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Luxury Performance Sedans



  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    "Whereas you have trouble admitting that status is a factor with at least some MB/BMW buyers."

    Most people I know don't think like that. The ones who really don't don't have to impress anybody, whether they drive a $300K rolls or a $70K BMW. When you are out to impress someone you like to think you have "status". Status my friend, syswei, is something you yourself accord to another.

    I cannot accord myself "status".

  • mariner7mariner7 Posts: 509
    for MB and BMW. But a clearer case can be made with Audi, not Infiniti. Audi outsells MB and BMW in Germany and Europe. In Germany, A8 is considered as good a luxury car as any. But in US why does it keep on struggling? I think it's because it doesn't have the cache of the others. In Germany where lots of taxis and police cars are MB and BMW, those two don't have the same aura as here.

    Rather than Germans vs Japanese, it's more prestige (MB, BMW, Lexus) vs challengers (Infiniti, Acura, Audi). Looking forward to one prestige (GS) getting knocked off by a challeger (M) sometime in the future. So it can be done! Not too often in this segment though!

    lexusguy, word is Nissan finally decided to go ahead with the next Q. It should be finally a player in its segment. Acura is said to develop a car above RL, with V8 and optional V10 (meant for next NSX), a proper rwd from Honda at last. These 2 probably will give LS a run for its money.
  • janssenjanssen Posts: 74
    So we agree that BMW is not really the ultimate driving machine? We could chat about it being the best driver in its class, or if you want a great handling car that can also carry your family, or the best driving car if you don't want to spend more...

    But not the best driving car there is.

    Ok, I agree that HP isn't the ONLY measurement, and neither is slalom, but they help in the overall picture. Yet, of all the previous reviews, when a beemer won these measurements, people who owned or preferred BMW's would tout these numbers. Now the numbers don't serve their purpose so well when the M comes to town, or when other brands compete. So you can have your cake and eat it too?

    These road tests mean SOMETHING. And the BMW isn't always the winner at the track. But why test at the track? Not too many of us drive our LPS's at the track. I take mine to some twisties, but never to the track. So I am happy that mine did better than the 5 series on the slalom. BTW, I also test drove mine extensively, compared it to my 2003 5 series and the newest 5 series on the same roads. Pretty darned close!

    I agree that the sales figures don't lie. A higher percent of those in the market for a LPS are choosing other than BMW. And how can we talk about the ultimate driving machine when the E class is outselling it? Do those figures lie?
  • cstilescstiles Posts: 465
    Not only have luxury vehicle sales been spiking in 2005, but there was also a jump from 2003 to 2004 for several brands. However, there were winners and losers last year...

    Acura + 16%
    Lexus + 12%
    Cadillac + 10%
    BMW + 7%
    Infiniti + 7%
    Volvo + 3%
    Mercedes Benz -1%
    Audi -10%
    Lincoln -13%
    Jaguar -16%

    Plus, Land Rover and Hummer were both down -20% each. Porsche was up +14%, and Ferrari up +8%. In 2005, Infiniti has further padded its success, and so have Cadillac and BMW. Mercedes holding their own, and scratching their way back a little.

    Source: JD Power, Autodata

    I think some of the reasons include...

    1. Our population is aging, especially with the Baby Boomers. There is a widening between the have's and have not's in our economy, and sales in luxury segments are somewhat immune from economic downturns.

    2. Analysts say the premium market is driven by 3 main factors--status, perceived quality, and value. To a great extent, luxury cars are a fashion statement.

    3. The choices at the entry level luxury segment continue to improve, including choices of crossover luxury SUVs. See G, TSX, TL, ES, 3, C, A4, XC90, RX, MDX, X3....

    4. 70 to 90% of these cars (depending on brand) are leased. This allows people to drive cars that they couldn't otherwise afford with their disposable income. Plus, once you start leasing, unless you are saving a lot of money, it tends to lock you into a leasing cycle. Thus, when it's time to re-lease, there is the temptation to pay $50 more per month and upgrade.

    But there are clearly some losers in this segment...Jaguar offended loyalists with their weak attempts at the entry level, Lincoln has stale product, Hummer and Land Rover slipped with other trucks, and perception of reduced quality is a factor with some European brands. Audi is on a bit of thinning ice and the next couple years will be critical for them.
  • msu79gt82msu79gt82 Posts: 541
    In looking at the sales for this segment for this year vs last year I have to wonder where all these buyers are coming from?

