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Luxury Performance Sedans

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  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    Well this lament is nothing new. It's not like stick shifts ruled the world in 1976. I think the biggest threat to performance cars is safety awareness which can be taken to the nth degree and ultimately render performance cars illegal for the street. Run-flat tires are another stone in the shoe. And of course BMW just had to be on the "leading edge" of this thanks to their new-age hubris. It's ironic how the safety mission coexists with the hp wars.
  • Selling England by the Pound -- Genesis.

    You win the cupie doll, Pat!

    Here in Cincinnati, the new generation of BMW's with that spanky new "35" twin turbo engine are rolling out -- at this point, the 335 sedan and coupes are RWD, but already the 328 is offered with AWD and next year the X drive option will be added for about $1900.

    It promises to be a brisk seller. Almost all, certainly, will be automatics. Try finding a stick to test drive.

    The 7 series (upcoming gen) too will be offered with AWD.

    Mercedes 4Matics are exclusively automatics.

    Some of the Audis can still be had with AWD, sport packages (that actually do change the suspension settings) AND stick shifts.

    But when the S4 sitting on the showroom floor is just as likely to be an auto as a stick, well, even that is indicative of American's (primarily) unwillingness to "eat beets" (or fill in the blank.)

    A friend of mine went to the salad bar at Ruby's one day and they had just put out a fresh container of small round beets. I said, "wow, fresh beets on my salad will be deelish." My friend said, "yeccchhh! beets." I said, "I didn't know you hated beets so much." He replied, "they're terrible, I've never had one, but I just know they're nasty tasting."

    Whattya gonna do?

    My current phrase -- and more than a phrase it is a LAMENT -- is, "good is the enemy of great."

    To me, even though I am starting to actually believe the automatic COULD be superior to the manual, there is one thing the stick does better FOR SURE: it INCREASES driving pleasure.

    I am now somewhat at odds with Shipo in that I do see "the case" for the argument that the auto equipped BMW's will permit, allow and encourage better, improved, & MORE control, performance and safety. Yet, I still think stick shifts are more involving and fun than ANY automatic.

    I have been a screaming voice in the wilderness for a long time. I saw Audis go from 90% stick to 75% stick to 50% stick to 90% auto over a period of time commencing in 1976 through today.

    My favorite car of all time was a 1995 S6. But, the best car I have ever had is my current all optioned 2005 A6 3.2.

    If I could have ONLY one of these two cars and could pick from the two of them, I would, for features and safety reasons pick my current car. Hands down, however, the S6 was more fun -- and I'll have to nominate the stick shift that it came with as the main contributor to that.

    Here's a list of [our] cars -- most of them sticks:

    1978 Audi 5000
    1979 Audi Fox GTI
    1982 4000 (with: funny upshift indicator on the dashboard)
    1984 4000S
    1984 Coupe
    1986 4000CS quattro (with the juiced up 5 cylinder engine)
    1986 Coupe (king of the hill)
    1987 5000CS turbo quattro
    1988 80 quattro sport
    1988 BMW 325ix (all wheel drive)
    1990 100 (automatic)
    1990 Coupe (with the 20V 5 cylinder engine)
    1991 100 quattro
    1992 100S
    1993 100S (pearl white)
    1993 90S quattro
    1994 90S quattro sport
    1995 S6 (what a blast to drive this "emerald green pearl with white leather sport seats" and the cool factory phone beauty)
    1996 A4 2.8
    1998 A4 2.8 (190 HP)
    1997 A8 4.2 w/S8 suspension upgrade (auto, of course)
    1999 A6 2.8 quattro (automatic)
    2000 TT quattro 180
    2000 A6 4.2 (automatic)
    2001 A6 4.2 sport (ditto)
    2001 TT 225
    2003 allroad 2.7T (6 speed to be clear)
    2003 TT 225
    2005 A6 3.2 (automatic)
    2005 BMW X3 3.0 (stick shift)

    ===========

    Twenty eight Audis in all. Two BMW's.

    ===========

    I am pretty certain we have had our last stick shift. If you can find an upcoming BMW 5X with a stick -- and you are so inclined to "eat beets" -- you'd better buy it, cause it is a dying breed, or perhaps it is already extinct and no one bothered to tell it yet.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    I like beets AND stick shifts! (And Genesis!) :P
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    o the "losses" previously attributable to automatic transmissions have been virtually banned in the newest transmissions(one has to assume the lost of power and perhaps even the loss of control Shipo discusses -- indeed some of the auto transmissions actually have identical 0 -100kph times as the stick shift versions even though the automatics have taller final drive ratios.)

