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Luxury Performance Sedans

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  • docnukemdocnukem Posts: 485
    Hmmm...The incunabulum of the new digital paradigm?
  • cstilescstiles Posts: 465
    Don't get me wrong....I'm all for technological enhancement, and am relatively comfortable around it. And Mark is right in his assessment that we have just only reached the nascence of these types of technologies in automobiles. I also keep reading about nano-technology, how it's already here, and what it can supposedly deliver in the years to come. Some heady stuff, for sure.

    However, somehow we have to sort out the hype, the b.s., and the marketing drivel from the realities. Many of us consumers are also serving as guinea pigs as auto companies roll out these various technologies.

    I did get a very positive preview of the promises behind GPS-driven real-time traffic management when driving the BMW on the autobahn last year. Germany has real time traffic in place throughout their main arteries. As we were speeding away, blissfully unaware of what was ahead, the navigation system suddenly alerted us (unprompted) that there is a traffic jam ahead in about 15 miles, and to prepare to slow down. It even offered some alternative routes (which we didn't take not being familiar with roads off the autobahn). Sure enough, traffic came to a standstill, precisely as alerted.

    I wasn't happy to slow down, but was pretty impressed with the technology.
  • bartalk3bartalk3 Posts: 692
    On iDrive and its ilk. The point I'm making is that these technologies are making things harder for the driver, not easier. Old fashioned BUTTONS that controlled the radio, A/C, defroster, etc., were very simple to use and user friendly. But now that's all considered old fashioned and "obsolete." So instead we get these complex and even incomprehensible screens and you have to scroll through 18 menus to change the radio station, while of course taking your eyes off the road. Perhaps this is a slight exaggeration, but it all makes no sense, and can be called perverse competition. Same thing with increased tire size. No real functional reason, just mindless competition. No company wants to be left "behind", so it's a race to see who can produce the most complex (and error-prone) technology.
  • cstilescstiles Posts: 465
    Totally agree with bartalk.

    One extremely nice feature with the RL is the voice recognition. I can just say "temperature 65 degrees" or "XM Satellite channel 80" or "turn off air conditioner" or "fan speed 2" or "turn on CD" etc. etc., and the car adjusts those various settings without the need to hit a single button or interface. And a sexy lady's voice responds.

    On my wife's setting, a husky man's voice responds. We each get our jollies.

    It isn't perfect. Today, I asked it "tell me outside temperature," and it immediately set the internal ambient temperature to 80 degrees.

    But she still sounded sexy doing it.
  • karmikankarmikan Posts: 116
    A thoughtful post as usual Mark. You infer a certain inevitability to the march in car technology once the human interface issues have been resolved. While you may well be correct, there is an alternative path I think.

    A couple of counterbalancing analogies:

    1) I was employed in photogrammetry (developing mapping using aerial photography) during the years that the industry transitioned from analogue to digital technology. During the prolonged transition period we couldn't imagine Internet deployment (MapQuest etc) or the marriage of digital map data and GPS (Nav systems). But it was always obvious that the inherent flexibility of digital map data would open whole new vistas. Technological advancement with a clear purpose, obvious advantages and diverse applications.

    2) A colleague many years ago was one of the first to buy an LED digital watch which cost hundreds of dollars at the time. He had to press a button to display the time and the display was not visible in sunlight. This was indeed the warm-up pitch of the ball game and it seemed that a refinement to the human interface was all that was needed. The technology evolved through LCD displays and quartz movements to a point where everyone can figuratively get a highly accurate digital watch in a box of Corn Flakes. Strange thing though, the world's most desirable timepieces (Breitling, Rolex etc.) largely use centuries-old analogue technology that largely disdains digital advances.

    Many automotive applications of digital technology such as ABS, stability controls, engine management systems and nav systems clearly fall into the same class as my analogy #1. Clear purpose and obvious advantages. Can the same be said for iDrive-like systems? At this point "clearing dash clutter" is about as provocative an argument as I've heard and it's not too compelling.

