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Luxury Performance Sedans

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  • sfcharliesfcharlie Posts: 402
    Tuner MTM has put together an MTM-TT where the 2.0 TFSI, after being souped up by MTM, outputs at least 245 bhp (355 Nm at 1,850 rpm). In addition to this, MTM offers 250 (363 Nm/1,850 rpm), 272 (370 Nm/1,850 rpm), and a 313 bhp (395 Nm/ 3,230 rpm) versions.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,918
    A reporter from a large daily newspaper is looking to speak to Mercedes-Benz owners in the Washington DC area about the expectations you have with the car when you purchase it and any problems you’ve had to deal with. Please provide your daytime contact info to ctalati@edmunds.com no later than Monday, October 16, 2006.

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  • Although, as one recent post pointed out, CR isn't as simple-minded in its "ratings" of cars as it sometimes seems, or as sometimes is alleged (for example, they often rate the Passat first or second on family sedan list, despite its not being near top of their reliability scoring), nonetheless, I believe there are enough people who are mostly swayed by the reliability ratings themselves or by CR's "recommendations". When CR puts a group of cars together and says: "we recommend you buy this one, in fact, it's the only one in the group that we recommend," that's a powerful market force.

    For example, CR has a category "ultra-performance & luxury sports cars". The category includes everything from Porsche 911 Carrera S to BMW 650i coupe to Cadillac XLR Base. The only car they recommend in this class is the $65,0000 Lexus SC, which they find to have "handling that feels no more agile than on ordinary sedan," with "a harsh ride that doesn't befit a luxury car," and overall performance that makes it not "game for driving with enthusiasm."

    If a CR reader was considering venturing into one of these "ultra-performance & luxury sports cars," to whatever extent they were influenced by CR, they'd probably tend to back off and not buy any of the cars. The magazine's rhetoric, which is the total deciding factor for a significant number of car buyers who have described their decision-making to me, has made a big contribution to a mind-change about cars: aim for 365 days of trouble-free, emotion-free driving and look elsewhere to be engaged with the world around you.
  • sfcharliesfcharlie Posts: 402
    More of the same...

    Mercedes boss Eckhard Cordes launched a costly quality offensive designed to cut the number of defects and catch them before cars leave the factory. That involved forging a new quality unit and making sure engineers, designers, and production and assembly managers make no key decision on engineering or purchasing without the approval of quality managers. Long-term, the fix lies in designing cars that are less complex, stripping out excess electronics and bolstering testing before new models go into production. Paul Halata, president and CEO of Mercedes USA, insists the company's efforts to improve quality are finally showing. In the latest J.D. Power initial quality survey, Mercedes moved up from tenth in 2004 with 106 problems per 100 vehicles to fifth with 104. Many analysts are skeptical. "It's really too soon to tell on Mercedes quality," says Albrecht Denninghof, an analyst at HVB Group in Munich. "We need about 12 months to see if there are still problems."

    Moved up by reducing problems from 1.06 per vehicle to 1.04?

    What can such a jump mean? Most readers will just see "moved from tenth to fifth". Like checking in on a stock you own.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    If a CR reader was considering venturing into one of these "ultra-performance & luxury sports cars," to whatever extent they were influenced by CR, they'd probably tend to back off and not buy any of the cars. The magazine's rhetoric, which is the total deciding factor for a significant number of car buyers who have described their decision-making to me, has made a big contribution to a mind-change about cars: aim for 365 days of trouble-free, emotion-free driving and look elsewhere to be engaged with the world around you.

    I think CR's influence at that level is marginal at best. I seriously doubt that anyone who is genuinely interested in a 911 or 650i is going to back out because it doesn't have the "red check". CR probably has a part in helping Camry and Accord to dominate the family sedan market. Those are the cars that CR readers actually buy.

    Anyone who buys a SC430 over the competition was going to buy a Lexus anyway. I don't think CR would really be a factor there.
  • carnaughtcarnaught Posts: 1,611
    For example, CR has a category "ultra-performance & luxury sports cars".........The only car they recommend in this class is the $65,0000 Lexus SC, which they find to have "handling that feels no more agile than on ordinary sedan," with "a harsh ride that doesn't befit a luxury car," and overall performance that makes it not "game for driving with enthusiasm."

