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Luxury Performance Sedans

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  • anthonypanthonyp Posts: 1,857
    That isn`t my cup of tea, but I did see a bmw 6 today--convertable with the top down--and it looked quite attractive....Tony
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Really? I think the BMW 6 is the worst of them all, from its droopy "catfish" face to its "trunk from another car" rear. No thanks!

    image
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  • anthonypanthonyp Posts: 1,857
    The 6 has grown on me...I`m just talking about the outside...Just one of those things..At first it was the rear I didn`t like, but now overall I like it and the convertable with the top down is what I saw today.....Not as much as my Audi by a long shot..Tony
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    BMW's designs are either love/hate. My wife hated the 5 series when it came out, but as other car makers do similar concepts, the 5 is looking 'not as extreme' to her.

    The 6 is a gorgeous car and has the best interior of any of the current BMW's. The dash is more like the older style and still seems to have a dash with a more cockpit type feel to it.

    But Audi's interiors are still the ones to beat IMO.

    Convertible with top up (seen in Ensenada)
    Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

    -Paul
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,071
    Some Perspective

    Since I am not a professional writer and since these blogs have a shelf life shorter than the time between pictures of Britney Spears in some alleged act of child-endangerment, I will remind you that in my three-car garage is one 2005 Audi A6 3.2, one 2005 BMW X3 3.0 and one still decorated Martha Stewart 7.5 ft Christmas tree (as it was on January 1st when it was moved (lock stock and ornament) from its place of honor in my living room "behind door three" of the garage.)

    Numerous test drives of LPS cars from three countries (for I'd say at least the last three years) and ownership of some 28 Audi cars over the years has, some would say, jaundiced me (OK, seriously biased me) in favor of that certain feel behind the wheel that only German cars have, but that Infiniti understands (and is sneaking up on) and that both Acura & Cadillac recognize (Lexus, oddly, seems oblivous.) Despite having and enjoying the BMW X3, I've never quite gotten the whole SUV thing, wondering instead why the Swiss Army Knife of cars (at the time), the Audi allroad was not a runaway best seller. Ditto the Audi Avants, BMW Sport Wagons and similar offerings from Mercedes. Seems to me that the station wagons from the Germans offer just about the best of all possible worlds for those wanting some additional space, comfortable seating, luxury and performance all in one stylish package. And, as we all know, 96% of all SUV's never leave paved roads despite their capabilities otherwise.

    I never really got -- not that I don't in many ways admire -- the Cayenne or the Touareg. My wife and I did consider these vehicles briefly but the lack of a stick shift really killed their chances of being picked as far as my wife was concerned. Then they cancelled the allroad, and. . .there you have it.

    Previously -- before last week, May 16th, 2006, to be exact -- all things Audi would at least draw me to them for a gander and then engender at least some lust (gotta have it, gotta have it!)

    The Audi Q7 LPSUV, without having been driven seemed -- after seeing it up close and personal -- to be a vehicle that I simply could not understand. It is, to me, a whale, a boat -- a German Escalade posing as a pumped-up, fancied-up Pacifica. It was the QE2 with wheels.

    I am, at just under 190 pounds and 6 feet, neither very large or very tall. My wife at just under 5'5" -- and her size is "petite" -- is likewise neither large or tall.

    So, with the "Perspective" above as a backdrop, this past Saturday -- a Spring day, beautiful beyond words -- we decided to take the Audi Q7 out for the long test drive we had previously declined.

    The Test Drive

    We chose secondary roads, "back roads," (but not off roads), city streets and the Interstate that circles Cincinnati (275) as our test loop. And, if you'll recall, we always take the test loop twice (at a minimum) to get used to the vehicle then to really put the vehicle through its paces.

    The machine in question was a $55,000+ Metallic Silver and very dark blue (?) leather upholstered behemoth with about $6,000 worth of options (putting it about $2K shy of a fully loaded Chevy Tahoe and $11K south of an almost fully loaded Escalade.) Most notably it had the middle wheels -- the 19 inchers. Everything else seemed pretty much A6 standard fare -- which is to say the interior was spectacular and very well made. In fact, the fit and finish of the entire vehicle was typical late model Audi: i.e., every seat seam was perfect, every electric motor and power-assist whirred in near silence, everything was damped, padded and stitched together as if money had been no object in the selection of materials or the time or labor involved in assembly. The front and second row seats (both rows with separate climate controls) were Leather Barco Lounger comfortable.

