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Luxury Performance Sedans

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Comments

  • I read that article in USA Today (thanks for the link) and it's not good for the A6. It is just one person's view and I like the look of the new front but not more than the last front especially the one on the RS6. This is what I took away from the article and something we seem to discuss a lot here:

    "It could be a sign that Audi underestimated the competition, and it's certainly emblematic of today's auto market that even slight slips in execution can knock a car off the short list."

    These cars are all so well built that it's the small miscalculation or lack of good historical performance that reduces the buyers willingness to even go to the showroom. iDrive, which might be misunderstood, was a bad choice for the American market along with the new MMI.

    Capt. Phil
  • pearlpearl Posts: 336
    Amen, Moxie! As the continuing proud owner of one of the first E39s sent to America (delivered in June 96), I have loved this car like no other I have owned (including much of the relevant competition). I especially marveled at the quiet interior and was set to buy a new E60 until I saw and drove one. No doubt, the E60 is "still a BMW" and drives/rides/handles beautifully and puts most of the rest on the trailer - but I could not abide the styling, the interior (which seemed very chintzy compared to my E39) and the idiotic I-drive. While I won't buy one, no one should try to trash anything to do with the pure car issues related to BMW. They are the BEST and everyone else is a wannabe. Yep, some mag may have the M faster in various dimensions, but just drive one some time after driving a BMW and tell us that the latter was not quieter, handled better, FELT better, etc. All of that said, if I went down today to buy a new car, it would be the M before the E60 simply because of styling, features, quality, as well as performance. Shame on BMW for letting such a huge lead on the pack evaporate to placate some design bozo like Bangle.
  • turnbowmturnbowm Posts: 76
    The conventional controls in the BMW provide convenience in making quick changes in the A/C (temp, blower speed, etc.) and in the Sound system.

    The real value of the iDrive is in "personalizing" the car to suit the driver's preferences. The 7-band equalizer settings (boost/cut), for example, are easily accomplished with the iDrive. The alternative would be seven slide switches on the dash. As another example, with iDrive you can set the system to Flash and/or Annunciate for Lock mode with completely different settings for the Unlock mode. Want to set an audible warning when exceeding a preset speed? No problem with iDrive. The list goes on and on. To provide this same capability with separate switches and controls for each function would be mind-boggling!

    Martin
  • jlbljlbl Posts: 1,333
    I cannot refrain myself from saying again that I am very pleased with iDrive in my daily experience. It works as said by turnbowm. I keep only repeating it because of so many posts written by people who are not apparently familiarized with iDrive. Having said this, it is also true that iDrive is only a convenience. I could buy a car without iDrive. On the opposite, I think there should be no reason to don't buy a BMW because of iDrive.

    Best regards,

    José
  • liyliy Posts: 47
    :mad: I think this Washington Times review of the A6 is far more accurate than the whines, gripes and ad hominem argument of Mr. Healey.

    Washington Times Review
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,049
    I don't find either article has the market for accuracy cornered. The new A6 has certainly won plenty of accolades. And, there have been three or four "all hands" test comparison reports -- only one (Automobile) put the Audi at the top. None of the other comparos even put the Audi in the top 3 (of 7 or 8).

    I have no axe to grind with the new A6 -- do I have any criticisms of it? Yes. Would I have paid my money for it if it had been (to my criteria) financially competitive? Without doubt.

    I am certainly pleased that the reviews of the new Infiniti M's have been so positive -- the reviews did not cause me to buy the new M over the Audi.

    My own test drives plus the apparent inflexibility of Audi Financial made the decision -- the positive reviews only were the icing.

    My impressions of Mr. Healey do not include a belief that he is a whiner or griper -- but it is OK if you see him that way. My general favorite auto writers overall work for and contribute to Car and Driver. But, by the same token, I have enjoyed David Davis for years, too. If I could have but one magazine resource, it would be, at this time, C&D.

