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Luxury Performance Sedans



  • I have had experiences that combine what Domenick wrote with Mark's and Pete's comments. I drove an M35 for three months and now an A6 for a month. Each has pros and cons, I believe. I got used to each. Radio buttons on M were, of course, what we've all had since forever. The MMI surprises me in that it draws me into new voice and computer control technology. At first, I had to do some setting and resetting, but after a week or two I settled into facile combination of "reach down, turn dial, push dial" or "tell voice command system to dial this number or change to this station." For me, the latter has (and this was the surprise) distracted me less, as Domenick suggested. I rarely have to take my eyes off surrounding traffic.
  • You can give a frequency, if you want to say PLAY the Vault, you must name tag it one time, first. Sorry if I misled.
  • I regularly use the following voice commands:

    Navigation: Navigate to or Previous destinations [list]

    Radio: Play

    CD: Disk, Track

    CD: Name tag

    Phone: Dial number

    Phone: Call name tag

    These functions work about 98% of the time first time.

    They have trouble if there are other folks in the car who keep talking after the voice module says something like "the number please" or "do you want to navigate to the indicated destination."

    Otherwise the system is very good and way limited compared to the Acura and Infiniti systems -- limited, meaning far fewer commands.

    I do not know the numbers, but the Audi accepts 20 commands and the others accept 100. I may be wrong, but the differences I have personally experienced seem to be on that order of magnitude.

    The voice commands, are "pretty good" overall at this point in time -- in a couple of years, the Acura system, for example, will probably be a $1.38 option on a PT Cruiser.

    Voice and totally hands free, eyes free phoning "ought to be made into law." I mean, if ESP will be required by law (an intervening technology, if ever there was one), you'd think voice command controlling hand and eyes free distracting technologies, like cell phones, would pass virtually any house of government, with the possible exception of libertarian.

    Maybe the issue is not as pressing as I imagine. Since actually fiddling with the MMI is not often needed while driving. But, it only takes a second to glance at something to travel 88 feet (at 60MPH) in one second. I rarely need to look or touch anything to make a phone call and the steering wheel controls mean I rarely have to look at anything for most of the other functions.
  • I have a Lexus with voice control and I find that I never use it unless I am showing it to someone except for the number dial for bluetooth or for showing certain POIs on Nav.

    Process: Pushing a button, listening for a beep, saying it clearly, having it confirm my instruction, then making a change. I can do almost anything in 1/3rd the time by just pressing a button. Too cold hit the temp up button. Want a specific preset - hit audio (to switch to audio on Nav) and just press the screen).

    It is always easier to just push a button. A co-worker has a BMW 5 series and he always comments on the ease of function for the Lexus. He loves his car, but not how a lot of things are implemented (especially the Nav).

    Why do you think that car companies started adding back buttons to their cars for Audio and Climate control? Plus buttons never have an error margin (such as showing a POI on Nav when requesting a certain radio station).
  • I don't think my comment made it seem as if I was recommending voice command as best way to control all functions (and, therefore, that fewer buttons = better). It wasn't a "this car is better than that car" post.

    Pressing Voice Button on steering wheel and saying "Dial Home" is, however, easy and efficient, for me.

    Yes, I agree, when I want to increase temp in A6 on cold morning, I like that I can simply turn one dial clockwise. I haven't used BMW iDrive, but your comment suggests turning heat up is a project with that system.

    Car companies must believe most drivers want buttons if, as you say, they are adding them back. I've never used a no-button system. If iDrive is virtually without buttons to push, I imagine not finding it easy to adapt to, but some BMW-users (your Lexus-envying friend excluded) must like it.

    I don't see my preferences as competing with yours or with those of majority of drivers and I was not claiming to have discovered that any one function-control system -- voice, MMI (which is actually a nice blend of buttons and dials), or all-buttons -- is best for all drivers to do everything that they want to do.

    I was simply commenting that I've learned to do, with MMI, a couple of frequently repeated tasks, without looking away from traffic, which is something I hadn't been able to do with all-button arrangement .
  • "I have a Lexus with voice control and I find that I never use it unless I am showing it to someone except for the number dial for bluetooth or for showing certain POIs on Nav."

