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Luxury Performance Sedans



  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Asia is where its at. The traditional big Japan 3 all have very strong products across the line, and even Subie and Mazda finally have some interesting products. They've kept the reliability and resale value, and have even figured out how to make cars fun to drive.

    With Korea shoring up the inexpensive reliable everyday transportation role, it leaves little room for the rest of the world.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Try asking in either the Infiniti M35/M45 2006+ discussion or the Lease Questions - Ask Here discussion. Those are probably the best resources for your questions.

    Good luck and welcome!
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    If Lexus can make an SC430 that I can stand looking at, and that drives a little less like the ES330, I'd dump my XK for it pdq. I am interested to see what Lexus and Infiniti come up with for the G and IS drop tops.
  • bartalk3bartalk3 Posts: 692
    on reving higher: As I recall, a MT test a onth or two ago showed that at 60mph, the M35 revs at 2,500rpm, compared to 1,750-2,000 to the other lux performance cars in the test.
  • mnjoemnjoe Posts: 36
    So now I way in. I've driven several of these. Keep reading how Audi has the best interiors. Would've agreed 3 years ago (last time I was in the market for a new car). Thought the interior of the new A6 was boring. Like the exterior and liked the car. The GS300AWD is a very capable and comfortable car. I agree it lacks a passion. Lacking passion is also the RL. Technically a great car, but I can't get past the exterior appearance and tight space. Haven't seen an STS AWD yet, so haven't driven that car (very pricey but they'll probably subsidize the leases alot as they have in the past). I loved the M35x. I really like the rosewood trim. Has anyone seen an umbria gray car on the road? How's it look? Any opinion if the M35x AWD system will perform well in snow with the stock tires? (I honestly will never get around to putting on winter tires).

    I really have enjoyed reading this discussion group and appreciate your feedback!!
  • big_jimbig_jim Posts: 27

    I drove all of those cars, and then bought the one that I wasn't even going to test drive....a rear wheel drive 2006 530i. I flat out had a blast driving it, and cringe at the thought that I only drove it because it was down the road from the Acura dealership, and I had some free time. (Hated the RL, btw) A6 was probably my next choice, but the fact that the salesperson seemed annoyed that a guy driving a hyuandi was coming in for a test drive cemented the fact that the 530i was way more fun to drive...and that was the old smaller engine.

    And yes - I will be springing for snow tires since I am in MN. However, I know several folks here in MN that do just fine without them. If you are looking at AWD because you are in MN (mnjoe??) you may want to reconsider. The rwd's are just more fun to drive (and they have traction control.)
  • mnjoemnjoe Posts: 36
    Being in MN is why I'm looking at the AWDs. I haven't driven the 530i for that reason ... you think I should take a look, huh?
  • big_jimbig_jim Posts: 27
    I do, if for no other reason than your own peace of mind. Heck, you've driven everything else! My guess is you'll either love it or hate it. I am in the Twin Cities, and ordered my loaded up 530i a couple of weeks ago. It just completed production yesterday. I too had a hard time with it being RWD, but then took a hard look at the number of times I benefit from my AWD every year. Answer: Not many. And even on those (snowstorm) days, while my AWD vehicle kept me on the road, traffic was still so bad that I never got over 15 mph anyway. So I wound up going off the deep end and got the sport package, just to make sure that I will buy snow tires :)

    However, you will have a hard time finding an '06 on the lot. The remaining 05's should give you a good feel though, as they are the same except '06 has a bigger engine. And if you are still hell-bent on AWD, the 530xi will be out soon. You can even order one today!

    Good luck.
  • turnbowmturnbowm Posts: 76
    Engine size for the 2005 and the 2006 530i is the same.... 3.0-liters. The 2006, however, has 30 more hp (255 vs 225).

  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    If you decide you dont need AWD, keep in mind that for the price of a loaded 530i, you can get into a V8 from Infiniti. Handling, power, reliability, all go to Infiniti. Remind me why the BMW is worth it again?
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    Because one wants to drive the car, not talk to it? And you want to drive with AWD?
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,301
    Because no matter what the autorags say, nothing out there in the luxury sports sedan category drives like a BMW.
  • pasgenerpasgener Posts: 33
    I agree. The M drives just as well as a 5-series, and an M45 certainly beats a 530. In terms of every other measure, the M is superior (interior is nicer, interior space is greater, and there is more available gadgetry). Of course the M does not have a propeller-logo on the front, which is important to many.

