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Luxury Performance Sedans

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  • "Despite my individual problems with the Audi brand, indifferent dealer service really pushed me to another model. Old fashioned customer service may be alive and well with many dealers, I just didn't get to that level through Audi."

    Very critical point you are making there. Both patients receiving medical care (bringing their bodies in to be fixed) and car-owners (having problems with their cars) are both consistently reported to place great weight on how the expert relates to them and responds to their concerns, separate and apart from how quickly/completely the desired end-result is reached.

    JD Powers assesses this dimension of owner-satisfaction separate from vehicle dependability (number ofd repairs required during first three years). In their 2006 survey of owner satisfaction with dealer service departments, here's how they ranked brands (based on a 1,000-point scale):

    Lexus - 912
    Buick - 911
    Cadillac - 909
    Jaguar - 908
    Lincoln - 906
    Mercury - 905
    Saturn - 904
    Pontiac - 903
    Audi - 890
    MINI - 890
    Volvo - 890
    Acura - 889
    Chevrolet - 887
    Infiniti - 887
    Porsche - 887
    BMW - 884
    Honda - 883
    HUMMER - 882
    Saab - 880
    GMC - 879
    IndustryAverage - 873
    Mercedes-Benz - 872
    Hyundai - 869
    Chrysler - 867
    Ford - 866
    Dodge - 862
    Toyota - 861
    Subaru - 858
    Jeep - 851
    Nissan - 849
    Mitsubishi - 848
    Kia - 843
    Mazda - 843
    LandRover - 840
    Suzuki - 823
    Volkswagen - 810
    Isuzu - 781

    Statistically, then, not only did your Audi require way more than the average number of repairs, but also you were treated much worse than the average Audi owner. That is a double-whammy shame and would, if I were you, produce the same effect in me -- never doing that again.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    In their 2006 survey of owner satisfaction with dealer service departments, here's how they ranked brands (based on a 1,000-point scale):

    Interesting, but not surprising how badly Toyota did. Their dealerships are awful.
  • cstilescstiles Posts: 465
    IMO, it's miles, time, and perhaps more importantly, that nebulous thing called "pride of ownershp." In other words, how carefully the car is driven and owned. Note the top scores for service dept satisfaction...

    Lexus - 912
    Buick - 911
    Cadillac - 909
    Jaguar - 908
    Lincoln - 906
    Mercury - 905

    These rankings are partially based on the quality baked into the brands/vehicles themselves. The average owners of Lexus, Buick, Cadillac, Jaguar, Lincoln, and Mercury are also older, more mature, perhaps more conservative, and certainly more likely to visit their dealer based on the recommended service cycles.

    The AVERAGE owners of the bottom feeder brands are younger. Does being younger also correlate to being less responsible, less mature, and more risk taking? A lower level of "pride of ownership?" Is the car more of an appliance or commodity, with a lower intrinsic value to the owner? Could those behaviors also correspond to worse experiences at the dealership because the cars are being brought in for problems rather than routine maintenance?

    Perhaps.
  • I also believe the manufacturers at the bottom also reimburse less to the dealers.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    The average owners of Lexus, Buick, Cadillac, Jaguar, Lincoln, and Mercury are also older, more mature, perhaps more conservative, and certainly more likely to visit their dealer based on the recommended service cycles.

    I don't think owners of the above cars are more mature or more likely to take better care of their cars than Mercedes or Land Rover owners.
  • cstilescstiles Posts: 465
    Possibly Mercedes, but I doubt it as far as Land Rover is concerned. I question whether Land Rover appeals to relatively older drivers, or even enjoys strong loyalty or repeat customer purchase patterns, at least in the U.S. market. It's more of a trendy vehicle that appeals to uber-rich soccer moms, relatively younger nouveau riche, urban professionals, athletes, and "athlete wannabes."

    Watch the Land Rover owners come out of the woodwork to rebut these controversial comments!

    Another correlation can be drawn with insurance rates. Although higher in insurable value, average insurance costs for Lexus, Buick, Cadillac, Lincoln, and Mercury are historically lower on a percentage basis, compared to cars at the bottom of this ladder (whose insurable values are much, much less). This phenomenon can be attributed to two main factors---more conservative (ie: safer) driving behavior, and higher credit scores/characteristics, for those who drive those brands. Jaguar used to enjoy this status, when more of their sales were represented by XJ and other larger models or higher end coupes. With the advent of the down market S-Type and X-Type, insurance costs have risen due to the fact they have appealed to a younger and more diverse clientele whose driving behaviors are not necessarily as stellar on a historical basis.

    As the saying goes, "you are what you drive."

