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Luxury Performance Sedans



  • wale_bate1wale_bate1 Posts: 1,986
    You got one of those marginals too, eh? ;)

    Interesting input. We agree on the grille. I think it was a bad call to try so hard evoke an image of a racing history that few know or really care about, especially here in the States. Plus, I don't think it fits the rest of their design idiom. It's a sore thumb, IMO.

    I have to say, I've never really looked closely at the current A6, mostly because I'm actively shopping the S4 Avant and A3, and probably the A8 for the Mrs. (among other), so I've kind of disregarded it The previous gen was a work of art to me, even if it was too big to be on my list of wannahaves. I praise the last wave of Audis for the near complete lack of surface ornamentation. They never needed it; the shapes were that seductive. Those have in fact been diluted by ornamentation somewhat I think.

    I think any mfr presenting itself as a vendor of worthwhile sporting sedans should be offering a mid-size without a manual. I didn't realize you can't get an A6 with one. Bad on them. I take Lexus to task as well for failing to do so on the IS350.

    So you're really looking at it from the A6 vantage point only, though. I do believe, regardless of an A6's possible perceived shortcomings against an E60, Audi's deployment deficit debacle doesn't dwell there, but rather with a broader image issue they should have been able to overcome.
  • . . .with respect to the style of the various LPS cars herein debated.

    But, with much bias and affection for the German people (especially the Bavarians), they seem to be very much like us 'mericans (in terms of taste and acceptance of style.)

    There appears to be little preference (based on sales numbers) between the A6 and 5 -- indeed, I believe the A6 is currently in a slight leadership position sales-wise.

    So, while we may endlessly debate if the 5 is good looking or the A6 has a big mouf, or whatever -- there does seem to be a much closer sales rivalry between these brands in Germany where, one could imagine, performance differences ought to be a bigger deal, what with the autobahn (in their case) and grid lock (in our case.)

    While I do not intend to ignite a fire about handling and performance, it would seem that the A6 and the 530xi (when equipped with an automatic) are very similar driving cars considering our lack of autobahns and our often bumper to bumper traffic that virtually assures few opportunities to "exercise" the performance capabilities of either of these cars.

    I test drove the new 530xi -- and other than the comfort seats and the fact that it could ONLY be tested with an automatic -- I liked it. It did not seem in any meaningful way crisper than my A6 (although I told myself the A6 has more understeer -- but the truth is, both cars took the same corners at the same speeds with aplomb.) In fact the A6 seemed peppier in gears 1 - 3.

    So, these cars US sales would (if I did not have first hand driving experience) make me think the BMW "blows the Audi away." Yet the differences, while real, are very subtle and probably most meaningful closer to the limit than we are able to get even in a medium sized city like Cincinnati.

    In Germany the two sell about the same, as noted. One would think that if one were vastly superior to the other there would be a big sales performance difference (e.g., here where BMW regularly outsells Audi by at least 3 to 1.)

    Something doesn't add up.

    If we "all" could concede the BMW is the "pick of the LPS cars" in every aspect imaginable -- clearly superior, well that should translate into 3.5 BMW's being sold for every Audi (which IS, apparently, the case here in NA). But, one would also have to extrapolate that similar sales figures would be the case in Germany (and other parts of Western Europe.) But at present, Audi slightly outsells BMW there.

    I have long thought that Audi's (US) marketing (which includes pricing) has to be the culprit for such a large discrepancy. I also have thought that Audis dealership network must be "way down the totem pole" from BMW (and I presume this is the case.)

    But, unless you irrationally reject the notion that these cars are very similar in feature, function, performance and price, what in the wide wide world of sports could account for BMW's 350% sales superiority over Audi when the differences back at home rarely, if ever, exceed a single digit, [non-permissible content removed]-for-tat that is, even when one of these Bavarian makers is having a particularly up or down year (comparatively speaking)?