    Edmunds has been influential in making me willing to look beyond Audi. Of my possible choices, I suspect the Audi would be my #2 choice. A lot of folks here would argue with that, though.

    I liked both articles FWIW -- the USA article did seem to justify or explain Healey's reasons based on his comparison of the Audi with other "like class" cars, notably the "M." I don't exactly think that makes him more or less accurate, it does "tell me more" of how he got to his conclusions.
  • cstilescstiles Posts: 465
    My only reaction to the Washington Times article is that it doesn't really delve into the writer's personal opinions about how the car drives and performs. It doesn't talk about the dynamics and differences between the 3.2 and 4.2, nor does it contrast the car (good or bad) with the competition. It mostly regurgitates specs and statistics that anyone can copy out of an Audi ad or brochure. It reads more like an Audi advertisement to me.

    Some writers obviously take the easy road with auto critiques, because newspapers rely so heavily on car company advertisement for their revenue. Witness the recent flap between GM and the LA Times, where GM has pulled $10 million worth of advertisement from the paper over a recent editorial that was critical to GM.

    I don't exactly agree with Healey either, but at least when you read his articles, you are getting his honest, personal and gut feelings about any car he tests. That sense of honesty is not always seen among newspaper beat writers. Motor Trend used to cowtow and lob softballs at the car industry, but they have recently stepped up the quality of their writing, and is now on a par with Car & Driver, Road & Track, etc. Although I don't have to agree with a writer, I do appreciate it when they step out and tell us how they really feel.

    Ultimately, I think Healey summarizes his take on the Audi well when he says "Good Car, Poor Timing."
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,049
    The Washington Times article was more of an Audi brochure, I agree. Funny, as I am typing this, I am watching C&D TV and the test review of the new A6 was just broadcast -- they loved the car, but hedged their bet a bit by saying the A6 was "expensive" -- this is their way of suggesting that the car is great, the interior is "the best" -- but that at this price point, the competition is stiff.

    I represent this conclusion.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Please do us a favor and know what you're talking about before you post pointless statements such as the one you made. First of all, Jag is owned by Ford, so are Land Rover, Aston Martin, and Volvo. When you buy any of those, you technically ARE buying American. Sure, most arent built in the US, but then, a large percentage of the big 3's production comes from Mexico, and Im sure there will be plenty of Ford, GM, and Chrysler plants in China.

    Chrysler is owned by Daimler. They made it look like "a merger of equals" but it was really a buyout. Daimler is German. As for the rest, Bill Ford and Rick Wagoneer have never helped pay my taxes, so what exactly do I "owe" them to buy their crappy cars? As for the 500, Toyota has a 1000% better product called the Avalon with 280hp. For Freestyle, see: Toyota Highlander.

    If I wanted a Volvo S80 or XC90 with a Ford Taurus engine in it, I'd.. well I'd never want a car like that, so the Fords are out, thanks. This is the "luxury performance sedan" forum. Ford makes neither luxury sedans nor performance sedans.
  • bartalk3bartalk3 Posts: 692
    Lexusguy, when you say that Ford makes neither luxury nor performance sedans, you may not like the Lincoln LS, but technically it should be considered in this category, no?
  • liferulesliferules Posts: 531
    I have to agree with many of the BMW posters who say these computer enhancements on the cars are getting a bad rap. They are being misrepresented as essential in using the auto on a daily basis. When in fact, they merely allow you to tailor the cars "preferences" rather than having to go to the dealer to do it (as in the older days).

    To complain about how difficult it is to change the clock, or to erroneously say it takes 3 steps to turn up the air conditioner or change the radio is perpetuating these false accusations for the cars. These clueless writers need to be reigned in... and unfortunately, it appears that some prospective buyers are actually buying this misinformation and changing their interests because of it.
  • 00boxsters00boxsters Posts: 202
    I have emailed and criticized James Healey (USAToday) a number of times and he has apropriately responded everytime! Why not email him of your concerns and post his response.

