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Luxury Performance Sedans

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  • mtjohnmtjohn Posts: 34
    I love driving my '01 530ia. I never feel that I am being "driven" in it. There have been many times that I wish I had a manual transmission when pushing the car hard through the great coastal roads of Northern California, but my Steptronic definitely helps bridge the numb-gap a little from AT to manual. It allows for decent compression in and out of turns and I rarely move out of 2nd & 3rd gear through most of the fun bits. Reality always sets in: I am a father of 3 sm. kids and commute to San Francisco. My job requires that I am out and about in the Bay Area traffic daily. Letting the clutch pedal out 3,000 times a day in traffic does not sound like much fun. This whole board is about Luxury/Performance which, I agree, is oxymoronic. But c'mon Riez--a heavy 5 series sedan like the 540i6 you used to run is itself something of a trade off. Your could get more pure performance out of many other smaller, lighter cars for the same money. Heck, I'm leaning toward a S2000 as a third vehicle. You mentioned 50/50 weight distribution--with no mention of hp or torque requirements--but the 540 is the least balanced of the 5 series lineup.
    Bottom line: I definitely "drive" my 530 and love it.
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    mtjohn… good post.

    Listening to the Lexus guys, they don't care for a ride that is too firm. They like to be insulated and isolated from the road. Understandable… this is the luxury aspect. The LS fans are VERY enthusiastic about their cars so you have to tip your hat to luxury.

    Listening to the sport drivers who are stuck with sedans, they need their sport packages, RWD and manual transmissions. Very easy to comprehend… sport driving is invigorating and fun, there are no two ways about it.

    It's hard to find equanimity and adequately define the luxury performance sedan in light of these two camps. But this is where BMW has been at its best, bringing the qualities of sport into the world of utility and luxury, satisfying preferences on both sides of the fence.

    But to me, BMW has been at its VERY best at the dead center of the scale. The E39 530 with automatic transmission and without sport package is the most perfect, most balanced combination of performance and luxury. This is why CR called it the best sedan they ever tested. It has enough firmness, stability and power to be road confident; enough luxury to sooth; straightforward, well-dressed in its appearance; silky-smooth automatic transmission. Certainly the E60 530 continues this with regard to performance even though its other aspects are in question—reckless style, frivolous engineering, electronic excess.

    Have your preferences either way, but in this thread, balance is the sweet spot and BMW has had the recipe for years. They are less about sports cars and more about road savvy sedans. Besides, I don't like the three-pedal 530. The stick is tentative, loose, the clutch pedal soft. The Audi S4 manual is better IMO, closer to a sports car.

    The BMW sport package is definitely for the driver. I love it when driving but hate it when I'm a passenger. A colleague of mine has an 01 540 with sport package. When I'm his co-pilot I do NOT find the ride to be comfortable.

    Bottom line for me: the BMW 5 with automatic, without sport package has better manners as a family/client limo. The sport configuration is too edgy for all-around sedan use. If I spent most of my time in it by myself, I might go with the sport setup. But then again, this is what sports cars are for. Better to keep them separate… better to appreciate the qualities of each.

    "Cowboys like smoky ol' pool rooms and clear mountain skies."

    -Willie Nelson
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    designman... CR as the ultimate arbiter of driving pleasure? C&D. R&T. SCI. Automobile. Maybe MT or Autoweek. But CR?

    When the car magazines test and rave about BMWs (esp. the E39 5 Series and E46 3 Series), it is almost always with Sport Pkg and manual transmission. Just read all the old reviews of the E39 540i6. Think I have over a dozen. All positive. A classic sedan. Practical and very, very fun to drive!

    CR is the ultimate arbiter of toasters, cell phones, cameras, refrigerators, but driving pleasure isn't their primary concern.

    Believe CR has now determined the Acura TL to be the "best car".

    mtjohn... I'm the father of one teen and one pre-teen. I and they love driving! I have no trouble getting around Omaha, NE, with manual transmission. (Greater metro area has almost 500k people.)
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    "CR as the ultimate arbiter of driving pleasure?"

    Never said that. I'm the ultimate arbiter and used it because of its poignancy.

    "CR is the ultimate arbiter of toasters, cell phones, cameras, refrigerators, but driving pleasure isn't their primary concern."

    Can you be sure of this? Have you read other product reviews of these items that you can compare? More importantly, have you bought a toaster etc. recommended by CR that you can verify?
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Sharon, if she likes the GS, there's no real reason to get a 2003. The GS was completely unchanged from '01 until it will ultimately be replaced next year. Go back another year or two, and get a maxed out GS430 with the Nav\Mark Levinson, and 17" wheel\tire package. That engine is silky smooth and has effortless power, and is at the same time ULEV certified, and can achieve about 22mpg. The GS300 makes do with only 220hp from Lexus' long in the tooth IL6, which isnt really enough power for a sedan that large with an automatic transmission, and its not a particularly fuel efficient engine either. MPG is about the same as the GS430, except it takes almost 3 full seconds longer to get to 60mph.

