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Luxury Performance Sedans

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  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Why is the GS350 being completely ignored here? With the new engine, its power now puts it in the same league as the others here. Why is it being snubbed? Handling? Headroom? Too quiet? Trunk room? Awkward pull-down controls on left? Cushy ride?

    I think that about covers it, yeah.
  • What do these numbers mean? Beats me - I'll let others spin them.

    Did anyone try to spin these numbers yet? LOL

    One thing that is driving sales is the potential buyer's income level. When the economy is softening those with higher incomes are less affected than the majority of us. I don't have any hard facts to back this up, however I believe those who primarily shop for BMWs and MBs are probably a little more affluent than your average buyer who seriously considers a Japanese LPS. (I think most of us can agree that many who buy the German LPS giants really didn't consider the alternatives). Part of the prestige involved is how much you can afford to pay for a vehicle plus that everyone else knows it. You're making a lifestyle choice here. To say that sales figures indicate which auto is the "best" really misses the boat IMHO. Probably has more to do with individual insecurities....

    Because of the changing economic landscape, many experts are telling merchandisers to concentrate on luxury goods rather than those that appeal to the middle class because these buyers will not be tightening their purse strings as much. You already are seeing this play out in the LPS market as more price sensitive consumers are holding off on their purchases while those who are not that price sensitive continue to buy primarily German LPS brands. In the future soft economy which will suffer the most - HELM or entry level luxury sales?

    In Southern California the real estate bubble is already beginning to deflate a little. It will be interesting to see how auto sales will be impacted when is starts to pop. Of course I have heard those famous words "this time it's different" concern the Real Estate bubble. So maybe it will not pop - yeah right...
  • The GS has a history of selling well during year one then tapering off big time. To counteract that phenomenon Lexus decided to introduce the GS300 first and then drum up year two+ sales with the GS350. This might actually backfire as many informed buyers knew the GS350 was coming in less than two years. This is the engine the car should have been introduced with. For those looking for performance, why buy an underpowered LPS? I'm not sure that most GS buyers are valuing performance that much so the larger engine probably won't drum up that many sales... we'll just have to see how it plays out.
  • pearlpearl Posts: 336
    it is also interesting to note that some early drivers of the new GS350, who either own or have driven the GS300, claim that the former does not "feel" much faster at all, even though Lexus claims more than a second faster to 60. While there may be some initial demand, I think that "deals" will be available on the 350 much sooner than some think.
  • I'm still shopping, but for me the GS350 AWD seems like a nice compromise. It does lack a bit of "German-ness" in terms of road feel, but you get Lexus reliability, Excellent NAV system without MMI/I-drive, AWD, 304 HP, reasonable gas milage compared to the V8s, with price coming in cheaper than MB, Audi, and BMW.

    As the wise MarkC has said many times, these cars are all excellent--much of the debate is a matter of taste, or perhaps more accurately, which small things are most important to you.
  • I have to agree with Dewey. Those who are buying Luxury vehicles that get poor gas mileage do not really care about MPG. As a matter of fact, I for one do not care even though I am by far rich, just am a poor middle class. I simply invest in oil/energy securities. So if the energy market goes up like gas prices, I am making money. Think of it this way, if the price of gas goes up and I fill up at the pump, I am actually getting a rebate. Gas prices go up, I make money.

    JMHO
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    For those looking for performance, why buy an underpowered LPS? I'm not sure that most GS buyers are valuing performance that much so the larger engine probably won't drum up that many sales...

    The GS300 has been a slow car since day one 1993, so I think you're right, GS buyers aren't that interested in engine performance. I think its more about getting the GS another blurb in the automags than anything else.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    I'm still shopping, but for me the GS350 AWD seems like a nice compromise. It does lack a bit of "German-ness" in terms of road feel, but you get Lexus reliability, Excellent NAV system without MMI/I-drive, AWD, 304 HP, reasonable gas milage compared to the V8s, with price coming in cheaper than MB, Audi, and BMW.