    I say "irrationally" only because it seems to have come to pass that all these LPS cars have gotten closer and closer to each other in terms of performance, content and price over the years. Our personal loyalties and opinions (i.e, the subjective) pertaining to style, etc, seem to be much more disparate than the actual objective characteristics of these vehicles.

    That is to say, I am not so sure I would be sitting here crying in my beer had it worked out that I ended up with the Infiniti M35X I had originally thought I would end up with; and, likewise, having driven the new 530xi, I cannot imagine being displeased with that vehicle either. When it came down to it, I was loyal to Audi and when the price parity was re-established between the Audi, Infiniti and the BMW, the Audi got my vote -- it didn't hurt any that I wanted the Audi all along, but just not quite enough to pay nearly $200 per month more for the lease payment.

    I still don't see why the distance between these (2 brand in particular) are so great -- and apparently only here in the good ol USA.

  • rich545rich545 Posts: 386
    I agree that for the most part we don't even come close to pushing our cars to the limits where it would be obvious that one car in this class really outperforms another. For everyday driving, and even when we push it somewhat there is probably a lot more similar about these cars than different. A lot has to do with how they're perceived which creates almost placebo feelings for us. We've always been told that BMW's handle better than Audi's so we probably are pretty likely to feel like they do though their performance numbers are so close I doubt we really "feel" any differences. So from that standpoint I agree that marketing comes into play. However, maybe BMW and Mercedes outsell Audi by such a large margin here simply because Americans prefer them. I know you said that you go to Germany a lot, and I don't know many Germans, but we may be more different than you think when it comes to choosing cars. There is so much that goes into the car buying decision though so it's hard to really say for sure.
  • aas5aas5 Posts: 50
    Of course it is my opinion. Not sure why you would say it is based on nothing.
    I was in the market for a new car this year, and I definitely passed by the BMW dealership without stopping. All of my friends dislike the new Bimmer designs and used to love the old ones and even though statistically it's a small population, I tend to think it's representative of a general view.

    You seem to think that if sales are growing that is the recognition of the successful design. I think it's either a recognition of driving characteristics that BMW is known for or a brand name recognition. And again, I think you are kidding yourself if you really don't believe that people are willing to sacrifice design for the brand name. There are many people who are willing to pay $10K of their "hard earned money" to buy cars not based on their subjective liking of designs but purely to be seen driving a BMW or a MB. It is a fact.
  • rich545rich545 Posts: 386
    Let's try to keep straight exactly what you said, and I said.

    1) "But I think you are kidding yourself and many others when you say that the 5 series is great and better looking than its previous generation."

    What you originally said was that I was kidding myself for the above reasons, not for the brand recognition. That was mentioned in the following:

    2) "Sure the sales are growing, but to me that's just due to the fact that people are willing to pay $10K more for the brand recognition and slightly better driving dynamics (compared to my M45 at least, to most other cars BMW is in fact superior) and nevermind the ugly minimalist interior design."

    That's when I said, "Right, people are willing to spend 10K more of their hard earned money for a car they can't stand to look at." I never said they wouldn't spend $10K to be "seen" in a BMW. I said they wouldn't spend the extra $10K if they really hated how the car looked. It's one thing to be seen. It's other to drive a car you dislike just to be seen. I'd say that would be a small number of people that would send $65K just to be seen in a car they found ugly. Again, just my opinion.

    3) "I am very confident that there were a lot more people who admired the classic old generation 5 design and hate the new look."

    I said, "Hmmm, sounds like an opinion based on nothing to me." Okay, so it's based on, as you said, a statiscally small population. Just the fact that my friends don't share your friends' opinion on the new designs proves right there that it's not a universal opinion, and is not, in fact, representative of the general view. People tend to choose friends that are more like them than not so their group of friends are LESS likely to be representative of the whole. The only way to judge the general feeling towards a car fairly is to see how many people buy it.

