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Luxury Performance Sedans

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  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,088
    . . .must have sold the rights to the Premium fuel story to the local affiliates. Last night, 11PM news on the local NBC TV station here in Cincinnati, they had a story about when to and when NOT to use Premium. It was only slightly different than the one from the Today show -- but they interviewed a "mechanic" who said the long term effect of using Regular in a car that requires Premium is "a melted engine." Then the plucky news anchor said that she'd bet a new engine costs a lot more than could ever be saved by using Regular vs Premium ($.20/gallon here.)

    The "mechanic" also said that the use of Regular means lower mileage so there is a negative benefit to using Regular -- "it costs more."

    Of course this still leaves some consumers (and that is not meant to be a slam) in the dark since their car's manufacturer's seem to not want to use words like REQUIRED or MANDATORY (and were I the author of the owner's manual, I would give a "warning" that using more than one tankful in a row of regular will cause damage to the engine and possibly risk your warranty (assuming of course that any failure would be related to the fuel chosen.)

    After reading here and elsewhere, it seems that engines with higher compression ratios are more efficient overall; it seems that fuel injected engines are better than carb'd engines overall; and, it seems if cars deploying Fuel Stratified Injection can have yet additional increases in efficiency.

    These increases seem, over time and miles, to translate to lower costs, higher performance and even lower emissions -- therefore it begs the question, "why not build modern IC engines to have the highest "reasonable" compression ratios, multiple valve layouts (3,4 or 5 valves per cylinder), dual exhaust systems, dual pathway intake systems and both small turbo chargers with "booster" electric helper motors (or superchargers that disengage above a certain RPM to avoid robbing power)?" All of these things, one would imagine would allow physically smaller engines, lighter engines, and fewer cylinders doing the work -- a 4 could perform like an 8 and probably have the economy of a 5, kind of thing.

    Or, take this up to having these technologies all applied to diesels and really knock our MPG's outta the park all the while giving us Americans (at least) the torque we so covet.

    Now, of course I am girding my loins for the response: "the reason is cost! you idiot." Well, OK, if it is cost, then it must be acquisition cost, not total cost of ownership -- yes? Why not edumacate the customers about the benefits that would accrue if we were to begin using super-turbo-charged, multi-valve, fuel-stratified, ultra high compression engines?

    Big ones, small ones, fat ones, short ones -- seems we would kill several birds with few stones.

    :confuse:
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Why not edumacate the customers about the benefits that would accrue if we were to begin using super-turbo-charged, multi-valve, fuel-stratified, ultra high compression engines?

    VW seems to be the only one testing the super-turbo concept with production cars at the moment. The thing is though, yester-tech engines like GM's 3.5L, 2 valve per cylinder pushrod V6 is rated 23\32 in the Malibu. If they can make one of those for $1.73, why should they spend huge amounts on forced induction and direct injection?
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,088
    You'd get no quarrel from me on that -- there must be a "gotcha" there somewhere (or a pony) for if what you say is accurate (and I assume it is), why not use economical engines across the board.

    And, for clarification, I mean economical engines that do not make performance seem to be an afterthought.

    :confuse:
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,088
    Almost any time folks begin discussing, debating -- arguing even -- the merits of their favorite [LPS] cars, there emerges two and sometimes three broad groups of consumer opinions; these seem to be based on geography (where made or "perceived" where made, specifically): American, European (but mostly German) and Asian (but mostly Japanese).

    I have come to the conclusion that it is difficult to have these discussions about the characteristics, content and performance of these cars across the broad groups. I was with some folks recently who claim they would never have any car from a non-American car company. I didn't go down the path of asking if they would still buy a Chrysler product, but for certain they were of the GM or Ford -- or die -- mindset.

    Likewise, when I talk with my client's (Honda and Toyota) employees and folks who have Lexus, Acuras or even Infinitis they speak in a language I can comprehend but not understand. They speak of durability, reliability and seemingly brag, "I only had one oil change during the first 50,000 miles -- I just changed the filter every few thousand miles and add a quart!" Somehow "abuse" and seeing "who can go the longest between service visits" is touted -- almost shouted.

    Neither the American car folks or the Japanese car folks seem interested in talking about "driving" their cars. Exception: the American car folks do seem to want to talk about the degree of isolation their Lucerne or STS offers and/or the acceleration their Hemi SRT-8 or CTS-V is capable of. Handling discussions, need not apply. Ergonomics beyond the expected, ditto. Tires, brakes, engine sounds, body roll and/or tightness, throttle tip-in, transmission lash (or lack) and -- well you get the picture, just are not topics of interest, or so it seems, to those who are strictly 'merican or Japanese owners.

    Discussions of oversteer or understeer? They apparently could care less. HP, UHP or Max performance tires on what size wheels? Are just too many TLA's and numbers, and who but a geek cares about that anyway. RWD or FWD or AWD -- ". . .oh yea, I've got that CD by the Average White Band, is that who you meant, AWB?"

    Xenon headlights, articulating beams, drive, sport or manu-matic mode? What's that?

    Barely is the HP known, never is the torque -- and if it is, it is not known at what RPM that torque number is on tap. "On tap? Yea, me and Marv put Bud Light taps in our basement home theaters -- hey, we're havin' a Super Bowl Party, you wanna come?"

    F/R weight distribution and the engineering might used to keep the cars as neutral as possible for as long as possible. Naaaa. "I never shift my car into neutral."