    Uh this is America the land of indebtedness - most folks have no problem whatsoever living in debt up to their eyebrows. Most folks are way over-extended in housing, plastic, cars, etc. All the more easier with leases - all folks have to do is make a monthly payment.

    The very fact of so many folks buying above their means makes the current status/prestige discussion very amusing :shades:
  • cstilescstiles Posts: 465
    YTD for 2005, Acura has sold 10,173 RLs. They still have a shot at meeting their informal target of 20,000 units, although it will be very close. I assume the price point of the 2006 model will remain close to current levels, and the RL will add several new safety features for '06. Couple that with great deals on the outgoing '05, and they may indeed get there.
  • cstilescstiles Posts: 465
    Also, don't forget all the refinancing that is still going on with the relatively low interest rates. People are mortgaging their homes to help pay for their cars. If these real estate "bubbles" pop in some markets, it could get interesting.
  • msu79gt82msu79gt82 Posts: 541
    It does seem odd to compare the cars compared.

    :confuse: How so? :confuse:
    The 5 cars CR tested (RL, A6, STS, M, GS) ARE the very cars this thread is all about :blush: Where is the oddity? The inclusion of the Avalon is a clearly annotated Large Sedan Extra, printed at the end of the LPS review as an add-on - CR would have tested it anyway!
  • msu79gt82msu79gt82 Posts: 541
    ... word is Nissan finally decided to go ahead with the next Q. It should be finally a player in its segment. Acura is said to develop a car above RL, with V8 and optional V10 (meant for next NSX), a proper rwd from Honda at last.

    All the reports I've read are saying 2010.
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    If these real estate "bubbles" pop in some markets, it could get interesting.

    Relatedly, if short term interest rates rise, people who've financed homes with ARMs will have to come up with more cash than they expected for interest.
  • hihomikehihomike Posts: 111
    Let's agree to agree!!! There are many variables/factors which determine a individual's motivation to select one luxury vehicle over another. In my research, here are the factors:

    1. Styling - good looks
    2. Reliability
    3. Pricing - getting a good deal - more value for the money invested
    4. Comfort
    5. Handling
    6. Performance
    7. Previous experiences with a specific brand/model
    8. What the "so called" experts say about the competition
    9. What their friends/associates/family have experienced with a model/brand
    10. Prestige

    There are others, but the above represent what a cross-section of consumers use in guiding their purchasing activities.

    If anyone says that prestige does not play some role in luxury car buyers' decision-making processes, then something is wrong somewhere with that individual. All of the above play a role, to a greater or lesser extent, depending upon the individual purchasing the vehicle.

    I use all of the above when making decisions to purchase a vehicle, and more. After one explores, logically, the benefits of one vehicle over another (objectivity), personal tastes/motivations eventually play a role (subjectivity).

    Enough said.

  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    I agree, but would add "uniqueness" to the list. I think that some people prefer to have something that few others have, like the MB G-class.
  • bjbird2bjbird2 Posts: 647
    "Uh this is America the land of indebtedness - most folks have no problem whatsoever living in debt up to their eyebrows."

    My European boss once commented that many Americans are "house poor" and "car poor". His point was that Europeans spend a smaller percentage of income on houses, and cars, and more on what they consider higher priorities, such as vacations, clothes, restaurants, art and culture.
  • cdnpinheadcdnpinhead Forest Lakes, AZPosts: 4,085
    Well put.

    Thanks for the post.

    Yet more proof that FoMoCo cares not a whit for this segment.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    "These road tests mean SOMETHING"

    Yes, they do. Then leave the editorializing about subjective matters out of the equation. Most people who drive the "Ultimate Driving Machine" understand it's about road feel, control and balance and luxury second. It's this same road feel and control which helps it win at the track -- even though the competition might post better numbers in other performance measurements.
  • ksomanksoman Posts: 593
    The lexus and the audi definitely have the best interiors by far. But lexus still looks kinda has been, a far left behind has been compared to the audi. the audi has a halo like oppulence and i've no clue how audi & vw products create that.

    do you think they use any special mind modifying radio waves emanating from their ultralux looking surfaces? ;)

  • msu79gt82msu79gt82 Posts: 541
    The lexus and the audi definitely have the best interiors by far.