    Actually, according to Porsche, the tip-auto 911 Turbo will outrun the stick to 60. The reason being that with the auto, you can brake-torque to 3,000rpm, spooling up the turbos before launch. The stick will not survive clutch drops at similar rpms.
  • I learned to drive a stick on a brand new 78 Audi 5000S. I was supposed to be driving it from Virginia to Pennsylvania for a DX (dealer exchange), and I had been assured that it would be an automatic because I didn't know how to drive a stick. I was all of 20 years old.

    But when I got there and freaked out because it had that third pedal, the dealer said no problem and took me out to teach me how to drive it. I got about ten minutes in rush hour traffic on a six-lane divided highway, and then he said bye bye and I took off for PA. The car I drove back was another (5000s) stick, too, but by then it didn't matter. I was hooked.

    All my cars since then have been 5 speeds--two Celicas, an ES 300, and my 530i spt. I am firmly in Shipo's camp--if it doesn't have a stick, I won't even consider it. I rode in my friend's 545 and listened to him rave about the paddle shifters, but after watching him play with them for five minutes or so, I was bored. It's like watching a movie of a bike ride along some gorgeous trail somewhere while you pedal on a stationary bike. What's the point? Just give me the real thing.

    Then there's rocking out of a slippery spot. Can even the new-improved-nothing-like-their-predecessors automatics equal a stick when it comes to that?

    I won't even mention that the more moving parts there are the more likely something will break.
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,243
    9 out of 10 Porsches sold are with sticks. The Z06 and Viper are MT. Real sport nut jobs love stick and is necessary for car companies who portray sport and offer sport.

    Those are reassuring stats. Or maybe not?

    I think BMW and Audi may find your stats very interesting and only offer their sticks to buyers who are willing to open their wallets a bit further for manual versions of M Series and Audi S and RS models. The plain vanilla BMWs and Audis will soon be offered solely with two pedals. If a person wants a stick then BMW and Audi will graciously offer that person a M series or RS for a mere $20k to $30K more.

    Oh yeah I know the M series and S/RS models are far better in every sense of the word and worth that price over their more plain siblings. You are not only paying for the stick you are also paying for improved performance and handling dynamics . Unfortunatley in that case driving a car with a stick will become far more elitist while the common man will just have to live the rest of his life with automatics. A sad fate indeed for most of mankind(especially the portion that loves sticks) :sick:
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,243
    Actually, according to Porsche, the tip-auto 911 Turbo will outrun the stick to 60. The reason being that with the auto, you can brake-torque to 3,000rpm, spooling up the turbos before launch. The stick will not survive clutch drops at similar rpms.

    Is it all about getting to the finish line fastest? Did not Schumacher himself say how much he prefers driving manual cars? Does not the added concentration involved with a third pedal and the "feeling of being one with the road" count for anything?

    Is it possible for humans to enjoy chess with the knowledge that a IBM supercomputer will beat the greatest chess master in the world? Ofcourse it is. Similarily does the enjoyment of driving manual become pointless because cars with auto trannies can outrace cars with manual trannies? Ofcourse not.

    There is definitely a lot to be said about shifting your own gears. If you've never done it before then you will never understand what I mean.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    There is definitely a lot to be said about shifting your own gears. If you've never done it before then you will never understand what I mean.

    I've "rowed my own" in plenty of cars. Probably the most notable was my first British sports car, my '62 Austin Healey 3000. It had a double-clutch four-speed manual with a dash mounted switch for OD in 3rd and 4th. Definitely the most unforgiving transmission I've ever used. You either do it the way it wants, or you walk, literally. There was definitely satisfaction in hammering home the 3rd > 2nd downshift in that car, as nobody else could do it the first time unless they were a Healey driver.

    I definitely would not have bought the car though if it was going to be a daily driver. I still think driving a stick is fun, but with traffic the way it is now rather than 30 years ago, I just don't think the positives of owning a MT car would outweigh the negatives. Just MO. On the other hand, I think SMGs (especially Audi's) rock. If you don't feel like shifting for yourself, you dont have to. With a MT, your SOL.
  • cdnpinheadcdnpinhead Forest Lakes, AZPosts: 3,305
    This puts me in the minority here, I've learned. I choose to shift my own gears. That puts me into a miniscule fraction of that minority. Oh, and I demand rear-wheel drive.