    Will iDrive-like systems be a dead end like the LED display on watches? Will they evolve (through voice commands or other interface advances) to be the equivalent of the ubiquitous quartz watch? Or will the evolution turn full circle so that an elegant, well designed analogue dash is as desirable as a mechanical Rolex watch? Because cars evoke emotions of an "artistic" or esthetic nature in many owners (much like a fine watch), this could indeed be the case.
  • rich545rich545 Posts: 386
    Hey, you just need to admit it once and for all. It doesn't matter what iDrive is meant to do or whether it is easy to use; you just don't like it, and don't want it in your car. So the entire discussion is pretty useless. It could be the greatest computer interface ever developed and you'd still hate it. Bottom line is, BMW COULDN'T design a system like iDrive that you'd accept. Sorry, but first it was "it is too distracting." Then numerous E60 owners tell you that it isn't really distracting because you don't need to use it all of the time. So now it's "if it isn't needed all the time why have it." How would you know what BWM tried to "foist" on buyers? They designed a system that E60 owners like so who really cares about all of the rest of the speculation about what they intended?
  • rich545rich545 Posts: 386
    Right, but I drive the car every day and I don't feel that iDrive has made anything harder for me. Several others that own the E60 feel the same way. So I just have to ask what you're basing your opinion on. Some car reviewer's opinion???
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    Rich, what's your take on iDrive being an option in the new 3-series but not the 5 and 7? BTW, I know you hear me complain about iDrive often but I actually find it to be quite tolerable, much more tolerable than styling. We tolerate the bs that Microsoft, Apple and Quark lay on us. It's the same thing. It's a matter of principle. They're all raking us over he coals IMO.
  • liferulesliferules Posts: 531
    I don't know what automobile you drive, but my A6 has a knob for volume and 2 buttons for advancing or backing up in the radio memory cue. There is a button for the defroster (actually one for front and one for rear windows). Which vehicles are you talking about that hide simple tasks deep into the computer display menus?

    The controls on the steering wheel, IMO, make my driving safer than cars from the last decade which don't have it.

    But I guess we've gotten to a point where we're beating a dead horse. There are those of us who feel that the MMI/I-drive features allow customization and enhancement of the joy of owning and driving a car, and there are those of you who feel it is an intrusion in the years-old tradition of simplicity...
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    I should've been more specific, when I said Ford I meant the Ford brand specifically, not Lincoln or Jaguar. My point was that the 500 and Freestyle dont belong in this forum. It would be nice to see SVT do SOMETHING, though I doubt they'll do anything with the 500. The Volvo S80 platform is not geared for performance in the way the E class parts are in the 300C. The Fusion on the other hand technically is a Mazda6, so I dont think giving the Fusion similar upgrades to the Mazdaspeed version would be very difficult.

    Mark, I definitely understand what you're talking about. At work I'm a linux man, I dont have time for an "eccentric" PC.
  • bartalk3bartalk3 Posts: 692
    rich545,

    I'm not picking on BMW in particular; just using the iDrive as a symbol for all the systems that have made controls more complicated and confusing than the old fashioned, switches, dials, and buttons. Beside being easy and user friendly, they have that tactile feel that screens will never have.

    On what do I base my opinion of iDrive? Well, of the dozens and dozens of reviews and articles about the current BMW 5 and 7 series, in a whole range of magazines, I have never read one favorable word about iDrive. Are all these guys wrong? And by the way, if BMW owners like the iDrive in their 5's and 7s so much, how come BMW is making it optional in their new 3 series? They couldn't be backing away from a disaster, could they?
  • turnbowmturnbowm Posts: 76
    bartalk3,

    You seem to keep missing the point.... BMW does provide switches and controls for commonly-used functions such as A/C (temp & blower speed), radio (volume & station select), et cetera. The added benefit of the iDrive system is that it allows the owner to "personalize" the car to suit his/her particular preferences. As an example, you can set one of two programmable switches on the steering wheel to control A/C (On/Off). You want an audible alarm when a preset speed is exceeded? No problem with iDrive. The list goes on and on.

    As for the new 3-series, iDrive is an integral part of the optional Nav system and is not available as a separate option.

    Martin
  • jlbljlbl Posts: 1,333
    Mark,

    I agree with most of your post # 1804. However, I feel compelled to state, as an old Macintosh user, that all this discussion on car technology seems to me like the old dispute between MS-DOS and Apple Macintosh OS. Every MS-DOS fan was against Macintoshes because these evils did not allow the user to appropriately control the machine because of the strange graphic interface, or whatever. Then came Microsoft Windows and (almost) all MS-DOS users praised this amazing evolution. This is an ever-repeating world, isn't? ;)

    José
  • jlbljlbl Posts: 1,333
    Thanks to iDrive I have as few and simple buttons for AC, radio-tuning, etc as liferules have thanks to MMI.

    Additionally, what I find to be very convenient for me is that iDrive has left the dash of my car clean of so many other buttons. These can be very disturbing while driving. I was upset of the increment of the number of buttons observed along dashboards of previous cars of mine. I do not want my car copkit to be like a jet cop kit. Then, I like the interior styling of the new BMW 5-Series, old-fashioned as it might be—or just because of this? Meanwhile, its driving is an unobstructed blast.

    But I understand others may prefer other things. Colores quiere la vida (approx. = colours make a better living for everyone). :)

    José
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    “As for the new 3-series, iDrive is an integral part of the optional Nav system and is not available as a separate option.”

