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Luxury Performance Sedans

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  • rich545rich545 Posts: 386
    No idea about the repeat buyer rate, but it would be interesting to know. I do know that people remember that Audi had problems in the past because when my wife bought one people mentioned it as a reason for not buying Audi's. Now whether the problems they remember have to do with the unintended acceleration or just general bad reliability (or both) I don't know. The VW connection certainly doesn't help the reliability concern though (at least not to me or people I know (my wife included before she bought her Avant)). It's hard to change perceptions once they're bad. It's funny because VW was bad for a while, then they got somewhat better in the late 90's (while Audi had problems). Now VW is having problems again with quality and Audi seems to be doing better. Wonder why they can't both seem to be good at the same time. Anyway, I'm just trying to figure out the root cause for Audi's relatively poor sales compared to the rest of the LPS group. I think there is a lot more to it than a lack of dealerships (as I stated before I think that dealerships open due to demand, not the other way around). I'll tell you what though, Porsche's VW connection with the Cayenne didn't help much!
  • zidecarzidecar Posts: 49
    I think one thing that affects sales here is that Audi did have some negative press years ago that granted was somewhat unfounded, but nonetheless obviously impacted the perception people in the US have about Audi's.

    In '75, I purchased an Audi Fox, my first "German" automobile. It was strongly recommended at the time by CR and was one of the few cars that did not require a catalytic converter to meet the then emerging emission standards. The car had FWD and was a joy to drive but an ongoing maintenance nightmare. My vehicle was one that had suffered from high oil consumption (valve guide seals) and took a class action law suit before VW owned up to accepting some responsibility for the problem. This, coupled with a dealer attitude that was completely devoid of "customer focus", turned me off completely to the brand. I expect that I was not being uniquely discriminated against and other Audi owners also voted with their "feet" based on their experiences.

    Fast forward 30+ years. During this period I never looked at Audi as a vehicle that I would consider again. I did, however, throw it into the mix when I was looking for an '06 AWD model. In the end, my short list came down to the A6 & M35x. Given my prior experience and the less than stellar reliability ratings for the Audi (as well as the other German cars, for that matter), it didn't help in "tipping the scales" in the direction of Audi. Another factor, and it may just be perception/sensitivity on my part, but I did not find my local Audi dealer to be as friendly or willing to work with me to purchase an Audi. Shades of a "lack of customer focus" kept coming into my mind.

    Perhaps if I had not had the experience from 30+ years ago, I might have purchased the A6. That the A6 made it to my short list was, in itself, an accomplishment. I wonder if that may part of Audi's problem. It isn't sufficient to be the runner up on a short list, it has to make it over the top. I would be curious to know how many other buyers had Audi as the runner up to their final choice.....

    -- Zidecar
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Anyway, I'm just trying to figure out the root cause for Audi's relatively poor sales compared to the rest of the LPS group. I think there is a lot more to it than a lack of dealerships

    An interesting comparison is Audi and Infiniti. Neither has a huge amount of dealers, neither has much if any "badge effect" compared to the tier 1 players, and neither has been seriously competitive in the US market for very long. Audi perhaps since 1996, while Infiniti didn't pull out of the also-ran club until 2003, and yet the G and M are much bigger sellers than the A4 and A6. Why is that?
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,049
    The Audi was the runner up for me, too. But, the deal Audi made me, AFTER I told my long-term salesman that my wife had actually ordered and taken delivery of a new BMW and that I had ordered and placed a deposit on a new M35X, was too good to pass up.

    Indeed, perhaps the Infiniti was the runner up but the price, before Audi's actions, was too good to pass up for a car that was such a close second to the Audi.

    Today, based only on what could be had today, not rumored, not pre-announced, no spy shots, etc, I would have Audi, BMW and Infiniti on my final three list.

    If all three were the same price (reasonbly close), the BMW would win solely due to the fact that it can be had with a stick. Otherwise, I would probably choose the Audi, the Infiniti and the BMW in that order.

