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Luxury Performance Sedans

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  • consult77consult77 Posts: 26
    Concerning the strength of vehicle roofs:

    Based on information I have been reading about Ford Explorer lawsuits (I'm no expert on this subject), the U.S. Government rules on roof strength are that the roof must support one and one-half times the vehicles weight in a static test. (The vehicle is gently set on its roof.)

    The Explorer was at something less that 2x in some past models and Ford has apparently lost lawsuits because the roof was considered too weak. Based on what I read it appears that roofs must be able to support over 1.5x the vehicle's weight, (6,000 lbs for a 4,000 lb. vehicle) and that it would be much better if the roof supported significantly more than 2x the vehicles weight.
  • jjacurajjacura Posts: 808
    These rollover figures are interesting and more important for driver safety than Audirules comparisons of withstanding drop dead weight to the roof of any car. His point doesn't mean much unless we are concerned about buildings dropping on us, and maybe [commofficer] in Iraq would be about the only one worried about that.) More importantly for us I think is....Buckle Up!
  • First of all,Capt Phil - thanks for your service.

    Being an automotive engineer and having worked in both supplier and OE capacities, including Ford 2000, DB takeover of Chrysler, etc., I have learned the following:

    American companies design vehicles for the shareholders. First and foremost is sales price - vehicle cost = profit. This takes more of a short term approach in both profit and vehicle cost (warranty costs, recalls, etc.). Tell an American company engineer that something doesn't work properly, and they say "we can't afford to change it".

    "Asian" (c'mon..Japanese) companies design vehicles based on customer satisfaction with slow change. Vehicle price = cost + profit. This takes more of a long term approach in both profit and vehicle cost (warranty costs, recalls, etc.). Tell a Japanese company engineer that something doesn't work properly, and they apologize as well as quite possibly work to improve it.

    German companies design cars to please German engineers. Admittedly, I do not know their pricing strategy or approach to change. But, tell a German engineer that something does not work properly and the response is either "you are wrong" or "we need smarter buyers". Can you say I-Drive?

    Thats a big difference, but each has their intended purpose.

    German chassis are definitely better built for performance. Thats food if you commute through Deal's Gap every morning. Japanese vehicles give far superior total vehicle creature comfort satisfaction including ergonomics, simple to use gadgets, and NVH. US vehicles have horsepower and excellent exhaust tuning. Pick your pleasure.
  • richcreamrichcream Posts: 205
    "The funny thing about this dashboard discussion is that if you look at the 5 series dash next to the M dash they actually look very similar. In fact, I'd go so far to say that Infiniti had the 5 dash in mind when they designed the dash for the M."

    When I first read that, I thought you were crazy, but the more I look at the both of them side by side, I kind of see your point, especially with the 3-dials in the lower center console theme contained in both.

    5: http://us.autos1.yimg.com/img.autos.yahoo.com/ag/bmw_5series_525isedan_2005_interior_19_34- 6x270.jpg

    M:
    http://www.autoweek.com/weekart/2004/0503/0503-M45_interior.jpg

    I'd say that Infiniti absolutely considered the 5 when designing the M (as the 5 was their target) and they absolutely did a better job.

    Aside from the blandness, the outdated temp dials, iDrive, and the lack of compartment space in the 5 series, I found the steering wheel to be an issue as well.
    It leans leftward (towards the door) and it seemed that no matter how I adjusted it, the wheel either obscured a good part of the instrument panel, and/or the view just above the dash.

    In any case you can compare the 2 interior layouts posted above and decide for yourself. Personally, I like the black/rosewood combo in the M better than the aluminum, but I still think the M's AL layout makes the 5's look, as previously stated, 'underwhelming at best.'

    Oh, and iDrive is not too hard to get the hang of, it's just more trouble than it's worth. The 5's interior could use a few more buttons anyway.
  • Not a problem.