    I'm not a real CR proponent especially when it comes to cars, but their description of the SC430 was right-on. (I had one.)
  • I was with you up until your final sentence which, I fear, is a bit overstated: "aim for 365 days of trouble-free, emotion-free driving and look elsewhere to be engaged with the world around you." As was noted elsewhere, they rank their cars independently of the reliability, and then they require average (or above) reliability and a few other considerations to be recommended. Their rankings, aside from reliability, aren't far from what most people on this board would think and really don't represent "emotion-free driving." For everyone's information, their first five cars in the "Ultra-performance and Luxury Sports Car" class are the 911 Carrera S, the Z06, Boxster, SL550 and 650i. Hardly emotion-free.

    For myself, I've just had a 4 1/2 year reliability nightmare with my BMW X5 4.4. I've had a new transmission, I've had it in for work on the fancy suspension 4 times, and I could go on and on. I knew that the X5 didn't have a great reputation for reliability (thanks to CR) when I bought it and I'm paying the price. For my next ride, I think I'd like a few years of a reliable LPS, so I'm ranking the M a little higher than I would have had it not been for my personal experience. I'm also thinking about the Volvo S80 because they (like BMW) are putting new processes in place to address the reliability issues.

    I'm not suggesting that everyone should follow CR slavishly, but for me reliability is a useful piece of information, and for my next car, after a really ugly few years, it's a piece of information that is particularly important.

    PS: they also recommend the Nissan 350Z and the BMW z4 in addition to the SC430.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    The SC's ride quality issues can be fixed by dumping the run-flats for real tires, just hope you don't get a flat. Unfortunately, tires can't make the car less ugly.
  • You make some good counterpoints to my comments.

    I was looking at the October 2006 issue of CR, in which the Nissan 350Z and the BMW z4 were not including the comparison, although they are recommended on the sidebar chart.

    And, also, as you say, CR routinely talks about handling, engaging drive quality, fun-factor, etc.

    My main point was that, in the end, they convey the sense that, when it comes to recommending a car, the only solid basis is their reliability rating. I think that they have been believed by many buyers (although, again, I agree with your toning down of my comments, in that they are probably less influential with buyers of this particular group of cars than with buyers of family sedans, where they exert enormous influence). It would seem more honest to say that they cannot recommend any car, in a comparo where the only one that meets their reliability standard is, according to them, a mediocre driving experience (that's what led to the comment with which you took issue, about what is implied when you suggest someone buy a car with what you yourself have assessed to be mediocre driving quality). To do what they do, does seem to me to imply that, taking all factors into account, they recommend you choose a car they don't think is engaging or enjoyable, just because you'll avoid a few unscheduled service visits. That's how it reads to me.

    My main problem with CR and JDP is that such ratings are presented by them in ways designed partly to inform and partly to inflate, through over-dramatizing of the statistical significance of the ratings, the importance of CR and JDP.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    To do what they do, does seem to me to imply that, taking all factors into account, they recommend you choose a car they don't think is engaging or enjoyable, just because you'll avoid a few unscheduled service visits. That's how it reads to me.

    Yeah, I can see that. I think what CR is trying to say is that while we didnt necessarily like the car, owners say its reliable, so if you like it, by all means. Perhaps they should change the "recommended" tag to "reliable" or something like that. Something to further differentiate the reliability score from the overall score.
  • A frustrating personal experience with a car or SUV, such as the BMW X5 mentioned a recent post, would definitely weigh heavily on my mind in going out to buy a replacement.

    Figuring out how that bad experience and/or CR's assessment of the X5 should, if at all, influence anyone else is a different issue.

    I don't believe that we have the kind of reliability statistics (from either CR or JDP) that is very helpful. Use of statistics is tricky, even in very scientific forums, but as reported by CR and JDP none of us could figure out what the probability is that an M will be more reliable than, say, a BMW 530i. By choosing an M over a 530 will I be decreasing my chances of unscheduled service by 2%, 10%, 50%. No way to know from CR. And, all JDP lets us know is that, the most reliable model averages 1 or 2 unscheduled service stops in three year and the least reliable averages 3 or 4.

    Similarly, anecdotal information is easily balanced by other anecdotal data. I have lunch every few weeks with a man who has owned a BMW 328i for seven years and bought an X5 about three years ago -- a 2003, I think. He was concerned that the X5 is produced at the Spartanburg plant in South Carolina and he went with the 3.0i that is powered by the 225-horsepower 3.0-liter inline six because he associates BMW with that famous inline-6 cylinder and he thinks that might have increased the probability of his trouble-free experience, since, according to what he's read in CR, for some reason, owners of the X5 Inline-6 report fewer problems than owners of the X5 V-8 . He says both of his BMWs are enjoyable and have been what he considers to be trouble-free. The X5 has had two unscheduled service days in three years. When I emailed him the "nightmare" X5 anecdote, he wrote back saying that he's going to replace his X5 with a new one, sooner rather than later if the upcoming design change "instantly infatuates" him.