    The C-class is ok, but 4 cylinders arent something the Germans do particularly well. I've never liked M-B's Supercharged 4, its power is uncompetivive, and its noisy. M-B stopped offering the SLK230 quite awhile ago because nobody liked the 4.

    Riez, now the cars must be normally aspirated as well? That wasnt in your previous list of requirements, and is just plain silly. The turbocharged boxer 6 Porsche GT2 is about as pure as you can get, certainly much more so than any BMW 5 series with a stick
  • sharonfsharonf Posts: 120
    Well, we didn't set out looking for a 2003...originally it was a 2004 ES that we were looking at....but decided against. The dealer just happened to have a 2003 there that he thought she might like. Today we went to a different dealer to see what the 2004's were going for...and to see the color choices. One of her top color choices would be the same color the other dealer has the 2003 in. Asking price for the 2004 is about $5K more than the 2003...but given that the 2005's will be coming soon...maybe we'd be able to get them down some?
    I don't think she's much concerned with the engine power difference between the 300 and 430....she doesn't drive fast....nor does she do much driving other than around town.
    Are they changing the body style for 2005?
    I do think that as of this afternoon she is leaning towards Lexus now...rather than MB.
    Thanks for all your input!
  • sharonfsharonf Posts: 120
    Oh...forgot...she also doesn't want the navigation....and doesn't even own CD's....so that that should tell you how much she'd appreciate the sound system! =)
  • mtjohnmtjohn Posts: 34
    Riez:
    I realize that Omaha has a decent population center, but the 9 county Bay Area, which is one big population center, has close to 7 million people. Some of its congested freeways trump even those of the Los Angeles area. The cool thing is that I get to go back over the Golden Gate Bridge every day to sparsely populated Marin Co. where some of the country's best driving roads are. There is one stretch near the peak of Mt. Tamalpais that overlooks the Pacific where dozens of car commercials have been filmed over the years. They wet the road down and it just has "the look". I live a few miles down the road from there. But make no mistake, it is easy to be stuck for over an hour in stop and go traffic through Silicon Valley or across the bay near Oakland.
    The reason that I bought a 530ia SP is that it was the closest thing to a "drivers car" that I could get and still explain to my wife that it is simply a replacement vehicle for my aging Volvo 850. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The 530 has changed my perception from car-as-appliance to something that moves my soul. Thus I spend a good couple of hours each week reading posts and chatting about it online. I am not sure where the balance lies between Lux/Perf. but I would like to say that I believe that as far as BMWs are concerned, the e39 01-03 530i is the best car they ever built all things considered. I also believe that it is the best example of what a "sport sedan" implies. (This subject has been aired out pretty well on the 5 Series Sedan board)Lux/Perf. is harder to quantify and fairly subjective.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Another question, does she plan on keeping this car as long as her previous Acura? I just heard today on Motorweek that M-B is recalling more than 600,000 cars to fix a defect in those "great" electronic brakes that Merc was so enthusiastic about. As I've said before, something like my cars ability to STOP is not something I'm going to trust to another pointless example of German "cause we can" gadgetry. I wouldnt recommend a M-B to someone who wants to keep one long out of warranty.
  • mtjohnmtjohn Posts: 34
    Riez:
    I realize that Omaha has a decent population center, but the 9 county Bay Area, which is one big population center, has close to 7 million people. Some of its congested freeways trump even those of the Los Angeles area. The cool thing is that I get to go back over the Golden Gate Bridge every day to sparsely populated Marin Co. where some of the country's best driving roads are. There is one stretch near the peak of Mt. Tamalpais that overlooks the Pacific where dozens of car commercials have been filmed over the years. They wet the road down and it just has "the look". I live a few miles down the road from there. But make no mistake, it is easy to be stuck for over an hour in stop and go traffic through Silicon Valley or across the bay near Oakland.
    The reason that I bought a 530ia SP is that it was the closest thing to a "drivers car" that I could get and still explain to my wife that it is simply a replacement vehicle for my aging Volvo 850. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The 530 has changed my perception from car-as-appliance to something that moves my soul. Thus I spend a good couple of hours each week reading posts and chatting about it online. I am not sure where the balance lies between Lux/Perf. but I would like to say that I believe that as far as BMWs are concerned, the e39 01-03 530i is the best car they ever built all things considered. I also believe that it is the best example of what a "sport sedan" implies. (This subject has been aired out pretty well on the 5 Series Sedan board)Lux/Perf. is harder to quantify and fairly subjective.
  • karmikankarmikan Posts: 116
    Interesting statement: "A true performance car needs manual transmission with clutch pedal". I think you'd agree that an F1 car encapsulates "true performance" and SMG was developed through F1.

    I'd say that one of the prerequisites of "sport" in car terms is to give the driver the ability to select precisely the right gear at precisely the right time. The presence or absence of a clutch pedal is peripheral to that requirement. F1 developed SMG because it is orders of magnitude faster than than manual gear selection, hence greatly improved performance. If SMG improves Schumacher's ability to go fast, there's probably something to it.