    If I were going to buy a GS, that would be the one. The 300 AWD was kind of sluggish, so the new engine will be a nice benefit there. It's also more fuel efficient than the equivalent M35x or RL.
  • You really don't even have to be rich to keep mpg the reason not to get an automobile you like (particularly if you can afford a $50,000 one). The difference between 16 mpg and 21 mpg over the course of 15,000 miles driven in one year is 223 gallons. So that's roughly $700 a year. As Ralph Cramden would say, "a mere bag of shells"!
  • Speaking as someone who "almost" replaced a long long lineup of German cars with an Infiniti, perhaps it is time to seriously consider the Japanese cars.

    Frankly, I did think Infiniti made a good run at "German-ness" and although I have driven Lexi's over the years, I had not given the current gen a serious look-see.

    The reason (before the 2005 Infiniti M35X near miss)? I thought the Lexus cars were MORE money than the Germans, rather than "coming in cheaper than MB,Audi and BMW."

    My Lexus owning friends always seem to be getting very little discount on their Japanese LPS's -- perhaps the Acura RL would be a present-day exception.
  • A loaded AWD GS350 with Nav, ML stereo, etc. stickers for ~52K. I think that is cheaper than a loaded A6 3.2 quattro(~54K) and a loaded 530xi (~57K). Haven't priced the Benz E class but I assume its as much at the BMW.

    So based on sticker alone (recognizing that the ability to discount significantly from MSRP may differ between models), the Lexus is relatively "cheap".

    There has been talk on the Lexus boards that when the G350 came out it would be going for sticker, but given the lack of buzz about the "redesign" I suspect they will be discounting soon if not already.

    Driving the A6 and the GS tomorrow back to back, still trying to make up my mind. Life is tough:)
  • About a month ago, I began researching and test-driving cars in the category being discussed on this forum. Decided to sign up and share my experience. So, here goes…

    Sidebar … CR and JD Powers didn’t seem like much help, since they show that (to take the recently release JD Powers Dependability study as an example) 2004 Lexus owners typically had one or two problems; 2004 Cadillac, BMW, Infiniti, Jaguar, and BMW owners typically had two problems; 2004 MB and Audi owners typically had two or three problems -- in three years.

    I drove two 2007 MB E350s, one with and one without Sport Package. I like that all MBs, from the oldest I see on the road to the 2007s, look like members of the same family. Aesthetics matter a lot to me in car choice. I did not immediately love the MB interior -- just didn't feel my kind of "car-ness" in there. I did like the Sport Package's driving feel.

    I then checked out the BMW 5-series, but, having driven a 2002 530i for four years, I knew that I didn't like the design of the new ones. But nothing drives exactly like a BMW (I don't think BMW's drive better in every way, just distinctive - unlike one post I read where a BMW 5-series owner claimed never to have been passed on any curved road because all other cars had to drop off, unable to keep up with road-hugging Bimmer; I don't have that idealized image of Bimmers). I might have stayed with BMW, but the interior left me flat -- again, just me -- both in layout and backseat room. The car drove flawlessly smooth, but the extra smoothness, compared to my 2002, seemed to have pushed smoothness into some territory that, for me, felt less interesting.