    If they had only come equipped with built in recliners and foot rests. . . .

    The Bose sound system, a premium option had the Sat Radio activated and, unlike my A6, the CD changer in this one is built into the dash within easy reach, unlike the C6 A6 which has the changer mechanism in the glove compartment.

    I said it before, the experience in the front two and middle two seats was "like sitting in a big hand" within the sweet spot of a fine surround sound system -- sing along with Randy Newman and me, "every man a king, every man a king and you can be a millionaire."

    The Q7's engine started instantly and made all the right sounds. It was, after all, an Audi 4.2L V8, one of the sweetest sounding engines ever bolted together. And, there aren't enough "o's" in smooth to describe the 6-speed transmission as it engaged precisely and shifted even more "like butta" than my A6 Tiptronic (which, despite my disdain for automatic transmission is second to none in smoothness.)

    The engine, transmission and gearing work together to belie the bulk of the package (nearly 5,000 pounds I reckon.) If it is possible for something this big to feel quick, nimble and responsive, this is a fine example.

    With the 19" wheels and tires, more road noise than I anticipated could be heard, but just barely. The upside of these shoes, however, was a relatively quick turn in at almost any speed under 40 to 45. Body roll below 40mph was well controlled and we couldn't detect any loss of balance that we would have almost forgiven for a vehicle this large with this much ground clearance.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,071
    Some Conclusions

    All things are relative, of course, and it bears repeating that "relatively speaking" this is the Audi LPS of SUV's -- it has the firmness one expects from Audi, the near sports sedan feel one would hope for and decent motivation from the V8. At full throttle, accelerating from a rolling stop on an entrance ramp to an indicated speed of 80+ the sound is typical Audi sweet -- yet here is where the real sense of the sheer heft of this thing is laid out for all to feel. Lots of nice sounds, no sense of friction, but also not much sense of acceleration -- kick-down works, of course, but there really isn't much in the way of any kick, hardly even a lurch could be felt when flooring it from a rolling stop.

    The window sticker say 14 MPG "City" -- that is the one I would use as I actually thought I could see the gas gauge needle fall as the speedometer and tachometer needles rose at full throttle.

    The Audi Sports Sedan of SUV's? Yes, I suppose it is. And, if you are in the market for the Tahoe, Escalade or even some other European "SUV's," you must at least consider the Audi Q7 as a worthy member if not the current leader of the pack.

    Yet, we still thought the thing was way too big.

    After our long test drives (2 of them, remember) we pulled back into the dealership where there were two more couples awaiting their turn for test drives. Speaking with our long time customer advisor, we shared our thoughts as to what we thought of the elephantine proportions and its relative nimbleness. Our salesrep responded that those test driving the Q7 came away disappointed because the Q7 was way way too small.

    Of course, these folks were coming from Excursions, Suburbans and Super sized Yukons.

    I thought, previously, "too big, too late." Now it seems popular consensus is "too small, too late." The sales team seems to think the Q5 may find a more receptive audience since the expectations for the third row seat won't be a factor.

    On the other hand, the dealer claims to have 6 sold Q7's arriving any day now.

    "All for the want of an additional 4 inches of leg room between the second and third row," the customer advisor ejaculated.

    I'm so out of it.