    Now let's see - a true calculator needs beads and rods, a true ship needs sails.......
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Actually the SLK230 is still on sale until Sept, when the new SLK350 lands.

    Thanks for not totally trashing the C-Class because it is on my list...lol. Seriously though the 2005 model has been much improved.

    riez,

    I respect the hell out of your viewpoints, but I think your type is dying breed. As you noted even BMW is going the SMG route for their next monster, the 2005 M5. Anyway, have you read that stats on this thing? Yikes. E55 poof! One question, have you driven the Audi TT V6 with the DSG gearbox?

    M
  • jrock65jrock65 Posts: 1,371
    C sales have marked improved since the refresh. I think the C is now outselling MB's bread and butter E.

    Personally, I think there are other cars out there that offer a lot more for the money (or for even less money), but apparently many people see what I don't see.

    Normally, I like MB styling. I think the current S is still one of the best looking sedans ever made, and the E looks elegant (though not exciting). The C looks a bit out of proportion though. It looks as if the S and E tried to produce a "junior" and something a bit funky came out.

    What's the news on MB's 3.5 V6? Are all current models with the 3.2 V6 getting upgraded, and when?
  • sharonfsharonf Posts: 120
    Interesting about the brakes. I know one of the salesmen made a point out of showing us the brake rotor(I think that's what it is)..with the holes in it...supposedly to keep the heat from building up. Is this what you're referring to?
    Yes, mom plans on keeping this car a while...she's not into cars...so is not the type to be trading in every couple years. She hates this whole experience because she just doesn't see any cars she likes on the road. I, on the other hand...wouldn't have that problem!
    I think she is pretty much gonna go with Lexus...just deciding whether to get 2004 or an older one. My bro-in-law got an internet quote stating that they can discount a minimum $4000 off of MSRP right now...which would be about $37700....so it's a matter of working to get that down further....or go with the 2003 we saw with 20K miles for about $33K
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Actually the C has outsold the E (in this country) for the last few years, but not by much. I'm sure Mercedes would like the higher margin E to be the bestselling Benz again, but oh well.

    As for the new engines, the C won't get them until the next generation appears in 2007. A mistake in my opinion. Anyway at that time there will be a 205hp C250 (2.5L V6), a 225hp C300 (3.0L V6) and a C350 with 268hp. This should have been the case for 2005, but I'm not in charge. No more I4 "Kompressors" at that time. Just like they've done with the SLK for 2005. There will be a SLK300 (225hp 3.0L V6) introduced at the Paris car show in Sept.

    The other "320" models (E320, CLK320 etc) will become "350" models for the 2006 MY.

    M
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    What the salesman was refering to was a "drilled" brake rotor. What I'm talking about is Mercedes brake-by-wire system thats in the E and SL class, for now. This system is fully electronic, and has no psychical connection from the pedal to the actual brakes. It's supposed to make them better than traditional brakes, but it doesnt work as advertised. Stopping distances arent better, and if it werent for Mercedes putting in a back up mechanical system in case of emergency (apparently even they didnt trust their own crap) I think there would be a lot more accident reports. Also, they cant get the pedal feel right, because its a computer simulation of pedal feel, so it feels more like an on\off switch than a brake pedal. I've worked with computers long enough to know that software shouldn't be trusted for anything life dependant like brakes.

    Sharon, I would honestly suggest you go with a 1-2 year old C.P.O model. There really isnt any advantage to the brand new car. The CPO warranty is just as long, and you dont have to baby the engine until it breaks in, or inhale toxic "new car" smell.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    That braking distances aren't shorter simply isn't true in every Benz with SBC.

    M
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    karmikian... F1 is road course racing on tracks. We drive on streets. Can't say I care what NASCAR, IRL, F1, etc. use for engines or transmissions. [Is interesting that FIA did try, as part of their huge recent rule package, to go back to purely manual transmissions. Drivers and manufacturers fought them. Sad. Thought point of racing was to see who was better driver, not who has better TC, launch control, ABS, etc.]

    I'll take Fangio driving a real car (one with full manual transmission, no TC, no ABS, etc.) over Michael Schumacher driving today's electronic aid extravaganzas any day!
  • brightnessbrightness Posts: 40
    Personally, I think there are other cars out there that offer a lot more for the money (or for even less money), but apparently many people see what I don't see.

    The V6-powered hatchback is actually a reasonable value with the unique panorama sunroof. Now MB had better put the new 3.5 4-valve in there before someone else copies the targa-top.
  • brightnessbrightness Posts: 40
    Thought point of racing was to see who was better driver, not who has better TC, launch control, ABS, etc.

    Then shouldn't they all drive identical regulation car supplied by the organizer (and draw lots to even out manufacturing variations)? Racing is fundamentally a product promotion event. IMHO, all the technological improvements should be allowed, including hybrids etc.. Otherwise, there will be a day soon enough that a road car can outrun a race car.
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