    Yet, if the Infiniti pulled out a great lease deal that bettered the Audi, I still think my ability to perceive substantial differences is not so great as to be overcome the financial incentive -- hence, I would then go with the M35X.

    The interior, fit and finish, etc, of the Audi "leaves the other two on the trailer" (to quote CSABA CSERE from Car and Driver.)

    And, great as the Infiniti is, it still hasn't quite figured out the balance between road feel, performance and ride quality.

    The BMW, despite its obvious strengths seems to have a stark and somewhat cramped interior. It is, frankly, the most dated of the three.

    But, OH the BMW with the stick shift - - - darn, excuse me while I clean this drool off my face.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,049
    Who "counts" today as a tier 1 player?

    I would assume all the LPS crowd (here) are top tier regardless of the monthly numbers.

    I saw the bubble diagram recently which placed, as I recall, all these in the Premium Bubble, Volvo (I think) in the near Premium bubble (but overlapping the premium bubble) and Saab (and others) in the near premium bubble.

    The trouble with the bubble, so to speak, is that the cars in the bubbles are not all in the center of the bubble but are spaced apart from each other, apparently signifiying that Saab is "just barely" a near premium offering, while some other one -- Acura, perhaps, is in the Premium bubble but just barely, kind of thing.

    The question is, who determines top tier and who is in it today?
  • erickplerickpl Posts: 2,735
    I dunno, Mark, but my 3 Series, when I had it, sure felt like a top tier to me, at that time. It was by far the nicest vehicle I had and to me, it felt like top tier.

    Now that is not to say that it is perceived as top tier in the market. Obviously the 5 and 7 Series would be considered higher tiered than the 3.

    I think the point is, top tier to me may not be top tier to you or to Joe Driver down the street sipping his Starbucks.

    I buy what I like and what fits my needs and wants. :) If it does it with luxury and performance, I feel like I have a top tier vehicle - the critics be darned.

    -Paul
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    I would assume all the LPS crowd (here) are top tier regardless of the monthly numbers.

    When I said "tier 1", I meant the status and weight behind the badge and the brand in the US market, not sales numbers, or necessarily indivudual vehicles. All of the cars discussed on this board, from the E to the RL, all qualify as being genuine LPS's. However, the Mercedes badge and the BMW badge carry more weight than anyone else, certainly more than Audi and Infiniti.

    Some people will buy a Mercedes just to have the vaunted 3-pointed star on the hood, and all of the tradition that goes with it. I don't think anyone buys an Audi or Infniti just for the badge. Yes they are luxury brands, and I dont think nearly as many people would be willing to pay the same money for an identical car with a VW or Nissan badge on it. Thats why the Infiniti brand was created in the first place.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,049
    So, BMW and Mercedes are tier 1, period. Is this what used to be said when it was said something was the "Cadillac of. . .fill in the blank?" Perhaps at that time, the top tier contained ONE marquis -- Cadillac and Imperial and Lincoln were luxury cars but couldn't command the "status" of the Caddy?
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    I would rank the brands in just terms of "badge effect" in the US market like this:

    Tier 1: Mercedes, BMW
    Tier 2: Lexus, Cadillac
    Tier 3: Audi, Infiniti, Acura, Jaguar

    This is just MO. I think 10 years ago when Jaguar had V12s, it would be at the top level. Sadly, not anymore.
  • cdnpinheadcdnpinhead Forest Lakes, AZPosts: 3,207
    Wouldn't it be nice if actual defects-per-mile figures were available from disinterested sources? Broken down by functional (beside the road dead) vs. inconvenience (oh my, the rear sunshade won't roll down)?

    Yeah, and we can all flap our arms and fly to the moon (credit Charles Shultz).

    How often, and how, cars break down appear to be closely-held secrets by those who know -- the rest of us speculate. We base our speculations on what we read & what we hear, or (if we're worthy) what we've experienced.

    I've experienced phenominal mechanical reliability from every Asian vehicle I've driven, for well upwards of 100K miles (each). I've been led to believe I won't experience that from the Huns (it's okay, I'm one), based on watching and listening.

