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Entry Level Luxury Performance Sedans

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  • robr2robr2 BostonPosts: 7,820
    But even thou the tsx offers a 4 and a 6 does that make it Ellps? Fwd, slow, no awd option

    In the proper hands, FWD can perform very well.

    Driving a slow car fast is much more fun than driving a fast car fast.

    When did AWD become a requirement for a vehicle to be a performance sedan?
  • robr2robr2 BostonPosts: 7,820
    edited August 2012
    Could this just be the big marketing machine making people think that if it doesn't offer a bigger engine then it not a luxury car?

    The marketing machine has said a 6 is mandatory in this category and have not offered a 4 cylinder option for years. They are only doing so now because CAFE is forcing them to and IMHO, the vast majority of the customers won't even care as they don't buy C's, 3's and A4's for performance. They buy them to show their neighbors the label on the trunk without having to disclose the low lease payment.

    Further IMHO a $50K 3 series is not longer an ELLPS. At $50K it better be much more than entry level.
  • fedlawmanfedlawman Posts: 3,118
    Agreed.

    Personally, I wouldn't spend $50k on any car in this segment. I suspect that the only people who do are lease customers.
  • flightnurseflightnurse 35K feetPosts: 1,637
    Further IMHO a $50K 3 series is not longer an ELLPS. At $50K it better be much more than entry level.

    I have to agree, when a car reach's 50K that is not entry level, another thing what makes a car an ELLPS?
  • dino001dino001 Tampa, FLPosts: 3,500
    True, but all prices crept up. Top line of Ford Focus (compact "economy") is over $28K (MSRP), V6 version of "midsize family" Accord/Camry/Altima goes deep into thirties - so why so suprised that the most expensive brand of ELLPS (or at least one of top 3) goes over $50K?

    This category used to "start below" 30K, but it was long time ago. We can fool ourselves into "Oh - I can negotiate a good discount and with a nice trade I don't even have to look at real price", but the truth is today it is hard to find something decent below forty grand... Well, maybe not so hard, but it is not that easy and a lot of compromise is needed (wrong engine, wrong drive, no leather, basic wheels, the list will go on). Look also at those higher (larger/more luxurious) categories. Yes, there will be something there at $50 grand, but it's probably not what anyone shopping there would want. $60K is probably minimum for things to be "nice" and after putting "everything" you'll easily cross seventy ... and back off.

    EVERYTHING IS UP - deal with that! ;)

    2012 BMW 328i wagon, manual and sports package. No. sold in the US: 1. Probably.

  • I figured more than less-my wife Accord also has similar symtoms.
    I am taking her's in tomorrow and probably do the TL next week.
    Again- thanks.
  • Well said!

    Everything is up.

    Also as technology marches forward isn't it true that these cars depreciate more rapidly than ever? Or isn't it true that those who "need" current technology, efficiency and performance will want to refresh their cars more often?

    Doesn't the above (if accurate) suggest that we consumers might want to take the approach that many companies take, which is to elect to have permanent payments on IT infrastructure (both real and virtual) in order to always stay current?

    Car companies rely on a consumer that will refresh his car every 36 months to 39 months -- and the most practical way to justify this is to "rent" cars much in the same way technology is rented (or subscribed to?)

    In my office building is my tech firm and a CPA firm, the CPA managing partner says you must either lease a new car and resign yourself to permanent monthly payments or buy a car and keep it a minimum of 10-years (and the 10 year number is the break-even number.)

    My consultant friend had a 550 (BMW) and when the lease was up on it, he looked at another Bimmer and -- sit down -- a top o' the line Genesis. At that moment in history, the Genesis lease was $299 per month. His decision Genesis and his thoughts are "if possible" to pay $299 per month "forever" and always have a new or nearly new car.

    Sure you can (I did) argue that there is no comparison between a 550 and the Genesis. Well, this guy, far as I can tell, could afford virtually anything without a second thought probably into the low 6-figures. But the depreciation was taking the fun out of owning, so he switched to leasing, then even that wasn't much fun anymore, especially when he swears he has given up "oh so little" to have that new Genesis; well, he has given up the high cost.

