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Luxury Performance Sedans



  • I have had an RL for about 9 months, and I love the car more each day. Dealer has been outstanding and I have not had a single regret...I think we got a remarkable car that we would have clearly chosen over the usual competition even if it had not been a good $6,000 less. I don't know if snow driving is a consideration, but the SH-AWD is wonderful. I just recently had my first chance to drive the RL on snow, and it was simply terrific. (Note I do have snows on it - and they are expensive as only Pirelli makes a snow in the RL's unusual tire size, but given the bargain we got on the car I splurged!) Only downside I have seen with the RL is that it is strictly a 4 person car and trunk size is not great. But the technology has been flawless, we enjoy the style and the class of the interior, and I find the drive to be tight, fun, and powerful.
  • Thanks very much to all who have provided advise and insight. This past weekend I tested the Volvo S80 (AWD), Lexus GS350 (AWD), Caddy STS V8 (AWD), and the Mercedes ML320. The SUV was not really where I was looking, but the AWD combined with their new diesel had me interested. I still plan on checking out the Audi A6, Acura RL and the Infinity M class before making my choice.

    The Volvo was a blast to drive and was very comfortable, the Lexus not as powerful, but just beautiful inside and out, the Caddy turned me off (rude salesperson, thumping noise on the front left, not thrilled with the styling either). The Merc was impressive...their new diesel was quiet and really jumped when you asked it to. Considering the mileage I'm faced with (35-40K per year) I'm leaning toward the diesel as I think it'll have a longer life span.

    I'll be back with final decision by next week (for anyone who cares), and thank you all again for your time and thoughts.

    Happy New Year
  • You must have driven the S80 8 cylinder, right? The 303hp lexus is quick. Was the Volvo technology on a par with the Lexus? I don't like the idea that the Volvo AWD is based on front wheel drive and has FWD emphasis. Haven't driven it and I am interested in your comments after you drive the M. I've ruled out the RL. Right now I'm between the GS and the M35X.

  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Considering the mileage I'm faced with (35-40K per year) I'm leaning toward the diesel as I think it'll have a longer life span.

    Considering its a 'Bama Mercedes, you're probably going to run into electrical problems and other issues LONG before any engine problems show up. If you like the ML, drive the X5. It's just a better car in every way. The FX35 is also worth looking at. Nissan VQs last forever.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    You must have driven the S80 8 cylinder, right? The 303hp lexus is quick. Was the Volvo technology on a par with the Lexus? I don't like the idea that the Volvo AWD is based on front wheel drive and has FWD emphasis.

    Perhaps the S80's torque advantage makes it "feel" stronger off the line, but the GS350 is the faster car, at least to 60mph. With most AWD cars, you really can't tell where the torque is in normal driving conditions. The Volvo's system despite being almost entirely FWD still eliminates any torque steer, which is a big problem with their T5 FWD cars.

    The only AWD cars in the class that are willing to oversteer like a RWD car are the M35x and the 530xi, although I haven't driven a GS AWD with VDIM turned off. Even then, it wouldn't be as fun or have the control of the M or 5.
  • I'm sure you're right that it's the S80's torque. The V8 AWD really pulls in low rpms, and strangely enough, that's where I usually need it since I don't do track days. You're right about the lack of torque steer. In a 20 minute drive I felt none. Also, for me, the lack of RWD oversteer is just fine. After driving AWD and 4WD vehicles for 25 years, I really prefer the precision of going where I'm pointing without any "funny business," and it seems that the Volvo delivers that. (My X5 does that extremely well for an SUV.)
  • I read with keen interest the C&D comparison of the three middle cars from Audi, BMW & Mercedes. The Mercedes won with a one point greater score than the Audi. The BMW brought up the rear.

    As I read the article, I thought, "well for the money, the Audi almost could be called a bargain, if a car costing over $70,000 could ever be called that."

    Then Motor Trend tests the same three cars and I was nearly certain the Audi would, this time, be a "close third place." I would still think, so I predicted, the Audi would be the "economy" car version of the German super-sedan (third place or no.)