    One reason to opt for the 5-series is if you simply MUST have a manual transmission (not available on the M).
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    Remind me why the BMW is worth it again?

    No use. You think the X3 is a "tarted up Rav4." Hilarious.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,343
    We all want, perhaps NEED to justify and rationalize why we did what we did with respect to -- where we are -- car buying. I am confident I would have been delighted with the Audi A6 and even though I am, thus far, delighted with my decision to go with the Infiniti M35x, I do understand the statements "nothing drives like a BMW" or words to that effect. The purchase of a BMW in MN is particularly impressive. The fact that the BMW is the only premium lux/sport car with a stick shift is, I am certain, why it was selected. If I were NOT such an AWD bigot, I can certainly understand going for the 530i 6speed manual myself.

    Moreover, the lease prices on these 5 series cars were darn near $200 per month less than the Audi A6's when comparably MSRP'd. The M35x too comes in about like that when compared with the Audi.

    But I have to take the automatic transmission -- a fact that my wife will not let me forget, as she equates the auto with AARP (unfortunately she has a point).

    So, as has been said by many of us here on the forums and certainly by the editors of at least 3 or 4 prominent auto magazines, "with the possible exception of the Jaguar, none of these premium lux/sporty cars in the $50K class is a bad car or one that you will not be happy with." Many of the editors love the M's, some the A6 (Automobile magazine for instance) -- when the "objective points" are laid out, the differences are often quite slim between number 1 and number 5 (out of a field of 7 or 8 usually).

    If there had been a 530xi at an Infiniti price (or close), and the promise to keep it available with a manual transmission was unbroken, that would probably have been my choice, too.

    Of course ditto the A6 -- especially if it were 6 speed manual equipped.

    So, as some have accused me, "I settled" for a M35x -- but after having driven many of the competition's offerings, I don't feel as if I settled on anything (considering I was unwilling to go 2WD even for the stick shift.)

    The Infiniti does feel very Germanic -- almost but not quite. But certainly close enough to not keep me awake wondering "what have I done?"
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    “The Infiniti does feel very Germanic -- almost but not quite.”

    Glad to hear you understand this. The hardcore Japanese-car crowd doesn’t get it, never will. They use to say that performance wasn’t important. Now that performance points are showing up in reviews it means something to them. If they really were bent on value as they claim, they should buy the lower priced Japanese cars that don’t perform and, as we know, there are plenty of them. I mean, why pay more money for a performance car when you don’t need that kind of vehicle?

    FYI, the following comes from a someone who posts on the “BMW 5-Series Sedans” thread:

    “I have a new 06 530i… I am a sales manager at an Infiniti dealership…”

    That should raise an eyebrow or two. If I were interested in an Infiniti M, I’d go over there and pick his brains. Would be great to know what his pitch is to customers who are cross shopping these two cars.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,343
    Thus far, NO ONE, has come up with a 100% German feeling car -- not Cadillac's fine CTS, not Infiniti and certainly nothing from Lexus. The phrase from VW's yes VW's really did describe it best (when translated, of course) "the driving pleasure" or "the feel behind the wheel" (Far Fig New Ton, phonetically, sort of.) Yet, after tons of test drives, the M35x came darn close to the feel of an Audi A6 -- and I was most impressed with the M when I test drove it back to back with a BMW 330xi -- same test route, etc.

    There is, currently, a certain feel that the Audi, BMW, Mercedes, even and some VW's too, have that the Japanese engineers, I am now convinced (because of the M) are cognizant of and want to emulate. The M has indeed "emulated" the feel of the German cars, particularly the BMW (because the M is somewhat less nose heavy than the Audis, IMHO).

    The M35x with a sport suspension option and a 6speed manual -- now that would be a remarkable car. But, the Japanese in this class (and frankly Audi and Mercedes, too) are pretty conservative and pragmatic. My guess is they know their audience.