    I don’t know how it wouldn’t be considered an option since Nav is an option. They just come together as one package. If you are talking about BMW's positioning of "Nav w/iDrive" that's a different story. I'm wondering, does anyone lament not being able to get iDrive without Nav?
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    A big negative of that imo is that the dash looks incredibly plain without the 2nd hump and idrive. I got to see the new 3 in person last week and the non-drive interior is just as plain as plain can be. I mean the dash goes straight across with nothing to break up the monotony. Forget about getting one without idrive and no wood, looks like a BMW interior from years ago to me.

    M
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    All BMW interiors look plain in my opinion. Look at the Z4 vs. SLK350 for example. Or the 645 vs. CLS. Some might like the stark direction that they've gone in post Bangle BMWs, but I dont.
  • rich545rich545 Posts: 386
    The 5 & 7 have always offered more standard features than the 3. Don't forget the 3 is the entry level model. Are you saying that 5 & 7 owners don't like iDrive? If so, have you read the posts by them (us) here and on the 5 series forum? You're still basing your opinion of it on the opinions of people that have spent much more limited time in the cars than the people that own them. Again, I'll say that iDrive does not make controls more cunfusing or complicated at least to me. I guess it would be interesting to do a survey to see what the ages of people are that like iDrive and that hate it. I wonder if we'd find that younger people like it while older people don't. I'm not trying to put anyone down in any way by suggesting that. It's just that people my age (35) or younger may be more open to systems like iDrive simply because we've had computers around our whole lives. I sure as hell know that my father wouldn't have the first clue how to work iDrive and he'd have no interest in learning to use it.
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    The 5 & 7 have always offered more standard features than the 3. Don't forget the 3 is the entry level model. Are you saying that 5 & 7 owners don't like iDrive?

    There are plenty of owners who don’t care for iDrive, they tolerate it, just like the world tolerates all of the bs we get with Microsoft Word. Even with previous-generation BMWs such as the revered E39 5-series, there are plenty of people who don’t use, care, or even know about the OBC.

    Two years ago BMW’s official position was that iDrive would not be compromised and that all future sedans would come with. The fact that it is buried as an option with Nav in the 3-series means they have reacted to the market and have backed off. Where do we go from here? That’s up to 3-series sales with iDrive/nav if you ask me. If there is continued resistance they will change their strategy. It will morph into a control panel only and we will again see a proliferation of conventional controls which in the manner of function are ergonomically superior and also offer the aesthetics of analog form as Karmikan mentioned.

    Now, it is perfectly understandable that there are also many who DO like iDrive, but you can’t use that as an argument against its follies which are pretty much documented by the press and others with cogent opinions around here.

    And by the way Rich, don’t take it too seriously or defensively. We are in a period of transition with cars which are riding the coattails of digital technology and are on the frontiers of new mechanical technology. It is normal for opinion to be quite varied. If people criticize cars, it does not mean that they are criticizing the people who own them.
  • rich545rich545 Posts: 386
    I'm not taking it too seriously or being defensive. I love the car so really that's all that matters to me. I'm just saying that despite what the press says, many owners feel differently. The current incarnation of the 7 is the best selling in the history of the model, and the 5 is selling well now too. So I doubt that all of those people are simply tolerating iDrive in their $50K to $100K plus cars. Generally, I would say that people that can afford to spend that kind of money on cars are less tolerant of things they don't like about the cars rather than more tolerant. Like any other system in the car I don't think iDrive is something you say, "Man, I'm so lucky that my car has iDrive." It's just part of the car that we chose to buy. I didn't buy my car because of or in spite of it. In fact, it really played no part in my decision. It just seems to me like a lot of people made up their minds to hate iDrive regardless of it's functionality. They just don't want a computer in their cars (or I should say computer interface). It's fine if that's the case. Everyone is welcome to have their own opinion. But to say it is distracting to use without even driving the car means that all you're doing is listening to some media pundit's opinion when you don't even know the person. That, to me, is not a particularly informed decision. I read the reviews before looking at my car, and I still went to test drive it with an open mind. I ended up feeling that iDrive was no big deal and that the car had most of what I was looking for. So iDrive didn't play any part in the purchase. I realize that other people look at it differently.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,084
    My cousin is a successful lawyer. He is in his middle 60's. Recently he adopted a new technology -- and, I kid you not -- facsimilie (FAX). He has a fax on his desk, a fax at his house and a fax at his apartment in Venice Italy.

    More recently he discovered two new technologies "cell" phones and voice mail.

    Yesterday he called me and said he was going to start using something called e-mail.

    He actually calls email "fax" -- and he has his office manager open and print his emails for him.

    He has been fighting technology his entire life. He thinks faxes are darn near miracles and is starting to see the potential of email.

    Like I said, we are at version 1.0 of these new interfaces for cars -- I have no reason to believe they will be discontinued. Indeed I believe they will be ubiquitous, soon. I also believe they ultimately will be seen as a good thing.