    Land Rover insurance costs are also much higher than average, and it's not because these vehicles are driven off road or in an African safari. Draw your own conclusions, but high theft rates would be a good place to start.
  • "The demographic snapshot of a Land Rover customer is an executive or entrepreneur with an income around $100,000 plus."

    The average Land Rover buyer is 43 years old. Sixty-six percent are male, 75 percent are married, and less than 40 percent of owners have children.
  • reality2reality2 Posts: 303
    You should check out the latest Consumer Reports "recommended" list for new cars. You will find Audi has the most most models recommended easily besting BMW, MB (none recommended at all), and Lexus. The A3, A4, A6, and S4 are all on the highly recommended list. You can see that in the link below.

    http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/cars/types/a-to-z-index.htm

    This is an important aspect for the future as the unreliablity argument does not hold. As for dealers, all the Audi dealers in my area are either stand alone, becoming stand alone, and are all going through major build-outs and rebuilds. So, let's move forward and let the old misconceptions die as that is all they are- misconceptions.
  • Many thanks for bringing that link to our attention. It suggests another point, that facile comparisons of "the Germans" or "the Japanese" just don't hold any more. As you note, Audi is very well represented among the "highly recommended" (good drivers, reliable, good crash tests), and not a single MB is even "recommended."
  • I had to go back to Oct 21 to read what I had written.

    It wasn't intended to be at all pessimistic about Audi. Mainly, in so far as I commented on Audi, it was to make the point that it hasn't always been to Audi's advantage to be part of the VW conglomerate, but that Audi was doing very well, worldwide, despite that handicap.

    Recently, the head of Audi was named as head of all VW, which, hopefully, will allow Audi to actually buy ad space to boast about how good it has become. The new sexy dealerships are also a good sign. This is a brabnd for which I have been rooting over the years, somewhat like the Red Sox fans before 2004. The brand has definitely begun to emerge from its underdog status to being seen in the way that kbb wrote about the new A6: "In the world of premium performance sedans, the Audi A6 is a thinking person's choice. Placed against such powerhouse names as the BMW 5 Series, Lexus GS and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the A6 stands proudly as an equal capable of delivering on every level...The real difference between the A6 and its rivals can be found inside the car. Envied for its warm, inviting interior, the A6 offers its occupants a world of fine leathers, high-quality wood detailing, pleasantly accommodating seats and an array of sophisticated conveniences that leave little for the driver to do except enjoy time behind the wheel."
  • Audi A6 Buyer Demographics

    Favorite TV Shows**:

    * Law & Order
    * CSI
    * Sports

    Favorite Sports or Activities**:

    * Walking for Exercise
    * Entertain at Home
    * Health Club
    ------------------------------------------------
    Mercedes E-Class Buyer Demographics

    Favorite TV Shows**:

    * CSI
    * Law & Order
    * American Idol

    Favorite Sports or Activities**:

    * Walking for Exercise
    * Entertain at Home
    * Gardening

    --------------------------------------------------------

    BMW 5-Series Buyer Demographics

    Favorite TV Shows**:

    * CSI
    * Law & Order
    * Sports

    Favorite Sports or Activities**:

    * Walking for Exercise
    * Gardening
    * Entertain at Home

    ------------------------------------
    Infiniti M Buyer Demographics

    Favorite TV Shows**:

    * Sports
    * Desperate Housewives
    * CSI

    Favorite Sports or Activities**:

    * Walking for Exercise
    * Health Club
    * Gardening

    ----------------------------------------------

    Lexus GS Buyer Demographics

    Favorite TV Shows**:

    * Law & Order
    * CSI
    * Sports

    Favorite Sports or Activities**:

    * Walking for Exercise
    * Health Club
    * Entertain at Home

    ---------------------------------------------
    Cadillac STS Buyer Demographics

    Favorite TV Shows**:

    * CSI
    * Law & Order
    * Sports

    Favorite Sports or Activities**:

    * Walking for Exercise
    * Gardening
    * Movies
  • But you left out the best of them:

    Volvo S80 Buyer Demographics

    Favorite TV Shows**:

    * Masterpiece Theater
    * News Hour with Jim Lehrer
    * Julia Child reruns

    Favorite Sports or Activities**:

    * Walking for Exercise
    * Wine Tasting Parties
    * Environmental Activism Discussion Groups
  • I am pretty certain this stuff is false. . . .