    Of course the two BMW dealers here in Cincinnati, do sell manual 3's and 5's -- but if you search the inventory on a Sunday afternoon (wandering up and down the lot, peering into each and every 3 and 5) is is clear to see that a significant majority of these cars have been ordered (by the dealer, unsold) with automatics.

    The customers must buy a heck of a lot more autos than sticks. And, one last observation, virtually all 3's with AWD (X-Drive) are automatics. Only one stick could be found yesterday (and yes, I know there is a new 3 coming soon, but this lack of sticks in the AWD versions is not new).

    Mercedes doesn't even offer a stick with AWD -- and they make it clear "4Matic" is its name.

    Finally, the sales rep who sold me the Infiniti M35x used to sell BMW's -- the sales rep who sold my wife her BMW X3 used to sell Infinitis and still thinks the G35's "aren't bad" -- for Nissan's.

    We all have our biases.

    Had I a magic wand, I would want an A6 Sline with a manual transmission. It will never happen, unless I somehow acquire Jay Leno money.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 64,749
    Funny.. I made the rounds at The BMW Store on Friday... Not many E46 3-series left..

    And, without fail, non-sport packages were automatic, sport packages were manual.. which makes sense, but it does cut down on your options..

    And, interestingly enough.... about 5 330xi left... I don't want one, but with the $4K incentive, you might be able to make a good deal..


    Prices Paid, Lease Questions, SUVs

  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    Ever consider the S4?
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    I have two wonder if VW is heading away from the core teutonic driving is our #1 kind of thing. For example, none of the reviews I've seen of the new Jetta have particularly praised its handling or steering. From what I understand, a Mazda3 can mop the floor with it in terms of performance. Then there's the Passat, which appears to be going in a mini-Phaeton direction. Based on the prices of the Jetta, I have to assume that a loaded Passat VR6 will be into TL\G\IS350 money, and I think all three cars will be able to out handle it.
  • There seems to be a real disconnect between most of the auto mags and the posters on this and other boards regarding the RL. The RL places very near the top in most comparo's yet there seems to be a real dislike of it among posters looking in this price range. I haven't driven one yet, but I'm curious as to why the scribes like it so much given their long time adoration of BMW (which to me would be the antithesis of the Acura driving experience), while most test drivers are under whelmed.
  • mnjoemnjoe Posts: 36
    I want to restate that I really appreciate all of your comments. Mark, we seem to think alot alike.
    Anyone seen the umbria grey?
    On the issue of the RL, I just didn't like the exterior. The drive was fine. Just no spirit.
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    “I haven't driven one yet, but I'm curious as to why the scribes like it so much given their long time adoration of BMW (which to me would be the antithesis of the Acura driving experience), while most test drivers are under whelmed.”

    I believe people have a hard time overcoming prejudices. They have a lock on this V8 thing and the previous vanilla RL. Also, Acura did compromise the size and it’s an optionless take-it-or-leave-it car. And it will never gain acceptance among the RWD people. So its market is limited. I haven’t driven it yet but when I see it on the road its gait suggests a nice tight ride and they seem to be driving them hard. It also has the sportiest and cleanest appearance out of all the cars in this group IMO.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,343
    I didn't mean to suggest that there were 2005 3 series spreading far and wide as the eye could see. In fact I grant that the upcoming new 3 (and 5) may be part of the reason for the configurations that are remaining. We did see 1 X3 3.0 with sport and stick -- I bet that one will go "really discounted" if it ever goes at all.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,343
    Until I saw the Liquid Platinum and the Bourbon Interior, I had thought Umbria and Bourbon would be THE combination.

    I have seen Umbria and I have seen Bourbon -- not together, however.

    I was able to test an M in Platinum with a Bourbon interior -- the black dash makes the contrast work -- for me.

    I don't understand why the Vanilla is not offered with the Bourbon -- that might have been my first choice.

    And, why no Emerald Green Pearl offerings (a la Audi and BMW?) -- the Green A6 with the Amaretto (close to Bourbon) interior is quite attractive (IMHO).

    The Japanese (perhaps exluding Lexus) seem to limit our choices far more than the Germans -- wonder why.