    While I do not buy everything I read, as noted above, I believe these writers are more informed than 'some prospective buyers' and overall do us a service.
  • cstilescstiles Posts: 465
    The basic questions are---

    1. Are these interfaces necessary in the first place? I would suggest NO.

    2. Is the delivered total value justified, relative to the time, effort, and learning curves required to master them? Based on my experience with my RL (which is more simple than its German counterparts), my jury is still out. I know this much already---I would pause before I let my 18-year old son or daughter, or even a close friend, drive my RL, when in the past I would not have hesitated. It has nothing to do with their driving ability, but instead the level of confusion presented to a brand new driver who hasn't spent a few hours getting acclimated with technologies that have nothing to do with driving to the corner grocery store.

    3. Are the different technologies and approaches to these interfaces (adopted by competing companies) simply adding to the clutter, confusion, and polarization? IMO, yes.

    4. Is the lack of a single (or manageable) standard of engineering and design with such devices a negative trend? Does it take away from the primary purpose of why cars exist---TO DRIVE and ENJOY that experience? IMO, an unequivocal YES.

    5. People are already yacking on the phone, checking their Blackberries, eating a cheeseburger, or applying makeup as they drive. These complex interface technologies are a prime safety factor when placed in the WRONG HANDS. I fear this is an issue in American society, where driving is considered a right rather than a privilege.

    Lastly, the level of complexity in these cars simply adds to the many things that can break down. There is a direct correlation to the lower JD Power, Consumer Reports, and other customer satisfaction indices for certain luxury brands. IMO, the unparalleled cocktail of unnecessary complexity, gee whiz "one upsmanship," and exclusivity in the technology from brand to brand, are definitely issues.

    I always read my owners manual from cover to cover, but lately the owners manuals are beginning to resemble the stuff that accompanies my desktop, laptop, Blackberry, and digital cameras. I honestly don't need that kind of technology when I simply want to blast through a canyon at 85 mph, or cruise to the coast for the weekend.

    As a 20+ year subscriber, I really respect (though don't always agree with) Car & Driver. In their recent comparo test, they say "Even though BMW has pulled some audio and ventilation controls out of the iDrive's convoluted clutches, we still uniformly despise the system." Last fall, I drove a rented 2004 5-series on the autobahn for 400 miles from Munich to Berlin (my first experience in a BMW in about 4 years). I was left with the same impression. It's just not necessary!
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    "I have to agree with many of the BMW posters who say these computer enhancements on the cars are getting a bad rap. They are being misrepresented as essential in using the auto on a daily basis. When in fact, they merely allow you to tailor the cars "preferences" rather than having to go to the dealer to do it (as in the older days)."

    So iDrive and the like should be perceived as control panel only. Fine, but this was not the original BMW plan. It was supposed to be an all-encompassing mouse and field-of-vision monitor that improved ergonomics WHILE DRIVING and it was supposed to unclutter the dashboard. It's not working out that way so BMW can blame its own marketing strategists for the bad rap it is getting. Clicking through hierarchical menus can't possibly trump the one-button move, hence the continuing necessity for conventional dashboard controls.

    I subscribe to the merits of computers and control panels such as iDrive for improving function and luxury via preferences. However, it is not a replacement for conventional dials, switches and buttons which are ergonomically superior because of their immediacy.

    People argue that computers and computer interfaces are here to stay. I agree. But so are the buttons that BMW tried to sweep foolishly under the rug. This is where the confusion and criticism lies. The user perception is quite different from what BMW has tried to foist on buyers.
  • navigator89navigator89 Posts: 1,080
    response to post 1796

    This is the "luxury performance sedan" forum. Ford makes neither luxury sedans nor performance sedans

    You say Ford makes neither luxury or performance sedans. True the Focus, Fusion, Taurus, Five Hundred and Crown Victoria are not luxury or performance sedans. (The Fuve Hundred comes close to me). True, however Ford makes Lincoln correct?