    BMW, G35, CTS & the C230 still offer me what I want. The fact that I choose to own my vehicle, regardless of warranty, means I care how much things cost to fix. Manuals rarely break, & when they do, they cost less to fix. Yeah, I know, who cares?

    Plus which, I can skip gears, engage the clutch slowly or not so slowly, or not at all, given the situation (which may not be what it was 0.5 seconds earlier).

    It's clear 3-7 of you understand what I'm saying & the rest couldn't care less. When BMW & Nissan stop selling manuals, I guess I'll go back to Miatas, or something else -- I'll give up the luxury long before I'll give up the sport.

    For me, this is the ultimate deal-breaker. I bought the car I've got only because it came with a manual. Bad example (they quit making the whole thing, manual or otherwise) I realize, but I guess I can look forward to saving money if the only cars that come with manuals in the future are cheaper ones.

    My next car will probably be a BMW 3-series, within the next year or two. It'll have a manual. After that, we'll see.

    The present car will turn 100K miles this week & it certainly hasn't been a maintenance nightmare. The next one won't be either, because it'll have only the minimum of options & a manual.

    KISS.
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    Dewey, hang in there. I wasn’t suggesting that you should be content to spend an additional $30K on a car to get three pedals. What I’m saying is that the manual transmission is still considerably represented. As such the influence is pretty healthy and if BMW plans to sustain its ultimate driving machine image it had better stick with the stick. Not only is it expected by the small percentage of their customers but also by the press who propagate that image. BMW turning into Lexus? Nah, I refuse to hear it.

    Now if you really want to read something hilarious about MTs check this out and try not to get depressed. This is really funny:

    Death to The Stick Shift

    Rage, rage against the dying of the light!

    ;-)
  • Out of all the posters here, whether you use standard shift or some amalgam of auto shift: Who actually runs there cars on the track? Who has run their respective cars to the limits with sweaty palms? I'm interested in hearing from the hard core of the group. No offense to the family car group, but I'd like to hear opinions from those who really like to drive?
  • LOLOL! Thanks for a sorely needed (by me, anyway) bit of levity.
  • I have a '96 Porsche 993 with a six speed manual and a BMW R1100RSL with a five speed sequential gear box. Both are great on a early weekend morning or out in the boonies. The Porsche has seen its share of PCA track days. I avoid getting caught in traffic in either.

    There is great satisfaction to be gained by the perfect upshift and even more by as perfect as possible downshift. In my view you really do have more control over the car. and I really could not imagine taking the E350 Sport or not to a track day.

    I think the real reason that sticks are on the endangered list is that some of the "autos" that allow you to change gears manually as you like give you 80% of the control you have with a stick but when you need a full auto you have it. The MB 7 speed is remarkably amenable to playing manual and unlike some it will not auto shift when it is not happy with what you are doing. Not that I plan on doing any track days with it.

    If I had to live with one vehicle, my painful reality is that it would have to be an auto. Fortunatly autos are still very rare on motorcycles so they remain a viable alternative in addition to being the ultimate experience in vehicle dynamics if you are so inclined.
  • Your unwillingness to fight for an LPS car with a stick shift is part and parcel of the reason(s) they will very soon be gone altogether.

    It is NOT you alone, of course. I have simply grown weary and/or broke trying to keep the stick alive.

    With some tongue in cheek, I say I have put hundreds of thousands of dollars into buying/leasing stick shift cars to no avail.

    Why? Cause the rest of the buying public has simply refused to do the same thing, regardless of the scale of the purchases.

    When I went to Ohio's largest BMW dealer today to test drive the new X3, I found that there were three in stock -- and not a one with a stick.

    One 335 coupe did have a stick. It was damn near the only car on the lot with a stick. This at a dealer that sells some 1200+ cars per year in a city with two Bimmer franchises.

    Other than the one 335 and my wife's X3, I can't remember the last time I saw a BMW with a stick shift.

    Folks around here must have tons of disposable income, for the number of 5 series that seems to be sold here defies my understanding of our socio-economic makeup.

    Try finding a manual 5er.

    True there are a few die hards, but even so, it would appear none of us -- and I hereby as of now include myself -- are willing to put out the kind of money that would get a manufacturer's attention.

    I did my part, for nearly 30 years -- let's see the rest of you shiftless never folks start ponying up the bucks and demanding stick shifts.