    I dunno, maybe its the hangover from the Great Recession, maybe its the phase of the moon -- or climate change.

    The prices keep going up, that much is certain.

    What also is happening is that few companies own airplanes either -- they rent them (and there is at least some argument that would justify buying a jet -- since they are practically rebuilt annually.)

    The glut of cars, the economy and people feeling they don't want to drive yesterday's news seems to be pressing "us" to drive younger and younger cars, despite their breath-taking drop in value.

    I'll tell you how crazy this is, if you don't think cross shopping a 550 with a Genesis is crazy enough, my commercial banker neighbor went from a V12 Mercedes full sized coupe to a Sonata (again, not for any lack of ability on his part to front the money.)

    Maybe he just didn't want to be considered part of the 1%.

    Hell it's hot. :confuse:
  • robr2robr2 BostonPosts: 7,820
    the CPA managing partner says you must either lease a new car and resign yourself to permanent monthly payments or buy a car and keep it a minimum of 10-years (and the 10 year number is the break-even number.)

    Really? Not a very smart CPA IMHO unless he is looking at leasing from only a business perspective. I don't think very many private owners who cannot take advantage of business tax laws would agree with that.

    I always buy - always have. I've never been offered a lease deal that could be better for me than an outright purchase. Now I used to have a co-worker who would always lease because he never wanted to be out of warranty. But he was a high mileage driver and insisted on zero down, 20K miles per year and an extended warranty to 60K. At one time he leased a Jetta for almost $500 a month. And he was fine with that. Heck, he could've financed the whole thing for maybe $40 a month more and owned it outright.
  • robr2robr2 BostonPosts: 7,820
    True, but all prices crept up. Top line of Ford Focus (compact "economy") is over $28K (MSRP), V6 version of "midsize family" Accord/Camry/Altima goes deep into thirties - so why so suprised that the most expensive brand of ELLPS (or at least one of top 3) goes over $50K?

    I guess what I feel is that $50K for a 3 series isn't a great value. But value is a subjective measure where price is an objective measure.

    Now I can't see why BMW doesn't produce the 3 series in Spartanburg for North American consumption. If people are willing to fork over $50K for a 3, why not build it here and cut out the Euro penalty? BMW could probably increase gross profit by 20%.
  • fedlawmanfedlawman Posts: 3,118
    10 years ago when this thread was started, the entry-level segment was defined by the E46 3-series, Acura TL, Audi A4, Lexus IS300, and the G35. All of them started at or just below $30,000.

    Of course, back then cars still had cassette players and 0-60 in 7 secs was considered quick. This segment has probably seen the biggest gains in performance and technology over the last decade than any other segment.

    I suppose that a $10,000 average price hike over a ten year period is reasonable when considered logically, but emotionally it just seems like an invisible line was crossed. $40,000+ just seems like a lot of money to me for a group of relatively ubiquitous cars.
  • flightnurseflightnurse 35K feetPosts: 1,637
    edited August 2012
    Top line of Ford Focus (compact "economy") is over $28K (MSRP) Base on a Titanium 5 Dr is $24.5K then add fluff.... BTW, the top level Focus is the hybrid with starts at $39K.

    the most expensive brand of ELLPS (or at least one of top 3) goes over $50K?

    But why, why not import a lower cost model, instead BMW, MB, Audi will introduce SMALLER cars to bring the price point down. I don't want a 4dr 1 series, I don't want a B Class or A3 sedan...

    but the truth is today it is hard to find something decent below forty grand

    New or used? If new, and I know some people would disagree, but one can build a nice Chrysler 300C for under 40K. As well as Lexus IS...