    On the other hand, the guy with the terribly old Audi 4000S or BMW Bavaria or even the last of the Fiat's brought to the US decades ago, is "up" on the engines, transmissions, braking and anti-yaw systems du jour. He (generally a "he") seems to know that both 5th and 6th gear of your new BMW are overdriven and that just as soon as the "other guys" catch up with their versions of 7 speed automatics, that Mercedes is going to blow them all away with an 8 speed CVT that can take all the torque a TDI engine can dish out -- and work on 4Matics to boot. He'll know about Aud's switch from 50 50 F/R torque distribution to 40/60 and understands MagnaRide and the diagonal passive "shock absorbers" that are part of the RS4's "system."

    He understands and will wax poetic on the improvements that going from an H rated to a W rated tire can facilitate. Also he will site, chapter and verse the problems associated with the SMG transmission versus the newly named S-Tronic "trannies'" lack of problems. The speed at which "that sweeping double S curve over on route 28 right outside of Oxford or Milford or Stepford" can be taken on dry or wet pavement "without breaking the tail loose" or "plowing into the cornfield" will be topics discussed with great enthusiasm. Rarely, if ever, will there be stories attempting to demonstrate the longest mean time between service intervals. Indeed, the subject of synthetic oils and getting the extra ounce of performance by switching to 0W-40 Mobil1 and using 94 octane that they have over at the Chevron in Pleasantville will be discussed instead.

    It is just a different mind set, a different expectation set. My wife, an MBA and attorney still calls me and says "this X3 is a blast to take through the twisties." Not once does she talk about the exceptionally low maintenance BMW requires (and I assume she notices since she is forever making excuses to visit the BMW dealer -- most recently to "have the air in my tires checked." And, then when we get there she says, "which one do you want to test drive this time?!?") I usually tell her we should test the one with the biggest wheels and tires as that ALWAYS gets her to nod and smile, showing all her teeth.

    My Acura driving friend (and I work with him) speaks of the stereo if he ever speaks at all about the car other than to comment on its reliability.

    My bizarro world observations seem to be that folks who drive European cars love to talk about driving. The folks who buy and drive 'merican and Japanese, just don't seem all that interested in that aspect of the automobile.

    I wonder if I told my wife I thought she was great, 'cause she was reliable and steady -- I wonder what kind of reaction I would get?

    Thank goodness the sofa reclines, I guess.

    Hope we get some good debate goin' on here. . . . :shades:
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    there must be a "gotcha" there somewhere (or a pony) for if what you say is accurate (and I assume it is), why not use economical engines across the board.

    Well, it doesn't make any actual horsepower, and it has all the refinement of a Hyundai engine of ten years ago.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,088
    Houston, we've found the pony.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    My bizarro world observations seem to be that folks who drive European cars love to talk about driving. The folks who buy and drive 'merican and Japanese, just don't seem all that interested in that aspect of the automobile.

    I think you are over generalizing just a tad. Take a look at this:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOc3-JycxLI&search=Top%20Gear%202004%20awards

    You'll notice that the clear winner of the "worst handling" award was not Japanese, or even Malaysian, but European. Anybody can make a car designed simply to be a transport box, even the Europeans. You'll also notice that they were not fans of the X3.

    One could make the argument that any real driver would have an M3, and that the X3 is a big fat poser. One thing is for sure, the X3 would easily get beaten in the twisties by a Japanese Lancer Evo, and it would get absolutely blitzed by one of the ultra hot versions, such as the 400hp MR FQ400 Evo.
  • warthogwarthog Posts: 216
    "Mercedes is going to blow them all away with an 8 speed CVT . . ."

    Pardon my ignorance, but isn't an 8-speed CVT an oxymoron?
  • ghstudioghstudio Posts: 951
    Mercedes isn't going to blow nissan/infiniti away...they already have CVT in some of their cars (2007 Maxima) and likely will have it in the M's next year as well when they increase the engine sizes.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,088
    Firstly, I was making that up.

    Secondly, the CVT's these days are often said to be configured "as if" they have speeds -- but I suspect that the spirit of what we both said (other than the fact that I do not personally know for certain if there will be an 8 speed CVT or non-CVT -- even though I suspect it to be probable) is correct.

    Thirdly, I deliberately and with forethought (but not malice) made a sweepingly general post for the specific purpose of starting a "lively" discussion and perhaps even "raise the hackles" of the participants.

    Now, however, therefore, notwithstanding -- the spirit of my post does largely (and generally) reflect the conversations I have had and/or know about.

    I made no comments per se that should be interpreted to mean I think American and/or Japanese cars do not have their passionate mavens -- those who actually talk about their car's driving characteristics.

    I didn't even say I thought the X3 was "this, that or the other thing" -- I said my wife loved to talk about her feelings and observations about the vehicle from the perspective of a person who fancies herself both a competent and spirited driver. I am certain there are plenty of positive reviews of American, German and Japanese cars from both performance and reliability viewpoints. I was NOT suggesting the X3 was to be held up as an example of anything other than to suggest its owner's enthusiasm.

    I was talking about the folks who drive these cars and their range of conversation (and I'll even grant it could simply be the people I personally know -- even though I am not willing to lend total credence to that notion.)

    I saw a Speed Channel presentation on "the worst cars in the world" two of them were Japanese, one Korean. Now, there, I brought it up but please don't spend too many cycles on this -- for this is not what I was "on" about.

    I was and continue to wonder how and why -- using only anecdotes and reading what "we" post here,there and elsewhere -- folks who pick cars from certain geographies "seem" to have different interests and that superficially (at least) there are some general conclusions that seem to appear.

    I believe the BMW folks, for instance, are keen to go on about "the driving of their machines." By the same token, those who drive Acura's or Cadillacs or. . .fill-in-the-blanks appear to have different interests.