    I have no particular ability at this point to critique them -- the MMI in the Audi seemed pretty easy to use and also had some stuff I wouldn't use, probably (but the same is true for Windows XP and PowerPoint and Excel and Word, too.) If you have the memory of Word Perfect and now the experience with Word -- perhaps you can relate to where we are now. Word Perfect was not even WYSIWYG initially -- yet many professionals (lawyers) and businesses (lots of companies) loved WP for its ability to make companies more productive.

    Right now the Human Macnine interfaces pretty much are "just getting started." It is not likely that they will be pulled from the market until they are better. Indeed they will get better by putting them on the market at version 1.0, 1.1, 1.2, 2.0 and so on.

    I find it annoying that on my 2003 Audi, I have to take the car to the dealer to set the "automatic" door locks and remote window up/down feature. I have three menus on my primitive Audi, and they would be better if they were integrated (I have my main menu, my navigation menu and my radio menu -- they are three buttons, some functions seem to be overlapping and I would prefer one central location -- but it is, after all a 2003 car and I have not been put out, much, by the menu system or the lack of control that I have over the car's functions (like the door locks, for example).

    Much ado, much ado.

    I say bring on the next generation MMI's the sooner the better.
  • cstilescstiles Posts: 465
    Okay, we've now beaten this old horse to smithereens. It looks like a dried up piece of jerky on the floor right now.

    Rest assured, BMW already knows how their customers feel about i-Drive. They've completed rounds of focus groups, surveys, and outreach to determine their future course. They've talked to different demographics, including gender, age, and U.S. vs. global customers. Rather than continue to speculate and to opine, let's move on to other topics.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,084
    I'm up for that!
  • rich545rich545 Posts: 386
    That's good with me. While we're at it, the German vs. Japanese argment is getting pretty crispy as well.
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    Shucks, and I was just finishing off a 5-ream iDrive thesis that would have crashed the servers. You mean you guys don't want to read it? After I went through a twelve-pack of Visine poring over Mark's and Lexusguy's War-and-Peace posts for the past two months, fighting off an incredible urge to go out and buy the died-and-went-to-heaven Infiniti M?

    Kidding, we move forward ;-)
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Hehe, you'll live.
  • docnukemdocnukem Posts: 485
    While I, too, agree that the argument is old, I am still thankful that we can even have this discussion. When we can no longer argue one over the other, then it might feel that everything is vanilla (nothing against vanilla, but you know what I mean). To say a Japanese car has a Teutonic feel is high praise. To say a German car has the reliability of a Lexus is also high praise. I dread the day that BMW sells a reliable "soft and squishy" (it'll never happen) or Lexus sells a true sports sedan with a spartan interior (again, doubtful). Everything is opinion only, anyway. We can hope that they converge (somewhat) at the reliable, luxurious, sports sedan (throw in economical, practical, and bargain-priced--Ha!).
  • I know we have already discussed this a little but I thought the article was interesting and since it came from across the pond its a nice read from a non-American point of view. It's from EVO magazine.

    http://www.autoexpress.co.uk/driven/55720/cadillac_ctsv.html

    Here is there summation:

    "It will be interesting to see how the car behaves in the UK but I'm confident the chassis tuning will work. The interior falls a little short and the styling is very 'American', but otherwise the CTS-V is a car very much in the mould of the V8-engined M5. I suspect its appeal in the UK will be more limited than it could be because no right-hand drive version is planned and it's no bargain at an expected price of around £45K. However, if Cadillac's aim was to make a sports saloon that feels like it was developed in Europe for European drivers, it has succeeded brilliantly."

    I still wouldn’t buy it but it's nice to hear that we are at least in the same ballpark as the "real" Luxury Sport Sedans.

    Capt. Phil
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,084
    Perhaps there are no American car fans that feel they can or want to participate on this Luxury Performance Sedans town-hall, perhaps there are folks who are American LPS fans but are not participating, I have no clue.

    It is somewhat strange that few or no STS, CTS/CST-v or Lincoln LS mavens have graced this space. Of course few or no Volov, Saab or Jaguar participants have been heard from either (but in the case of Saab at least -- and probably Volvo -- this is understandable).

    I think it is pretty safe to say there are 5.1 excellent cars to choose from in the LPS category -- it would be at least interesting to hear from someone who seriously considered the new STS, for instance.

    Maybe if we promised to be good --- naaa, that wouldn't be any fun.
  • docnukemdocnukem Posts: 485
    I wouldn't even mind if a few dealers (including from Cadillac or Lincoln) had a few things to say about the cars (rather than the buyers) they sell. If I remember correctly, the last person who claimed to be a current dealer worked for Infiniti and loathed them as well as all Japanese imports (audirules).

    I would think that dealers/salespeople would frequent these boards just to see what people are saying so that they could tailor their pitch.

    But I agree...given the number of CTS's I see out there, I am surprised to not see their owners in here.
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