    When you reach -- pick a number -- $400,000 in stick shift cars (in a reasonable period of time), and if you all (or at least 51%) do this, well maybe, just maybe the stick can be saved.

    We have met the enemy and it is us.

    For me, at least, the good news is that the newest autos are quite good, the DSG's are better still and the instructors at the BMW school have given me pause to consider two hands on the wheel (at all times) gives the maximum control.

    Yet, somehow, nothing satisfies quite like BEEF, er, stick shifts.

    Write your Congressperson, write your dealer, write the manufacturer and tell them you want a stick shift.

    Good luck unless you are willing to spend money to make this happen.

    It just isn't happening is the bottom line.

    It was great while it lasted.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    One 335 coupe did have a stick. It was damn near the only car on the lot with a stick. This at a dealer that sells some 1200+ cars per year in a city with two Bimmer franchises.

    While there may not be many sticks on the lot, I think the stick will remain at least an option in the entry-lux class for the foreseeable future. I'm sure there are probably 0-1 TL Type S MTs on the lot, but you can get one. Same goes for the G35 sedan. There must be a lot more people interested in a 3300lb. MT car than a 4000lb. MT car.
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,243
    That Death to the Stick Shift article reminds me of a recent conversation I had with someone who religiously buys new cars every two to three years. Such cars as BMW, Audis, Acuras and Infinitis. He told me that he finds Benzes and Lexuses not sporty enough.

    You would honestly think a fellow like that would be sympathetic to the need for having sticks in performance cars? Nope not at all. This is what he asked me one day:

    "You know I dont understand you? Why are you willing to spend money on BMWs and not even spend money on such a low priced option as a automatic transmission?
    The last time I bought a manual was in the 70s and that was because I could not afford automatic"


    Apparently the atitude above is prevalent among all car buyers including luxury performance sedan buyers.
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,243
    When BMW & Nissan stop selling manuals, I guess I'll go back to Miatas, or something else -- I'll give up the luxury long before I'll give up the sport.

    I read somewhere that Nissan intends to eliminate the manual option soon on its Versa . They want to spread CVT throughout their product-lines.

    In other words the stick battle is a two front battle. Luxury cars from the top end and economy cars from the bottom end will gradually become more stick-less as the years go by. :(
  • sfcharliesfcharlie Posts: 402
    The first stick-shift car I drove at a racetrack was a 1967 Pontiac GTO. These were quarter-mile drag races.

    I had a 1984 Jeep CJ-7 with a stick. I was living in a Rocky Mtn state. We often drove through areas where someone gets out and walks in front of the vehicle as you drive over uneven terrain and rocks large enough to take the bottom off, and you don’t want to stall out. On a couple of occasions, this took us to an open area at the foot of a steep (maybe 35 to 40 degree slope). Driving through the gears up and back down such slopes vindicated my father for any of his annoying comments when he was teaching me to drive the ‘57 column shift chevy he was passing along to me in 1966.

    I also had a chance, just one afternoon in the late 1980s, to drive a one quarter-hour leg of a charity “rally” (softest imaginable meaning of that word) event in an Audi Quattro Sport -- time in which a wealthy collector had put up as an auction item. That was something.

    On a less dramatic note, I drove a five speed Honda Accord around the hills and crowded highways of Seattle and San Francisco is the early 1990s. Then I retired from stick shifts and was delighted when, in the later 1990s, I discovered manufacturers equipping cars with tip-tronics which I like enough in that they stave off the feeling that cars are just basic transportation. I even find that, as auto engineers compete to develop their half-stick manu-matics, it’s enjoyable to compare one to another, the way we used to compare the sticks in GTOs and Dodge Hemis and Chevy Super Sports.
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,243
    Apparently the atitude above is prevalent among all car buyers including luxury performance sedan buyers.

    Pardon my very bad Anglish. But all is a bit too inclusive ,although it does feel that way.
  • cdnpinheadcdnpinhead Forest Lakes, AZPosts: 3,305
    Well, my next car, with its manual transmission, RWD & some lux features (BMW 3 or G3X or ??) may be (as was said years ago where I grew up) my "last look at granny."

    As I mentioned earlier, when the lux cars drop the manual, I'll drop lux cars. I can finally afford nice cars, but if they don't have a manual. . .