    I haven't used voice command system on Lexus. On my Audi, there some things (including, as you point out, number dial) for which it is quick and efficient, as Charlie just mentioned, such as "Dial Office."

    "It is always easier to just push a button."

    I'd say "very often," which is why I liked MMI's combination of buttons and dials -- dialing temperature up or down is about as easy as changing temperature gets.

    "Why do you think that car companies started adding back buttons to their cars for Audio and Climate control?"

    I'll take your word that all or most car companies have started adding back buttons. I don't follow the car-control scene that closely. I don't feel really emotional about buttons versus dials versus voice commands. I've found some of each to work well on my current car and wouldn't eliminate any of them altogether.

    "Plus buttons never have an error margin."

    Except, of course, when one of us pushes the wrong one. ;)
  • anthonypanthonyp Posts: 1,857
    Such a pleasure to read your post about your Audi...The old posts hurt....I also find the mmi to be easy, but my wife is very comfortable with her bmw idrive...I think both systems are easy to master if used regularly...In my case the mmi can be confusing if you don`t think, particulary if changing the fan venting...All in all both systems eliminate alot of button which to me are easier to use..

    The other day I saw my twenty year plus old truck, and I really do like the symplicity of the push pull levers, and just all around basic elec seat, but a very comfortable bench slider..crank up windows, durable plastic coverings, absolutely no mechanical problems for my fourteen years, and the acustics were the best...I guess because the cab was small..The cost back then was four thousand dollars...Now here we are driving expensive cars that are for sure safer, but really not that much better in relation to the price....And here I am thinking of a Bentley Tony
  • Does Audi allow you to use voice command for simply speaking street address destinations?

    This is the one voice command that I use most frequently on my M45. The ability to drive at full speed on twisty roads (which is the norm as I leave my house) is a total pleasure for me. Given that I have a house with myself and three woman (my wife and 2 daughters) who are never quite on time, the fact that I can always enter an address on the fly, without out slowing down, and without the distraction of taking my eyes off the road, is awfully gratifying, and has become a "must have" for me on any future car. Beyond street addresses, the other voice commands I use most frequently are dialing phone book entries with voice tags such as "Dial Dorothy" and choosing Navigation Address Book destinations, with commands such as such as "Goto Sarah's School"

    The last time I checked neither the 5-series, E-series, or GS provided voice commands for saying street address destinations or voice tags for phonebook and address book. (The E-class had a halfway approach where you had to spell the city and street name, rather than just saying them, which was not workable for me.) The acura RL also does a very good job with these. Does the Audi, and have the others added that functionality in the newest models?

    For functions such as radio tuning, base, treble, balance, climate control, blower speed, temp, and blower mode (feet, head, both, passenger or driver side), Nav turnlist on/off, the M45's quick click steering and dash buttons seem faster and more immediate than going through voice (especially when you need to fine tune an adjustment. Although the M's voice commands appear to do most everything you might want.)

  • jzalkinjzalkin Posts: 56
    I think Audi has the best implementation and BMW the worst.

    It seems like it comes down to two different ways to creating cleaner interiors. Touch screen or control nob. Both reduce clutter depending on how much gets integrated.

    I do discount the argument that (generic quote) "it becomes easy to use after a while" since we can get used to anything given time (Argument most associated with BMW). The key is if it is easy to use the first couple of times before the brain gets retrained.
  • sfcharliesfcharlie Posts: 402
    Yes, being able to input and change destinations while driving is a very useful nav-dvd feature. The ideal system allows change of destination by voice or by a "co-pilot" using the menus/buttons and doesn't require stopping for a "co-pilot" to enter a new destination manually. Not sure which of our target cars for this forum do that.
  • The Audi system works well, in fact it works very well.

    But, it is woefully inadequate. You can say "navigation" and then "navigate to _____________ (name tag.)"

    You can also tell it to show you "everywhere" you have ever been and anything you have stored in the address book.

    You cannot tell it to find Cincinnati, Ohio, Main Street and Walnut -- unless it is a previous desitnation.

    I had put a deposit on the Infiniti M35X with Technology Package and I had learned to use the Infinit voice system which I would say is "the best" today.

    The Germans (well, Audi and BMW -- since I have very limited Mercedes experience) have produced some fine cars in every way. Yet, the ability to add electronic features and functions and controls seems to always come late to them.