    Perhaps, just perhaps, this admittedly over generalized observation suggests why BMW (to pick one), despite apparently unimpressive reliability records and higher MSRP's (generally) have managed to outsell their American and Japanese counterparts -- by wide margins.

    The gist of the conclusion might be "passion for driving" trumps (within reason) price, reliability and durability (real or imagined.) I don't know, hence, my desire for polite banter on the subject with a group such as is represented by you at this very moment.

    The German cars in this segment, for instance, have been on a 12 month tear. Not so the American and Japanese players, despite hardly tough times (with the possible exception of the RL which seems to keep apparently finding a bottom (sales wise) but then promptly starts digging -- and ditto GM generally.) Even the poorest selling German -- the Audi -- is having its best year EVER in company history. Relatively speaking, however, it languishes in next to last place (on this side of the Atlantic, anyway.)

    I am in no way suggesting the Acura, Infiniti, Lexus or Cadillac represented on this forum are "inferior" in ANY way. Each vehicle has strengths and weaknesses -- but, overall, the cars in this group are far more alike than they are different.

    I know there are "test reports" and well-written Automotive Editorials that can celebrate or skewer any of these cars either alone or in comparisons.

    I am not attempting to discuss the cars based on their merits, that is -- I concede they have merits, each one of them.

    My topic du jour was "the personalities" in general of the folks who seem to gravitate to a certain "home country" of manufacture cars.

    Not many Cadillac STS owners (to pick one, not to pick ON one, however) -- based on what I've experienced, read and seen -- are all that keen to talk about the certain je ne sais quoi of their rides.

    :shades:
  • cdnpinheadcdnpinhead Forest Lakes, AZPosts: 3,275
    some folks in these threads appear to never respond directly to certain other folks, I'll make some observations as well.

    In general, I'd agree that the people who care most about actually driving (I've waited & waited for responses to posts describing long drives -- Mt. Evans, PCH, Cabot trail, etc.) end up with German cars. That said, I've never owned one. I may, one day, but not so far.

    I've bugled at length over the past six years or so about reliability/maintainability/longevity and have eventually learned that almost no one who posts on Edmunds cares. Most lease and/or are upside down on their financing. They end up with more car than they can afford and/or don't keep the thing long enough to do any number of things, one of which is to repair it after the warranty has run out.

    I've owned my present (American) vehicle for over six years. I drive & talk about both driving and where I've been & how it went. I've been in all but North Dakota, PEI & Newfoundland in North America (the civilized bit) & in enough of the continent & the UK to feel very comfortable there.

    Go figure.
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    What do you know about longevity? I think it's tough to get a handle on.
  • cdnpinheadcdnpinhead Forest Lakes, AZPosts: 3,275
    Well, that's a pretty direct question. Let me try to come up with an equally direct answer.

    I've driven three vehicles in excess of 100K miles, two in excess of 200K. Having lived with them for the time it took to accumulate those miles, I've come to expect certain things. Several of those things no longer exist.

    One is maintainability. Today's cars are near impossible to work on -- it's imperative to take it to the shop. That said, I still do oil, filters, brakes -- that sort of thing. More than anything else it gives me an opportunity to see whether the vehicle was designed to be easy to work on. If not, you'll pay at the store.

    I was sucked into my present vehicle by a very clever (or I'm stupid, equally probable) advertising campaign, combined with CR (OMG) and COTY (OMG squared) magazine stuff. There are a lot of reasons why I'll never buy another Ford product, but the car itself isn't one of them. It's had a few issues in the 97K miles I've driven it so far, but it's built buy an outfit that does taxis, police cars & limos. There's every possibility it'll last into those 100 - 200K mile ranges I've grown emamored of.

    My next car? A RWD diesel with good handling. There are none sold in the U.S. or Canada. I'll continue driving what I've got until it drops dead or until BMW brings one of dozens of cars that they sell elsewhere, here.

    YMMV.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    I was and continue to wonder how and why -- using only anecdotes and reading what "we" post here,there and elsewhere -- folks who pick cars from certain geographies "seem" to have different interests and that superficially (at least) there are some general conclusions that seem to appear.

    I do agree with you on this. Here's the way I look at it. Cars from each geographical regions have different strengths and weaknesses, based on the environment they are designed in, and the customers they are designed for.

    The American idea of performance is the stop light dragster, where straight line 0-60 performance is all important. The only thing that matters is how big is the V-8, and how many horses does it have. Sophisticated suspensions, engines, or gearboxes don't matter. The quintessential American performance car is the Mustang GT.

    The German idea of performance is the 'bahn burner, a car that defines state-of-the-art, blending luxury and performance for traveling at 180mph in perfect comfort. The quintessential German performance car is the Porsche 911.

    The Japanese idea of performance is efficiency. You don't need a big honkin' V-8 if your car is small and light, and you don't need luxury and comfort at 180mph because there's no where in Japan to drive like that. The quintessential Japanese performance car is the Honda S2000.

    The LPS is a German idea. The Americans and the Japanese are learning how to do that kind of car, but it doesn't really come naturally the way it does for BMW. I think thats why the 5 and E are still the clear sales leaders in this segment.
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    "Cars from each geographical regions have different strengths and weaknesses.."

    You risk bringing the conversation to a screeching halt if you start conversing reasonably.

    ;)
  • marleybarrmarleybarr Posts: 334
    Well ,my 2000 Audi A6 2.7T w/ 95,000 miles finally bit the dust. I noticed oil dripping and brought the car to an independent shop, 2 days before the extended service plan expired! The verdict: leaking turbos. The damages: nearly $4000.00. I had to produce every oil change receipt for the last 6 years and had to show that the oil had been changed every 8000 miles per Audi specifications.