    I like these forums ">since I can learn from you guys what I don't know and discuss things that have nothing to do with my present work. Escape from reality really. Thank Gore for the Internet. :-)

    Capt. Sandell
  • florida1florida1 Posts: 42
    You make valid points about the 5 serious interior being bland---I see it as old fashion and dated--

    That said, the point I was trying to make was regarding material quality, details, tightnes, craftmenship etc (I'm new to this car lingo stuff) bear with my descriptions---

    In summary, even the 5's dash is intuitivly solid and well built albiet bland--conversly in my opinion the M's was intuitivly not near as well put together as the others--In my opinion you sense it 30 secs after setting in it--additionally the doors didn't feel or close like Audi's or Lexus---

    I say all this with full acknowlegement that the M is an attractive car with great performace and value for the $$
  • florida1florida1 Posts: 42
    I agree in pictures the M's trumps the 5's easy--additionally I agree that the 5's is bland-----

    However setting in them, feeling them, and simply "kicking the tires" and you can't deny the quality difference--The 5's (I'm not a BMW fan / never had one) is 3 notches up from the M--I won't even compare the Audi and Lexus

    The M is like a fancy looking, elaborate, flashy, looks good in pictures CASIO stero

    The others are like a tight, high quality, exspensive, well made Pioneer reciever
  • cstilescstiles Posts: 465
    Excellent post! Although there are certainly some exceptions to your observations, I totally agree with your overall assessments in comparing and contrasting Japanese, European, and American approaches to chassis tuning, vehicle design, powertrain engineering, and general philosophy. Thanks for sharing with us your insights as an engineer yourself.
  • lovemyclklovemyclk Posts: 351
    Only someone trained in "lean" would understand the distinction between the American equation (price=cost+profit) and the Japanese equation (profit=price-cost). Believe you juxtaposed the two ;-)

    Regarding warranty costs, if you're repairing after it leaves the line, it's a little late for a "zero defects" strategy. Lean attempts to solve problems before the product is released to the consumer, hence the lower warranty costs absorbed by the typical Japanese mfgr. (Toyota's TPS is the benchmark methodology). Idea is to "build in quality" into the production process.

    Toyota execs will tell you that a prime corporate strength is problem-solving...
  • drewsrxdrewsrx Posts: 57
    I have driven the new E60 5-Series many times. I don' t mind the iDrive or the design, but I think that it has the lowest quality materials in its class, besides the new STS.

    The 5-Series and Infiniti-M quality are not even comparable IMO. The Infiniti has a much better feel in almost every aspect of the interior. I test drove the car yesterday, again. The 5-Series is stark and totally out-dated looking. The lower 2/3'rds of the cars interior feels like cheap plastic.

    The M35/M45 interior is getting very close to Lexus and Audi quality IMO.

    The E39 had a better quality interior than the E60 IMO. Infiniti has stepped up their game quite a bit.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    The LS430 has an excellent interior. The LS has always been very nice, but the '05, much like the ES330 and SC430, are the last examples of the "old school" of Lexus interior design themes. The '04 RX started a major change, but it is the GS and IS that really set things in motion. When you compare the '04 RX to the originial '98 design, its like night and day, where as the change from the LS400 to LS430 was more of just an evolution. The '07 car should be a radical step foward though. It will take the GS and IS design theme to the next level, and will most likely be the most amazing interior in Lexus history.
  • in march. down 16%????? what da??? honestly audi lovers. the RX330 can almost outsell the whole audi lineup by itself. =) get down on your knees and pray nobody wants a new GS or IS. those two cars just suck anyway. the interior sucks and they are no good on regular streets and highways either. Lexus should make more driving machines so we can all pretend our drive to work is a really a race track (not like the IS is that inferior to any audi or bmw when it comes to driving excitement).

    but anyway, lexusguy is right and there is no sense arguing about these cars and their makers. goodluck and goodnight. i do like your posts lexusguy. very informative. thanks

    lexIS rulz
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    "get down on your knees and pray nobody wants a new GS or IS."