    What's this? Motor Trend, despite its conclusion that the Audi is the "least quick" of the three, declares the Audi the winner ahead of the BMW and the Mercedes.

    Then, I read the text closely and I see a word that I find difficult to associate with almost ANY Audi (especially when there is a BMW in the mix) -- the word: "Balance."

    The S6 has ~60% of its weight on the front end, the engine is ahead of the front wheels, it is a bit heavier, underpowered and AWD (although it IS Rear Biased AWD this time) -- how in the wide wide world of sports could the word balance(d) be part of the text used to describe this car?

    You read it, thus far I can find no link to the article; but, nevertheless, there it is "balance" in English for all the world to see.

    Next up, Consumer's Report on frequency of repair and mean time between disk drive crashes, etc.

    Now, when I think balance, I do indeed think of a capability to "oversteer," more like a proper RWD car. Yet, with my hand and arm vertical, I CAN attest that at the Audi driving schools with 50 50 quattro cars (which is to say nose heavy and not exactly RWD biased), we get them going essentially in oval shaped turns, steered almost entirely with the throttle (a la RWD oversteering.)

    What is this world coming to?

    Now, in a perfect world (if ever one could be,) wouldn't there be some reason for grave concern on the other German's part, if Audi were to move its engine back (say just a few inches) and re-bias all TorSen diffs to 40/60 F/R?

    Then, just for spite, if they decided to put two tiny turbos on their I4, V6, V8, V10 and V12 engines, and call them "R"S "whatevers." . . .I wonder what something like THAT would perform like?

    Oh wait, they've decided to do all that -- and more (think Torque Vectoring Technology) in upcoming models.

    The point of all this, besides some revelation of incredulity on my part (upon seeing both C7D and MT praise the new S6 so highly), was to remark that my personal experience (which, thus far has been with 50 50 F/R torque "splitted" quattros) with Audis is they will oversteer, wag their tails and powerslide around corners.

    Perhaps you are correct that only the M35X and 530XI are the "only" LPS cars (here on edmunds) willing to oversteer. Perhaps my experience and some of these kind of reviews are the exceptions -- but I must confess to a bit of a grin developing upon reading the reviews of the über Audi A6.

    Finally, having tested the M35X EXTENSIVELY before plunking down my deposit (even though I later cancelled and went with the A6), I am hereby proclaiming the M35X, Audi A6 q and the 530XI as "willing" driving partners, far more alike than different.

    And, glad to know the Volvo despite being FWD biased has apparently tamed torque steer.

    Which leads me again to declare, these guys all produce very fine, very similar LPS cars that even with disparate AWD systems and philosophies will, as a group, acquit themselves well against virtually all contenders.

  • dhamiltondhamilton Posts: 875
    I thought at one time you where saying something about Audi re-engineering quattro. I know that it's getting rear drive biased across the line. But I thought you where saying something different was in the works. Did I make this up?

    Also, what do you know about the new A4?

    Sorry for the off-topic post.
  • quattro is the name Audi gives to its AWD systems.

    All quattros are not the same, all AWD Audis, thus far, are quattros however.

    Most quattros use one of two flavors of TorSen (torque sensing) mechanical diffs: the majority of TorSen quattros have a 50 50 F/R torque split.

    Several quattros (more and more are in the pipeline) use a TorSen diff with a 40 60 F/R torque split. A few Audis use Haldex systems (these Audis have transverse mounted engines) and they are, as I understand it, FWD biased (I believe as much as 90 10, but I am willing, ready and able to stand corrected on that torque split.) Regardless, these Haldex system equipped Audis still receive a quattro badge.

    Audi AG's board, apparently, has vetoed a "suggestion" for Audi to offer a pure RWD car. Perhaps more to the person, Dr. Piech, still one of great influence and power within the corporation, has quashed such an idea.