    I'm pushing 60, and BMW, Merc, Infiniti & Cadillac are still offering manuals. With luck, I'll die before the manual does. Said more positively, the manual will live much longer than I do.

    Or not.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    I'm pushing 60, and BMW, Merc, Infiniti & Cadillac are still offering manuals. With luck, I'll die before the manual does. Said more positively, the manual will live much longer than I do.

    Don't be so negative. Even if the stick shift completely disappears from luxury autodom, which I dont think it will, there are plenty of great sports cars just over the horizon, and you can bet they will have MTs. There should be a new S2000, 350Z, and Supra by the end of the decade. BMW has the Z2 on the way, and there's always Porsche of course.
  • I think the disappearance of the stick shift is part of a larger phenomenon, which, if it runs counter to your auto-desires (as it does mine), you’ll find utterly objectionable. This larger phenomenon is that the automobile has been redefined, in America, into an homogenized one-dimensional entity the most-loved characteristic of which is to be transparent -- like comfortable shoes that you forget you’re wearing.

    The automobile is no longer a modern-day horse. The point of selecting one is no longer to end up being excited by it and enjoying the relationship with it (as extension of body-in-motion -- like the horse once was), but to not be bothered by it. The pseudo-scientific use of statistics by CR and JDP has contributed to this by convincing us that we should feel foolish if we have to spend even a couple of days a year taking care of a car.

    The Japanese are sometimes lambasted by the shrinking cadre of American auto enthusiasts for playing the “buy one of ours and you’ll forget you even own a car” card, but, if they’re in bed with CR/JDP, it’s we who have brought them together and given them a home here -- a home they cannot find in their own country. As Business Week pointed out: “ With net profits of $10 billion, double-digit growth in the U.S., and GM's (GM) spot as the world's biggest automaker in sight, Toyota Motor (TM) President Katsuaki Watanabe has had little to complain about since succeeding Fujio Cho as the head of the Japanese automaker last June. Yet for all the great strides being taken by Toyota, Watanabe must be at least a little disheartened by the performance of the upmarket Lexus brand in Japan. The reason? Since the Lexus marque first went on sale in Japan last August, sales have hardly set the world afire (see BW Online, 7/11/05, "Lexus to the Rescue"). Through Dec. 31, only 10,300 Lexus were sold in Japan -- considerably short of Toyota's target of 20,000. What's more, in 2006 the carmaker is only expecting to sell 40,000 Lexus -- still off the the 50,000-60,000 annual target Toyota had mentioned last year.” Nisssan doesn’t even market the Infiniti line in Japan. And it's not because the Japanese are not buying LPS vehicles: "One place where sales are up is the luxury sector, but that's where Japanese brands are weakest. Through July this year, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, and Porsche registered increases in sales of 10% or higher."

    I think the stick-shift has been a victim of this same American mind-set. I’d call it a car-as-appliance phenomenon, but people still lust after sub-zero refrigerators even though CR indicates they require repairs about three times as often as Kenmores. I got a used Porsche 356B in 1967 and drove it a few times a week for about ten years (still feel it was a disgrace to have ever sold it, but I needed the money). Got a used BMW 2002 a couple of years after that and kept it until 1988. I taught my oldest child to drive on that car. I keep a stick-shift car around and don’t feel suicidal when a clutch needs replacement. I don’t think manual transmissions will disappear anytime soon, maybe not completely at all, but I don’t feel anyone should buy one to support my habit. The bigger problem is not keeping the stick-shift alive in the U.S., but keeping alive (in a critical mass of buyers) the sense of the car as modern day horse (individual personality, enjoyable to care for, requiring skill to ride) rather than a buy-it-and-forget-it object.
  • Well said . . . and this reinforces: "we have met the enemy, and it is us." :cry:
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,243
    Great post!
  • cdnpinheadcdnpinhead Forest Lakes, AZPosts: 3,305
    Let me add to the chorus.

    Very nicely put.

    My '65 MGB, which required more maintenance than any vehicle I had before or since, gave me more pleasure than any of the rest of them either.
  • dan339gdan339g Posts: 56
    Excellent post!

    Although, I find it interesting that the European's appear to have a very different attitude. During my recent travels in the UK on business, I stayed at hotels that seemed to attract a large number of LPS drivers as guests. During my completely random "peek in the window" poll, nearly all of the Audi's, BMW's and Mercedes I looked at were manuals (as were most of all the other cars.) I'm not so sure this is an indicator of driver preference so much as fuel economy, given the price of fuel is double that in the states but I do get the sense that driving is viewed as a more interactive experience for them.