    Unfortunately its already too late for the GS. The car is currently outselling the A6 2 to 1. Its much to early to tell how the IS is going to do, but Lexus expects 45K sales, and I dont think they'll have a problem reaching that goal. If they do, Lexus will be on track to sell over 300,000 cars and continue to dominate BMW and Mercedes. The "220d" engine also may finally give them a real weapon to take to Europe.
  • rich545rich545 Posts: 386
    You may think that the interior materials in the E60 are low quality, but you're reacting more to how it looks rather than what it's made of. I'd be willing to bet that the 5 interior is made with just as many (if not more) quality materials as the M. The E39 did not use better materials. If anything, it had more hard plastic on it's dash. Not sure what about the dash says "out-dated" to you. Most people would agree it's stark, but they would say that makes it modern looking. I forgot what review it was, but they called the E60 the W Hotel of the sport sedan segment. Seemed to make some sense to me. I happen to like the new designs and despite what some people think, it is outselling the E39 and the current 7 is the best-selling 7 in the history of the model. What I'm getting at here is that all of this is largely (if not entirely) subjective. The materials aren't worse. It's just that you like the layout of the M's dash more. Think about it logically. Do you really think that Infiniti is going to spend more on a dash in a cheaper car than the 5? That would mean that their profit margin per car would be much lower. I realize that they'd make up some of that with volume, but in general car manufacturers pass on a lot of their costs to buyers.
  • rich545rich545 Posts: 386
    Ever think that BMW and Mercedes may have different sales goals than Lexus? Meaning that they never planned on outselling Lexus. Now, I'm sure BMW, Mercedes and Audi wouldn't mind if they did somehow manage to outsell Lexus, but I doubt it's their goal. Firstly, their cars are somewhat more expensive which means less people can afford them. Secondly, sorry to point this out because I know you'll have a problem with it, but Japanese cars have always had more mass appeal. Mercedes and BMW (and Audi) really do serve a different niche group of consumers. That's not to say that there isn't cross-over or that BMW, Mercedes and Audi drivers are in anyway smarter or better. Take me as an example though, I have stated before that I don't even consider Lexus or Infiniti (and definitely not Acura) when I buy a car. I'd be willing to bet I'm not the only one out there that feels that way. As long as BMW, Mercedes and Audi reach their own internal sales projections they are happy regardless of what Lexus or Infiniti does. Comparing overall sales figures for the companies is misleading and an inaccurate way to determine which is "better". Especially since "better" is in the eye of the beholder.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    I happen to agree with you. BMW has high quality materials and the best form and function in their class. The other Japanese vehicles interiors made my head spin when I test drove them. Mercedes can be a bit busy as well.

    But we can surely debate the point until the cows come home. Price irrespective, I still think BMW has the best ride/drive in it's class.
  • jjacurajjacura Posts: 808
    You ended your post with a very important statement that covers my preference extremely well.

    "Especially since "better" is in the eye of the beholder." Right on!

    I appreciate that. I would never consider BMW, Mercedes, or Audi. Thanks.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,088
    In 1976 I drove my first Audi, a Silver Fox -- my first purchased Audi was in 1977 a 1978 Audi 5000. Over the years my wife and I have had 27 Audis.

    Not all that long ago I might have written (probably did knowing me):

    "Take me as an example though, I have stated before that I don't even consider Lexus or Infiniti (and definitely not Acura) when I buy a car."

    That sentiment pretty well states the way I felt -- but I would go even further, during those years I certainly wouldn't have considered a BMW or a Mercedes either. The reason? None of these cars were Audis. I could quote and argue and reason concerning: statistics and facts and why Audis were "the best cars on the planet." I could never figure out my friend's attraction to BMW's -- when every one of my Audis could in several ways "better" his beloved Bimmer (and for less money.)

    It is this forum (and a couple of others here on the WWW) that essentially compelled me to rethink this position -- I actually "broadened my horizons" due in part to the arguments and persuasive characteristics of many of the poster's here.

    Perhaps I have changed some folks minds, too, to at least consider Audis as viable alternatives to BMW's or even some Japanese lines.

    Clearly, my mind (and money) have gone for car number 28 to Infiniti. But I still argue long and loud as a fan of Audis. I still have some hurdles to overcome with respect to BMW, but to the extent that actions speak louder than words, my wife (and I) did elect the X3 3.0 over the new A4 3.2 -- so I must not be entirely anti-BMW, just "somewhat" anti-BMW for I still think they represent (a little bit) the "Emperor's New Clothes" somewhat (somewhat and a little bit should be emphasized -- since this is a significant reduction in my heretofore former skepticism about all things with the Blue & White Propeller).