    However, what is in the pipeline is:

    o all audi AWD diffs will be 40/60 F/R torque split [TorSen quattros] in the next few years (possible exclusion/exception for the Haldex equipped cars until or unless this too can be changed.)

    o better balanced weight distribution (probably not 50 50 with the current north south engine layout, but more than incrementally better than 60 40 F/R weight distribution)

    o adoption of a new technology: "Cross-Axle Torque Vectoring(TM)."

    I look at this technology as the opposite of ESP, in that ESP essentially is about applying brakes and reducing engine power, not literally redistributing engine power.

    Here is what little I can find about what might be another Audi innovation:

    "Torque Vectoring technology enables moment-by-moment redistribution of drive-torque in response to driver demand, vehicle speed and road conditions. In doing so, it enables the vehicle to follow the driver's intended path, ultimately leading to a potentially safer, more enjoyable driving experience. . . .

    System actuation is flexible depending on vehicle architecture, compatible with hydraulic, electro-hydraulic and electro-mechanical control strategies. The Torque Vectoring technology in the demonstration system is capable of delivering a cross-axle torque bias of 1,400 nanometers and differential wheel speed delta of 20 percent. Response time targets for the demonstrator vehicle have been set at a maximum of 50 milliseconds from request to start of torque activation and 100 milliseconds to achieve 90 percent full torque demand."

    For more information, visit Ricky Ricardo

    Couple all of this stuff with diesel technology innovations and implementations and throw in a 7 speed DSG transmission and some other neat features in the pipeline and, well, competition is very good for the LPS customer set (like many of us here on this forum.)


    P.S. Who knows about the new A4, I have seen the spy photos, write ups and conjecture on the Web and in print. Ditto the Q5 addition to the Audi SUV lineup (or is that crossover?)

    The new A4 and A5 seem to be coming to market with their engines pushed back a few inches, improving F/R weight balance, also will offer rear biased TorSen quattro diffs in the AWD models. Rumor mill does not mention any new engines (other than those we already know about.) I find this latter data point confusing now that BMW has a 3.0L turbo engine with 6 in-line cylinders pumping out an "easy" 300HP with better miles per gallon than the previous normally asipirated 225HP 3.0 engine and this new blown engine has bags of torque, darn near weapons grade if it is only asked to power a car as heavy as a 3 series.

    BMW, coming soon a 535 model. You would think Audi with only a 3.2 (maybe a 3.6) a 4.2 and then a V10 (in the A6 at least) would consider something hotter than the current 3.2 and smaller than the current 4.2 to keep up with their Munich competition.

    The new A4 moves the bar in lux and performance up a notch or two. At some point, of course, the A6 sized cars will have to move up a notch or three unless we will accept the smaller siblings as members of the LPS club (the 3 series, A4, C class, G class, etc?)

    Lots of speculation on this engine thing, thus far, BMW seems to be in a league of its own. I mean it, if you do nothing else in the near future, you must drive a BMW with the "35" engine in it. Wow! :surprise:
  • dhamiltondhamilton Posts: 875
    One of the things I was saying on the S4 board is that the 335 renders the S4 pointless. like performance, for a lot less.
  • The S4 would be my first choice for something slightly over $7,000 less apples to apples.

    This, sad fact, does not make the S4 pointless, IMHO. Just overpriced.

    And, we can all go down THAT path if we're not careful.

    There is a new SUX 6000 from "someone" that matches the LPS specs (on paper), looks (subjective anyway), features and creature comforts (mostly objectively) and even "apparent" build quality.

    Yet, most of the LPS class cars are threatened not.

    Heck, I took a LOOONNNNG test drive in a new BMW X5 this weekend (the thing was just south of $60K and it had the 6 cylinder engine in it), I also tested (for the fun of it) a Jeep SRT-8 (with all options it was barely $46K.)

    On the "grin meter" the SRT-8 was 10 teeth, the Bimmer maybe 6. The BMW was over a $1000 a month on a lease. The Jeep was a lot less.

    The gas mileage would suck on the Jeep.