    Another thing that strikes me relating to the US market is the "next generation" of LPS buyers more than likely never learned how to drive a stick. I know my younger siblings were never exposed, and as a result don't even consider them. It's hard to miss what you never had.
  • I have now spent a weekend with a new set of Pirelli Pzero Nero M+S UHP A/S (Z rated) tires in size 245 x 40 x 18" on my 2005 standard suspension A6 3.2 quattro.

    I spent 25k mls. with the OEM tires -- ContiProContact H rated Grand Touring A/S tires in the same size.

    From the day I picked up my new car, I wrote it was under-tired.

    I did mitigate this, somewhat, by almost immediately adding pounds to the tires and attempting to address the Audi's nose heaviness by inflating the tires +3 pounds on the front. I have settled on 39 pounds, front, 36 pounds rear.

    The combination of a 40 series tire with an H rating produces a suboptimal effect. The design and selection by Audi of THIS Grand Touring H rated A/S tire seems to have been for the benefit of what Americans must be perceived to want: i.e., smooth ride and low noise characteristics, low profile appearance and all temperature performance (with a tiny bit of snow traction thrown in for folks who, like me, live in climates that have moderate snowfall and rarely have sub 25 degree temps.)

    The Grand Touring tires would be ideal for long relatively high speed cruises on US Interstate highways. They are NOT so good when it comes to carving up a twisty road, however. The GT tires made the car seem, somewhat, like a boat. On an approach to a curve or turn the car seemed to turn in just a hair after the steering wheel was turned when the car was shod with the H rated GT tires. Not so with the apparently stiffer and stickier Pirelli's. Turn the wheel and the nose instantly goes in the direction you just told it to go.

    The difference is really noticeable on an uphill "S" curve at speeds about 50% higher than the sign indicates is the suggested speed. After I had almost 100 miles on the new shoes they seemed to make the car track up the hillside as the saying goes, "like it was on rails."

    These tires are -- at this point -- quieter than the outgoing Conti's (which still had 4/32" tread left.) They are smooth -- after about one mile's travel if they have been sitting in the garage overnight and, yes, they are slightly "firmer" in road feel almost as if the Contis were like a pair of gloves, insulating some of the road feel from the driver. The Pirellis are like taking the gloves off, with respect to tactile feel.

    The Tirerack rep suggested that even though the wear expectation numbers of these two tires is identical at 400, that there is no uniform standard. He added, the Pirellis probably will go to 3/32's at around 25,000+ miles, whereas the Contis would have probably made it to 30,000 with 3/32's left (2/32's is when it is mandatory to change the tires, BTW.) I paid $156 each (they are now $160) for these tires -- the Contis at the Tirerack were $202.

    I remember the days when Audis came ONLY with UHP or MAX performance Summer only tires. These tires often lasted fewer than 20,000 miles, became noisy after 12,000 - 15,000 and were downright dangerous in Winter. It seems "odd" that Audi (and now Pirelli) is willing to make products specifically for the US market yet will not permit a customer to buy what he wants (or at least may want.)

    Here is what is available and routinely comes on new Audi products.

    Brands: Continental, Dunlop, GoodYear, Michelin and Pirelli.

    Types: Summer only (usually Z rated, sometimes V rated) All Season (almost always H rated, sometimes V rated)

    Aspect Ratios: 55, 50, 45, 40, 35 (in sizes 16, 17, 18, 19, and 20")

    Never say never, but it is ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE to get a new Audi with UHP All Seasons, you take the car with UHP Summer tires or HP All Seasons (and the differences between these tire types is NOT AT ALL SUBTLE.)

    I know tires for the Summer and Winter are the "ideal" way to go. And, growing up NORTH of Dayton, Ohio, I was used to the annual ritual of the tire change. Moving south some 80 miles, to Cincinnati, after college, I have rarely seen a time (temp or precip) when a dedicated snow tire would provide any better "go in the snow" capability than a young set of all seasons "W" rated, perhaps on an AWD vehicle. Once, recently, Christmas 2004, we had ice on the Interstate highways. for two days -- thick ice. Perhaps studded snow tires on an SUV would have been good. For most of us, however, it just meant short trips for a day or two. The time before that, as I recall, was a one day level-1 snow day back in 1994. In other words, in this "neck of the woods" the UHP all season tire is a very small performance compromise and when compared with the H rated grand touring all season shoes Audi (and the other Germans and even Japanese) chooses, the handling differences are, to repeat, NOT AT ALL SUBTLE.