    Audi A6 Buyer Demographics

    Favorite TV Shows**:

    * Modern Marvels
    * Southpark
    * Mr. Wizard or Futurama

    Favorite Sports or Activities**:

    * Waiting for Godot
    * Being entertained at someone else's home
    * Competitive "little ball" arena-style bowling
    ------------------------------------------------
    Mercedes E-Class Buyer Demographics

    Favorite TV Shows**:

    * The History Channel
    * The Love Bus
    * American Idol

    Favorite Sports or Activities**:

    * Walking around the MB service department for exercise
    * Entertain at Home
    * Napping

    --------------------------------------------------------

    BMW 5-Series Buyer Demographics

    Favorite TV Shows**:

    * Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    * Smallville
    * Lost

    Favorite Sports or Activities**:

    * Not Walking
    * Vole trapping
    * Pretending to be Michael Knight

    ------------------------------------
    Infiniti M Buyer Demographics

    Favorite TV Shows**:

    * Heros
    * Desperate Housewives
    * Wonderfalls

    Favorite Sports or Activities**:

    * Grilling out during a sudden cold snap
    * Bar hopping
    * Skiing through revolving doors

    ----------------------------------------------

    Lexus GS Buyer Demographics

    Favorite TV Shows**:

    * Two and-a-half Men
    * Six feet Under
    * CSPAN-2

    Favorite Sports or Activities**:

    * Walking as Little as Possible
    * Health Club Avoidance
    * Napping

    ---------------------------------------------
    Cadillac STS Buyer Demographics

    Favorite TV Shows**:

    * Lawrence Welk
    * The Sopranos
    * Matlock or Murder She Wrote (tie)

    Favorite Sports or Activities**:

    * Watching people walk
    * Watching people garden
    * Wishing for a nap

    From the looks of it, I might be in the market for an STS next time -- other than the fact that I don't really care for Lawrence Welk.

    From the looks of the original JD Power study, CSI seems to be pretty much a common denominator. I wonder what that means. :confuse:
  • rockyleerockylee Posts: 14,011
    OMG, you and sfcharlie are to funny. My stomach hurts after all the laughing I just did. :D ;)

    Rocky

    P.S. I'm a STS guy. :P
  • What is your role in the Auto Industry, if you don't mind my asking? Sounds like you're seeing quite a bit of future trends from Japan. I'm particularly interested in #7 on your list. How does the Toyota Active Head Restraint function? Did Toyota develop it themselves? How does it work? Sounds very cool! Other than WIL, what does Toyota have out in the marketplace in the Lexus line-up you mentioned?
  • My A6 is hardly unique, but it is equipped with all the options other than TPMS and sport suspension -- what would be called Premium, Technology and Convenience were it an '07.

    My build date car has what must be Windows XP Pro Svc pk 2 (or whatever MMI goes by.)

    It was built, as I recall, in May 2005.

    It was, apparently, the "last or near last" 2005 in terms of its MMI version.

    Since the day I acquired it, it has had a feature that I have not really been bothered by but it I told Audi about it anyway: the Surround Sound mode (on CD and Sat Radio) reverts, periodically, to "normal" (i.e., non-surround mode.)

    MMI, likes Windows for a PC, controls everything, essentially. Because this -- for me at least -- was not a big deal, I figured "what the heck" and forgot about it.

    Audi puts on a training school in Columbus, Ohio for all the senior people in Ohio (and perhaps southern MI and western PA and KY) dealerships. I got a call and they said, "you have one of the cars that has so many features and functions and is of such and such an MMI version that we now can totally upgrade your car and teach all the folks in the "REGION" at the same time. You'll get a new MMI software upgrade AND we'll let you use a new Audi at our expense and our gas, etc for two days.

    They have been good to me, so "why not?"

    "How about a W12 for 2 days. . .no no, wait, how about an RS-4, no no, wait, what I really want is an S6 for two days, the white one with all the toys on it on the showroom floor?" Can I huh? Can I huh?

    "We'll see. . ."

    Now I knew the RS4 and W12 were right out and they did say "Mark, you can sit in the S6 and make engine sounds with your mouth!"

    They know I would simply not acquire a V10 Audi without winning the lottery or deciding my marriage was worth sacrificing (which it isn't.) They know I know that, I know they know that, and so on.

    "We'll get you a nice Enterprise PT Cruiser. . ."

    Ahhh, no, that won't do. . .

    "How about an A4 3.2?"

    Naahhhh, rather have an S4.

    I pull in to turn my car over to them for training and education and they trot out a $65K Q7 with a full tank of gas and literally all the toys and a 4.2 W/the adaptive air suspension and 20" wheels and I swear dual rear seat bidets.

    My wife and I had test driven an early build non adaptive air model w/18" wheels several months ago.

    Give me a wide, wider, widest berth and blow the fog horn, this ocean liner is about to dock!

    What a pleasant and powerful and darn near sporty surprise!

    This thing, set to dynamic suspension mode with the 20" shoes is damn near nimble.

    I am impressed -- probably not enough to want one or lease one (unless the price was impossibly low.)

    This is quiet, comfortable, responsive and feels nothing at all like the QE3!