    The Jeep well, is a Jeep -- but I doubt the valet at my country club would care one way or another just as long as I tipped him equally.

    The old folks at the country club are moving to Escalades and gussied up GMC versions of the same; the younger folks have the entry level or LPS cars du jour but certainly would ooh and ahh the SRT.

    No one would confuse them however. And, I doubt BMW fears the Jeep -- even though the Jeep would always show it tail lights. The BMW was a bit more comfy, but it was also more like a big sedan -- it had lost a little bit of its BMW-ness in the transition to a bigger (sort of) Lux SAV. The Jeep gained a lot of crispness and save for the back up camera seemed about at the same equipment level from a creature comfort standpoint.

    Overall, I liked the BMW a lot -- but damned if I could find the $14,000 difference for a vehicle that had some trouble getting out of its own way (power wise.)

    And the beat goes on: the S4 is, to me, a bit better performer and more to my tastes. But for the money, a 335xi sedan (March 2007) would get my $ vote over the S4 anyday for that kinda $ difference.

    Drive it like you live.

    Can't wait til they starting spreading the "35" engine across more and more Bimmers.

    Audi? Are you listening? :confuse:
  • dhamiltondhamilton Posts: 875
    Audi are you listening.

    Also the price gap is even bigger when you figure

    1. No gas guzzler tax on the 335. [$1300 savings in Texas]
    2. Much better fuel economy [If one stays out of the boost :blush: ]
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    BMW, coming soon a 535 model. You would think Audi with only a 3.2 (maybe a 3.6) a 4.2 and then a V10 (in the A6 at least) would consider something hotter than the current 3.2 and smaller than the current 4.2 to keep up with their Munich competition.

    Audi has always been the slowest\last of the German trio to boost displacement and horsepower, have they not? Wasn't Audi the last one to push their V6 past 2.8L, the last one to break 200hp with their V6, etc. Same goes for their V8, the A8 is just now catching up to the kind of power that the 7 has had for awhile.
  • If memory serves, Audi marketed the A6 (in the US at least) with three engines two 6's and one 8. BMW offered similarly positioned cars/engines.

    But, for "even money" you could have a 6 in a BMW or an 8 in an Audi. The 2.7T engine in the A6 middle child was pitted against a much less powerful 6 in a BMW -- that I assume was meant to be positioned similarly.

    The very first A8 started out life at 300HP while BMW 7's had less than 300 (282 as I recall.)

    In days gone by, Audis offered more turbos throughout the line, equal to or higher than HP numbers, generally stronger torque numbers (and at lower RPM's). These days it seemed to be heading down a path of [non-permissible content removed] for tat.

    The A6 comes to market with 255HP in the popular model while (for a time) the 5 settled for 225. Then the new 530 comes along with what? 255HP, same as Audis powerplant.

    They both placed these 255HP 6's into their A4 and 3 series and their A6 and 5 series. Audi stopped importing a lower powered A6, but BMW for some reason continued with the lesser 5 series. Meanwhile back at the ranch, BMW was working on boosting the output of the 255HP i6 via turbocharging after Audi had dropped it as of the 2004 MY (in the V6 at least.)

    The 4.2 is currently outputting 350HP in its typical state and considerably more in higher states of tune (and of course at times with turbocharging and at times NOT.)

    We also have both a V10 and a V12 powerplant from Audi (and BMW.)

    Currently Audi seems only to be missing a "middle child" engine (and maybe a "super child" engine, but at least that one seems to be virtually a foregone conclusion); and, that engine would be a 3.2T FSI one would imagine (or something altogether new that we simply don't know about.)

    But BMW plans a 535, already has 2 335's and has promised a 335xi sedan in Q1 2007. Audi, thus far, seems to have no counter punch to a 535 -- and this doesn't seem to be in keeping with history, at least from my not entirely complete memory.

