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Luxury Performance Sedans



  • sdiver68sdiver68 Posts: 123
    Car and Driver, Road and Track, Consumer Reports,
    Edmunds own Inside Line, JD Powers, ALG residual values, and my own experience as a lifelong auto enthisiast and licensed Top 10 plate expert road racer who had the 5 series, RL, and M at the top of my shopping/comparison list.
  • I do think the reviews (not talking about residuals) have lauded the M as "getting very close" to the driving dynamics and capabilities overall of the BMW -- not the other way around.

    Of course, even those articles have proclaimed the M "the top dog." But, I have not run across an article that says the BMW is X% of the M. Rather that the M wins in part because it is "close enough" for jazz to the BMW and also offers other (non performance related amenities and reliabilities, etc. -- including value) that are superior to any of the current crop of German LPS cars.

    Remember, this is from a guy who ordered then cancelled an M35X then ordered and took delivery on an A6 once the value proposition (directly put: price parity) was achieved.

    I am not saying that the M has not been reviewed somewhere as "superior" to the BMW 5, I just can't recall this conclusion (with respect to driving dynamics) with Car & Driver, Motor Trend and Road & Track. Moreover, Automobile (for reasons that seem a bit elusive) favored the A6 above all the other LPS's candidates they tested.

    Time after time, the BMW 3 and 5 cars are proclaimed "the standard bearers" when it comes to being "sport sedans." The word of caution to BMW seems to be that Infiniti's G and M are closing the gap and gaining rapidly on the Bimmers.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    People who are Lexus fanatics are utterly peeved the new Lexus (and 2nd time around) cannot seem to edge BMWs roadside prowess and still plays second fiddle to BMW. What Lexus sells (supposed reliabilty) is not really a priority item for a lot of car shoppers, including myself. But people who are Lexus fanatics use the reliability as the selling point of the car. Saying BMWs are crappy is just as accurate as saying Lexus' don't handle well.

    As far as the image thing goes, what does one think car manufacturers are selling including BMW? Ever see auto ads and how they try to evoke some emotional connection to the car? What the heck is Lexus, Acura and Infiniti selling, the upscale marketing arm of the respective base companies trying to sell? Cars and image?

    It just amazes me the thought process that BMW sells image but Lexus sells transporation. Yeah right.
  • sdiver68sdiver68 Posts: 123
    True enough, MarkCinc, when it comes to SUBJECTIVE ratings based on a balance of all reviews, although C&D in particular had some nasty comments about the 530 track capabilities. There is little doubt that subjectively the BMW feels a little more communicative than the M at moderate pace, and the M has a little bit yet to go on feel at moderate pace. However, when you look at objective performance numbers (acceleration, handling, braking) as measured by R&T or C&D, the M ties or wins most objective categories engine for engine, and outright blows BMW into the water $ for $. For instance, the fair comparison $ for $, feature for feature is the 530 v the M45.

    I learned my lesson about subjective versus objective while trying to race my Porsche versus Corvettes, and the poor souls trying to race Ducatis versus my Suzuki GSXR. On the track, the hard way. Objective always wins (given roughly equal drivers/riders that is :))

    Well, I can hear some people arguing, who cares about the track? Well, if that is the case with you, then anything plus or minus 20% should do fine for you, since you should rarely if ever exceed 80% of a car's total capability on the street.

    Or how about a supercharged M35X versus a 530ix, if you want to look at $ for $ in the AWD category. ;)
  • zidecarzidecar Posts: 49
    Great minds think alike, as my "short list" also included the A6 and the M35X.
    I would question "value" however, as this means different things to different people.

    I fully agree. "Value" for the dollar for me came down to equipping each car with the same set of features/options and looking at the cost. The M35x was the clear winner.

    As for emotional appeal, both the M and A6 tickled my adrenaline about equally. It was then easy to resort to the other factors as differentiators.

    I had entered into my quest for an AWD luxury sedan with the A6 as my front runner. As I looked more closely at the vehicles meeting my objectives, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the M had migrated to the top of the pack.
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,251
    Interesting! How you use the words subjective and objective is such a decisive manner when the reviewer himself conveys his preferences quite clearly.