    I had read a lot of wow! Words about the M35/M45 in newspapers and magazines and in Edmunds own comparison report. The M35/M45. M35x and M35/M45 Sports were unique among these cars. They got positioned in my mind as contemporary luxury muscle cars -- exhaust system tuned to make loud growl, 5 gears all set to keep rpms very high (and, according to car's computer, to keep gas companies happy -- I was quizzical when I read someone say you can balance it out by buying oil stocks; I own several, but can't quite see the joy in giving the company back the money I'm making), thump and bump rear end. But I get how Motor Trend and Car and Driver couldn't get past the muscle car acceleration. It's a kick. Infiniti saw a way to run to the top of the auto mag comparos (unlike the German big-3 whose engines have articles written about their blend of increased power and fuel efficiency) by taking their terrific V6 and setting up the drivetrain to stay in high-torque range (car rarely went below 3000 rpm even cruising on highway; in fact, when you start the engine the tach revs up close to redline and snaps back (very dramatic on bright orange gauge) and any touch of the gas in any gear pushes you above 4000 rpm). I did not like interior of "Luxury" M35, compared to "Sport" -- un-wowed me more than interior of any car I've driven). But the Sport was the bumpiest of any of the cars, including the MB Sport and Audi A6 S-Line. So, I dropped the M choice.

    I spent the most time at Lexus because I hadn't driven them. I tried the ES and GS. Too much torque steer in ES. GS was impressive, but had too much plush (in interior and handling) and not enough of the sport ingredient in the "performance" factor of LPS. Just not my brand -- totally understand, however, how some drivers love them. They offer a distinct choice.

    Audi has the design that turns my head. They look just right to me and the interior of the A6 felt right immediately. I had read a lot of positive things about the car, but also mentions of not-enough-low-end torque in the V6. My experience was different. In regular "Drive" mode, I felt what had been described: the car moves very quickly into higher gears, saving fuel (car computer matched CR's observed 4 mpg more than M35), but feeling almost like a bit of hesitation (if you're wanting to fly off the line). Then I flipped the transmission into Sport mode and got muscle-car type of instant acceleration. So, I came away feeling that the A6 3.2 Quattro gave me a nice choice of driving styles depending on whether I feel laid-back-smooth (it has the nicest blend, to my ears, of exhaust-system music and quiet) or high-testosterone. The small info screen right in front of the driver helps a lot to avoid constantly looking over at the Nav-Info screens that all these cars have.

    So, the next weekend, I narrowed down my choices to the 2007 MB E350 Sport and a 2006 or 2007 A6 (not much new that matters to me; in fact, I prefer the 2006 beeping "Park-tronic" rear parking assist to the 2007 rear camera; the camera thing distracts me and I couldn't get to trusting that it was showing me how close I was to the wall in the garage at my office (I drove both cars down the highway and into the city and right into my building, to see how each of the two finalists would feel on the route I drive 5 days a week). One deciding factor was the S-Line versus the MB Sport Package. The MB Sport suspension was lower but, other than that, didn't seem, in my hands, to dramatically change the handling/steering/engagement factor, while the S-Line sport suspension seemed to me (not sure of the engineering involved) to be a more complete "European-style" suspension change and to yield a real sports-car feel, without any loss of solid-quiet feel going over bumps. I also loved the gray birchwood trim that comes with the S-Line. The lack of an Audi equivalent to the "Oh, you're a Bimmer guy" or "So, you've moved up to MB" added some appeal (I liked that relative anonymity with the M35 too). And, on the most twisty backroad part of the final test-drives, the type of AWD Audi uses felt like it provided the most on-rails feeling. So, I bought a 2006 A6 3.2 Quattro with every option package (Premium, Technology, S-Line) and power rear and manual sunshades. MSRP = $55,790. Invoice (this dealer just handed me the vehicle invoice) = $51,958. Dealer offered it to me at invoice, with additional $6,000 off (due to Audi dealer incentive). So, I got it for $46,000. Very happy first week.

    Just my experience.
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,243
    Below is a picture of the upcoming stretched LWB version of the Acura 2009 RL.

    In all honesty I think Honda is overusing their Accord platform

    image
  • One of the most thoughtful (and on topic) personal reviews of these cars I've read on this forum. Great contribution.
  • james27james27 Posts: 433
    So much more useful than BMW sold more than x, therefore it must be the greatest. Each person's hot buttons get pushed by different things, and deciding what is most important to you as an individual is what is required to make an informed decision. Viewing others perspectives, opens up thoughts on aspects that might not be initially perceived, and is very useful.
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,269
    Wow! 17.5% off of MSRP.
    Good job!
  • cdnpinheadcdnpinhead Forest Lakes, AZPosts: 3,257
    Very helpful.