    I saw a new Lexus GS this weekedn in a dark (ruby?) red pearl color -- beautiful. Of course both the A6 and the M have an interesting red color, but it is far from subtle.

    I really liked the Acura TL, 6speed, that I drove -- one and only one drawback -- torque steer. Big time torque steer -- made the thing scream to be either RWD or AWD (my pref, of course, to the latter).

    I got to sit in the front and back of the Acura RL -- never did get to drive it. The interior was "almost" Audi like (like the offspring of an Audi and a Lexus). I liked it. I saw the Accord's features in the RL, and the BMW butt. I would hardly say I didn't like it, but it certainly seemed small inside. The test reports about its "anemic" (and I am quoting) engine did confuse me -- almost as if it was the number of pistons it has rather than its performance that matters. Then the car journalists turn right around and praise the M (even with the V6!) go figure.

    The interior of the M and the A6 were my faves -- although I did "appreciate" what Lexus was trying to do with the new GS. The new GS interior seemed like a very upscale "men's club" -- lots of wood and high back leather chairs, etc etc. I think you need an ascot to drive a Lexus -- sadly, I don't even own an ascot.

    Anyway -- Umbria exterior looks great to me -- I think it would beg to be configured with a Bourbon interior. I personally just couldn't take an all black interior -- too confining, too closed "feeling," but that's a personal pref kind of thing -- it probably would look great with the black leather (as long as I didn't have to live with it).
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    The problem I have with the automags (and Edmunds as well) in regards to the RL is that when they compare it to the other cars, they seem to have some kind of mental block when considering its competition, that or they bite the Acura line without question. The RL doesnt compete with the GS430 and Infiniti M45, but thats what it is very often compared to (including Edmunds). The next line usually says "what a screaming value!". The RL is not a screaming value. The box might say 300 horses, and the Acura PR sheet might say it competes with the V8s, but there are still only 6 cylinders, and the cars actual performance is right square in V6 territory. Mark, the "anemic" trait the press mentions comes from a lack of low-end torque, a trait the VQ 3.5 does not share. It IS a Honda engine after all. Honda and low-end grunt dont mix. When properly compared with the rest of the V6s in the class, the RL's price is merely competitive...providing you want it loaded. If not, a faster M35 can be had for less money.

    I dont think the RL is a bad car. I just think the M completely outclasses it.
  • mnjoemnjoe Posts: 36
    I agree that the natural competitor to the RL is the M35 or GS300. When loaded with options they all go for about 50K.
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,343
    For several years -- especially early on, not so much since 2000 -- the Acura RL was said to have targeted the Audi A6 (nee 100) -- the logic was that the FWD Audi (even though quattro was available) was an upscale VW (Quantum, or something) and that the FWD Acura was an upscale Honda (Accord, etc). For whatever reason, Audi kept pushing its AWD competence (especially in the US) and with a glimmer here and there its performance competence: first with the Audi 5000 turbo, then the 5000 CS quattro and moving right along to the 100, 100CS and the 200 with the 20 valve engine and the powerful turbo. The A class Audis perhaps paved the way for the S4, S6, then again the S4, S8 and the RS classes. Acura went into "asleep at the wheel mode" from what I can tell.

    The new RL, yep, that lack of low end torque even with its high hp (must be for bragging rights only) was once again aimed at the Audi brand (some even wondered if the bustle butt suggested that Acura had even fancied a run at BMW -- I say "na baby na" to that), hasn't been enough to ruffle either the V6 or the V8 "M's" and I often wonder how many folks cross shop the A6 3.2 and the RL (hmm, maybe more than I would think, perhaps).

    The new RL, however, seems to me to be darn close to a bargain if you attempt to content up an A6 or a BMW 5 to have the same number of gizmos.

    SH-AWD -- what a great idea and apparently well executed. But I read it was really something that was needed to neutralize the RL's twin demons: too much weight on the front end and front wheel drive biased All Wheel Drive (a la Volvo). This is somewhat odd, considering that the engineers who designed this thing must've read the criticisms about Audi quattro's f/r weight distribution (too much weight on the nose and yet still decent handling despite this imbalance) and often "just passable" 50 50 torque split (passable according to those folks who write about these cars for a living, that is).