    Indeed the new 3 series 330xi was for more than a moment on my short list (sight unseen) after having test driven multiple times the X3 3.0 manual with sport package (wow!)

    It came down to timing and a desire for an A6 sized car that did have AWD -- the new 5 series with the 255HP engine is not out and there was, on March 31 no order guide and my assumption was that equipped as I wanted, the 530AWD (xi) would be $59,000 -- even more than the A6. The M35X seemed to strike the balance all things considered -- so I went that way, knowing that I can always "go back to Audi" in about 3 years and will be able to drive my wife's BMW about 10% of the time.

    I almost said, "I got out of my Audi rut. . ." But, that would have been a mischaracterization, for owning Audis has never caused me to feel as though I were in a rut.

    In any case, my purpose in responding to your post is to encourage you to "check out" the competition (the 7 or 8 usual suspects) that has been assembled by Automobile Magazine, Car&Driver, Motor Trend and Road&Track.

    Give them each a fair and long test drive -- even try to do so back to back with your "fave" (the BMW, I presume.) If you remain resolute that you should not even consider the offerings from Acura, Infiniti and Lexus, (or Audi or Jaguar or Cadillac) so be it. You'll get no quarrel from me.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,088
    JJACURA -- I urge you, too, to "consider" the Audi, BMW and Mercedes, as I urged RICH545 to "consider" the Acura, Infiniti and Lexus (et al).

    If I can broaden my horizons, anyone can.
  • docnukemdocnukem Posts: 485
    I don't understand the, "I don't even consider Lexus or Infiniti".. or any such thinking on anybody's part. This is overly dogmatic. How could anyone's perceptions of any carmaker change if one never considered a particular brand?

    I use to think that I would never buy a BMW because I didn't want to send out the message that I was a yuppie...and all the baggage that goes along with the perception of a yuppie (at the time...so I am dating myself). However, I never ruled it out. After owning one (a 328 sedan), I realize that, yes, there are people who have to have a BMW to send a message, but there are clearly other reasons to own one--they are a blast to drive.

    Before buying my M35x, I did not rule out BMW, Lexus, MB, Acura, Audi, Jaguar, or the lesser tier of VW, Honda, Toyota, Ford, GM, or Chrysler. I had many criteria and excluded them one by one for a variety of reasons. I will be the first to admit that I ordered in the fall without A SINGLE TEST DRIVE (I tried to test the RL, but they were all sold at the time). The others were all lacking in more areas than the M (usually based on price, size, anticipated performance--from reviews or specs, or AWD--I live in MI). Was I worried about not test driving? You bet! But I have had experience with Infiniti in the past and with my dealer. And based on reviews and comments about the G and seeing the upgraded interior of the G for 2005 (and knowing the M would be better as well as being able to compare interior size--three kids, you know) ), I knew I would love the car. I am not disappointed--far from it.