    At least you agree that the 5 series remain the benchmark vehicle!

    But what is really interesting is when you use a review that was based on the BMW 530 equipped with the outdatded 215hp 3.0l engine! Can the M35 compete with the new and improved BMW5? That is a more appropriate question to ask, dont you think?

    So the M35 has superior residual values than the BMW530. I read both are among the top 10 in terms of residual values. I am willing to wager that the residual values between the two cars are a mere trifle and to use such a trifling amount to justify purchasing a M makes your agument less justifiable.
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,251
    Regarding upscale image:

    If the more humble Honda or VW had a RWD car that can compete with a BMW3/5 or Infiniti G/M, I would be the first one to visit their dealerships.
  • Perhaps Objective aces Subjective. Indeed, I might so stipulate that there is NO perhaps about it -- objective can be proven, subjective cannot.

    It doesn't matter though -- or it doesn't matter much.

    I can tell you all day long why I did what I did with respect to my car (and my wife does the same thing, now that she has switched to BMW.)

    It is the Subjective that makes the sale when it is said and done. I am not suggesting that the Objective is not important. I am not even suggesting that for some folks (perhaps you) they really do buy cars on their objective merits first, followed by the subjective.

    I have read many articles that identify, quantify and specify the "facts, figures, measurements, reliability, dealer treatment, etc." pertaining to cars that "objectively" concludes Lexus (sometimes it is Acura, or Infiniti, but often Lexus) is "the best car" in a certain category.

    Then I can read an article written by someone like a Jay Leno (or a less well-known celeb like one of the editors or contributors to C&D) who will, at once, identify the Lexus (et al) as the perfect car and perfectly boring in the same paragraph.

    For most of us, cars are so emotional that the subjective outweighs the objective.

    Cars and spouses, in my experience and observation, are chosen NOT for or by objective criteria -- quite the contrary.

    This is not to say that we don't consider the objective, it is just that we rarely decide based on "facts."

    Most of us vote for the President -- most Vice presidents never get to take over the presidency due to the untimely demise of the President. Yet, so much care in choosing the VP is taken for the sake of "balance?" The top of the ticket is the President, the top of the decision criteria for most of us is the subjective. Objective rationalizations or whatever you may want to characterize them as are like the Vice presidential candidate -- they're there for "balance," or for the "XXX" vote (where XXX is the "votes needed" of the day, be it southern or northern or eastern or mountain men, women, minorities, spanish speaking, Italian speaking, or silent majority votes, you know: whatever, du jour.)

    And, to further underscore, I seriously doubt anyone of us would ever admit that we'd take something "plus or minus 20%" -- even if there is more than a grain of truth to that observation (objectively -- which, see above, doesn't cut it for most of us.)

    I, on the other hand, bought my new Audi A6 for entirely objective reasons, it is the best LPS car there is -- and that's a fact, not opinion.

    I don't know which one of these Emotorcons means sarcasm, maybe it is the wink? Heck, beats me. ;) :confuse:

    Drive it like you live. :shades:
  • Hi folks,

    Let me first say I'm a die-hard BMW fan. Always have been. My wife drives an X3 and I have an 02 530i. I'm ready to replace my 530, as I really want an AWD car and SAT/NAV.

    My last AWD vehicle was an 01 Audi A6 2.7 which was arguably the worst ownership experience of my life. Not only was the car a mechanical train wreck, but the local dealership was awful. I drive a lot for work, and although my RWD 530 hasn’t really let me down in rain and snow, I still like the idea of AWD... After making the emotional decision to plop down between 45-55K for a new car, I set about creating my short list. The BMW was a natural, as I've always loved them. I found the Lexus AWD and Infiniti unappealing and have never liked Mercedes. Then, along comes this RL... It's pretty amazing, loaded, drives great and it's 10K cheaper than a comparable 503xi with SAT/NAV! But, I'm not sure it's quite a BMW in terms of performance and handling. Yes it drives great, but there is something missing. I'm just not what’s missing is worth 10 grand...