    To show how anecdotal reports work in completely chaotic ways, the irony is that this man is about to give his son the 328i and he's shopping for an LPS. He's been skimming Edmunds forums and formed a completely skewed and subjective negative impression of the M, which he summed up: "more complaints about gas mileage than for any other LPS I'm considering" and "four or five people who didn't complain about defects (he found lots of those complaints on MB forum boards, he says), but actually said that, driving it everyday, they had to come to very much dislike the way the car drove" (I had come across those myself, when I was using Edmunds to research my own car purchase and also found that specific odd type of complaint written only about the M), and "only LPS that some auto mag reviews (including Edmunds comparison test, second opinions section) said is noisy" (which he finds completely incompatible with the entire LPS concept). I encouraged him to test-drive the M and I don't really know how influenced he is by such anecdotal data anyway.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Sometimes the best data going into buying a car is data like the mpg issues, or the noise, from real life owners (even if its only a few) rather than a bunch of stats about powertrains and electricals. I've driven Ms on three occasions, and really enjoyed driving the car every time. It does have some faults though (as does every car) that I might not like as an actual owner, though. My suggestion would be to take a very long test drive, and try to do every type of driving on as many different roads as possible.
  • cdnpinheadcdnpinhead Forest Lakes, AZPosts: 3,312
    Well, thank you for asking.

    I'm driving a Lincoln LS with a manual. The main reason I own this car is that it came with a manual (the first one for Lincoln in 50 years, BTW). It was part of a brief wet dream that Ford/Lincoln had back in the late '90's having to do with competing with European brands on their own turf (this was before Ford bought Volvo & Jaguar). Anyway, the concept sputtered to its ignominious end earlier this year when the last LS came off the assembly line at the Wixom plant. They "updated" the car in '03 with lots improvements, one of which was to eliminate the manual.

    I'm well beyond bitter. I bought into the original concept of a BMW competitor from the U.S., and ended up with a car that you have to review the depreciation numbers to fully appreciate. Depreciation aside, I wanted to get in on the ground floor with a vehicle that would improve year-over-year for decades. This same corporation pumped out another enthusiast car a few years earlier (Merkur), but I wasn't dialed in then. Fool me once. . .

    (All) That said, it's a fine car. I'm presently in central Texas enjoying the hill country (where I went to high school), and it's been a delight. The LS turned 100K miles just before I left, and blasting across Texas at 85 (80 is legal -- God bless Texas) on I-10 was pure pleasure. I spent the day today puttering around backroads near San Marcos & many of them were curvy & uncrowded. Wonderful.

    I've only driven a few vehicles farther than this one -- my Kenworth truck accumulated over 200K miles in a bit over two years, so it wins for rate of accumulation. The high-mileage champ was my '73 240-Z that I drove off the showroom floor in Edmonton with 3 miles on it. Eleven plus years later it was no match for a Chevy Suburban -- 224K miles. I loved that car.

    After the 240, I bought a used Datsun 510 (with 163K miles on it). Put a junkyard engine in it & drove it an additional 106K miles over the next seven years. I modified it quite a bit -- went around corners really well. Sold it to another enthusiast who loaded it on a trailer. It went to a good home. I was pleased.

    But, before any of this I drove a used MGB a little over 104K miles in a bit over 3.5 years. This was where I acquired my jones for tight steering & a transmission linkage with no rubber. This car & I went to 44 states & 6 provinces. I could change a generator (this was before alternators) bushing in under half an hour. I could pull an engine in under two hours. Lots of maintenance, but much joy as well.

    After the 510, I went for a couple of Mazda Miatas, in honor of the "B". Fun, but no passion. After them, I went for a larger car (Eagle Vision), since I had a "management" job & needed something in which I could take people to lunch. It was great for the first 5 years or so, then went way South. I will never own another car with an automatic transmission, but this one gave me 98K miles, most of which were pleasant.

    Our family has owned a couple of Chrysler minivans, the first one for 115K miles ('86 Voyager) & the second for 158K miles ('94 Caravan). Other than the transmission "issues" on the second one, they were more-or-less bulletproof.

    As I've said before, for me the vehicle is the means to an end. The end is an excellent driving experience, preferably at 3 in the morning on a totally empty road with the Northern Lights showing, or as the sun comes up rolling down the Fraser Canyon, or as the sun sets across New Mexico on US 60 at 120 mph.