    When given almost a clean sheet to birth a new flagship, one does have to wonder about some of the choices Acura (for one) made. Of course, I wonder why Audi didn't press forward a little bit faster to create a better balanced A6. I can forgive the delay in making quattro RWD biased since at least it was already 50 50.

    Anyway, the Acura RL is still hardly ever seen on the highways and byways around and in Cincinnati -- but the A6 and even the Infiniti and Lexus are starting to be less and less rare. This is somewhat more telling, too, given that the Acura was pretty early coming to market, at least compared with the Infiniti and Lexus models.

    With a pause to refresh, I must say, however, that the A6 3.2 on paper (I have driven both versions several times) is also somewhat of a disappointment in the "quickness" category. I often wonder how marketing can let the outgoing A6 S-Line sit on the showroom floor next to the new identically priced A6 3.2 and be over a half a second slower to freeway speeds?

    Perhaps it was thought the new A6 3.2 would be compared with the outgoing A6 3.0 (at often almost $10,000 less -- I say, "no way!")

    The winners (based on unit sales), apparently, are the Japanese and even BMW's "old" (hardly) 530. The Audi is doing well in comparison to itself a year ago, but is not doing as well as the usual suspects from Acura, BMW, Infiniti and Lexus. So the Acura is too small, too weak and too expensive? While I must agree with a lot of the stuff I read about these cars both here and in the magazines, one thing is certain, the Japanese Premium Lux/Performance cars appear to be "comparably priced at MSRP (or somewhat less)" and outselling the Germans, save for the BMW (which may be doing so well recently due to some incentives.)

    Acura it would seem needs to work a bit more on the performance part of the equation, otherwise it seems they did a pretty good job with the RL. Of course, as someone here said (you I think, Mike) the "M" does outclass it.
  • cstilescstiles Posts: 465
    The large majority of the posts on the M35/45 and RL boards on Edmunds are coming from around 10 (or fewer) people. This is not a statistically relevant sampling--at least not as fas as the M and RL are concerned. It may say more about the fact that some of us need to get out more, instead of being parked in front of our computers or Blackberries at home or at work (guilty as charged).

    The RL marches to its own drum. On one hand it is "Honda-boring" (or "Honda-sensible?"), while on the other hand it offers a unique blend of technology, driving experience, performance, and reliability. It is a FWD platform stretched to go AWD. The Infiniti is a RWD platform stretched to go AWD (in the M35X). The driving dynamics will be different. The Nissan VQ also has more low end punch, although it doesn't rev to nosebleed territory like the Honda motors can do all day long.

    Honda V6 power must rev (buttery) high to find its powerband. Not what some consumers expect in their luxury boat, especially if they start with the notion that a car should at least offer a V8. That has never been Honda's philosophy. They kicked and screamed before they dropped a V6 into the Accord, since they've always believed that the VTEC 4 cylinder is the better choice in terms of efficiency and even performance. Honda engineers just plain think differently. Almost like those BMW engineers kicking and screaming before they finally put cup holders in their cars. And to date, Audi makes some of the worst cup holders on Mother Earth. I give them brownie points for that since it means they are focusing on other (more important) features.

    The RL will also appeal to a more conservative customer who probably doesn't care to post comments on Edmunds and also couldn't care less that it is half a second slower to 60mph. But I'm positive that Honda would love to shake free from the stigma of the previous RL's, which appealed to the Country Club, retired set, rather than you and me. The RL driver may also be more like the A6 driver, while the M35/45 driver is probably more like a BMW driver. The Lexus driver is probably more of a blend, simply because powerful Toyota has the resources to appeal to a more diverse driver population.

    Just my very unscientific opinion on this fine Monday. By the way, my wife drives an 05 RL, which puts me behind the wheel about 20% of the time. As long as she's happy, I enjoy the spoils.
  • cstilescstiles Posts: 465
    Agree with Mark that the RL is a relative bargain. Especially at around $45K to $45.5K, which is where most current sales are ringing in. That still delivers a $1500 to $2000 profit to the dealer.
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