    Thanks & congratulations on your new car.
  • houdini1houdini1 Kansas City areaPosts: 5,894
    Excellent synopsis of your experiences on testing these autos. Can't fault your logic one bit. Good job and a great car and deal you decided on.

    2013 LX 570 2010 LS 460 2002 Tacoma 4x4

  • Showing my ignorance here:

    Can you specify a GS with a Sport Suspension option?

    NOT a Sport Pacakge, or Sport Appearance Group, or some other designation that, while including the word Sport, does NOT contain a sport suspension.

    The 530xi sport package, for instance, does NOT include a sport suspension.

    Audi offers SLine which IS BOTH appearance AND performance bits for the [some would say "steep" price]. The Audi SLine gives you sport wheels, tires, suspension bits and some ground effects.

    The Infiniti M35X could have been dealer uprated at the time (mid 2005) with 19" wheels and UHP tires, but not suspension calibration.

    Some of the sport offerings seem, too, to only come with Auto trans if there's AWD involved. This has become, even for die hard manual trans fans (bigots) like me, to be much less of an issue what with the 6 speed auto trans being as good as they are these days.

    Anyway: can you actually get a Lexus with a true Sport Suspension even if it isn't part of a sport group or package?

    Just wondering.

    :confuse:
  • No true sport suspension on the GS350 that I am aware of.

    Actually there isn't even really a "sport package", which as you say is more often about appearance rather than reality.
  • I EXPECT Audi, BMW and Mercedes to offer "sport" options that actually do include uprated suspension bits, wheels and tires (and perhaps some appearance items too.)

    BMW, of all companies, will not sell their AWD vehicles with a sport package -- as far as I know, ONLY the X3 is an exception to this. Go figure.

    I have argued that perhaps the Audi NEEDS SLine to somewhat counteract its big schnoze (nose heavy, don't you know?)

    A bunch of folks on another board are big into the air suspension option Audi offers, which is somewhat confusing since it seems to be an evolution of the allroad suspension which although dynamic, was NOT real-time. The stiffer springs, sway-bars and struts/shocks offered by some of the companies do a great job of taming some of the nasty habits these cars develop (or so it seems) as the "L" is boosted, often at the sake of "P" (in LPS, natch.)

    Now Audi, for one, does have a real-time, dynamic but passive system they use with great effect on the RS cars -- dual diagonal "shocks" which serve the purpose of sending the fluid to the diagonal corner, so that when going around a corner with great spirit, so to speak, the opposite "shocks" are stiffened thus maintaining the car's stance instead of simply "rolling" as most suspensions, even the stiff ones, seem to permit.

    Now, why do we have to buy a +$10 or $20,000 car just to get this?

    Seems, too, that such as system permits a very stiff chassis and some relatively comfortable spring rates all the while actually improving the handling -- and if it works in a portly-front-loaded Audi A6, imagine what it could do in a Bimmer or even the spanky "M" class Infiniti?

    Were I king of the Auto Configuration World, I would allow us all to pick and choose the best of breed stuff.

    How about a 7 speed DSG or even, perhaps, that nifty new Lexus 8 speed [auto], how about selecting your V6 LPS and being able to specify a light or heavy turbo treatment? Dynamic Ride Control (a la Audi), sure, check here. How about uprated/upsized wheels with UHP Summer or All Season shoes? Cross drilled or slotted rotors? Sure why not, another option box please? And so on.
  • ksomanksoman Posts: 590
    Sorry i've not kept up with the forums lately...

    ksso
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Can you specify a GS with a Sport Suspension option?

    NOT a Sport Pacakge, or Sport Appearance Group, or some other designation that, while including the word Sport, does NOT contain a sport suspension.