    In the same vein, I now have been behind the wheel of an S6 (I did NOT drive it.) It was right next to an SLine (with sport seats) A6. The sport seats in both seem virtually identical. The S6 looks a little "more purposeful" if you get my drift, but the A6 SLine (especially were it to have the 4.2 and if the owner were to spring for the S6 wheels) is also a very handsome piece of work (if you, like me, have grown tolerant of the Big-Mouth look.)

    Here is my plea: let me buy bits and pieces -- sell them to me at a profit -- of the SLine and S and even RS cars. Let me buy a new A6 SLine and NOT have to pay the dealer the after sale, accessory price for the S6's wheels. Let me pay for S6 brakes, assuming they really are a step up in stopping power, as they appear to be. Let me pay for the S6's steering wheel.

    Audi makes little splash with its subtle styling cues. Most folks would NOT know if your SLine was toting a V10 -- most wouldn't care. Audi has taken a philosophy of subtle cues (even on the RS cars) with respect to styling -- so what if I am willing to pay for the 19" S wheels, let me buy them, and let me specify them with UHP all season tires, if I wish. Let me order Misano Red, if I want without SLine, if I am so willing. Let me order the sport suspension without the SLine cosmetic treatment, etc.

    Let me order a white Audi with Premium Amaretto Colored Leather Sport seats -- don't only allow me to order these seats with optional paint colors. If I want a new Audi A4 convertible in white with a blue top, let me do so without some kind of "service" charge of $2,500.

    Most of all, let me pick from configurable features and options rather than forcing me to take packages -- but if I do opt for the package, incent me a couple bucks to spend more.

    Take my money please.

    Overall: tire report is a positive -- they do not transform the car into an S6. But, for those wanting the somewhat less firm ride of the standard suspension calibration but unwilling to give up the crisp turn in that the S treatment brings with it, well, let me specify (& add a buck) the characteristics of the tires that will come with my new $50,000+ daily driver.

    Even Burger King, lets you have it "your way" for pity's sake. :surprise:
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Yet for all the great strides being taken by Toyota, Watanabe must be at least a little disheartened by the performance of the upmarket Lexus brand in Japan. The reason? Since the Lexus marque first went on sale in Japan last August, sales have hardly set the world afire (see BW Online, 7/11/05, "Lexus to the Rescue"). Through Dec. 31, only 10,300 Lexus were sold in Japan -- considerably short of Toyota's target of 20,000. What's more, in 2006 the carmaker is only expecting to sell 40,000 Lexus -- still off the the 50,000-60,000 annual target Toyota had mentioned last year.” Nisssan doesn’t even market the Infiniti line in Japan. And it's not because the Japanese are not buying LPS vehicles: "One place where sales are up is the luxury sector, but that's where Japanese brands are weakest. Through July this year, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, and Porsche registered increases in sales of 10% or higher."

    The Japanese are like us, they want imports. No Lincoln or Cadillac is as impressive to (most) Americans than a Mercedes or BMW. The same is true in Japan, only its Lexus stuck being the "domestic choice".
  • sfcharliesfcharlie Posts: 402
    FRANKFURT, May 20, 2005; Christiaan Hetzner writinfg for Reuters reported that Frank Winter probably has one of the most thankless jobs in the German car industry.

    Faced with the fiercest of competition, the head of Lexus Germany is not kidding himself that Toyota Motor Corp.'s (7203.T: Quote, Profile, Research) premium brand is poised to enjoy the same phenomenal success here that it has had in the United States.

    Lexus came out of nowhere to become the U.S.'s best-selling luxury marque for the past five years straight.

    Just as Lexus is pushing to establish itself as a global powerhouse in the luxury segment, domestic goliaths BMW , Mercedes-Benz, Audi (VOWG.DE: Quote, Profile, Research) and Porsche continue to crowd it out of the largest car market in Europe and potentially the most demanding in the world.

    Last year Lexus eked out a marginal existence in Germany, selling just 2,600 vehicles. It expects over 3,000 this year -- hardly something that would leave home-grown rivals quaking in their boots.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    For Lexus to do well in Germany, they need more than just one diesel engine in one car. They need to take the GS back to the drawing board, and they need to build the LF-X, and make it fun to drive.
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