    Is the RL a 5 Series killer?
  • Residual values are NOT entirely objective, to continue a theme -- the residual values used by the leasing arms of most manufacturers are manipulated from time to time (usually within truly objective bounds, but for a purpose -- usually to subsidize a lease.)

    I assume the BMW has a strong residual, I also assume the Infiniti does.

    I do remember a time when Cadillac's were offered at a residual of 60% -- of course this made their lease payments low and the leases virtually impossible to exit early, since the residual was "insured" based on "full-term" lease customers.

    So, saying that BMW has stronger or weaker residuals than the Infiniti may be true this month, then next month the leasing arm may "play with the residual" to the tune of a few points one way or another which will completely change the financial picture pertaining to that vehicle.

    Audi, for me, was not willing to raise the residual to an artificially high number, but they took it to the limit of reality, lowered the money factor and the cap cost to come up with a payment that I would accept.

    A co worker leased a Chrysler product, the deal was sweet, but the residual was so high he was literally forced to keep the car full term (they would not even allow him to pay the last 6 months and turn the car in, it was so far upside down -- he had to put the car in his garage, keep it insured and essentially worship it from afar.

    There is a point here: nothing, or at least little, is proved by residuals unless they are NOT the residuals used by the leasing arms of the various car companies.

    Now, you tell me -- if you go to a bank to get a lease on a new SUX 6000 from XXX and the payment it $75 more than the same car when financed/leased through the XXX acceptance corp of the XXX car company, which one will you go with?

    Most of us, and I guess I should say I am speaking for myself, don't know how real the residual numbers that we see in the fine print in the WSJ for the new BMW, Jaguar, Audi, etc. really are.

    Long ago, I gave up trying to buy cars -- also long ago I gave up trying to buy cars based on their MSRP's -- the numbers are fluid, the numbers are manipulated and unless I am paying cash for a car, I guess even then, the numbers just won't do THAT much to sway me one way or another.

    My friend who used to own an Audi, Porsche and VW store told me that 75% of the Audi's and Porsche's were leased -- he claimed no one really cared what the car's MSRP was, only what the monthly figures and out of pocket fees were.

    I do believe the BMW has a better residual than the Audi, for instance -- and perhaps that explains somewhat why BMW sells over 300% more than Audi here in the US. It doesn't explain the situation in Germany itself however where both cars are at price parity and are apparently accepted about equally in terms of annual sales.
  • sdiver68sdiver68 Posts: 123
    ... I said ALG residual values, which is the leading independent lease residual company, and considered by many to be the best predictor of true resale value. I said nothing about manufacturer or captive lease company considerations, which as has been pointed out many times, are subject to various manipulations.

    And yes, I do have an analytical bias in general. I reacted to the word "capability" used by the original poster, since the word "capability" seems to me measurable and objective. I have never said the M is the best car in class or the best car for all people, in fact I think I said in my original post that the RL at $41K seems hard to pass up!

    My true feelings are competition is great, and at this price range it is hard to go wrong. The BMW 5, M-B E, Infiniti M, Acura RL, Lexus GS, Audi A6...even the Caddy STS could all be well researched and rationalized purchases, based on whichever subjective factors are most important to the buyer.
  • bdr127bdr127 Posts: 950
    ALG is the primary source used by manufacturers' financial arms to determine residual values..... Of course, many of those financial arms stray from those values in order to make their leasing attractive. Come on, do you think that those GM SUVs are really going to be worth 50+% of their MSRP after 48 months? I don't think so......
  • wale_bate1wale_bate1 Posts: 1,986
    Acchh, engineers and accountants; moles and trolls!

    Just revisiting my youth, so never mind me.

    Echoing here: objective is nice to have, but subjective molds the gold. Even the most objective information is processed through subjective filters, because that's the way we humans work.

    Sometimes the flock of potentials can be thinned via objectivity, but I agree with the Ohio man: cars are emotional. And echoing my above echo, even cold stats are viewed emotionally.