    Have to believe about what Mark Cincinnati says about out of warranty repairs----"breathtakingly expensive!"

    I will have to pay for the water pump/timing belt portion of the repair (about $1500.00) because that was maintenance, not so-called warranty repair, the belt did not break in service.

    When the Audi is finally repaired on Friday,time to either sell it outright or trade towards something else, I don't want to pay $2000 for the air conditioning, or $5000 when the tiptronic transmission goes out next.

    Probably going to join the world of leasing. Since I will always have a car payment, why not drive a new one every 3 years with repairs covered, instead of a payment and the cost of service on top?
  • sfcharliesfcharlie Posts: 402
    Not sure how this intersects with nascent debate here, but, following some earlier comments would lead to expectation that German LPS buyers would convey a lot of excitement about their cars. Strategic Vision (SV) has been rating consumer enthusiasm about products in many markets for about a decade. They're method is not one of problem-counting. Rather they try to measure (as social psychologists have long done) qualities and attitudes: satisfaction with complete ownership experience; perception of quality; emotional attachment to vehicle. The A6 finished last in their "Luxury Cars" category, when SV asked 29,000 buyers (who bought 2006 models in October and November of 2005) how they felt about their purchases, with regard to the three factors I just listed. The top five were: BMW 7-Series (928, out of a possible 1000 points); Infiniti M35/M45 (908); Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class Sedan (908); Jaguar XJ (905); and the BMW 5-Series Sedan (904). Audi was last of ten cars with a score of 893.
  • dhanleydhanley Posts: 1,531
    True, a $4000 repair is unplesant, to say the least.

    I'm not sure i understand your comment with regard to payments & repairs. While $4000 is a lot of money, what are even lease payments going to be on a car like the 2.7T? As per the audi website, a $0 down lease on a base 3.2 is going to be $738/mo. After tax, perhaps $800? That means that unless you have you make a $4000 repair every 5 months, leasing isn't cheaper.

    Now, i understand the attraction of having a newer car with a warranty, i really do. I may lease my next car, but i am not under the impression i'll be saving money if i do.
  • Well, in the spirit of honkingly broad generalizations, if it's true that the Asian-ists don't give a darn about performance (as seen by the Europe-ists), it's also true, in my long observations, that most Europe-ists are so secure in their focus that it would be almost impossible for them to see an Asian (or American, as unlikely as that would be) LPS as competitive, no matter what anyone else had to say. There has been so much written on how well the Infiniti M (with the sports packages) competes with the ELPS's on their own terms that an objective observer would have to take the comments seriously. But too often the Euro-blinders go up and the reflexes go into action and some way is found to denigrate an LPS that isn't from Germany.

    Having said that I certainly agree with the equally broad generalization that most people who buy Japanese LPS's really don't care about the fun stuff.
  • purplem46purplem46 Posts: 54
    RE: "Having said that I certainly agree with the equally broad generalization that most people who buy Japanese LPS's really don't care about the fun stuff."

    That may be true in "generality", but I have to say I am an exception to that rule. The deciding factor on my purchase of an M45 Sport (besides all the neat toys) was acceleration only slightly less torrid than a BMW M3, auto camber rear wheel turn-in for cornering, .90 G skid pad results, a nearly roll free body, and grippy 19" wheels. My only regret was that a manual transmission was not available, a complaint shared by many Lexus owners. To me, "Fun Stuff".
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,088
    My $53,286 MSRP A6 w/o dp or sec dep or cap cost reduction from moi and for 15K per year is $640 including tax.

    @ 36 months I will have purchased one set of tires and paid $23,040 in lease payments.

    Were I to buy the car and finance it over 60 months the payment would be $60,000 approximately (about $1000 per month.) For the sake of argument, however, lets say I got the car for $900 per month which is 60 x 900 $54,000.

    Over 60 months I would have paid the $54K plus two sets of tires (assume $750 per set) or $55,500. I would have been without warranty for 25,000 miles (5 years @ 15K = 75K.)

    And in the case of an Audi I would have been without free maintenance since 50,000 miles, too.

    The "expensive" maintenance happens AFTER 45,000 miles -- you decide the number to assign to the after 45K maint requirements -- I'd say $1,000 (but I think it is more like $1,500).

    At 60 months, then I would have a car that I have paid out at least $56,500 assuming I have had no repairs.

    I would have a five year old car and no payments -- and on going routine maintenance of at least $250 per year until the first next major service interval.

    My per month cost is close enough to $1,000 to call it $1,000.

    I assume the car would be worth ? 25% of its MSRP as a trade -- call it $13,500 for the sake of argument. I could have CPO'd it (and prudence dictates I should) or Platinum protected it (Audis new extended super warranty) -- although this is approximate, this would be about $2,500 (or more, had I done it before the factory warranty had expired.)

    I would have, now, then an even greater per month "ownership" cost per month. But, theoretically, I could go another 25,000 miles without too much financial worry.

    Call it another 20 months.

    Using my most optimistic glasses, I remember at least one more set of tires will be needed and I can conclude that to go 100,000 miles with at least a 95% worry free experience will make my ownership cost for 80 months rise to "about" $800 per month. I have no idea what an 80 month old 100,000 miles on the OD Audi A6 would be worth and what it could be translated to in terms of a trade in value.

    $5,000? -- if true, my per month cost for the 80 months would be in the neighborhood of $740. I would have nothing, no car, no debt, no payments of any kind and I would be lighter by $740 x 80 or $59,200(if I had no non covered breathtakingly expensive expenses).