    Now maybe if they made a Q6. . .
  • cstilescstiles Posts: 465
    I am connected to the vehicle technology and testing arm of a very large property & casualty insurance company, along with its internal/external research division.

    Toyota's active head restraint system is currently not that far ahead of what other Japanese companies offer (and in fact, the most current versions have only received middling scores from IIHS and other testing centers.) However, Toyota is ahead of everyone else in terms of what is under development. They are also taking their current scores as a source of embarrassment, and seem serious about hitting it out of the park in future tests.

    They showed us some prototypes, and they are mechanically constructed of moveable head restraint foundations that pivot forward to protect the head when triggered by a rear collision. They are also working on seat back hinges that will deform to better contour against the spine and neck of the passenger(s). Toyota is ahead of the pack in terms of coupling such features with front and rear radar detection systems that allow the car to electronically anticipate a potential crash. They are also ahead with comprehensive systems that tie in collision mitigation (ABS, TCS, electronic overrides) capabilities.

    Finally, due to its resources, Toyota is a key player in the safety infrastructure that Japan is testing and building that will allow cars to "communicate" with external traffic flow monitoring sensors, other cars in the vicinity, bicycles, or pedestrians whose locations can be approximated. Toyota is also creating in-car sensors that are supposed to detect when a driver may be falling asleep or not being attentive, by monitoring ambience and movements inside the car. Nissan is also a player in these arenas, but Toyota clearly leads the way and is an influencer to others.

    Some of this smacks of big brother, but the sheer creativeness of what the Japanese are noodling to reduce collision frequency/severity is quite impressive. Several of the insurance company executives in attendance at the meeting were joking(?) that if the Japanese are successful, they may eliminate the need for insurance companies!

    That's not such a bad concept, I suppose.
  • "facile comparisons of "the Germans" or "the Japanese" just don't hold any more. As you note, Audi is very well represented among the "highly recommended" (good drivers, reliable, good crash tests), and not a single MB is even "recommended."

    I resents the allegation and I resents the allegator -- seriously, though, I don't think that referencing places where CR or JDP suggest that readers should expect better reliability from Japanese cars is the same as making facile comparisons between German and Japanese cars.

    Yes, CR does highly recommend many Audi models and I'm delighted. Equally interesting is that when CR asked owners if they were likely to buy a similar model from the same manufacturer in the future, the four luxury cars for which at least 80% of owners said "yes" were Infiniti M35 (which had been out only a couple of months at time of survey), Lexus GS, Lexus LS, and Audi A6. In the "sporty car" category, the BMW M3 was nowhere to be seen, but the Audi S4 was there.

    Nonetheless, even Audi management has made statements about their need to overcome the bum-rap they had gotten from 60-Minutes, the frequent merging of VW and Audi in the mind of the consumer, and the late 1990s through 2000 engine problems.

    The also have October 2006 reports such as their "The problem with new models: Think twice about buying a newly designed model in its first year", in which they draw attention to average problem rates, by manufacturer, for newly designed 2000 through 2002 models. Some readers are going to see that every brand rated "above average" is Japanese and BMW is the worst.

    Most of us, on this forum, are not going to be influenced by that sort of data about six year-old models, but some CR readers will be. The comparing of Japanese and non-Japanese cars continues in the press. Pointing to its existence is not an endorsement of its statistical or real-world value, but it is a part of the literature on cars that draws a lot of attention when the reports come out.

    Worldwide, Audi is doing great. Here in the U.S. they need more advertising to let people know of the quality and excitement of their current line-up.
  • warthogwarthog Posts: 216
    I have a 2003 530i (E39) with about 37,000 miles. Recently the "Service Engine Light" came on, although I didn't notice any performance problem. I took it in for service a couple days later, expecting some minor problem. The service rep called later saying the readout codes indicated a torque converter problem and they would either reprogram the tranny or replace the converter. Fine. I got a loaner X3.

    The next day the rep called to say that they had emailed the codes to Munich and their recommendation was to replace the torque converter. Fine.

    The day after that, Munich recommended replacing the entire tranny, not because of any current problem, but because it might go bad 20K miles down the road due to whatever torque converter problem they had found, and it would be out of warranty at that point.

    Now maybe there's some self-serving BS in all this, but still I'm pretty satisfied with BMW's service: I get a new transmission for free, while driving a free car during the fix.

    How many auto makers would do this?
  • james27james27 Posts: 433
    On my 98 A6, I had a problem that I noticed right after I brought it home. They actually sent some techs from the factory over from Germany to take it apart and analyze the problem. While this was going on, they gave me a new A6 to drive...most of the manufacturers of the LPS ilk I think tend to do the same thing...fix it right.
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