    While not specified as a "sport" suspension, the GS430 does offer an "Active Stabilizer Suspension System":
    Working in conjunction with sensors and a computer that detect the amount of force needed to help keep the vehicle flat in a turn, the active stabilizer system increases roll resistance by twisting the stabilizer bars. Which pre-loads them to help them behave like thicker sway bars without having to compromise a smooth ride.

    Its a $3K individual option. The GS350 doesn't offer any suspension changes or upgrades. Infiniti offers the Sport version with the V6, but only on RWD models. Its the same with the G35, the X version gets no sport suspension option and smaller wheels with all-season tires.

    The only Lexus to offer a "sport package" is the IS350, which is mostly an appearance package, but does have a "sport-tuned suspension" which is basically stiffer shock and spring rates.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    How about a 7 speed DSG or even, perhaps, that nifty new Lexus 8 speed [auto], how about selecting your V6 LPS and being able to specify a light or heavy turbo treatment? Dynamic Ride Control (a la Audi), sure, check here. How about uprated/upsized wheels with UHP Summer or All Season shoes? Cross drilled or slotted rotors? Sure why not, another option box please? And so on.

    I'd like an M35x Sport with light pressure turbo, DSG, and the Fuga piano black interior trim.
  • That sounds hunky dunky to me too!

    Now, when I was in graduate school way way back in the mid 1970's (1976), I took a course -- and this was in grad school -- which seemed to say "if the customer wants to give you money. . .TAKE IT!"

    I'll give you an example.

    Heated rear seats are offered to customers wanting to buy an Infiniti M. For $10,000. As part of a Premium All Inclusive Package.

    Who's bright idea was that?

    If I don't want a rear seat DVD player why can't I pay a reasonable amount for heated rear seats. I am not literally suggesting that lexusguy and I would have a car custom built for us with "options" that don't yet exist, even though my post might seemingly have suggested such.

    Rather, I would like to be able to tick off an option or three or five that I know exists and pay a reasonable price with a profit in it.

    I would have paid SOMETHING for the RS 6 wheels as an option on my A6. I won't pay $2,000 after the fact when I already paid $1,000 for the 18" deluxe wheel tire package. I might have paid $1,500 for the option to select those wheels, though.

    Why not sell satellite radio without requiring five other upgrades that I may or may not have wanted, assuming I'm willing to pay for it?

    Now, if I am willing to buy 13 options bundled together as the super-duper-premium-mega-wacka-wacka package, I might EXPECT a package discount. But if I only want 4 of the 13 options, why in the wide wide world of sports won't you sell them to be at a bit of a premium to justify, oh hell, I don't even know what needs to be justified.

    I shop on the German version of the Audi web site and it seems you can get your Audi 57 different ways and cherry pick what you really want.

    I actually wanted front parktronic, after I saw how my wife uses it to park in our garage, but Audi USA only offers rear parktronic. If I woulda been willing to pony up another $350 why not sell it to me for pity's sake.

    Marketing 101 -- sell the customer what he/she is willing to give you money for selling them.

    The cars are built based on a BOM (bill of materials) that is stuck inside a container and programmed into a computer that follows the car from being a hunk of coiled steel until it is driven off at the end of the assembly line -- who cares if I want a WHITE car with Amaretto seats? If I am willing to pay for it, sell it to me -- take my money please!

    If you offer a heated steering wheel in the V8 and you want to charge $150 for it on the V6, so be it -- heck, I'd probably go $175 or $200 for THAT!

    Pot luck on the tires of a $55K car? Keeping this in proportion to the times and inflation, I can remember BRAND NEW houses being built and sold here in Porkopolis for $199,999 by relatively large homebuilders -- if you wanted you could take you $199,999 house to $299,999 with options and features -- but you couldn't change where the walls were and you only had two floor plans, based, apparently, on what side of the street in sub-urbia you were going to be on.