    So in answer to your question, no that Audi have not always been the slowest/last of the German trio to boost displacement and horsepower. Sometimes they were ahead of the curve, sometimes behind. Currently, I am suggesting I see them getting behind if there is no boost (pun intended) of the power of the A6 3.2 (or A4 3.2) -- something in the range of 300HP would seem to be called for, especially once the 535 hits the NA market.

    There will be customers who want a V6, not a V8, but want some more horses and torque (and a bit better gas mileage.)

    At this moment, somewhat uncharacteristically IMHO, Audi does not appear to have a counterpunch.

    When a 335 can be had for $7,000 less than an S4 and offers similar performance, the pro S4 argument becomes difficult to win. I can only imagine what will happen when there is a 535 if the only Audi counterpunch is a 4.2L V8 (for much more money.)

    Just my perspective, of course. :shades:
  • But, what if Audis A6 4.2 is LESS money than a new 535xi?

    Will that win friends and influence customers?

    Or will the 535 be somehow compared with the then most potent 6 cylinder version of the A6 (and a similar offering from Mercedes in the E class?)

    I do remember my friend's i6 5 series was MORE money than my V8 A6 back in 2001 -- and I had quattro too.

    Nope, nope, nope -- I still think Audi needs a blown or at least more potent middle child 6 cylinder.

    That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it!

  • dhamiltondhamilton Posts: 875
    Yes, I agree. Audi needs to blow some sweet wind in that 3.2 motor. Or, maybe, [fingers crossed] they are going to bring the 3.6 to market, and blow a little love n it.

    Either way, they can't stand pat. [no pun intended Pat :blush: ]

    Also, I sent them a very forceful email about how crappy their ED program is when compared to BMW. It's little things like that that make me think that AOA is run by suits, badly in need of a lobotomy.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "Or, maybe, [fingers crossed] they are going to bring the 3.6 to market..."

    Does Audi have a 3.6 liter variant of their V6?

    Best Regards,
  • Yes, no, but.

    Sorta, kinda, maybe.

    Check out the Q7 with the 6.

    It is a 3.6L.

    I heard it won't fit in an A6, tho.

    Too fat.

    I read about a 3.2T FSI mule that was deliberately tuned to be 295HP and some number OVER 300 for torque. I think it was "tuned" to be 295 so as not to threaten the 4.2 which at the time had a 310 or 320HP rating and perhaps just at 300 pound feet (at a higher RPM.)

    Now, however, therefore, notwithstanding: BMW's 3.0 turbo is easily 300+ HP and sure nuff, the BMW sales reps say the 3.0 will somewhat cannibalize the sales of the V8's. It's the torque, it's the torque don't you know -- it comes on so strong, so early and then seems to just keep on in a nice linear fashion, well, it somewhat DOES make the V8 less necessary.

    Then you add to it the blown engine's capabilities as the altitude rises and couple that with ever better economy and emissions, and again a 350HP V8 seems EXPENSIVE and darn near a "why bother" when we all know how easily a slightly hotter chipset can be put into the blown 6 banger and up its HP and torque another 10 - 20% without even breaking a sweat.

    Hmm, a mild chip upgrade in the "35" Bimmer engine would take it to 330HP and add what "at least" another 30 pound feet.

    Oh yea, Shipo, the answer to you question remains, "sort of."

  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Ahhh, you're talking about the VW VR6 engine. You are correct, it won't fit because it is too long (nearly as long as an I6).

    Best Regards,
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    You win the bet Dewey. The totals for 2006:

    E-Class: 50,195
    5-Series: 56,756

  • drtraveldrtravel Posts: 395
    Other LPS 2006 Sales figues:

    Lexus GS - 27,390
    Cadillac STS - 25,676
    Infiniti M - 25,658
    Audi A6 - 16,216
    Acura RL - 11,501
  • dhamiltondhamilton Posts: 875
    what will fit in the next model. If the clutch is moved back, [four inches according to rumors] and the engine supposedly fitting in differently, then indeed, who knows.