    Which brings my to my final point. You said, "I think you are forgetting that all of the luxury car sales have increased dramatically over the last 10 years as people have and are willing to spend more money on LSs" in response to me pointing out that the current 7 has sold more than any before. So did the new 7 come out 10 years ago? No, it came out in 2002 (or late in 2001). That's only a little over 3 years ago. So the 10 period of increased luxury sedan sales really applies more to the 740 than the 745 (now 750). The last generation 7 was around for 7 years; the new one has eclipsed its sales in a little over 3 years. What does that tell you?
  • anthonypanthonyp Posts: 1,860
    I believe that there are many more bmw dealerships than audi....I know I would not buy an audi if there wasn`t a conveniently located dealer....tony
  • mg808mg808 Posts: 22
    Both the 5 and 7 have been panned by the critics but yet sales are up? Why?

    The BMW factor is very strong and still exists. Owning a BMW is what people want. Being able to say, Hey lets cruise to the mall in my BMW just sounds good, I guess.

    The redesigned 7 has had great sales due to excellent leasing options and the fact its cheaper than the redesigned A8 and the upcoming new S500. People who can afford a $699/month lease can get the 7.

    The 5, well this car is the benchmark in this forum. Nuff said. People buy it for various reasons and for the last year, BMW has become a luxury rental company. You can lease it for $599 and for that, its become more popular. I think the new exterior design isn't that bad, but the interior isn't worth the $60K pricetag for a 530i.

    I personally have owned BMW's and Mercedes. I just purchased an 05 Acura RL. For me, the car has everything I want and I also didn't prefer buying another car that would cost me $10K more. Personal preference, which makes the mid-size luxury market awesome. 6 great cars to choose from. Now that's a good thing. :shades:
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Just based on people I've known recently with Audi's, and what I've seen in CR and on the PA\NJ lemon law website, I think a large part of Audi's problem is bad reliability combined with bad dealer service, not some acceleration problem from 20 years ago that no one remembers, along with a general resistance to making cars designed for Americans. Can anyone tell me what Audi's current return customer rate is? I'm pretty sure Lexus is over 90%. People that I've known with Audi's, particularly with last gen A6s, have told me the would not buy another. They didnt make the kinds of headlines that M-B is currently making, but I think '98-'00 A6s were just as bad as anything M-B has done in the last few years. A4s and A8s werent much better. A6s were recalled 3 times to fix the same ignition coil problem.

    The ML320 was actually around before the RX300, and when BMW saw what was happening, the jumped on the bandwagon in '00 with the X5, followed by Acura and Volvo. What was Audi's response? An A6 Avant with some body cladding and an adjustable suspension. If you walked in to a showroom today, pretty much the only luxury brands you cannot buy an SUV from are Audi and Jaguar. They are responding to a 1998 phenominon in 2006. American's wanted more, larger cupholders (and NOT in the dashboard) for years, and Audi always stonewalled, saying "its not a German thing". Well, this isnt Germany. I think its taken Audi way too long to figure that out.
  • jjacurajjacura Posts: 808
    Nice decision to purchase the RL...I know you must have agonized over that the end what was the bottom line that closed the deal for you? Was it really only the price tag?
  • jjacurajjacura Posts: 808
    after reading all about the differences of opinion on this forum you get my vote for cutting through all the BS. AS USUAL.
  • lovemyclklovemyclk Posts: 351
    Absolutely! My neigbor in his 996 Turbo sure is NOT going to get to work faster in Atlanta AM traffic than I can in my e39! Rarely are these cars pushed to the limit in 99% of the real world conditions we live in.

    That said, on the race track, mere seconds can separate who stands on the podium and who goes home. Sometimes, performance can be measured in minute increments of total balance, not just hard 0-60 times. All of these cars have a variety of strengths that appeal to their buyers... personally, I can justify why I bought a 2003 530SP and continue to enjoy it more today than on day 1.