    Duly submitted. :shades:
  • rich545rich545 Posts: 386
    Maybe I can clear up some of the confusion. Why the Cayenne? Because it's as close to a sports sedan you'll come in the SUV arena, and because Porsche needed to build it to survive. So while offering the U in SUV it also has a capital S (particularly the Turbo S with over 500 hp). I guess you could ask why anyone would need that, but why would anyone need a 911 in a country where the speed limit is 55 in most places. Or even the 550 or A6 4.2. Cars that go 155 mph don't make much more sense than SUV that will never leave the pavement in terms of practicality. I would go so far as to say my Cayenne makes a huge amount more sense than my father-in-law's SL55 AMG or my brother-in-law's Viper. What I like about my Cayenne as opposed to my wife's A6 Avant is that the higher roofline makes it easier to get my child's car seat into and out of it, plus the cargo space is more flexible (her seats don't even fold down completely flat) not to mention the fact that the higher seating position has advantages. With regards to the Q7, as far as the U in SUV goes it's obviously very closely related to the Cayenne and Toureg though bigger (more U being the idea). Sure gas mileage is a concern for SUV's, but clearly people feel that the U makes up for it. Isn't it always a concern with V8's anyway? What I really think is that is comes down to personal preference. I'd rather have an SUV than a station wagon. Just never liked station wagons too much. Oh, and the V6 Cayenne does offer a manual transmission it make up for its lack of power.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,071
    My confusion is just that, mine.

    I am not criticizing anyone's selection of one of these vehicles.

    I personally find them too large and then find the fact that others think they are too small to be further proof that robots really ARE stealing my luggage!
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,071
    . . .and progress happily enough:

    Kliky Klik & Grin
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    The engine, transmission and gearing work together to belie the bulk of the package (nearly 5,000 pounds I reckon.) If it is possible for something this big to feel quick, nimble and responsive, this is a fine example.


    Actually, its 5,269 pounds. From the reviews I've seen it's handling considering that kind of heft is very impressive, but I don't think I'd call it quick, unless a 0-60 of roughly 8 seconds for the V8 is considered quick.

    That said, I think the Q7 and GL represent a serious threat to the Lincoln and Cadillac dominance of the full size luxury SUV class in a way that the LX never has. Unfortunately for Audi, I have absolutely no interest in a full size luxury SUV. The RX provides enough space on the rare occasions when we need it, and if I'm buying something so big it wont fit in the RX, chances are its going to be delivered to my house anyway.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    I guess you could ask why anyone would need that, but why would anyone need a 911 in a country where the speed limit is 55 in most places. Or even the 550 or A6 4.2. Cars that go 155 mph don't make much more sense than SUV that will never leave the pavement in terms of practicality.

    Actually, there's one thing that these cars can do that's actually quite useful in modern NA traffic, certainly much more so than a "go directly to jail" speeding ticket for 155. Single lane roads with passing zones. They are all over PA, and PennDOT seems to think that maybe 200ft of passing space (half of which is on a blind corner or hill) is "plenty". When you put your foot to the floor and want to go from 40mph to 90mph to get ahead of the three 18-wheelers in front of you RIGHT NOW only a V8 can do that.
  • sfcharliesfcharlie Posts: 402
    I and a couple of friends, who over the last year have been test driving and reading about luxury sport sedans, have narrowed down the choices to M35x versus Audi A6 Quattro. When you read comparisons in magazines, online, or in such big comparison tests as the one run annually by the Canadian Automotive journalists, unless the editors default to the usual suspect (BMW 5 series, here it would be the 530xi), the two leading contenders recommended to buyers who l love to drive are the M35 and the Audi A6.

    In my own test drives, I found the A6 more nimble ... very subjective, that word, I know, but maybe a better way to put it is that I have been driving a BMW 3 series and, in the Audi I felt as if I was closer to driving a car that size, while in the M35 I had a sense that I was driving a larger car. Actual size comparisons: Audi A6 is longer (bumper to bumper) at 194.2" versus the M35 at 192.6"; but Audi has shorter wheelbase at and 111.9", versus 114.2" for the M35.

    On the other hand, the M35 was quicker off-the-line, when accelerating from dead stop. Audi had a just-noticeable slight delay in responding that has been noted by at least a couple of car magazines.

    Inside the car, I felt more at home in the Audi A6 -- taut, clean feel -- versus my wife and son, who, as passengers, continue to comment on the comfortable and luxurious feel of the Infiniti. Similarly, the control-center screen in the Audi presents radio stations and CD tracks against a black background, while the Infiniti presents everything in full technicolor. I liked the visually simpler black background. But the M35 offers regular push buttons as well, which I'd probably defer to when driving anyway.