    I remember when even power door locks (and even power steering) came late to the German cars even though much lower priced American and Japanese cars could almost NOT be found without such features.

    I lived with crank sunroofs for several years while my Japanese car buying friends had power roofs.

    At the time, other aspects of the German cars (handling, composure, safety, a solid feel, etc) were plentiful compared to the domestic and Asian imports.

    The Germans still have managed somehow to have a feel behind the wheel that Infiniti seems close to figuring out, but the Infiniti came (offered with the Journey package) with a backup camera in 2005, Audi came out with theirs this year in the 2007 model.

    The Acura RDX with technology package comes with a comprehensive voice command package and DVD-Audio. The BMW X3 with EVERY possible option cannot be had with either and is $10,000 more to boot.

    The Germans have "the feel behind the wheel" thus far. The Japanese seem to be sneaking up on that, but not quite there yet; but, they offer electronics and gizmos that seem years ahead of most Germans and even most Europeans. The Americans seem, to me, more like the Japanese in this regard than the Germans -- check out the high zoot Cadillac STS, for instance.

    At this time, I can only hope for voice commands (and even some steering wheel controls) that the M's have. :(
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    The Americans seem, to me, more like the Japanese in this regard than the Germans -- check out the high zoot Cadillac STS, for instance.

    I wouldn't go that far. Cadillac yes, but the rest of the US auto industry is still in the "me, make fire" era. 4-speed automatics, 12-valve pushrod V6s, live rear axles, leafsprings, it goes on and on. Jeep finally retired their stone age IL6 in the Wrangler, only to replace it with their bronze age minivan engine, which now makes the Mustang V6 the winner of "worlds oldest engine design". Many domestic cars only started offering NAV systems a few years ago. Acura had one in '96.
  • I'm probably the kind of driver who contributes to America's comparatively "stone-age" implementation of available electronic technologies. Voice command of radio excites me.

    As for getting where I'm going, I'm still excited by MapQuest and Yahoo Maps. For unknown local destination, if I was going to use Nav system, I'd probably be out in the car 10 minutes before everyone else, punching in address(es) of places we are going. I hadn't thought about getting in the car and starting to drive, not knowing where I'm going because I'd be counting on Nav-DVD system to take in my voice commands on the fly and show me where to go. I do, however, see how an M owner could get used to what Pete and Mark described.
  • I can't recall if I saw following table listed/discussed on this forum when I was skimming it, prior to participating, but a car's being on this list counted in my buying decision:

    The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety chooses their top picks in each catagory for the first time. (This was aired on NBC's Dateline TV program.)

    Silver Award

    Large cars
    Audi A6

    Midsize cars
    Audi A3
    Audi A4
    Chevrolet Malibu (with optional side airbags)
    VW Jetta
    VW Passat

    Gold Award

    Large cars
    Ford 500 or Mercury Montego (with optional side airbags)

    Midsize cars
    Saab 9-3
    Subaru Legacy

    Small Cars
    Honda Civic 4-door
  • pete_l_ppete_l_p Posts: 322

    Thanks for the info about voice commands with NAV destinations. I agree that the M might be the best on that, although I hear Acura does a great job as well.

    The Germans have "the feel behind the wheel" thus far.

    I understand that this is your opinion, and thus is totally valid from that context. Personally, I prefer the M's light, responsive handling to its competitors, and I don't think I'm alone here.

    The November C&D comparo (comparing the M45 to the 550i, E550, GS450h) said the following:

    "First there is its character. The logbook commentary seemed to favor the Infiniti for its eagerness -- a light steering touch with good feedback, brisk turn-in, quick transitions, a general sense of being quick on its feet, that made the Bimmer's responses seem a tad heavy and well Teutonic. Yes we gave the 550i a one point edge in fun to drive, a tribute to its superb competence. But of the two cars the M45 seemed more exuberant and ready to play."

    One can argue both sides of the case here, but if BMW has a handling edge for C&D it's pretty hard to tell. (And clearly they preferred the M45's handling to the E550's)

    For those who've test driven both and prefer the handling of a german car, the choice may be clear. But those who go German without an M test drive, may have missed a great opportunity to find out for themselves.