    To make a long post short (too late), why would anybody exclude a make just because it is not some other make? No offense, but this seems ridiculous if one's goal is to find the car that fits best--whether it is to find the one that performs best, has the most features, gets the most bang for the buck, has the best economy, is the roomiest, is the most reliable, has the best visual appeal, or has the best combination of these. Unless of course your goal is to send the message that, "Hey, I drive a (fill in the blank)".
  • rich545rich545 Posts: 386
    No doubt that being open-minded, and considering all of the options is the smart way to be. However, I won't be in the market for a new car for a while, and I did test drive the A6, and have driven newer model Lexus' and Infiniti's. Not to say that they would never produce a car that I like, just that what they have to offer right now. The M doesn't change that. As for Acura, I've never been a fan and that isn't likely to change (same goes for Jags and Caddy's). But hey, a few years ago I wasn't a BMW fan so who knows. By the time I'm ready to get rid of my 545 (probably in a few years) the other options may be even better than they are now. Let me just say though that I don't think that Infiniti's, Lexus' or Acura's are bad cars. In fact, I think they are very good cars. They all just seem somewhat cookie-cutter produced to me. Pleasing in most ways to satisfy most people, but extraordinary in very few ways. Now I realize that's just my opinion, and others here feel differently (as proven by the multitude of arguments we've all had concerning German vs. Japanese cars). Hey, I'm kind of quirky when it comes to cars anyway. I used to love Saab's before they became Subaru's. I think the new BMW designs are great because they are unique in an industry where conformity seems to be the rule of the day. I actually admire Bangle for having the balls to take THE benchmark of the sport sedan segment and drastically change it. There was a great article about him in the Harvard Business Journal. It talked alot about the freedom he gives his designers to create new and innovative designs. Again, I realize plently of people don't see them that way, but I do. He even told his designers to go away someplace where even he didn't know where they were to work on the redesign of the X5 (I think that's what it was). Anyway, I respect that kind of progressive thinking, and I think it will serve BMW well in the long term future. And let's face it, BMW has been the benchmark for a while now so people are looking for any chinks in its armor. It's the same concept as how people hate the NY Yankees. People root for the underdog until it becomes the top dog. Then we look for ways to tear it down.
  • rich545rich545 Posts: 386
    You answered your own question with your third paragraph. You said you would never rule out any other brands, but then you didn't test drive one of them. Instead you relied on what you already knew about them and picked in M. So in a sense you did rule out the other brands because "I knew I would love the car." When I say I don't consider the other brands it's because I HAVE driven all of them, and based on that experience I saw no reason to look at Lexus or Infiniti when I bought my 545. Have I driven the new M? Nope, because it wasn't around when I bought my car, and I didn't like the old M at all. Anyway, you say you're open to the other brands, but I don't see the proof in that pudding.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    I cant really fault rich545, I dont consider BMWs, Audis, or Mercedes when I buy cars, at least not for my daily driver anyway. I'm just not willing to compromise on a car that I depend on to get me to work everyday. I dont care how long the warranty is or if the maintanence is free or whatever. Being stranded is simply NOT an option. For my weekend car, I'll admit my XKs havent been the most reliable cars, but they havent been terrible. I like the XK because the SC430 is just too boring and ugly to even consider. I dont like the 645Ci, and the SL is just too much money. Hopefully the next SC will be a little more interesting to look at and a lot more interesting to drive.
  • tayl0rdtayl0rd Posts: 1,938
    Not sure if anybody posted it yet or even noticed, but please note that that M interior shot is a pre-production version, evidenced by the seat controls placed in the seat cushion. The production version has the controls on the side like normal cars.

    Carry on.
  • docnukemdocnukem Posts: 485
    My mistake, then. When you said you don't even consider Lexus, Infiniti, or Acura, I assumed you meant you would never look at their cars. My comments were not directly aimed at you, though, as I think there are others out there who exclude a make simply because it is not a (fill in the blank).

    I didn't test drive the M before ordering it, either. But I did spend many (and my wife will tell you that is highly conservative) hours looking at reviews, specs, and comments on several dozen cars. So you may ask why? Simple. I got the car bug last summer and wanted a new car (old one was a "settled on" car over four years old). I didn't want to wait a whole year, but I could wait 8 months (barely). I was on the dealer's list for the new M initially. After seeing what was going to hit the streets this spring, I liked the M best based on what I could evaluate. If I were a more patient person, I would have waited, test drove, ordered, then waited some more..

    I ruled the others out not because I knew I would love the M and love nothing else. I felt that I would love the M more than I would love the others based on what I knew at the time. If the 5 had more rear seat room and a lower price, I might be driving that (or at least thought about waiting more for the 5x). If the GS appealed to me more, aesthetically (I like it, but not as much as the M) and was larger on the inside, I might be driving that. Do I have buyer's remorse? No way.