    Anyone been comparing these two cars?
  • rich545rich545 Posts: 386
    I didn't say that you were criticizing anyone; I was just trying to give you a perspective on why someone would want a Cayenne or Toureg over a station wagon. Just for the hell of it, I decided to look at the size difference between the A6 Avant and Cayenne because I already knew my wife's Avant is a good deal longer than my Cayenne. Here's how they stack up:
    A6 Avant-193.5" long; 79.2" wide; 57.4" tall; 111.9" wheelbase; 4,167 lbs; 4.6" ground clearance; 33.9 cubic feet cargo space with seats up; 59 cubic feet with seats down.
    Cayenne-188.3" long; 75.9" wide (not sure if that includes mirrors; the Avant's measurement does); 66.9" tall; 112.4" wheelbase; 4,949 lbs; 8.5" ground clearance; 19.1 cubic feet cargo space with seats up; 62.5 cubic feet seats down; 1800 lb payload capacity (couldn't find this figure for the Avant).

    So really, the only way that the Cayenne is bigger is height by 9.5". It weighs a good deal more, but that weight is for the Cay S with the V8 and the Avant's is with the V6.
  • rich545rich545 Posts: 386
    A LOT of money to spend with that benefit don't you think? Don't get me wrong, I love all of the cars I mentioned. It's just if your talking practicality between them and SUV's both make sense in some ways, and not too much sense in others (overkill performance vs. needless off-road capabilities). Hell, my dream garage would be something like a Cayenne Turbo S, 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet and the Audi A8. Currently, the garage and wallet are somewhat lacking!
  • anthonypanthonyp Posts: 1,857
    There are two articles in Architecural Digest explaining design and style....Both interesting Tony
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Well, other than that, and perhaps the ability to rocket up an entrance ramp when there's a gap in traffic on a busy highway, what other reason is there to have 300+hp?
  • rich545rich545 Posts: 386
    Hey, I'm right there with you. That's why I bought the 325 hp 545i two years ago rather than the 530i, and why I bought the 340 hp Cayenne S rather than the base V6 Cayenne. If I had an extra $120,000 sitting around I would have gotten the 520 hp Cayenne Turbo S! All I'm saying is that in everyday driving in the US the extra horses aren't really utilized anymore than the off-road capabilities most SUVs have. I don't know about you, but I've done some pretty good off-roading (not in the Cayenne of course), and I enjoy it almost as much as I do throwing a car into a turn at scary high speeds. It's a completely different experience without a doubt, but fun none the less. Again, I bought my Cayenne because of it's ridiculous performance for an SUV as well as its utility. If we're talking about the practicality of SUVs I'd have to admit a lot of what I own is overkill. Do I need a 65" TV? Nope, but I sure do enjoy it. Do I need an SUV with 340 hp? Hell no, but I do really like how it gives me a lot of what you're talking about while at the same time being a much more flexible vehicle than my 545i was.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,071
    I am struggling to get by with a 62" Widescreen -- at least it is Hi-Def.

    What a world, what a world.

    I have screen envy!
  • rich545rich545 Posts: 386
    Not trying to stir the pot, but I'd say what a country, what a country! Screen envy is a tough thing, but hey, it's only 3 inches!
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,071
    And then after 65" you'll just have to go to a 70" er, when will it stop?

    I tried to buy the HD DVD player today -- one demo, none in stock. Incredible picture on Serenity the movie.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    What's nice is that the new '06 HDTVs finally have actual 1080p HDMI inputs to go along with their 1920x1080 resolutions. More interesting is Samsung's first DLP RPTV with an LED light engine, the HL-S5679W. The LEDs have 4-5x the lifespan of the old Arc lamps, near instant start-up time, and since there's no more color wheel, there's no more "rainbow effect".

    Unfortunately, the LED set costs $1K more than its Arc lamp powered counterpart, and only comes in the 56" size.