    Priceless.
  • anthonypanthonyp Posts: 1,857
    Man you do some driving . Thanks for the story Tony
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    Great post.

    I'm well beyond bitter. I bought into the original concept of a BMW competitor from the U.S., and ended up with a car that you have to review the depreciation numbers to fully appreciate. Depreciation aside, I wanted to get in on the ground floor with a vehicle that would improve year-over-year for decades.

    Yeah, I hear you. Too bad we still have to wait decades for them to earn our trust.

    …and blasting across Texas at 85 (80 is legal -- God bless Texas) on I-10 was pure pleasure.

    On Earth as it is in Texas!

    ;-)
  • sfcharliesfcharlie Posts: 402
    "I'm driving a Lincoln LS with a manual.

    Oh, wow! The Lincoln that came out in 1999 as a 2000 year model and became Motor Trend's 2000 Car of the Year? That was a great American automobile moment! American car version of "Float like a butterfly. Sting like a bee." Relatively light for an LPS, at just under 3700 lb, good power with V6 or V8, and something like BMW's 50/50 front/rear weight balance. I saw a 2001 V8 in the spring, at an Infiniti dealership -- 74K miles, asking $16,000., if I'm recalling correctly. I had once driven a V6 (a used 2001 I talked my BMW dealer into letting me have as a loaner) with the German-made Getrag gearbox which was very smooth, and tight at the same time. Shifting gears was delightful, and although almost a year separated that drive from the test-drive of the V8 with a automatic recently, my impression is that the straight-line acceleration of the stick-shift V6 was as good as that of the V8 with an automatic transmission. That was a lot of car for a low $30K price tag, wasn't it? How bad could the depreciation have been? Or is the bitterness that you were ready to join them in a real American attempt to produce an LPS that driving enthusiasts could love (and, ironically, Lincoln is now considered a very reliable brand -- more reliable than Toyota) and they just wimped out and shut down the experiment (or too few other American drivers saw the opportunity)?
  • Interesting feature story quoted from Business Week: "The flexibility of BMW's factories allows for a dizzying choice of variations on basic models. At Leipzig, for instance, parts ranging from dashboards and seats to axles and and front ends snake onto overhead conveyor belts to be lowered into the assembly line in precise sequence according to customers' orders. BMW buyers can select everything from engine type to the color of the gear-shift box to a seemingly limitless number of interior trims--and then change their mind and order a completely different configuration as little as five days before production begins…There are so many choices that line workers assemble exactly the same car only about once every nine months…That kind of individualization would swamp most automakers with budget-busting complexity. But BMW has emerged as a sort of anti-Toyota. One excels in mastering complexity and tailoring cars to customers' tastes. That's what differentiates BMW from Lexus and the rest of the premium pack. 'BMW drivers never change to other brands,' says Yoichi Tomihara, president of Deutschland, who concedes that Toyota lags behind BMW in the sort of customization that creates emotional appeal."

    Nonetheless, new (as of Sept 1) CEO of BMW, Norbert Reithofer believes "the pack will be coming at him from the east." One BMW staffer who has worked with the new chief says he "never spoke about Mercedes. He was always looking over his shoulder at Toyota." Business Week concludes: "Over the next decade, BMW expects Toyota Motor Co.'s Lexus and Nissan Motor Co.'s Infiniti brands to set up plants in Europe and then hire German engineers to work on building cars with BMW-like handling. Within five years, predicts Reithofer, it could be 'Lexus that we will be most busy competing with'."
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    You know what, I've been reading Consumer Reports lately it is seems that only thing holding them back on recommending a Mercedes is reliability. They seem to like the E,R,SL,S and GL a lot, but of course can't recommend them. I knew they liked the S, but I had no idea about the rest. Very interesting. They really seem to like Mercedes a lot, but....

    M
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Interesting since Mercedes builds even more variants of their cars and has more models. I guess this is more about one plant's flexibility?

    M
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Yeah, I can see that. I think what CR is trying to say is that while we didnt necessarily like the car, owners say its reliable, so if you like it, by all means. Perhaps they should change the "recommended" tag to "reliable" or something like that. Something to further differentiate the reliability score from the overall score.

    I agree. I guess having 2 lists of cars, one that they can recommend and one for cars that they like a lot but can't would defeat CR's purpose huh?