    As far as I know, the Lincoln Town Car is a luxury sedan. The Lincoln LS is supposed to be a performance sedan, although, yeah it falls short of the class leaders. Regardless, it is still a luxury sedan. Ford also owns Jaguar, and they make luxury sedans.

    I personally think Ford will introduce SVT versions of the Fusion and Five Hundred in a year or two. I'm not sure about the Five Hundred, but definetly the Fusion. Ford needs a legitimate contender in the midsize sport sedan segment. A Fusion SVT would be a good contender against the Charger, Mazdaspeed 6, Maxima, Impala SS, Legacy, Malibu SS. Ford hasn't had a sport sedan since the retirement of the Taurus SHO, which was back in 1998 I think.

    Even if they never make a Ford Five Hundred SVT, they need a stronger engine with at least 250 hp and more torque. Almpst every review of the Fuve Hundred criticizes the engine, and it's a shame that such a large car only has 203hp. The new Hyundai Azera has more than that, 265.

    So, the next time you say Ford doesn't make luxury or performance sedans, remember the Town Car, LS and the Jaguar brand. By any definition, they are luxury cars. Ford may not have nay performance sedans now, but I bet within 2 years they will, or they should.
  • bartalk3bartalk3 Posts: 692
    cstiles,

    I second your critique of what's become technology for its own sake, brought on by senseless me-too competition. As you noted, the more complex the cars become, the more there is to go wrong. That's the source of many of Mercedes problems lately.. Even Acura, normally very reliable, has been having all kinds of glitches and gremlins with their new RL, including dead batteries, weird and unpredictable electronics failures, etc.

    So much of this stuff is unnecessary. Do we really need keyless entry (something that's been plagued with problems)? Is it really too difficult to push a remote? Do we really need rain-sensing wipers (that probably don't turn on when we want them to anyway)? And on and on.

    Because all this useless (in fact dysfunctional) technology is being introduced at the high end of the car market, it turns out that the most sensible and reliable cars are the less expensive models that don't have this stuff--e.g., Honda Accord, etc.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,049
    Well I can't in all sincerity go too far down this path, but I can perhaps support part of this technological march (forward?).

    I am old enough to remember the original PC's -- the ones that used DOS. When Windows first became available, I was appalled. What a joke. If you remember Windows 2.0, then 3.0, you may have been, like me, constantly shaking your head, cursing the system. It was not until Windows that the frequent and regular ALT-CTRL-DEL key sequence became familiar. For reasons unknown that to this day still plague some Windows applications, the phrase "just reboot it" has become commonplace.

    For years as a Software and Systems Consultant, I have watched the relentless move toward GUI interfaces for the so called back office systems that drive much of the commerce here in capitalism central. Indeed, when I am involved in system selection engagements to this very day, there are companies that will completely dismiss a system that eschews "point and click" even if the application in question is less efficient and sometimes less effective with such technologies.

    Moreover, when I am working on an engagement where the technology is point and click, GUI and "i-Drive" like, the engagement is often longer and more expensive for my client.

    Now, before you say "he longs for the good old days," I must tell you even if that were true, it would be professional suicide to decry these systems. I view my small part, my cog in the wheel of progress, so to speak, is to make these systems both more effective (first) and more efficient (second).

    We are in "the time between the parenthesis" a period of change from analog to digital as it were. The issue is, as I see it, much of the analog world really did have a superior "user interface" and although the potential is there for the digital (in my analogy) to surpass the analog, it has not yet reached the level of simplicity masking complexity that I am convinced will -- ultimately (and eventually) -- happen.

    There is one last analogy I will leave you with -- an analogy that for me completely symbolizes the issues we are having with MMI, iDrive, etc. And, an analogy that I do not have or see an alternative to/for.