    By isolating resale as an example, we see that use of the objective material is really emotional in nature. You want the purchase to item for the lowest amount possible and be assured of reselling said same for the highest amount possible, thereby reducing your outgoing capital (or expense) to an absolute minimum, so that in general you will have more money, not less, for your future. This is an emotional process. Some call this "economy" or "thrift". In the real world we call it "greed".

  • cdnpinheadcdnpinhead Forest Lakes, AZPosts: 4,055
    "I can tell you all day long. . ."


    Yes, you can, in a most entertaining & enlightening fashion.

    I feel (moderately) guilty about the amount of time I spend on these boards, but it's clear I have a ways to go to get to the head of the class.
  • The RL was/is meant to be an A6 killer, the Infiniti M's target was/is the 5 series (if you can believe all that is written in the US Car Magazines, du jour, that is.)

    The German cars are -- speaking personally -- worth paying "something" more for. However, unless there is at least $5,000 in cash in the glove compartment of the BMW 530xi when put next to an M35X or perhaps even an RL, I would wonder where the value proposition was in the BMW that could make it "worth" $10,000 more (and I am speaking both objectively and subjectively -- for all these cars have much more in common than not.)

    My reason for going with the M35X over the A6 initially was "they were close enough in performance and content to make me consider them as rivals, darn near equals." And, by the same token this closeness was such that even though I would pay a little more for the Audi (apples to apples as much as possible) I would not pay a lot more.

    When the M35X was almost $200 per month less than the A6 (3 year term), the Audi was soundly beaten on "price or value." When the A6 came within $10's of dollars per month of the M35X, the A6 won. Indeed, the price of the A6 was actually about $10 less than the M, but even had it been $10 more I would have gone with the Audi (for all the subjective reasons we all go for our beloved cars.)

    But don't for an instant think I'm bashing the M, quite the contrary -- it would, today, still be on my short list.

    Truth be told, after thoroughly enjoying my wife's X3, I would probably consider a MAXXED out BMW 330xi as a contender too. The frequency with which I have rear seat passengers who are non canine is shrinking rapidly.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Whether it is or is not doesnt really matter. After all, which car is which other car's "killer" always comes down to someone's opinion, whether its a magazine or an individual. What's important is which car is better for you? Is the 5's extra bit of at the limit handling worth all that cash, and potential reliability headaches?

    Despite what Dewey says, the 5, at least for '04, had worse than average reliability. Whether the people on this board have yet to have problems with their 5s is not statistically significant.
  • docnukemdocnukem Posts: 485
    You put CANINES in the back seat of your A6?????
  • wale_bate1wale_bate1 Posts: 1,986
    If you put 'em in the front they mess with the radio, Doc.

  • lovemyclklovemyclk Posts: 351
    "Or how about a supercharged M35X versus a 530ix, if you want to look at $ for $ in the AWD category"

    I'd like to think that your professed knowledge of the dynamics of these cars is driven from intimate knowledge in the driver's seat. Only a lack of such knowledge would allow you to make an erroneous statement regarding a "supercharged" M35X. The M35X (naturally aspirated) at 280HP already produces 25 more HP than the 530. Ain't no such thing as a supercharged M35! I'm sure the upcoming 535 (6-cyl) variant will offer an interesting performance option against the M35/45, albeit at a higher price than the Japanese competition. Of course, the new 550 e60 will most likely show its tail lights to most LPS cars in this discussion.

    Since you mention racing a Porsche, care to guess why a Porsche can command higher sponsor fees for a smaller surface area than other makes? Their branded image, earned over the years, commands a higher level of sponsor investment than other cars in lower classes and some competitors within the same GT class, IMO.

    This branded image allows Porsche to command higher prices than Chevy can for a Corvette. Believe me, if Chevy COULD sell Corvettes at Porsche prices, they would. Porsche's earned and well-branded image and commensurate pricing has allowed it to become one of the most profitable automotive companies. Branding earned through years of excellence will allow PRICE to increase, thereby improving profits. When high-priced cars such as MB take a hit on the quality front and damage the branded image that was so properly earned, problems do surface.