    Where's the solid data? Defects per million miles, types of defects per million miles, that sort of thing? CR crap doesn't cut it in my world any more than it does in yours. Either way, trustworthy data regarding DPMO (defects per million opportunities) for each car brand, broken down by type of defect, would put many brands on notice, and others on an upward sales trend.

    I'm not holding my breath, though many wish I would.

    So far, it's all anecdotal. Bring real data.

    Perception is (often) reality. I'm nearing 100K miles on a car I bought just over six years ago, and I may well be driving it a year or two from now. I buy cars, while most in this segment lease. You've been through the A8 (with the brake rotor thing), the Allroad & now the A6 in the same time period. Ray (from another board) has been through two LS's & a VW w/ the W engine, plus the Pontiac I think he's driving now. Long-term reliability is a concept, not a relevant feature, to people who have to be bribed just to change the oil.

    That said, my #1 choice for my next car is a BMW 3, followed by a G35 coupe. The G35 paint quality seems to have been an issue of late, so the BMW moves up even higher. Both can be supplied with manual transmissions.

    Hoping for the best. . .
  • bfeng7bfeng7 Posts: 47
    Tony,
    I've owned BMW's since 1982. The old ones were simpler, but generally more reliable cars.

    When I say reliable, I'm NOT talking about how fast brake rotors wear out. I'm talking about parts that fail sooner than they do on almost any other brand. Examples: radiator necks that breakoff at 50kmiles, ABS system controllers that fail catastrophically at 60km (BMW said this is about the expected lifetime), AC condensor fans that fail at 55kmiles. Wheel speed sensors that fail (all 4) at 60kmiles, MAF's that fail twice before 40k miles, etc.

    There's a large BMW club in the USA, and they can provide you with plenty of feedback on the poor reliability of modern BMW's. Now, in all fairness, my sisters E46 has been great (I've been talking about the 5 series).

    John
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    What am I missing?

    "There's a large BMW club in the USA, and they can provide you with plenty of feedback on the poor reliability of modern BMW's. Now, in all fairness, my sisters E46 has been great (I've been talking about the 5 series)."

    There was a lot of commonality between the parts on my E46 and my E39, and both were extremely reliable. I'm having a difficult time understanding how the 5er is less reliable simply by virutue of the fact that it is a "5" instead of a "3".

    Best Regards,
    Shipo
  • james27james27 Posts: 433
    I did not buy another Audi after my 1998 A6 quatro for several reasons, reliability was one of them. I had a bunch of repairs one wouldn't expect on a car that didn't have many miles on it: differential leak, fuel senders (2x), water pump (only 40K), leaking gaskets, radiator, tie rod ends, suspension pieces, and a few other things more costly than I care to remember. I only had 60K or so miles on it when I sold it. I did like the car, and was almost willing to give them the benefit of the original disappointment, but I just do not fit in the new one. I had probably one of only a handful of the 1998 model (special ordered) without a sunroof. That added a WHOPPING 2.85" in headroom to the car in that model in that year. Yes, I know you can get a new one that way, but you CANNOT buy it with most of the nice-to-have stuff. So, from my sample of one, my experience did not lead me to believe the car was reliable. I looked elsewhere - bought an M35x. Some stuff I like better, some I do not. Too early to tell overall. Time will tell. I got a ride to the airport in a MB M500 (?), and with the driver's seat all the way down, my hair was rubbing on the ceiling, and that was with the seat reclined more than I like, too. That thing is significan't higher - there should be abundant seat to ceiling height. Don't the car manufacturers realize people are getting both taller (not much you can do about that) and (unfortunately) fatter? Oh well, maybe next time. BTW, my first new car way back when was a Citroen ID19. It had the most comfortable driving position of any car I've ever owned - the gas and brake pedals were a simple ankle swivel apart - no need to lift the leg. I could also wear a smokey-the-bear hat (scoutmaster if you wanted to know) and still have plenty of headroom. Oh well...maybe my next car will truly fit.
  • i own a 1988 Volvo 780 w/ 285,000 miles - very very reliable so far. Admittedly i only put 60K of the miles on it. It has the "bad" PRV V6.
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,269
    I have had 3 BMW's since 1993. No problems.
    I have had the 545 V8 for a year and the car has behaved flawlessly.
    My own anecdotal experience indicates that either CR is full of crap, or I have been blessed with incredible luck.
  • jshattnerjshattner Posts: 32
    Much as I love my M45, I'd agree it's tier 3 in your list of "badge effect" brands. But Caddy is not even close to the same "brand" league as Lexus. Maybe one day, long, long ago, it was Tier 1 on this continent, probably all by itself with a run from Lincoln. Now it'd be in tier 4 on your list, even if it is fighing it's way back.
  • bfeng7bfeng7 Posts: 47
    Reply to 2 posts:

    "What am I missing." It bugs me too.
    The 3 series seems to be more reliable than the 5 and I can't tell you why. The radiator failure on the e39's is so prolific, one nearby dealer joked with me that they're surprised when they see an original radiator on any 5 series with more than 60k miles on it. When my ABS controller gave it up, the parts guys said, "yup, those go all the time so we always keep a good stock of them." And so forth ...

    Howard, I'm happy for you. Just because BMW's are statistically less reliable than Fords and Kia's ... It does not mean you won't get a run of perfect BMW's. Can I chip in the next time you guy a lottery ticket.

    Seriously, the average reliability is so good these days it doesn't take much to put a vehicle below average on a reliability survey. It's not that hard to get "lucky" and own a very reliable BMW, it's just that statistically you're much better off with other brands.

    John
  • sfcharliesfcharlie Posts: 402
    Audi doesn't seem as interested in exciting U.S. consumers about their product as does BMW or Infiniti. As a potential buyer, I had to generate the excitement from test-driving. As Mark said, Infiniti hasn't yet gotten as good as they might get at blending overall feel of excellence (they depend too much on "flash" appeal), overall feel of road and engine through the steering wheel and gas pedal (but the manu-matic transmission is, to me, a wonder among the rest), and smooth-power (too much sound effect and raw power). But, at the moment, the front-to-rear balance and the rear-wheel-favoring four-wheel-drive system seems closer to what I was looking for. I can't say I've gotten Audi out of my system and might make another comparison test-drive of V8 Audi A6 vs M35x tomorrow.
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,269
    I agree with your last paragraph.
    Average reliability is so high "it doesn't take much to put a vehicle below average on a reliability survey."

    I have been driving a long time and have never seen a MB or BMW stuck on the side of the road.
    Maybe, statistically, I am looking at the wrong roads.
  • rayainswrayainsw Posts: 2,476
    “my first new car way back when was a Citroen ID19. It had the most comfortable driving position of any car I've ever owned”

    I am still amazed that no car I have driven since 1991 has provided the level of front seat adjustability that was included in my 1991 Pontiac Grand Prix STE (3.4L V6, 5-speed Getrag manual trans.). 3 distinct levels of back \ lumbar support firmness – each infinitely adjustable – for both the driver and front seat passenger. As well as side bolster adjustment for the driver. And even seperate individually adjustable left & right front thigh support adjustments!

    Particularly for long-ish drives, this made for a very adaptable & comfortable driving environment. And all this (15 years ago) on a reasonably priced, mid-sized GM sedan. (Reasonably priced, meaning approx. $20K MSRP at the time.)

    Front seats that cool as well as heat are very nice, but where can I buy something like this now? Odd. I’d pay extra for it!

    Does anyone even offer something like the lovely black corduroy (genuine) Recaros in the 1978 Audi Fox I drove for a while? In this class Sedan, I am surprised that there is not such a choice. But then option choice & (un)availability seems to range from odd to bizarre, from my standpoint.

    - Ray
    Likely an ‘anomaly’ in many respects . .
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