    Yes, prices do go up, but there has to be a point when "entry" is no longer entry. Is a Nissan Max an ELLPS? Now I think Infiniti got it right, but for some reason it never took off, offer he current G in a price point. The G25 looks JUST like a G37, the leather might not be as nice, but the instrument panel, seats, body all look like the big brother, but the price is not. Not too sure why it never caught on, a nice way to get into the ELLPS...
  • fedlawmanfedlawman Posts: 3,118
    edited August 2012
    "I don't want a 4dr 1 series, I don't want a B Class or A3 sedan"

    I do.

    The current 3-series and A4 are as big as the 5-series and A6 of a decade ago. A 4-door 128i or A3 for $32,000 is exactly where this segment should be.
  • flightnurseflightnurse 35K feetPosts: 1,637
    Or maybe for the same price one can get a nice Nissan Max that is better.. I guess it all depends on what you want.
  • ivan_99ivan_99 Posts: 1,669
    I think the price-creep is more a result of perspective than actual increase.

    This week I had the pleasure of purchasing football equipment (for 2 boys)...my younger boy found gloves he liked; "but it's only $50 dollars".

    And then I proceeded..."In my day, $50 dollars could buy you..." :shades:
  • Point well taken, but I will then ask, at what price point, these days are there NOT "a group of relatively ubiquitous cars" from which one may choose?

    $50,000? $60,000 even $70,000? It seems to me that even at the higher price points there are several offerings that, for many, only differ in styling -- and sometimes even then the styling isn't all that much of a differentiator.

    Here's the thing that I noticed the last time I was visiting our BMW dealer -- there are BMW 7 series cars that shoot way the hell past $100K, yet they are only slightly differentiated from the "cheap ones."

    There was a high zoot A8 at the Audi dealer, and there was also an S8 -- now, I would've taken the S8 (if I were just thinking about the car itself); but the A8L W12 with a bunch of "I can't believe the thing has a walk in cooler in the back seat" type options, was way more expensive. Then of course there was the cheapie plain ol' A8 SWB version. They were all very, er, ubiquitous."

    Now I used to think I was pretty astute at discerning what I was looking at -- but today I saw a new Passat SEL that must've had some optional glitzy wheels and a beige leather interior (I assume it was real cow, that is). I thought, for a full second, "Nice Audi."

    I doubt the Passat was more than $35K -- but it LOOKED expensive (assuming you think Audi's look expensive.)

    Nothing about a TSX looks expensive to me -- but what the hell do I know, I bought a 2012 Acura TL (not to imply I think the TL looks expensive, but from the outside it looks less like a Honda than the TSX.)

    What do I know?

    Drive it like you live. :surprise:
  • m6userm6user Posts: 3,000
    No, the starting price on a BMW RWD 325 in 2003 was about $27k and the starting price of the 2013 BMW RWD 328 is about $36k. That is approx $9000 difference and would constitute creep as they say.
  • ivan_99ivan_99 Posts: 1,669
    $27k in 2003 is $33.6k in 2012...still creeping a bit I suppose ;)
  • m6userm6user Posts: 3,000
    edited August 2012
    Yes, I would say so. $9k is about a 33% increase in price. A 2002 Toyota Camry LE was $19500. A 2012 Camry LE is $23400. About a 20% increase. The 2003 Audi A4 Quattro was $27500 and the 2013 version is $33400, or about a 21% increase. If one could consider the Camry as a "commodity" and use that as a baseline, it would seem BMW ELLPS has creeped substantially more than both the baseline and one of it's main competitors. And both the Camry and the Audi increased below the percentage you used for inflation.
  • sweendogysweendogy Posts: 1,147
    Consumer reports. "Sports sedans With its inviting blend of luxury and driving fun, the G37 stands out from the crowd. Its agile handling, blistering acceleration, and comfortable, well-crafted interior make it one of our highest-scoring sedans and have earned the G a spot on this list for the sixth straight year. This sports sedan feels at home whether tackling a twisty back road or cruising on the highway. A snug cabin and small trunk are the only notable weaknesses. The less expensive G25 model isn’t as quick, but it shares much of the G37’s inviting package and provides 3 more mpg. Both are available with rear- or all-wheel drive."