    I hate to admit it on the luxo performance sedans forum, and many will be surprised, but in addition to the GS and 5, I cross-shopped my car with the Honda Accord Hybrid, Ford 500 AWD, VW Passat, Volvo s40 through s80, and even considered waiting for the Saturn Aura (but I am not that patient), among others. Oh, yeah, also the other luxos--7 series, Jag S and XJ, Lexus LS, MB E and S which I am not embarrassed to admit. Obviously I excluded some on price alone.
  • docnukemdocnukem Posts: 485
    Sorry to Mark, I forgot that I also cross-shopped with the A6/A8 (excluded 8 again based on price).
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,088
    I used to ONLY consider Audi -- hardly a yuppie thing at the time, since the Audi was not too many yuppies choice (but BMW was). My reasons for not considering other cars was, broadly, "loyalty."

    Also, when I was growing up (in the mid to late 60's when I was in high school), somehow, someway people were "Buick People" or "Ford People" or "Chrysler People" -- I have no idea why but my dad was a Chrysler Products guy -- after his beloved Hudson Hornets (he had two of them) finally died. We always had Chryslers -- our first brand new car was a Chrysler Newport (a 1963 model); our second new car was a 1969 Plymouth Satellite -- and when I got married in 1974 it was my wedding present.

    I have no clue why some of us develop an attachment to a brand of car -- but it certainly is not uncommon for someone to become a "Volvo or Acura or Chevy person."

    Of course when any one of my friends would pull up in their Ford car, those of us "non - Ford" guys would kid the other young man by saying "how's your Fix Or Repair Daily?" and he would reply, you mean my "Fast On Rainy Days?" and so on.

    No wonder car companies do whatever they can to retain "legacy owners" and no wonder it is such a big deal to make a "conquest" sale (Infiniti and BMW are probably high-fiving themselves to know that they got not one but two Audi loyalists to "come over to them.")

    I do understand the reasons, the rationalization and so forth that we all must go through when it comes time to buy another car. My only point was to suggest that the "town hall" here and elsewhere made it somehow "OK" for me not to simply return to Audi and re-up for another 36 months for the new A6 and my wife for the new A4. We actually went out of our comfort zones after some 28 years of Audi ownership.

    I would like to note here for the cyber record, that my Audis have never stranded me and although they have apparently not been as reliable as the Japanese cars are rumored to be (I have no first hand experience so for the time being it is a rumor as far as I'm concerned) -- so I would again urge our Acura and Lexus mavens to take a long test drive in a couple of German cars "just for the heck of it."

    Who knows, you may find that the driving experience of the Germans really does "merit your consideration after all." Stranger things have happened, such as my conversion at least this one time to the new M -- it actually does feel like a driver's car (something I have never believed was possible from the high-line Japanese brands; and if you believe C&D Lexus still hasn't figured that out -- yet.)
  • jjacurajjacura Posts: 808
    DOC, Whew....I'm retired and don't even have that kind of time! (You really do shop the car market well) I will admit that as an automotive enthusiast you won't even come close to finding my name in the same book....let alone page. Strangely at this point in time I am getting the bug. I check out every car on the road now. It drives my sweetie nuts "John, are you watching where you are going!" (Perhaps my brother's name would be in that book but then he's your basic 50's car lover whom over the years has exchanged more engines out of cars than I possibly have driven. He even watches the races every weekend which in itself would bore me to tears. I really enjoy going back to my home town to visit him and his family. It's Norman Rockwell all the way.)

    We are a Honda family....well mostly...my son traded his Integra GSR in on fairly new M3. My daughter in Houston drove a Civic for years and now out of neccessity with 2 kids bought an Odyssey. (It's perfect for them.) My wife drives an EX which has 9,500 miles on it after almost 3 years. Before that it was Accords for us one after another since '84. In '96 she stayed with Honda and I went to Vigor, TL, and now the RL. It seemed like a natural progression to me. Nothing like Mark C's 27 Audis thing but I have to give him Kudo's for pulling the trigger on that one. I'm surprised the CEO of Audi, Winterkorn hasn't flown in to offer him a better lease package. As for me, I have never leased and have paid cash for the RL. It should last for a few years and maybe during that time I'll get over to International Motors. They sell Mercedes, Infinity, BMW, Porsche, Audi, and the Cooper.
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