    Sometimes, these discussions sound like art critics sitting around extolling the virtues of their favorite artists and respective styles. Is Picasso really "better" than Gauguin? Monet better than Rembrandt?...

    All I can say is this... I'll take my little BMW and go up against any other LPS in its class on Road Atlanta for a 100 mile race and like my chances! The fact that I have a terrific driving experience (for me, anyway) around town is just icing on the cake. BTW, I have spent a fair amount of time in Germany - drove the e60 in the Black Forest region out of Karlsruhe prior to the US introduction. Left me kinda cool at 1st, but as I've driven them here, have warmed up to them, especially the new 530 and 545/550.

    My German friends have told me I have the very car they would want to own if given an option, but that is a small sampling. Still not ready to part with my immaculate '03 530SP, but when the time comes, not sure that my personal tastes will lead me into an Audi showroom for anything but the A8! Agree that it is a shame that more luxury buyers have not found themselves in A8's. BMW, to their credit, builds the best-balanced performing line of cars top to bottom - IMHO.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    The A8 just has no street credibility. Perhaps it should, but it doesnt. In the full size lux class, thats a serious problem. I think it may have a lot to do with the last A8, which was basically a super-size A4 that couldnt play in the big leagues. When I was in San Remo and Monaco, there were A4s all over the place (I was in one) but A6s were fewer than Es and 5s, and A8s were non existant.
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,301
  • wale_bate1wale_bate1 Posts: 1,986
    I hate it when you do that.

    The SUV thing is dead on of course, no matter how much it galls me to admit it. I personally hate the damn things, even the car-based ones. I spent some forced time in an RX330, and I will never, ever understand why someone would want to drive that or an X5 or an XC-90 or any of 'em daily. You can't get much more detached from the driving experience than that.

    But of course your point is correct.

    Also on the A8. As much as I may think of it as the cream of the current crop in that class, it remains kind of an unknown, and past history is very likely why.

    You good fer nuthin' so and so...
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,251
    If you walked in to a showroom today, pretty much the only luxury brands you cannot buy an SUV from are Audi and Jaguar.

    Audi's lack of a SUV during the 90s and early 00s was not the best in terms of timing!

    Even worse is Audi's timing of introducing a soon-to-be Q7 SUV!. Latest stats show that every manufacturer suffered a decline in SUV sales except Land Rover(compliments to the LR3).

    The Q7 will share its platform with the VW Touareg and Porsche Cayenne, two models which faced 50% and 26% Sept declines, respectfully, from last year!

    So what is the US sales that Audi is predicting for the new Q7 SUV. Accoring to Wall Street Journal dated October 7th:

    Audi is hoping that the Q7 will eventually be Audi's biggest-selling vehicle, surpassing its current best seller, the A4 sedan, which had more than 38,000 in sales in 2004.

    All I can say is Viele Glueck (Good Luck) for Audi!

    I think a large part of Audi's problem is bad reliability combined with bad dealer service

    Audi seems quite aware about N. American quality/service perceptions. Audi's VP of Operations made the following comment recently:

    Mr. de Nysschen says the push is to continue to focus on product quality, customer service and educating consumers about the Audi brand

    Deeds speak louder than words. Only time will tell if Audi succeeds.
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,251
    I personally hate the damn things, even the car-based ones.

    I share your view.

    In fact our views on SUVs may become mainstream if gas prices continue going up like a one-way elevator.

    If gas prices get too high my priorities may change from a performance luxury sport wagon to a Toyota Echo :cry: .
  • jjacurajjacura Posts: 808
    "If gas prices get too high my priorities may change from a performance luxury sport wagon to a Toyota Echo"

    "That reminds me of my friend. He went to a dealer the other day and said, "I'd like a gas cap for my ECHO." The dealer replied, "Okay. Sounds like a fair trade." :P
  • mg808mg808 Posts: 22
    jjacura, I was looking for a AWD sedan. I was going to get the A6 3.2. It looks very elegant and the interior is excellent. The issues for me were the motor (new engine = ? reliability), 6 CD Changer in the glove box? is this 2005... and optioning it out was over $50K with some discounts. I drove it a few times and wasn't impressed with the pickup either.