    For a car that had an MSRP of $53,286 to only cost in total $59,200 -- after 80 months -- is, shall we say, "unlikely."

    The thought of paying this much for 80 months may be what will motivate our fellow poster, Max, to pause and consider if he is going to pay $800 per month (about) for 80 months and end up with nothing, perhaps he might just want to consider making the same payments but at month 80 be on his THIRD new car (assuming lease terms of 36 months) and still be under the protective factory warranty cocoon.

    Just a thought.

    Of course, in my case, if it is indeed possible to lease a new $50K car for about $600 per month, in perpetuity, well what is wrong with a "permanent" car payment based on an on going need to drive 15,000 miles per year?

    Just another perspective, one that perhaps Max is attempting to come to grips with.

    I conclude: leasing is NOT for everyone.

    My in-laws, at retirement, cut from two cars to one and no longer have any need to lease -- they own. But at 6,000 miles per year.

    Now, hopefully back to the "personality" differences between American, German and Japanese LPS "owner/drivers."

    I have been frankly pleased that we have all remained pretty much "non defensive."

    Of course, there is NO NEED to be defensive on this matter.

    Perhaps the German car owners are unconcerned with wicked awsome sat nav systems. Based on what I've seen, the A6's voice acitivated sat nav is darn near primative -- apparently Acura or Lexus or Infiniti ownwers wouldn't put up with what passes for "avionics" in Germany.

    :surprise:
  • marleybarrmarleybarr Posts: 334
    Leasing may or may not be less expensive than owning, I think it depends on the vehicle and your circumstances. Like Mark Cincinnati's relatives who drive 6,000 miles per year, probably no need to lease in that situation.

    In my case, I have tried hard to be an Audi enthusiast owner the last 6 +years and nearly 100,000 miles, but I find myself spending more and more time and from this point on--- substantial repair dollars, dealing with Audi service issues and still owing almost $14,000 on a 6 year old Audi with nearly 100,000 miles and now no warranty for anything. Also, one must factor in the extreme inconvenience of the logistics of repairing the Audi, securing a rental car along with a seemingly forever car payment.

    I can't match Mark Cincinnati's convenience of the leasing experience, all the while trying to run a one man business without dealing with what lately seems like a full time job just keeping the Audi running!

    Leasing appears to be an attractive alternative for me, although I probably won't lease a $738/mo.+ no downstroke 2006 Audi A6.
  • sfcharliesfcharlie Posts: 402
    There might be two basic questions one could ask a guy about his car: “What does that car do?” and “What does that car do for you?”

    A 1999 Passat was my first German sedan. Even at $24,000 it gave me a taste of German engines and German suspensions/steering/handling. What it did was its modest version of cornering on rails. What it did for me was get me excited about driving in a whole new way. Paid off over 5 years, it went another year (and up to 99K miles) under extended warranty (with one my kids driving it most of its last year -- his first car) before I sold it for $7,000. I still have fond feelings for it.
    Next came a 2004 BMW 325i, leased for 2 years. New level of excitement for me. Relative to Passat, it did the German thing better; and for me it was always aesthetically uplifting (to look at or be in) and “made me” want to drive it. In so far as the cliched pop psychology theory of what cars are for American men (an identity item) it was a good feeling I had about myself when driving it.

    Recently began leasing an M35. It does many more things than the BMW, but, I’ve discovered, doesn’t do as much for me. The latter is obviously more subjective than the former. It simply has way more luxury amenities and technology. That it doesn’t do as much for me (aesthetic appeal of exterior wore down a bit; pleasure of very good acceleration is diluted some by awareness that it’s coming from gearing that runs it at high rpms rather than from a state of the art engine; cornering/handling/steering a bit too much lighter than the BMW or the Audi A6 S-Line I had considered) is only a matter of taste. I drove a friend’s M35x and it feels like it has a tighter suspension and a tighter hold on the road (inspires more confidence, as is sometimes said) but maybe that’s just “in my mind”.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,088
    Although I did not move forward with the M35X even after I put a down payment to order one -- I remain somewhat convinced I would be enjoying my M35X "almost as much" as I am enjoying my A6 3.2Q.

    Yet, I am wondering if I would be as enthusiastic to dialog about the M35X as I clearly am about the Audi. Your rhetorical (I presume) post seems to indicate you are NOT unhappy with your choice, but it seems to me you probably will not be a repeat buyer for the M "doesn't do as much" for you as you would have expected or hoped (and yes, I agree that is largely subjective.)

    Perhaps had I started off with a Japanese car or perhaps if the first car I bought with my own money was Japanese, I would feel different.

    My first brand new car, purchased with my own money was in 1977, when I bought a 1978 Audi 5000. Like you, I thought the thing felt like it was on rails.

    To this day, nothing has ever duplicated the handling, the "carving" capabilities of a German car -- and lord knows I have test driven enough of them from all over in an attempt to find the holy grail.

    In fact, the M35X did come very close to the German feel -- enough so, in fact, that the Germans hopefully bought several copies to see what makes them tick.

    Now, the Chrysler 300C AWD wasn't bad, but it wasn't German. The SRX with Magnaride was pretty close too, as a matter of fact. And, even a CTS with a sport suspension and upsized wheels feels like it must've come from across the Atlantic somewhere.

    Remember. . .

    For all its hopes, dreams, promises and urban renewal, know this:

    The world continues to deteriorate.

    GIVE UP!

    You are a fluke. . .
    Of the universe.
    You have no right to be here.
    And whether you can hear it or not. . .
    The universe is laughing behind your back.

    Flashback.