    By far :confuse: Subjective statements like this confuse me :sick: How does one go about "proving" this? Does Lexus use better trees to get their wood from? Is the plastic in the Audi better than the plastic in other cars? Is the Lexus vinyl superior to other cars vinyl? Does the Audi leather come from better fed cows? I could go on and on with such questions :blush:

    Interior styling is subjective. I dispise the BMW interiors; and in my own personal no one can take it away from me opinion the Audi interior is not much better :surprise: Nor do I (me, myself, and I) like the GS interior either. THEREFORE the interiors of THESE cars are NOT better by far:shades:
  • Here in River City -- for whatever reason, the home of Ohio's largest BMW dealer -- the emphasis currently at BMW (based on what is sold) is LUXURY first, for the other attributes are assumed to be equal to or better than the other possible cars in the class, 3 or 5 or 7, for instance.

    Do not think I am in any way, shape, form or regard, less than delighted with my Audi A6. It is just that with several test drives of the Cadillac CTS, STS and SRX, the Infiniti M35X, the BMW 5 and now 5x, the Mercedes C320 AWD and about 3,000 miles on my own A6, plus enjoying the driving and riding in my wife's new X3 and the sitting in but not driving the Acura and Lexus, that the differences have -- subjectively, 'cause that's all I can represent and even vaguely remember -- narrowed substantially between these cars.

    Competition has clearly improved the breed.

    OK I am an "uncommonly" (perhaps) loyal Audi owner -- but, much to Audi's dismay and chagrin -- I would be quite happy to be living with the BMW 530xi (especially since it can be had with a manual), the Infiniti M35X, probably the Cadillac STS AWD (if I didn't have to pay for it) or even the one's I simply sat in at the auto show (Acura and Lexus AWD.)

    The differences are in some ways so subtle (especially given the ways that these cars can be optioned -- to virtually tailor them just about any way you want) I almost pity the car companies. Apparently only the Acura and Lexus have escaped being called "German-like" -- yet the Acura has received great praise from the likes of Car and Driver and others.

    Only the "poor" Lexus is "called" for being too perfect, too luxurious, etc. There are times when I can think "Luxury: bring it on." And, I am in no way displeased with the LQ (luxury quotient) of my A6 with Premium leather and Premium sound and all the other do dads I have optioned on mine.

    I love the debate we all have here -- and I guess if prestige is a big factor, then I am in deep weeds since "the A6, even the new one, 'can't get no respect'."

    Since I was using my own money, I voted for the Audi -- but like I said, I'm not proud, if someone wants to donate a new Acrua or Infiniti or BMW AWD LPS car to "my cause," I am confident, I will enjoy the drive and the ride.

    No one is posting here -- yet, or I have missed it -- that has a 530xi (either manual or automatic). Right now (but I am not in the market anymore for about 2+ years), that is the car (without regard to cost) that when equipped with a stick shift, looks like the one to beat in this class. If forced to take the automatic, I'd stick with the Audi, however, since it feels a bit less confining.

    To each his/her own.

    We must be in the golden age of LPS cars -- there are, practically speaking, no bad cars in this bunch.
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,301
    "Most people who drive the "Ultimate Driving Machine" understand it's about road feel, control and balance and luxury second."

    And that is exactly why I selected the 545i after also driving the GS430 and M45 in this particular price category.

    Road feel and balance will always be of primary importance to me. I couldn't give a darn about the interior. Just give me a radio, some ac and a hard-wired Valentine One.
  • janssenjanssen Posts: 74
    So which did you get? The ultimate driving machine, or the 545?
  • janssenjanssen Posts: 74
    These aren't really in the same price category.

    And obviously you do care about other items besides road feel, control and balance. How else would you explain the radio, which would distract from the concentration needed to drive at the limit, or the A/C, which would certainly steal from the power of the car, and alter the handling because of the extra weight?
  • rich545rich545 Posts: 386
    Well put and I think it's something we miss too often. It benefits all of us to have better cars in the class in which we choose to shop. No question that the competition in the segment is much more intense, and I couldn't be more happy about it. It will only drive BMW and all of the others to do even better. The way I see it, BMW and MB created this segment and they have both continued to make fine additions to it. Now they both faced much more pressure to put out quality products. People have been hard on the E60, but it was one of the first to get redesigned and many of the other cars in the class that were redesigned after it incorporated the good things about it (specifically the M). So BMW will face-lift it in 2007, and I would guess completely redesign for 2010? I'm sure they will consider everything people have said and everything their competition has done over the lifecycle of the E60. So what I'm saying is that the next generation 5, and even the present E60 will benefit from increased competition.
  • mnjoemnjoe Posts: 36
    Mark: Been too busy yet to post it, but I'll give you a review of my new STS AWD shortly. Have had the car 10 days/1000 miles. Love it so far. Went through the analysis of all of these cars and more. Agree with your comment about affording the AWD STS. I had eliminated it early but found the employee pricing and subsidized lease made this $66k car comparable with these other 50-55k cars. Like you I had made a down payment on a M35x (you may recall those posts from earlier). Full report to follow.
  • janssenjanssen Posts: 74
    No matter how many times you repeat that motto, you can't make it so.