    Currently the rage seems to be to shift to flat screen (plasma) or flatter screen (LCD, LCoS or DLP) HDTV's. Yet, without spending huge sums of money, all of these technologies are (or can be) easily surpassed by RPTV's -- analog, CRT based RPTV's. A 65" CRT based RPTV can be had often for under $2,000 -- although there are plasma TV's that exceed 50", only the ones costing at least $20,000 or more (at full MSRP) are able to display convincingly the "color" black. Black is the most important color for producing "depth" -- the almost 3D quality that convincing home theater demands. Yet, this immature and darn near lousy technology (without spending huge sums of money) IS the (or "a") future of TV and I would not suggest we abandon our move in this direction. It is, for those of us who have, thus far, never spent over $10,000 on a TV just not a practical technology. But hope springs eternal that "next year" flat screen TV's will finally get both better and affordable.

    Windows XP is, using a baseball game, the first pitch of the first inning; iDrive then is batting practice, it isn't even game day yet.

    I agree with much of the criticism of such technologies, but I also would characterize my inclination is to "encourage" and support the development of the technologies. Ultimately, I would agree, we will need to have a standardization of the "human-machine" interface. Right now, we have both DOS and Windows and the Mac interface all competing for our attention. Ultimately, some kind of standardization will become "mandatory" in cars, indeed mandatory for cars to evolve.

    We are simply at version 1.0, just wait for what's next.
  • senneca01senneca01 Posts: 34
    Here is a another very positive review for the Infiniti M45 Sport:

    April 20, 2005

    LA Times Infiniti M45 Sport Review

    The reviewer loved almost everything about the car and said that is has a "world-class interior".

    He also said, "This is an awesome car."

    "Infiniti has little rival for the title "most improved car brand". The M45 Sport is the worthiest yet."
  • liferulesliferules Posts: 531
    I disagree with many of the points...

    1. "Are these interfaces necessary in the first place?"
    No one said they were necessary, in fact, in my 1st post I stated that they are NOT essential. They are, like many if not most amenities in luxury cars, mere enhancements. Take them or leave them.

    2. "Is the delivered total value justified, relative to the time, effort, and learning curves required to master them?"
    I don't know about the RL, but the Audi is fairly intuitive and I haven't yet had to go back to the manual to figure out how to do something. Again, it is not essential to use the MMI in order to use the car. I can drive without having to use the MMI whatsoever. Thus, I would have no problem letting your son, daughter, or close friend drive it to the store, as they would not need to learn to use it. They just need to know how to drive a car.

    3. "Are the different technologies and approaches to these interfaces (adopted by competing companies) simply adding to the clutter, confusion, and polarization?"
    I have to agree with you here... automakers, like all other industries, refuse to work together (Blue Ray DVD anyone?). It would make things so much easier if all were similar, but I guess that's how they are trying to distinguish themselves, by exterior and interior looks and by differing styles of amenities.

    4. "Is the lack of a single (or manageable) standard of engineering and design with such devices a negative trend? Does it take away from the primary purpose of why cars exist---TO DRIVE and ENJOY that experience?"
    Its just the MMI, not anything more. I can love the drive regardless of I-drive or MMI, or whatever Mercedes has... It just allows customization to be done by the owner rather than having to take it to the dealer for them to do it thru Vag-Com, etc...

    5. "People are already yacking on the phone, checking their Blackberries, eating a cheeseburger, or applying makeup as they drive. These complex interface technologies are a prime safety factor when placed in the WRONG HANDS."
    Once again, I agree with you about people driving with cell phones or other distracting behaviors. But to place the MMI alongside cell phones is again giving it more credit than is due. It is not needed for driving, nor would one suspect someone will change their preferences or program the CD titles while driving (though there are some I wouldn't put it past).

    I think the automakers are touting these as auto "control centers" but we're not there yet. For now, the MMI is merely a way to customize the car to your liking. You can turn up or down the radio without using it. You can change the temperature settings without touching it. Its not needed to enjoy the car, and in fact, its purpose it to help with the enjoyment.
  • jjacurajjacura Posts: 808
    "We are in "the time between the parenthesis" a period of change from analog to digital as it were."

    Mark, you are the "Cognoscenti of Technology".... "Are you saying we are living in a world of digital "incunabula"? :D
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