    Bygones.
  • cdnpinheadcdnpinhead Forest Lakes, AZPosts: 3,275
    I am a collector of phrases, and yours: "honkingly broad generalizations" is a keeper.

    Thank you.

    These boards are a target-rich environment for them.
  • cdnpinheadcdnpinhead Forest Lakes, AZPosts: 3,275
    Allow me to add a third: "What do you do with the car?"

    I really enjoy driving. I enjoy the car too, but driving is the deal. In the best of all worlds I'm driving a good car in a pleasant place. Commuting is how many (most) of us spend the bulk of our driving time, but beyond that are the things that make car possession actually fun. Some are lucky enough to have a fun commute. I'm not.

    Point being (yeah, there is one buried in here somewhere), the way a lot of people talk (or post) about cars leads me to believe that the joy of driving, or finding new places, or trying a treasured remote road with a new vehicle, is absent. No one talks about where they've been, how much fun they had during a 800 or 900-mile day, or a particularly fun bit of road -- that sort of thing. As I've said before, I've driven a lot of rental appliances in places I've never been before & thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I'll take an Impala on a new road over an A8 on a commute any day.

    I'm left with the impression that the possession of the vehicle is the real deal for many, not the using of it, let alone the taking of it to new places. My put is that actually going somewhere fun or new doesn't show up on most peoples' radars, regardless of American, Asian or European.

    But they sure want to talk about having the radar (or nav system, or whatever).
  • breldbreld Posts: 1,324
    sfcharlie - the experience you speak of with your M35 and previous VW and BMW makes me think of my upcoming choices.

    Like you, my first foray into German autos was a Passat - a 2000 GLX V6 manual. Looking back now, I really miss what that car offered, but over the short three years of ownership, I was plagued by some annoying electrical issues, and then finally, a need to replace the clutch at just 30k miles (and I've always driven a manual, so I would like to think it was premature wear, and not user error).

    Having always owned Japanese vehicles, primarily Hondas, prior to that Passat, I appealed to my wife that that's what we should return to, and so here I am driving a TSX and her an MDX. How much of my appeal was true annoyance with the Passat, and how much was simply the itch for a new car? To be honest, probably 50/50.

    Well, I'm looking to replace the TSX, within 6-12 months, with something larger and, preferably, with AWD, which puts me squarely into this LPS segment. And, though my order of preference changes quite often and surely will many times before I make a decision, right now I'm between the M35x and 530xi. Your thoughts on your M35 ownership hit home with me. On paper, the Infiniti has so much going for it, and appeals to me from a rational perspective.

    But, when it comes down to it, the BMW is what gets me excited. And that should count for a lot.

    2011 BMW 535xi - 2015 GTI - 2008 A3 - 2009 Ody

  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,088
    You may be onto something here. But, then, I reflect on some of the conversations (some real, some virtual) I am aware of and have participated in over the past decade.

    I must admit many of the conversations have to do with the possession of the car. But, those who possess Japanese talk about different aspects of ownership than do those who possess European (mostly, but not exclusively German.)

    Since I actually know so few people who own American "cars" -- mostly if they own American it is either a Pickup truck or an SUV -- I can't really get a handle on what they talk about beyond the current topic: "third row seating!"

    The enjoyment of the car's attributes/features/specifications that make the driving (as opposed to the riding when one is behind the wheel or not behind the wheel) fun do seem to permeate the German car owners conversations and posts.

    Perhaps that is because of certain frames of reference. I live in Cincinnati as you know, and were I to regale you with some of the fun times and "new roads" I've had and discovered (the "back roads" between Cincinnati and Columbus or the beautiful drive to Sommerset, Kentucky) perhaps without any frame of reference the experience is simply too personal.

    One of my favorite drives of all times is the drive south out of Munich, en route to Garmisch and to the Bavarian Alps. The combination of segments of no speed limit auto-bahning and the rise of the Alps in the closing distance are exhilarating every time I do it. The backroads into a town called Fussen where Mad Ludwig's castle resides are a blast to drive in an Audi A4 or BMW 3 series.

    The drive from Luxembourg City to Triere, Germany (the Rome of the North), too, is breathtakingly beautiful.

    Around these parts, the drive both south and east into the hills and mountains of West Virginia are a sight and experience to behold. Recently we drove from Cincinnati to Pittsburgh to Morgantown (WV) for a "day trip" because we had heard sleepy Morgantown and its University were one of the best kept secrets in the eastern US. I would agree.

    This trip we were in a rented 2006 Cadillac DTS -- which was powerful and comfortable but a huge downer from the perspective of the illusion that you were driving a car that could even hope to be called "responsive."

    It had "same day steering" if you get my drift.

    The trip from Morgantown back to suburban Pittsburgh was another great road experience (visually) as we decided to avoid all US Interstate highways electing instead to travel on secondary roads.

    In this case, I do wish I had been in an A8 (or better, an S8.)

    There is a sharp (almost 90 degree) turn near my house -- I have enjoyed "playing with" the effects of air-pressure on the ability to corner. In the case of my 2003 allroad, this could be interpreted two ways: one, I loved to see the differences in handling and ability to negotiate this corner at speed at the four different positions of the air suspension; and, two, I determined with repeated "runs" that Audis (because they are nose heavy) seem to handle best if you follow the directions on the fuel filler door with respect to tire pressure -- BUT, that instead of 36 front, 39 rear, that better turn in and less roll can be had by putting 39 psi in the front and 36 in the rear.