    M
  • <"Interesting since Mercedes builds even more variants of their cars and has more models. I guess this is more about one plant's flexibility?"</i>

    Merc, I have no idea how BMW and Mercedes compare, along the specific dimension Business Week emphasized, which was ordering a vehicle with a customized set of individual options. I also wasn't quoting Business Week in order to praise BMW as the brand offering the most flexibility, only to add to the forum discussion an interesting contrast of brands offered by the CEOs of the two companies being contrasted. Unfortunately for Mercedes right now, when I read about its CEO being interviewed, he is always forced to defend the brand against the assault that CR and JDP have mounted against it.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Oh I didn't take it that you were hyping BMW up, sorry if you read it that way. I was just posting, thinking about that aloud. Yeah Mercedes' execs are still dogged by that as well as they should be until things show a marked improvement.

    M
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    They like a lot of BMWs and Audis too. CR does seem to be able to understand what makes a car "fun to drive", but they will really blast a car if they think the control systems are too complicated. (Witness the 7 series last place ranking).
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Yeah really intersting to me. They say the 7-Series completely misses the point or idea of what a luxury car is supposed to be. Scathing. I wonder what the impact would have been if MB/BMW/Audi had been recommended by CR continuously all these years?

    M
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    I wonder what the impact would have been if MB/BMW/Audi had been recommended by CR continuously all these years?

    Good question. The Passat has for a long time either been their top rated family sedan, or 2nd place behind the Accord, but its sales are only a tiny fraction of what Camry and Accord ring in. It also often misses the "recommended" mark. I wonder if the two are related.
  • james27james27 Posts: 433
    WIth today's computer controlled assembly line programming, it really shouldn't be hard to allow the customized assembly. All of the manufacturers have gone to packages of options that, to me, prevents me from buying some of the cars I'd like. If a customer is willing to wait for a car to be built to his specs, you should be able to get one with the options you want!

    Being tall, and having a long torso, I just don't have many cars I can sit in comfortably that have the seemingly mandatory sunroof. To get some of the basic nice things, almost none of the LPS cars can be had without one, which severely limits my choices. Building a car with just the desired specs would open up the possiblities greatly.

    The US dealers like the instant sale and don't want the trouble of opening up the issues of so many options...well, they lost my business.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Well I've always thought the Passat's biggest problem was price. I think a lot of people like the Passat and even go to test drive it, but at the end of the day the 5K or so premium over a comparable Camry/Accord might be too much for a lot of folks. The Passat has always been IMO, the best car in its class that is priced out of its class.

    M
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    The Passat has always been IMO, the best car in its class that is priced out of its class.

    Good point. A "to the gills" 3.6 is ES350 money, way out of the Camry's league.
  • In my experience -- and this is, admittedly, a generalization -- people decide on the car they want and then work out the rationalization later.

    Once again, I spent time helping someone look at cars. This time the incumbant brand was Cadillac. She wanted to look at some "similar" LPS cars. We looked at the M's from Infiniti, even the 300C and a Mercedes.

    The prices, at first, were also similar.

    At the last moment (although truth be told she had already decided on another Cadillac) Cadillac "forgave" her last 4 month's lease payments, made her first lease payment on the new car (waived all up front fees, so she had a $0.00 transaction for 30 days) and made her lease 36 months and 18,000 miles, rather than the more traditional 15,000 per year.

    Her payment dropped nearly $200 per month on the 2006 CTS -- over her 2003.

    No one else could touch it.

    She wanted the Cadillac -- "once a Roll's man [er woman] always a Roll's man [sic]" -- Magic.

    CR sells no cars to nobody I know of, i.e.

    Of course, as usual, I could be wrong, just not uncertain.

    :surprise:
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    She wanted the Cadillac -- "once a Roll's man [er woman] always a Roll's man [sic]" -- Magic.

    Yeah, in that case one of the other brands would have to have some kind of miracle deal in order for her to leave Cadillac. Some people are that way, (like you and Audi, for example) but I think most of the car buying public are "lot buyers" that go to one dealership, most likely the one they bought their last car from, decide on what type of car they want, and take what the dealer has on the lot.

    I'll give you an example. A few years ago, a friend of my wife was in an accident, and her Chrysler 300M was totaled. She probably would've just gone back to the Chrysler dealer for another 300M, but my wife suggested to her that I go along with her on some test drives and check out the competition. We looked at the TL, S80, Passat, A6 and she even briefly considered a 4Runner, but she ultimately went with an Avalon, which she liked a lot more than the Chrysler. I really don't think it even occurs to most people that there are about 10 other cars on the market competing directly with their car.
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