    Perhaps BMW could change it to:

    The "Ultimate Driving Machine". In our price category. Well, not actually, but if you would like to give us 10 to 14 thousand more dollars, then we ARE the ultimate driving machine. As long as you also eliminate all those sports cars more expensive than us, like that OTHER German manufacturer, or that Italian fella. Then in that window, more money than our class, but less than the other cars that are better performers that cost more, we are really, REALLY, the ultimate driving machine. So let's just say we are the ultimate driving machine that has the BMW nameplate, and after the less expensive and more expensive driving machines have been eliminated.
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,301
    In this particular price category I found that the ultimate driving machine is the 545i.
    Pure driving pleasure. No doubt about it.
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,301
    As you indicated, the BMW slogan is a marketing ploy but within the price framework, for many of us, it is dead-on accurate.
  • rich545rich545 Posts: 386
    I guess that all I can say is that my experience with the two BMW dealers (one in suburban NY and one in suburban IL; both large volume) was been different (better) than your's was. So given that fact alone it is obviously more a dealer-by-dealer situation. I'm sure there are "bad" Infiniti dealers as well. Face it, car dealers in general aren't know for being fun to deal with. That's why when one exceeds our low expectations even by a little bit we laud them like the second coming of Christ. It is pretty unbelievable that they didn't let you take the 545 out on the highway. That's where it really would have shown you what it's all about. But I was in a Mercedes dealership to get my wife's ML appraised for trade-in and I was asking about a car on the showroom floor (CLK55 AMG convertible). Now, the salesperson knows what I drive and I was practically begging him to try to sell it to me. He just told me what it cost and left it at that. If I was him I certainly would have gotten one driven around front for a test drive. Hell, the car is so hot it practically sells itself. I could already picture the "discussions" I would have had with my wife trying to justify trading in my 1 year old 545 for it. But he dropped the ball. Oh well, maybe he REALLY thought the car would sell itself sitting on the showroom floor. I doubt it for $80K, but that's just me. Anyway, no I don't think anyone that has a attitude about their car, be it BMW, Mercedes or Infiniti, is justified and certainly not "better" than anyone else. In fact they are worse. I would just say that there are many forms or attitude and they certainly aren't limited here or elsewhere to BMW or Mercedes drivers.
  • hihomikehihomike Posts: 111
    "We must be in the golden age of LPS cars -- there are, practically speaking, no bad cars in this bunch"...

    Interesting assessment - never really thought about it that way, but I guess you are right. Considering all the competition for luxury performance vehicles, there are really no such things as "bad cars" out there. Thinking back when I was a kid, there were lots of bad cars out there, but we were too ignorant back then to realize how unsafe and how gas-guzzling cars used to be. Quality build was a car that was built at the factory on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, never on Friday or Monday because of the workers' lack of technology and precision. Now-a-days, robots and computers have standardized the build quality for most of the cars in this market segment (I still question the poor build quality on american cars since I've had my fill of them and their planned obsolescence).

    The only real disagreement I would have with your statement above is that Mercedes Benz IS NOT building the quality car they used to build.

    But, I guess you're right - there are really no BAD CARS out there in this luxury performance category when compared to what used to be out there.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Its just a marketing slogan. GM is much more guilty of slogans that were frankly outright false. Perhaps they mean ultimate driving LPS? You could give them that one... until the Panamera comes out anyway.

    "Ultimate driving" is frankly very subjective. "Ultimate" doesnt necessarily mean the fastest car, or the most expensive. One could argue that a Lotus Elise is more Ultimate driving than any cushy Porsche.
  • janssenjanssen Posts: 74
    Which price category would that be?
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