    You want a small deck? A gazeebo? Dual heat-pumps for your two story? A single or dual or triple garage doors for your one, two or three car garage option?

    Roper appliances or Viking? If you got the time, we've got the beer. . .or something like that.

    If you've got the green, we'll build your machine!

    LPS cars of all the cars configured should at least have some customization possible. . .yet the option groupings never seem to git er done for me. I order stuff I don't want to get stuff I do want, don't you?

    I woulda paid SOMETHING for a power articulated steering column, three of my most recent Audis, of the six, this century, had this feature, and I liked it. I wouldn't pay $2K for it, but I woulda paid SOMETHING -- bzzz, sorry, no can do.

    So, if you want that apparently very nice and affordable Lexus with the new 300+ HP motor and AWD, but you don't want it to be a Barcolounger on Wheels, why not just say "sport bits" $1250, check here and be done with it?

    If I don't want lane departure warning, which must cost SOMETHING, why make me pay for it to get the back up camera or some such thing as that?

    Mass customization was being taught in my graduate school courses in 1976 (god, I'm old.) Here I sit some 30 years later, wishin' and hopin' and prayin' -- lawd amighty, let me choose my options, please. I beseech thee!

    Sheesh!

    Take my money, please (but let me buy what I want to buy!)

    :mad:
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    LPS cars of all the cars configured should at least have some customization possible. . .yet the option groupings never seem to git er done for me. I order stuff I don't want to get stuff I do want, don't you?

    I'm with you, 100%. The power rear sunshade is another one of those $10,000 options on the Infiniti, I believe. I'd like to have that, but I could care less about the rear DVD player. I don't have kids.

    It seems like Acura is finally starting to get the "buyers want choice" message. The new MDX will apparently offer at least two option packages, including a "Sport" package. Another interesting tidbit in this month's C&D issue is that BMW will be replacing their less-than-stellar SMG with a DSG, wonder where they got that idea?
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Nope, it stays 3.5L for '07. If it gets a mid-cycle refresh for the '08 MY, the 3.7 could be a possibility. At least in MDX tune, its not much of a boost over what the RL has now, an extra 10hp and 19ft.lbs of torque.
  • james27james27 Posts: 433
    It used to be like you indicate...individual items, and few option packages. I preferred it that way, but it made it harder for the dealers. Course, why should we care? I'm quite tall in the torso...I just don't fit well in most cars with sunroofs. Course, if you don't get the sunroof (if that is even an option), you can't get most of the other good things you'd like.

    With today's computers, it should be fairly easy to allow that, especially when someone is willing to order the car and wait.

    I think some of it is that the dealer and manufacturer realize that most people will buy those extra things in the package to get the (maybe) one thing they really want, increasing their profitability.

    Audi lost a sale to me for this reason...I just don't fit with the sunroof, and I would not be satisfied with the other things I would have to do without. Retrofitting some of those things might be possible, but at extortionist prices.
  • Assuming this is about money, which it certainly must be -- at least a little bit -- why not encourage "build your own" packages that give you a discount? You could "make your own" technology package and if you buy four options you pay for three, but if you only want two you pay for two.

    It seems to me that the dealer could be given guidelines about what is "expected" to be the highest volume sellers and for stock purposes, order cars in that configuration.

    Further, with lead times of 8 - 14 weeks, for those of us willing to wait, let us pick (and pay for) the options we want.

    Building the cars with the ability to "easily and at non extortionist prices" add options (at the dealer) is another approach that might have merit, too.

    In any case, the LPS cars would be a great place to start this increased configuration flexibility, don't you think?
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,243
    I dont know if the link about the new Blutec E has been posted. This article is the best Blutec article I have read so far.

    I will definitely test drive one this October.

    http://www.worldcarfans.com/news.cfm/newsid/2060906.006/country/gcf/mercedes/mer- - cedes-benz-e-320-bluetec-usa
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