    6 years in a row, price hasn't move much - best car for thr money, and prob the new class of the class- $$ has to be a factor here
  • fedlawmanfedlawman Posts: 3,118
    You're right Mark, I hadn't really thought about that. I suppose it's even worse up the ladder because the price gap between an "entry-level" 7-Series and loaded 7-Series is so huge...
  • m6userm6user Posts: 3,000
    "The G25 looks JUST like a G37, the leather might not be as nice, but the instrument panel, seats, body all look like the big brother, but the price is not. Not too sure why it never caught on, a nice way to get into the ELLPS... "

    The leather in the G25 is the same leather as in the G37. The only difference between the two is the smaller engine and the unavailability of several options in the G25 like no NAV, etc. The reason it didn't sell IMO is the same reasons I was disappointed in it.

    1. Couldn't get NAV or a few other bells and whistles as options even.
    2. For 100 less horses, I believe people thought you should get a lot better mpg on regular gas too.
    3. It was only priced about $3000 less than the G37 and they are always discounting the G37 pretty heavy and wouldn't go down that far on the G25. Net effect....they were too close in price for such a drastic difference in performance.
  • nyccarguynyccarguy Stamford, CTPosts: 7,589
    Wow, you guys have been quite chatty since I last checked in. I'm back in CT after driving 1700 miles through 10 states.

    I agree with you guys that Acura has completely LOST ITS WAY. The TL SH-AWD is the exception here. The Acura brakes stink. Our government should mandate that BMW supply brakes to every car on the road.

    Prices on these cars have crept up over the years. As you all know, my 2011 328xi is leased (I know its more expensive to lease, but its going to be a damn fun 30 months). $50K for a 4 cyl 3 series is a big pill to swallow. Like many of you have said, $50K is NOT entry level. In my book anyway. I'm quite certain that if I do want to continue to drive sedans in this category when the lease is up on my 3er in 2 years, I'm going to have to go the CPO route. Otherwise I'll have to look at a car that isn't so performance oriented to suite my commuting needs.

    2001 Honda Prelude Type SH/ 2011 BMW 328xi / 2011 Honda Pilot EX-L w/ Navigation

  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    The thing with Honda and Toyota is that that have been trying to follow Cadillac and Mercedes. Now, this isn't a *bad* thing. The C class is a superb car to get around town in in style without breaking the bank. GM makes superb big boats that float down the road and are kind on your old back.

    There's a reason the Lexus ES is called a "Japanese Buick". Acura rightly figured that since it couldn't make a better car than the 3 series, they should just go where the money is - in big comfy cars. Fair enough. The TL is a very nice car inside and is great to just drive around town and get stuck in traffic in ;)

    But Toyota and Honda are a lot like GM in that there's a hard division between sports and luxury, with only one or two vehicles that bridge that gap. (possibly the Lexus IS and the CTS, Honda has nothing any more since they dropped the RSX)
  • dino001dino001 Tampa, FLPosts: 3,500
    I kind started it, but now I have to add one small contradiction to what was said: sure cars went up 20-30% over ten years. This is much more than average wage increase (except perhaps the top earners, who seem to enjoy way better growth than rest of us). In those terms, cars should not cost more than 10-15%. Part of the rest could be explained by commodity inflation outpacing the wage inflation, especially in late '00s and even now it is not all gone (I just can't imagine how much box of corn flakes will cost next year). There was a huge dollar debasement in late '00s, somewhat recovering now, but it's a fact (if anybody cares to remember, 1 Euro was about 90 US cents in early 2000s). All of those things contributed to price increases, and German brands would probably have crept even more if not for economic downturn and loss of the marginal customer (one that puts your sales target over the guided targets).