    I really hope you were kidding about actually buying a HD-DVD player. Not only are the first gen players incredibly slow and buggy, but the HDMI 1.3 ports required to actually use the new super DD and DTS 96\24 lossless surround formats probably wont exist for another 2 years! HDMI 1.2 doesn't even exist yet! Not to even mention the whole, "HD-DVD could be the next Beta" thing.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,071
    Currently all 1080p (what little there is) is down res'd to 1080i anyway -- and some of the sources, HD Tivo, for one, allow you to specify 720P which happens to be the native resolution of my EOY 2005 set. I use the component run since I have that built into my house which provides an HD signal from the HD Tivo (programming from DirecTV) in eye popping quality.

    The HD DVD unit (there is ONLY one for sale) is $449, slow slow slow but produces a great picture. My favorite BRICKS retailer here in River City claims there will be a combo HD DVD, BluRay, DVD and CD player this fall from LG (Korean, as I recall.)

    What this has to do with LPS cars beats me -- so I think we'd better cease and desist. My email address is non private should you care to chat further.

    This all started sorta because we were talking about needs vs wants and how LPS cars generally fit into the latter category.

    I just received my copy of the BMW magazine and the next big technology (coming soon one would imagine to the LPS Bimmers) seems to be ACC (automatic cruise control) and lane departure warning and rear camera's DNA spliced together to darn near assemble what one would assume is the pre-requisite to a car that can come close to driving itself.

    We truly are at the point of "anything is possible" in these cars in terms of technology.

    What once were vices are now virtues, kind of thing, methinks.

    :shades:
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,269
    I would think and certainly hope that folks who drive BMW's would not need lane departure warning systems.
    Sounds like a direct shot at the Infiniti M.
    Too bad.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,071
    There is a diagram of a new BMW in the new BMW Magazine that shows several "cones" of radar, sonar, video, etc as if they were force fields on the Starship Enterprise.

    Automatic cruise control, lane departure warning, proximity warnings and avoidance mechanisms are "comming soon" to BMW's. The cars appear to be heading towards offering more and more information, warning, avoidance and "control taking" technologies.

    The GPS system will, apparently, know the degrees of the upcoming left hand corner and will know the ability of your car to take the corner at a given speed. If you ignore the warnings the car will (be capable of) both apply the brakes and even steer to help you avoid an accident.

    One imagines that these systems will have off switches.

    However, it bears noting that the ESP systems (regardless of their TLA's) cannot TODAY be fully disengaged by pressing the DSC or ESP or anti-yaw, bla bla bla button.

    ABS on my first two or three Audis that had this techcnolty actually had ABS off buttons on the dash board.

    No more, it is, apparentely now known that I am not capable of knowing when I might want ABS on or off.

    Now, my opinion on all of this stuff is "mixed" -- I do want more gizmos, literally I want them. But I do not want them to be 100% outside my control.

    Auto drive is within our capabilities, we currently don't have the infrastructure to support it. One would imagine it will be deployed in the not too Star Wars future, though.

    I-Robot indeed.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Auto drive is within our capabilities, we currently don't have the infrastructure to support it. One would imagine it will be deployed in the not too Star Wars future, though.


    Unfortunately, I have to assume that in order to turn "auto drive" off, one will have to scroll through a 27 page lawyer screen warning of all of the dangers of being a human in control of moving vehicle, that crashing is not the responsibility of the automaker, and are you sure you wouldn't rather have the car do the driving while you enjoy a nice cup of tea?
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Some interesting choices, and a very different perspective than you'd get from say C&D.

    http://driving.timesonline.co.uk/section/0,,27909,00.html
  • jshattnerjshattner Posts: 32
    ...but the Infiniti M is not sold in UK.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Well there are some Benzes there so I'm :D

    M
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    ...but the Infiniti M is not sold in UK.

    Not really a surprise, Nissan has no real presence in the UK automarket. Their most expensive sedan, the Primera, starts at around 12K pounds. The Fuga 2.5 would probably cost at least 35K pounds.

    It was a surprise to see the GS300 make the list, as Clarkson usually hates Lexus vehicles.
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,269
    Well the M5 and M6 made the grade so I am very :) :) !

    Well, time to load the family in the ol' estate car and be on my way. ;)
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