  • dhamiltondhamilton Posts: 873
    Blkhemi has just taken delivery of his S8. I have begged him to post pictures. He has posted some first thoughts over on the HELM board. My favorite kind of car porn, porn with four rings :blush:
  • sfcharliesfcharlie Posts: 402
    My take on this discussion ... My decision to buy an M was heavily influenced by magazine raves. Although there were several that like Audi or something else better, there appeared to be a groundswell of enthusiasm for the M.

    The purchase came to feel like a mistake to me, not because I found the M to be deficient, but, as Mark implied, German sedans feel both different and better to me (all three of the major ones) than the driving feel of the M. That subjective report, as with Mark's, carries, in my view, no greater or lesser weight than a C&D comparo, however much hubris might be suggested by my equating my three months of experience with the reports of professional auto-critics.

    Nonetheless, were a friend to ask, I'd still say "drive them all."

    I wouldn't steer anyone away from the M because it didn't fit me, but I also wouldn't steer them toward it because several auto-mags picked it as their favorite. I'd caution them, in fact, about allowing auto-mag raves to distract them from their own experience. What I find most useful about auto-mags is the fun of finding one that tells me how smart I was to buy the car I bought.

    On the other hand, I wouldn't suggest anyone should buy an Audi or BMW because I like the way they feel. And I'd caution them about assuming "German feel" is a universal and abolute virtue which they will regret passing up if they buy a Japanese car.

    If I could go along with them on extended test-drives of each car and have a pleasure-excitement meter reading their brain-emotion centers when they look at each car, sit in each for the first time, and drive each on all sorts of highways, streets and even into parking lots -- then I'd have valuable information for them.
  • rockyleerockylee Posts: 14,011
    Sell The Bimmers, Mercedes, Masaratti, and get a load of this real performance luxury car.

    It's not the fastest, best handler, but arguably the safest. The all new 2007' Volvo S80. "Be prepared for the road ahead" as Volvo says.

    IMHO, it's alot of car for the money. Just like Mercedes and BMW's use to be.

    I know that might anger some of you, but in my eyes which some might say are distorted, it's a clear winner especially when you factor in price. ;)

    Look at the craftsmanship of the interior and tell me another car that has one that's easier on the eyes ?

    2007' Volvo S80 - - - - - -*

    Take a look for yourself. :) Kudos to Ford for allowing such a great vehicle to be made. :shades:

    It's the perfect high-speed grand tourer for going a buck-thirty and listening to Sophia Scofield, on a winding country road :D

    Volvo. for life

  • Your advice or would be advice is dead on what I tell folks: "drive 'em all."

    Yet, more and more I've come to the conclusion that folks will almost always make up their minds in advance for whatever reason and then figure out a way to explain it to themselves.

    Costs, if they really were equal, might reveal greater differences in preferences, but even then, I am not completely certain.

    My first choice, German, Audi. My second choice, Japanese, Infiniti. My price weighted choices, switched.

    When Audi coughed up a $200 per month lease payment reduction on the exact car I had wanted all along, switcheroo again.

    I believe I would have been very satisfied with the M35X. I am certain I would have when I wrote the monthly lease check. Maybe I would have accepted the M's feel, especially since I thought it was really quite close to the A6's in the first place. And, all the magazines, FWIW, said Infiniti [in the M's] was closing the gap between themselves and the BMW LPS's.

    Closing the gap -- well, darnit -- that is why the Infiniti was my close second, even with its superior sound system and superior navigation and voice command. But, coming from a country [Germany] that has for decades enjoyed wide open running and no speed limits and built cars that could do that competently, well, there was/is an advantage and it shows (less and less, I'll admit.)

    So, for me, for the time being, the German feel is a bonus. All the writers who pick the M seem to compare the M to a German (usually BMW) -- even though they declare the M a winner. . . .

    At this time, the German feel -- for me -- is also a bonus.

    Nevertheless, I would still advise anyone to "drive 'em all" -- for I also believe these cars, all of them, have much in common.
  • Cost nearly as much as the competition, but you still get a Swedish Ford. Low power (Heck, the V8 version barely breaks 7 seconds 0-60), front wheel drive, soft suspension. Fit and build are good, but you can get a Acura TL for much cheeper, and that is really it's competition.
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