    Many here seem to think that PRICE is the major determinant of overall value. Just ain't so.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
  • deweydewey Posts: 5,251
    Lexusguy I honestly dont know how you define the words "statistical significance".

    If you are a reliabillity worry-wart you would avoid not only the BMW5 but also the Lexus GX470 '03!

    BUT fortunately there is no reason to worry about the the BMW5 !. For 7 out of 8 years BMW5 reliability has been "average" to "above average" except for one year. Would a statistician find that one below average year significant? I dont think so!

    Regarding the Lexus GX470 ,50% of its two year data is below average. Not enough yearly data to conclude anything, but enough to conclude that by owning a Lexus GX470 you may not have the abover average to average reliabilityof a BMW5!
  • jjacurajjacura Posts: 808
    very cute...

    and as a dog lover ....(she's long gone,,,,sniff,sniff)...but I still remember like yesterday those only times our Lhasa would be allowed in our front seat. it was on the way to the groomer....and she always knew it... and we paid big time!
  • jjacurajjacura Posts: 808
    Do realize what you may have started? ..Hmmmmm... :sick:
  • wale_bate1wale_bate1 Posts: 1,986
    Our own pretty girl mutt (Husky/Malamut) sits up front on the way to the groomer as well, otherwise she gets car sick! :surprise:

    I wasn't kidding about the radio, really, most times she shifts herself, the tail wacks the presets, and I get posterior programming...

    Gents all, I think I edged one step closer to the S4 Avant today. I was passed by one in green this morning, and I also saw the pricing on an IS350, and have seen what appears to be the pricing on the A3 3.2Q DSG. All solid arguments for floating the extra green for the most majestic muscle car in America, IMO.

    May. Must hold on to head until May...
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    '97-'03 BMW 5 reliability data is totally irrelevant. We're talking about the new 5 here, not the old one. The new 5 has yet to show even average reliability.

    The '03 GX470 is a totally different situation. Yes it had some initial year problems, mostly having to do with the plant in Canada where its made. Lexus fixed them. The '04 is perfect, and there's no reason to expect that it wont continue to be.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 64,692
    Hey Wale...

    I saw new unconfirmed lease numbers on the A3 for October...... Residuals are up in BMW territory now.... That might make the A3Q 3.2 DSG not so expensive... ;)

    Does this help?

    I think not..


    Prices Paid, Lease Questions, SUVs

  • rjg96rjg96 Posts: 58
    I currently have a BMW 325i that I like very much. I'm also a BMWCCA member, so I"m a bit of a "bimmerhead". That being said, if I had to choose, on "appeal" alone among the cars discussed here, I'd probably go w/ the RL. Although I used to find the 5's exterior hideous, I've since warmed up to it and now I sort of like it. The interior is what kills me-- it just doesn't come together and sort of feels cheap, and i'm not thrilled w/ the ergonomics. Nothing like the old 5. The RL's is gorgeous, the GS nice, and the M's is sort of "White shoes, belts and plaid pants" I really don't trust the new BMWs very much as far as quality/reliability. Although my 3 has been very good, BMWs tend to have "niggling" problems that they seem to take forever to come up with solutions for--door seals, window regulators, software issues, waterpumpts, etc. Nothing earth shattering, but just very annoying and stupid. However, if I'd probably go with the BMW. WHat? Why? Because its the cheapest (i'll explain in a bit), because its a RWD-based car, and because it can have a manual trans. If you take advantage of BMW's european delivery option on the 5, you can about 12% off the US list price. IF you're in the BMWCCA, you can get another $1k back. Even w/ the trip to Germany (a fun trip in itself), and the 1- 1.5 months you'll be without hte car but making payments, you'll still come out ahead. Plug in some numbers and you'll see that the lease numbers work out very nicely. IF I was buying, I'd go w/ the 525xi for the likely high residuals in the northeast (doesn't make a diff for leasing). BTW, the 2 year lease is actually the best in this case. And, if I were buying I wouldn't keep the thing for more than 2 years (did I mention that I really don't trust newer German cars). But, if Infiniti made a less offensive interior (and offered a manaul), or if Acura offered a manual, I'd be hard pressed to choose the BMW. For those comparing reuglar US delivery, automatic BMWs with the other choices, I probably woudn't take the bmw. Yeah, it might have a little more feel-- but that's about it. It just doens't seem worth it.