    So mark, are you saying that the new torque vectoring will work more like the Nissan ATTESSA? Or will it still be a full time AWD system.
  • rockyleerockylee Wyoming, MichiganPosts: 13,994
    GM, is working on a overhead-cam V8 codenamed "Ultra" which is most likely to debut in the 2009' Cadillac STS. It is expected to make power numbers similar the big-bore Mercedes Benz's engine fleet. :)

  • dhamiltondhamilton Posts: 875
    I just read in the German car blog that the new A5 will be able to fit and will come with the 3.6 FSI engine.

    So it stands to reason sense the A5 will share a platform with the next gen A4, that the next gen A4 will have a 3.6.

    Now, what will the horsepower and torque be at that point?

    I also read that they are working on an inline 5 cylinder turbo for future TTS, and TT RS models. That could be a really cool motor.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    That Audi number is somewhat of a letdown, such a car should sell much better than that.

  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    That Audi number is somewhat of a letdown, such a car should sell much better than that.

    Well, the A6 and A8 have only been on par with\better than their competition for a single generation. Its going to take more time than that to convince American LPS buyers that Audi is on level footing with the 5s and Es that they continue to buy in droves.

    Somebody is definitely fired over the RL's performance. 58% of the target is not what I'd call a good result.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I guess you're right.

    I predict Honda will ok the V8 and RWD platform needed to make Acura a real luxury marque. If they don't then I have no idea what else they can do with an Accord platform stretched across and entire brand up to and including the "flagship". If the next NSX can have a V10 then shave off 2 cylinders and poof(!) a V8 is born.

    I thought I'd read somewhere that the RL was going to have a cheaper base model this year sometime?

  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    I thought I'd read somewhere that the RL was going to have a cheaper base model this year sometime?

    I'm not really sure where they can go in terms of pricing. The TL Type-S can now stretch up to $37K or so, and the RL's actual sale price is $40K. The RL is already down on features compared to its rivals. If they cut out the NAV, voice command, and the fancy stereo, you're left with a car that has the features of an early '90s A6.

    If Acura wants to sell this car, they need to stop being so "Acura" about it. This is the full-on luxury category, if you cheap out, people will know, and they won't buy. 8\4-way seats are unacceptable. A plastic twist knob when everyone else has a start button is unacceptable. What were they thinking on that one? Twist knobs are to replace the key when you introduce keyless ignition midway through a car's life cycle, you don't design it that way!

    Acura also needs to fire everyone who does their interiors, and steal some guys away from Audi and Lexus at any cost. With the redesign of the G35, the TL now has the worst in class interior other than the CTS, but Cadillac is about to fix that. (And it could be argued that the TL was worse than the old G35) Same goes for the RL.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Scathing LG, scathing.

    Their seats still have different adjustments for the driver and passenger? That no height adjustment for the passenger seat is still there?

    To be fair though, the "worst" interior in the class is little bit much don't you think. I like the IS350's interior the most out of the Japanese entries. I'm kinda split on the TL/G35.

    In the RL's class though I like all the German interiors better along with the M and GS. There just isn't anything special or different enough about the RL interior compared to the TL.

  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Their seats still have different adjustments for the driver and passenger? That no height adjustment for the passenger seat is still there?

    To be fair though, the "worst" interior in the class is little bit much don't you think. I like the IS350's interior the most out of the Japanese entries. I'm kinda split on the TL/G35.

    Honda\Acura are not big on adjustable seats. The passenger seat in the RDX is not even powered! In a luxury SUV! In a car like the RL though, its just an embarrassment. The '91 SC400 had 10\10-way seats.

    The TL has always looked Fisher-Price on the inside when compared to the ES, but at least the old cars had some type of design theme, basically Accord + fake wood = TL. The new one though, ugh. It's actually worse than the Accord now because of all the bits of "zazz" they threw at it, and that big screen looks absolutely horrible when it doesn't have the NAV system.

    I actually like the new G's interior better than the IS. The Lexus has the edge on materials quality, but I find that big empty expanse of gray dash to be very dull. The G has a "mini-M" look that works well.

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