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Luxury Performance Sedans

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  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,047
    . . .must have sold the rights to the Premium fuel story to the local affiliates. Last night, 11PM news on the local NBC TV station here in Cincinnati, they had a story about when to and when NOT to use Premium. It was only slightly different than the one from the Today show -- but they interviewed a "mechanic" who said the long term effect of using Regular in a car that requires Premium is "a melted engine." Then the plucky news anchor said that she'd bet a new engine costs a lot more than could ever be saved by using Regular vs Premium ($.20/gallon here.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    VW seems to be the only one testing the super-turbo concept with production cars at the moment. The thing is though, yester-tech engines like GM's 3.5L, 2 valve per cylinder pushrod V6 is rated 23\32 in the Malibu. If they can make one of those for $1.73, why should they spend huge amounts on forced induction and direct injection?
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,047
    You'd get no quarrel from me on that -- there must be a "gotcha" there somewhere (or a pony) for if what you say is accurate (and I assume it is), why not use economical engines across the board.

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

    :confuse:
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,047
    Almost any time folks begin discussing, debating -- arguing even -- the merits of their favorite [LPS] cars, there emerges two and sometimes three broad groups of consumer opinions; these seem to be based on geography (where made or "perceived" where made, specifically): American, European (but mostly German) and Asian (but mostly Japanese).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Thank goodness the sofa reclines, I guess.

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

    Well, it doesn't make any actual horsepower, and it has all the refinement of a Hyundai engine of ten years ago.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,047
    Houston, we've found the pony.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    My bizarro world observations seem to be that folks who drive European cars love to talk about driving. The folks who buy and drive 'merican and Japanese, just don't seem all that interested in that aspect of the automobile.

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

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

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

    Pardon my ignorance, but isn't an 8-speed CVT an oxymoron?
  • ghstudioghstudio Posts: 920
    Mercedes isn't going to blow nissan/infiniti away...they already have CVT in some of their cars (2007 Maxima) and likely will have it in the M's next year as well when they increase the engine sizes.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,047
    Firstly, I was making that up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    :shades:
  • cdnpinheadcdnpinhead Forest Lakes, AZPosts: 3,206
    some folks in these threads appear to never respond directly to certain other folks, I'll make some observations as well.

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

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

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

    Go figure.
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    What do you know about longevity? I think it's tough to get a handle on.
  • cdnpinheadcdnpinhead Forest Lakes, AZPosts: 3,206
    Well, that's a pretty direct question. Let me try to come up with an equally direct answer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    That may be true in "generality", but I have to say I am an exception to that rule. The deciding factor on my purchase of an M45 Sport (besides all the neat toys) was acceleration only slightly less torrid than a BMW M3, auto camber rear wheel turn-in for cornering, .90 G skid pad results, a nearly roll free body, and grippy 19" wheels. My only regret was that a manual transmission was not available, a complaint shared by many Lexus owners. To me, "Fun Stuff".
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