    As far as reliability goes, I actually think reliability and are part of the emotional/subjective experience with the car. Even the worst German car is unlikely to strand you (I hope), but it is more likely to make you feel bad about your purchase by having assorted quality problems that the dealers will try their hardest to avoid fixing. When you buy a car in this class, part of the luxury experience should be quality and crafstmanship. The Germans used to atleast look/feel higher quality in the showroom. Sadly, now that's no longer even the case.

    Still, RWD, stick, good prices and short lease terms help me get over all of this. Strangely, my "emotional" side is now more enamored w/ Japanese cars.

    Sorry if this post is convoluted and too long.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    "Sorry if this post is convoluted and too long."

    Heh. Dont worry about it. I think Mark is in talks with Random House to have some of his posts made into novels ;)

    I definitely get what you're saying. There's now 7 cars in the mid-lux catergory (8 if you count the S-type, but who does) but if you want RWD and a MT, that list suddenly becomes very short.

    I'm not interested in a German sedan, but I would consider a German lux-convertible if there were any that I actually liked. The CLK is bland, and the 650Ci looks like a catfish, with an interior even more drab than the 5. I'm very interested in the new XK, and I absolutely love that new Austin Healey concept. I used to drive a 3000 MkII in years long past, and the nostolgia factor alone would sell me on it in a second. I really hope it actually sees the light of day.
  • mexibecmexibec Posts: 114
    > So all German cars are unreliable?

    Don't mean to offend you, but yep, 90% of them are. And by "unreliable" I mean "reliability below average for models 2004+". At the very best, they are average (e.g. BMW 3). The 5 is well below average. I've been driving BMWs for 10 years, but they set the bar too high for themselves with the E39 regarding the 5.


    Sure, but remember that the initial post was about buying for the long-term taking into account a growing family. That means no German cars. We're not talking about leasing either. We're talking about buying a reliable car.

    Btw, when I sold my 99 528, I went to test-drive a new 545. It took 3 minutes for the tranny to have hickups, which was later confirmed by the dealer to be a firmware problem. The sales rep didn't even want me to look at iDrive. Not a good start. I was too looking for a reliable car with family in mind, but super capable when I drive alone. :D So I took the plunge, and I went to drive the M45, among others. The rev-matching downshift, plus the no-nonsense gizmos that I could operate in minutes made the deal for me. The Acura RL & Lexus GS430 were both equally excellent during the test drives, but I chose the M45 per personal preferences.
  • dave328dave328 Posts: 30
    My two cents:

    Someone above mentioned that his experience with an Audi A6 was arguably the worst experience of his car career. I will go a step further. It WAS unequivocally the worst experience for me. Over twenty times in the shop in the first two years alone. The service dept was nearly as bad. They had four different managers in those two years. Unless Audi comes out with a spectacular car that is clearly superior to it's competition, I will never seriously consider another Audi again. And from my limited exposure, I know many folks who have had similar experiences.

    Because of that bad experience, I ruled out MB and their reliability issues.

    For me, it came down to 545 and M45. I consider myself somewhat of an enthusiast, having done some track racing and having owned enthusiast cars including Porches. And honestly, the difference in feel and abilities between the cars were pretty much imperceptible. I know it is fashionable to say that the 5 series has a slightly better "feel" than this car or that car. But in reality, for most people, differences in the tire pressure or the size of the wheels would be more perceptible than the inherent feel of the cars. Just my opinion, of course. Stying did not sway me one way or the other. I happen to think that the 5's design is a pretty good one, with a bit more presence than the M45. What made the decision for me was the interior. Opinions of some on this board notwithstanding, I thought the M's interior was one of the best I've seen in a long time. Head and shoulder above the 5's. Had the price been higher for the M, I still would have chosen it for that reason.
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