    Lexus GS300AWD was non-sporty, overpriced and small (similar to my wife's TL).

    The Infiniti M35x was very nice, but, to me it was more gimicky than elegant. The stitching on the seats, the wood, the dash buttons and the rear-tail lights didn't impress me. Obviously I'm in the minority because the M is selling great.

    The 5 and E were too expensive. I went to my BMW dealer where I purchased two cars. They were more interested in leasing a 525xi or 530xi than giving me a good discount on a purchase. I only own cars, because I usually keep them between 4-7 years.

    Then the RL. My wife thought the car is similar in size as the TL. This is true but in the end, the SH-AWD, NAV, gadgets and the comfortable seats sold me and her. In addition, they provided an incredible price. Price plays a part, but regardless of the price, you have to like what you buy and drive. I enjoy the RL everyday. :shades:
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    I'm sure BMW would've been quite happy to never do the X5 and focus on selling the 540iT. After all, it does handle better, and is way more efficient in terms of usable interior space than the X5. The only trouble is nobody in America bought one, where as the X5 was of course a smash hit. In Monaco, it was pretty much impossible to throw a stone without hitting a Cayenne or three. A lot of those probably could've been Audi sales if they didnt wait so long.

    Unfortunately the all new S class is probably not going to help the A8's problems.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Yeah, I think the big party for SUVs may be winding down. They wont go completely away, because as with full size pickups, there are people that really do use them to their full potential. The days of the Expedition and Suburban soccer moms are probably over though.
  • urwinurwin Posts: 2
    There are now many of us who have invested in this great addition to our new vehicles. I am looking for a good source to buy these DVD's. Best Buy had a few but very limited. Any good websites where these may be available? I almost feel guilty listening to my regular CD's when I have invested in the "Rolls Royce" sitting next to me! Certainly the sound is incredible.
  • docnukemdocnukem Posts: 485
    I'm not sure I completely agree. The SUV crowd (and I am part of that, owning one) know that we will pay more in gas, but the vehicles are so darn convenient without being a minivan. Yes, I admit it is shallow to be so opposed to the minivan, but the things are so darn ugly. Other than an SUV or minivan, there is nothing that a family of more than four can use for travel. If you check airline rates, that is even less economical than paying for gas the rest of the year (when not traveling).

    Check out Karl's Carmudgeon:

    Have rising gas prices really changed the way people drive in a significant way (probably not fair asking that on the LPS forum, but I never said I was fair)?

    Rising prices may have made people pause in new purchases of SUVs, and I am sure they will not sell at the same rate that they have been, but I doubt that they can be declared dead and buried (I know, you said, "the big party may be winding down"). Personally, I know that when it comes time to replace the Sequoia, it will be with another SUV (how could I, in good conscience, ask my wife to drive a minivan while I drive the M35x--when she dislikes minivans more that I do?)

    The people who do not actually need the size of SUV's will be much less likely to return to them, but there really is no attractive alternative to families who need the size.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Well, my wife drives an RX300, so technically we're part of the "problem" as well. I just dont see much of a future for monster, V8 powered full size SUVs that get mileage in the low teens like the Sequoia, Tahoe, etc, especially when their third rows usually arent much bigger than the ones in the MDX, Highlander, or XC90.

    If I had to choose, I'd much rather drive a Honda Odyssey than a Sequoia. Sure it may not look as "butch", but (IMO) thats a poor excuse to choose a whale with horrible space utilization instead. I've driven both, and the Odyssey doesnt roll like a canoe in a sharp turn.
  • wale_bate1wale_bate1 Posts: 1,986
    Yeah, I don't equate the RX and it's ilk with the full-size body on frame monsters like Extrusions and Subhumans. Sequoia's a fair hefty pup though. I may not like the car-based ones either, but they are more reasonable transport for the average family. They're (to me) just tall station wagons anyway; the almost logical replacement for the Grand Safari or Vista Cruiser of old.