    This kind of conversation, perhaps, is -- for some -- a bit too geeky and bit too left brained. But perhaps what I have discovered is that it is unlikely that someone with a Japanese LPS would even engage in thinking about these kind of "adventures" or experiments. My Lexus driving friend was far more interested in seeing how close to 200,000 miles he could get on his car without any major repairs. He made it -- but the car rusted, so he did have to have a full-on repaint to get the body of the car to survive the miles.

    He spoke glowingly about how his LS isolated him better than any other car he had ever had -- his former rides were almost always top o' the line Buicks (think Roadmaster, an oxymoron if ever there was one.)

    The other Japanese car guy I know is a CEO who basically wants a car that all he ever has to do is put gas in it. He drives like an old lady (no offense) and is about 45 years old. His weapon of choice? Lexus.

    I do agree his car is very quiet, just like the 200,000 mile guy said about his.

    Both of them wondered out loud why I wanted a "hot rod" station wagon (referring to my allroad with a stick shift.) I never could get them to relate to the "joy of driving."

    Just some observations. . . .
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,088
    My put is that actually going somewhere fun or new doesn't show up on most peoples' radars, regardless of American, Asian or European.

    Well. . .cdnpinhead, how about this for "going somewhere?"

    “I thought I was buying a car – what I got was a lifestyle”

    On a cold Friday in January, eight excited Cincinnati residents, some of them Audi owners, departed the Cincinnati airport bound for the Holy Land – Inglostadt, Germany – the home of Audi AG, of course.

    First stop, Munich – what a fun city, what a great time. Munich is truly a magical worldly city that is incredible to visit and is simultaneously a place in which most Americans would thoroughly enjoy living. Indeed, Munich had each member of our group under her spell – we all still are scheming for a return visit. Three of our group had been to Munich previously – my wife and I have had the great joy of visiting this city over a dozen times within the last few years; and, another member of our group, Mike has been to Munich on two other occasions including Oktoberfest.

    We checked into the luxurious five-star Bayerischer Hof, in the center of the walking district of the city – just off the Marienplatz. As it was just after 11 AM Saturday, we could not yet get into our rooms so we all decided to take a brief walk and have some lunch.

    We walked the pedestrian only Fussgangerzone to the Glockenspiel, took in the sights, sounds and smells of this grand spectacle and headed for one of the best delicatessens on the Planet – the Alois Dallmayr. The Dallmayer is Germany's most famous delicatessen. After looking at its irresistible array of delicacies from around the world, you will think you have found a Royal Supermarket.

    We took a quick tour of this bustling indoor fresh food shop – which in many ways reminds the Frequent Traveler of the fabulous food halls at Harrod’s in London. We then made our way to the second floor restaurant for a delicious meal including fresh green salad, soup, breads and some excellent German white wine.

    Recommendation #1: visit and dine at the Dallmayer.

    Afterwards, we all took a much-needed 3-hour nap – the key component of our anti-jet-lag regimen –followed by hot showers and even hotter coffee or chocolate or the American standby, Coke. Another walk through the city center: a left, a right and another left turn and we found ourselves at the famous Munich watering hole – the Hofbrauhaus. Inside, we introduced our first-time-to-Munich companions to the Hofbrauhaus tradition of sitting at long picnic tables and drinking beer with total strangers. As usual, when we left the table we had made four new friends, exchanged e-mail addresses and had raised our glasses many times in song. What fun!

    Recommendation #2: even if you are not a beer drinker, stop into the Hofbrauhaus for some true Munich hospitality and revelry.

    Back to the hotel to freshen up and on to one of the truly spectacular dining experiences you will ever have: an “evening” at the French-German restaurant, Tantris. Our original 8 travelers were joined by Joe and Karen Chadwick (of the NA quattro club-- a.k.a. Audi Car Club of NA -- fame) for an 8 course, four and one half-hour food extravaganza (although it is tempting to call it a food orgy).

    If you are contemplating coming to a future Audi Driving Experience in Germany, this is an evening that is absolutely worth every pfennig of the approximately 175 Euro per person tab. No restaurant in Munich even comes close to equaling this place. You will be tempted to use this restaurant as the standard to which you compare all others – no matter in what continent, country or city. It is just that good.

    According to two members of our group, Mike and the aforementioned Ms. Chadwick, “ . . .this is the best restaurant in the world!” Possibly. Yet, undoubtedly, Tantris must be one of the best on anybody’s list.

    Recommendation #3: when in Munich, do not miss this experience. Save your money, mortgage your house if you have to – but, dine at Tantris.

    Sunday morning our group took a three-hour bus tour of Munich, which included stops at the site of the 1972 Olympics and the summer palace Schloss Nymphenburg. Although Nymphenburg is best appreciated in spring and summer, it is still a grand winter spectacle nonetheless. The palace facade is in a restrained baroque style. The palace interior is less restrained, however. Upon entering the main building, you are in the great hall, beautiful with rococo colors and stuccos. There are frescoes depicting incidents from mythology, especially those dealing with the goddess of spring, Flora, and her nymphs – the origin of the palace’s name.

    Recommendation #4: take this tour – especially if, like us, you arrive in Munich on Saturday morning and leave for Ingolstadt Monday morning.

    Sunday evening, we dined with the quattro club members – in the hotel’s cellar restaurant. We ate and drank traditional German food and beer, which is to say very good (especially the beer), and had a delightful and somewhat rowdy evening with our fellow club members.

    Recommendation #5: dine with the club members – and use this event to pick your partner for the upcoming driving experience. Our group chose not to drive with spouses – in hindsight, a wise choice.