    However, those cars also offer more, MUCH more for that money. More metal (not always a good thing, but at least in absolute terms - it is more), more features, better safety, better fuel economy WITH more power, etc. Some was mandated (tire pressure monitors, traction control systems, gas mileage improvements), some was market-driven (consumer electronics, size). I know some people would actually prefer 2003 325i over 2012 328i, but in all objective metrics, 2012 model is simply a better machine. Same goes for the named Toyotas, Audis and all the rest. If we factor those improvements, the prices are probably not as outrageously higher. The models tend to drift up in size and content over the years and create room for new line (3-series vs. 1-series), so after about three generations it is fair to start making those comparisons (both in term of price and content) with models from other shelf. I think in 10 years, ELLPS will include all those models dismissed today as "not L enough" or "not P enough" and current 3-series/C-class will be favorite "family upscale sedans". :surprise:

    2012 BMW 328i wagon, manual and sports package. No. sold in the US: 1. Probably.

  • robr2robr2 BostonPosts: 7,820
    I agree about the reason for the price creep but I also see people adapting to that by lowering their standards when it comes to to their next car. To keep it simple, somebody who used to drive an Accord EX-L will drop down to an EX and then perhaps to an LX in the course of a few years as their income hasn't kept up with the price of automobiles - or anything else as well.

    I know someone who in the course of 5 cars and 15 years who has gone from a 300M to Lancer with a gradual step down over the years in order to keep the payment in his comfort zone.
  • flightnurseflightnurse 35K feetPosts: 1,637
    Hey Fed if you want to cross shop, the MB S class starts at 94K this is for the S350 Diesel which is their entry level flagship. Kinda steep but then again, MB sells every single S class they import. I just wasn't aware the S class had gotten up that high over the 7 series and A8.
  • flightnurseflightnurse 35K feetPosts: 1,637
    3. It was only priced about $3000 less than the G37 and they are always discounting the G37 pretty heavy and wouldn't go down that far on the G25. Net effect....they were too close in price for such a drastic difference in performance.

    I'm thinking this is the real issue, I went over to the G37 leasing questions forum, and was shocked at how much Infiniti is discounting the cars. Also the odd length of the leases, 18 months? Many people are getting leases on a G37S 6 spd MT for just fee's and $299/m Other have been able to get a G37 Journey + Premium package, drive off are fee's and $405/m (this is with tax) for 36 months. Infiniti is giving some incredible buy rates to get these prices..

    One can see why the G25 did not sell. But I did read that it will be coming back with a turbo 4, and more equipment for the same price. Should be interesting.
  • m6userm6user Posts: 3,000
    After just a little research I found it interesting to note the following price increases over a ten year period for several base ELLPS.

    1. BMW - 33%
    2. Audi - 21%
    3. MB - 14%

    Quite a spread and don't know how it is explained by commodity prices and Euro exchange rate as the latter would affect all the German makers somewhat equally.

    Now, content could explain away some of the large difference in price creep but I believe all the makers have increased size and content to similar degrees. Comparatively, and with the recent improvements in the C Class it seems like that may be a value. If you like MB.
  • shabadoo25shabadoo25 Posts: 216
    The Gs are ending their model cycle and I'm sure Nissan wants to move them before the new ones are introduced.
  • graphicguygraphicguy SW OhioPosts: 7,238
    Is there a big gap between a $40K car vs a $50K car? I guess it depends on the car and the measuring stick. Is it Performance? Quality of build and/or materials used? Suspension sophistication? Features?

    If you use the Acura TL SH AWD as the baseline at $40K, is it as good or better than a 335i xDrive? An Audi A/S4? Probably not. I would say it trumps a Mercedes C Class 4 matic, though. It has better tech and suspension than a G.

    The 3 Series is the measuring stick. If you get all the tech, with leather, nav, power, xDrive, etc. you're going to pay $50K. As hard as it is for me to say, the S4 trumps the 335i xDrive, too. So, to get that extra nth degree more of everything, you pay more.

    Having driven the TL SH AWD, the G and comparing them to the 335i and the S4, you can immediately see where the extra money went.

    It's up to the individual with the check book to decide if it's worth it.
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