    I really think the consumption question has more to do with how much you drive than what you drive. I put about 170 miles a week on the SportCross commuting. add in the occasional pleasure trip, occasional business trip (I do enjoy those), and various around-town jaunts and I'm averaging about 1100 miles a month. I can absorb the recent surges, and seriously entertain moving to a 4.2L V8, without feeling much at all. If my commute was a 90-minute back-baker like an associate from Modesto, I'd be entertaining notions of something less thirsty I think.
  • docnukemdocnukem Posts: 485
    No question--the Odyssey and Sienna are very nice vehicles, and if my wife was willing to test drive one, I'd be happy. She's petite, however, and loves being up high. The space issue really isn't one, though. I can sit in the third seat of the Sequioa and feel okay--not great, but okay (unlike my previous Durango).

    Sorry, Pat, getting a little off topic. To redirect: Again, she let me have my M35x, so I can't very well ask her to not look at the car she wants (although she would probably take a 750 Li or XJ8 extended if I asked her too).
  • jjacurajjacura Posts: 808 you go... a pretty good selection of 5.1 Surround Stereo DVD's:

    ******* :shades: ******** :shades: ******* :shades: ********
  • I think Audi needs to reevaluate their salesforce training. They obviously love their cars so much they'd rather keep them on the lot. They are reluctant to come out oftheir offices, and when they do they are arrogant and out of touch with the consumers in my opinion.

    They never call you back and seem as if they are doing me a favor. Lexus and Infiniti sales and service are the best.
  • ckelly14ckelly14 Posts: 105
    This is the best site I've seen for SACD and DVD-A titles:
    Acoustic Sounds

    On a related note: Does anyone know of a aftermarket DVD-A surround system? I may go the aftermarket route on my next purchase.
  • ssamahassamaha Posts: 17
    I recently did a lot of homework, test drives, and shopping for a new Lux sedan.. Drove every thing from $35K-$65K and came this conclusion:

    based on all of my Objective and Subjective research...

    Benz E-Class > Audi A6 > BMW 5 Series > Acura RL > Infiniti M45 > Lexus GS 430, Lexus GS 300, Infiniti M35.

    Major observations were that the Japanese cars won in two major areas... Reliability and standard features. That said, if you've got the money for one of these, you are not likely going to have to keep it long enough fix it after the warranty runs out, and you can afford to add options.

    Major advantages for the Germans... styling, build quality (interior materials), driving fun/handling, status, high speed stability (goes with handling).

    I found the German car were drivers cars, while the Japanese cars were more of a consumer's car... The interior of the Japanese all seem to borrow heavily from their lower end parent companies.. the Lexus door handles were right from a Avalon... the Acuras were filled with low grade plastic parts, and the Infinity had a mini-van dash right out of the Quest.. I couldn't see past the interior styling, which was overly busy with too many buttons with fine print, etc.. lots of gee-wiz tech, but not much by way of driver-assisting tech (MB pioneered ESP, ABS, Brake-Assist, etc.. and now the SBC brakes are by far the best of the lot).

    The Germans, were easily the better choice, with build interior styling and build quality being a hands down winner.. materials were of a much higher grade, and the ergonomics were more Euro. The handling, especially on the highways at 80+mph was more sure footed, as these vehicles were clearly designed for a market where people regularly drive at 150mph or more.. Finally, the cars had a design appeal that was unique and had character. Whereas the Japanese cars were just improved versions of their Nissan, Toyota, and Honda names..

    For me it was no comparison, and I was honestly torn between the A6 and the E500.... when I (by accident) discovered the E320 CDI, and had to have it... Honda Civic milage with near E500 performance.. it was a no brainer.
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