    Monday morning the bus Audi provided took the 40 members of the quattro club north to the city of Ingolstadt – the Holy Land – home of Audi AG. At Audi Headquarters we enjoyed lunch with Audi executives, the “factory tour,” a visit to the newly opened Audi Museum, and then we capped off our visit with time in the Audi Boutique. One quattro club member, Joe, remarked, “ . . .I thought I was buying a car, what I got was a lifestyle.” A three-hour bus ride on the autobahn south to Seefeld, Austria followed.

    Recommendation #6: take the tour, visit the museum and leave the Audi Boutique richer – with your Euros – than you found it.

    If there is such a thing as a six-star ski-resort hotel, Audi found it in the hamlet of Seefeld, Austria. The Hotel Alpenkoenig, like Tantris, may just be the standard against which almost all other resort-hotels can be judged. Remarkably, this hotel even offered cosmetic surgery – which is worth mentioning simply because it is novel.

    Tuesday morning 7 AM: breakfast in the hotel followed by a one-hour class to introduce the drivers to the theory and terminology that would be used throughout the training. Our instructors presented explanations of oversteer and understeer coupled with graphics depicting the differences between front, rear and all-wheel drive vehicles. Of course we already knew that all-wheel drive is the best configuration and too that the Audi quattro system is the best all-wheel drive.

    Continued next post.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,088
    Next, to the cars and almost two days of driving exercises (on ice) – some timed some not – culminating in a competition. The Audi instructors laid out a course on the ice that put together all the elements of each driving exercise into one huge track. Driving skills in braking, steering, power sliding, lane changing, and obstacle avoidance, etc. were all required in this exercise. Orange cones delimited the course, and if a driver hit a cone it was considered a five-second penalty. You can imagine – on a course where a really good time was one minute twenty seconds, a hit of five seconds is unrecoverable – the adrenaline flowed.

    For the uninitiated or uniformed – and, several of the spouses of avid quattro club members fall into this category – explanations of the value and sheer enjoyment of this experience, no matter how eloquent, are inadequate. In fact we had four in our group that were – initially – reluctant to take the class, thinking it would be boring or perhaps difficult.

    After completing the course, here is what one of those formerly reluctant participants, my wife, had to say:

    “I think that the Audi Driving Experience is a remarkable program because it teaches participants to simulate real-life situations and learn how the auto will respond and also how the driver will respond. The instructors become coaches and prepare us to handle these situations in a safe and responsive manner. The course is, in essence, more than a virtual reality tour of the instruction manual that comes with the car - it's reality itself. “

    – Tina

    Two other first-time drivers, Dale and Paula were also enthusiastic as you can see in the following note to Karen Chadwick, the top executive of the Audi Club of NA:

    “Paula and I wish to thank you for giving us the opportunity to visit Seefeld, Austria and attend the spectacular Audi Driving Experience. It was certainly a treat to have discussions with you and all the friendly people in the quattro club. We both loved the beautiful five-star hotel Audi selected in Seefeld. Audi could not have picked a better place to stay to experience some of the culture in Austria. The dinners were marvelous and the company was even better. We really enjoyed our visit in Munich, Seefeld, and especially the visit to Ingolstadt to take the Audi factory tour. Witnessing the production of an Audi was certainly a wonderful sight to see.

    The Audi Driving Experience was no less than the most exhilarating educational experience we have ever had. We enjoyed learning the fundamentals of understeer and oversteer. Learning how to handle the Audi A4s in several adverse situations was an invaluable experience. We were certainly taught by the best in the business.”

    – Dale

    Joe and Sherri, A4 owners (and a mini-van) had this to say:

    “The time and effort put into organization of the trip were obvious. Things ran very smoothly for such a large group (40 people). We enjoyed the opportunity to meet and socialize with other Audi owners. The driving instruction was first rate. The knowledge and skill of the instructors exceeded our expectations.

    The hotel was spectacular in every way: food, scenery, services; and my wife enjoyed her massage and the hotel’s spa. Perhaps the most satisfying, for me, is that Sherri, my wife, now has greater confidence in getting behind the wheel of not only our A4, but our mini-van as well. The potentially life saving information was itself worth the price of the trip.

    The Audi driving experience is something that I wish every driver could experience (all other car companies, please listen.)”

    – Joe

    Moreover, the statement most often repeated by the participants was, “I think the Audi Driving Experience is a blast!”

    We had some incredible surprises including a guest-star visit from legendary Audi racecar driver, Walter Rohrl. What a rush to be given not one but two laps around the ice-course with Rohrl behind the wheel of a turbo-diesel A4 quattro. Wheeeee!

    The Audi Driving Experience is incredibly valuable – it could save your life. It is fun – way beyond fun, it is exciting. To borrow from Audi’s advertising campaign, it is the realization of “Joy!”

    For even the most jaundiced, disinterested or bored, the experience is an amazing vacation – filled with five+-star dining and lodging in an indescribably beautiful setting (the snow covered mountains of Austria). Add to this the romance of a sleigh ride, camaraderie and top-notch driver education and you have what is most certainly a once in a lifetime experience.

    Recommendation #7: do not miss the Audi Driving Experience. Immerse yourself in it and savor every second of the time from the minute you land in Munich to the moment you depart for home. The time goes by so very quickly – hopefully you will find that this experience changes your life. It has changed ours.

    Finally, a great big thank you to Karen Chadwick and the Audi Car Club of NA (a.k.a., quattro club of America) for organizing this delightful outing.

    o Jody and Mike (A4 owners)
    o Dale and Paula (no Audis in their garage -- yet)
    o Joe and Sherri (A4 owners)
    o Tina and Mark (too many Audis to list)

    Trivia: This group has had 31 Audi’s between them, all but three of them quattro’s.

    Oh BTW, I like my nav system too! :surprise:
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