebadging serviceable, but unremarkable, cars created a stigma in the luxury segment that they will continue to fight. Only the continued introduction of cars such as the G and M will overcome that.

    Maybe some day I'll be privileged enough to drive another BMW, but until then I'll have to be satisfied with another car....an M45 Sport for example.
  • "To the contrary, many tests still indicate superior performance by the M, even when compared to the new 550"

    bw, I'm on the verge of ordering a M45 Sport (coming from 2003 E500 and 2000 E55) and the only other option in my mind is the 550. But I have yet to see any tests / reviews on this car which is supposedly shipping already (some have been delivered in US). I find this r-e-a-l-l-y strange for BMW's who are probably the most reviewed cars on the planet. Where did you see a test of this car (let alone "many tests")? Thanks.
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,269
    The BMW 5 series was already selling well with the CR unreliable rating and its perennial whining about the complexities of iDrive that in reality a 7 year old could master in 10 minutes.
    Now that it has been upgraded to reliable, the 5 series will totally cream the M in sales
    as witness the October vehicle sales numbers for the M vs the 5 series:
    2231 vs 4880! A total trouncing!
    And that's with all the auto mags' vigorous promotion of the M in their comparos.
    Yet even in those comparos, if you read the "small print" they always admit the 5 series has the better driving dynamics.
    If you are looking for a bargain, go with the M.
    If you seek something more, the public has voted.....the 5 series, for example.
  • I do not determine it, of that you can be certain.

    I probably would have granted honorable mention status to the Chrysler 300C AWD, since I was able to see and have a short test drive of one of these in person.

    Go figure.

    I saw a diagram or chart of the LPS cars and the "near LPS cars" a couple of years ago. At that time, Audi was in the "near Premium" class (along with a couple of other cars, a Saab and a Volvo.) Someone, or perhaps some consensus that arises spontaneously, seems to move cars in and out of classes from time to time.

    The usual suspects du jour don't seem to get there by virtue of their MSRP, wheelbase or even performance statistics and "feature and option" set availability. Some synergy, perhaps, is identified and "that certain something" gels and ta da "you are now in the LPS class."

    I would assume that we could -- as if we are a source of such things -- list the characteristics that the current group of LPS cars share.

    Yet, even this probably would not exactly be definitive.

    For what is considered today as an LPS car may (I assume it will) morph over the next few years making today's LPS cars salient attributes standard, normal down stream.

    When I was growing up, ONLY luxury cars had power windows, locks and brakes -- most did have power steering however, but even that was optional. Now, however, the cars at the opposite end of the spectrum are expected to have power everything, multiple air bags, climate control (of some kind) and abs, disc brakes and at least minimal infotainment.

    Perhaps someone here at edmunds is a (not THE) recognized authority on who is in the LPS crowd today.

    It would appear there are "8" LPS cars today if you track Car & Driver, Motor Trend and Road & Track's comparo reports.

    For reasons that we apparently understand as technical, we, more or less, limit this forum to what has become the current "standard bearers" of the title Premium Class or LPS.

    That's my take on it anyhow.

    What is yours?
  • cdnpinheadcdnpinhead Forest Lakes, AZPosts: 3,206
    While initial build quality may predict reliability, the relationship isn't clear, at least to me. It appears that the vast majority here lease, and are therefore completely uninterested in what happens to their brand past 50K and/or ~3 years (beyond effect on residual value). A few are.

    I still choose to divide pain-in-the-a** events into three categories: 1) build quality, 2) design robustness (stuff that breaks more than once) & 3) reliability. Warranty, loaner, or not, one is still faced with an intrusive visit to the dealer (two really -- drop off & pick up) for each thing that goes haywire.
  • rich545rich545 Posts: 386
    Yeah, some people buy BMW's and MB for prestige (and as it was also pointed out, people buy Infiniti's and Lexus' and Audis for the same reason), but the huge difference in sales for the 5 and M can't reasonably be completely contributed to badge seeking. I mean, do you honestly think that BMW sells about 2,000 more 5's a month than Infiniti M's just because of a badge? Sorry, but that argument doesn't hold much water to me. I would also have to ask how would anyone really know what accounts for the sales difference unless you asked everyone that bought the cars why they did so? I could say more people buy the 5 because they like how it performs better than the M, but that's not based on anything either. I'm just speculating. The only thing we really know is that people bought roughly 2,000 more E60's than M's last month. As to the reasons, I'm sure they are varied and that there are lot's of them (including badge, performance, lease deals, brand loyalty, etc.).
  • rich545rich545 Posts: 386
    Right, but why are there more BMW and Mercedes dealerships? Companies don't just build dealerships without doing research. It's not a build it and they will come thing. It's a supply and demand thing to me anyway. There are more BMW and MB dealerships because the demand was and still is greater, not they other way around. If there was as big a demand for Audi's they would build more dealerships to meet the need. Fact is, build too many dealerships for the demand and you'll be closing them shortly, build too few and you'll be overwhelmed and eventually lose business due to poor customer service or other problems related to not meeting the demand. The market determines the number of dealerships.
  • 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:
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