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  • Re: Entry Level Luxury Performance Sedans

    Miscellaneous Topics

    Is there a spreadsheet (that I don't have to create myself) available (on line) that allows the user to plug in numbers -- and make some assumptions regarding repair and mntce costs -- to come up with the "cost of ownership" for buying and holding (at least 5 years) vs leasing (for at least 3 years)? I'd appreciate a URL if anyone here knows of one.

    I mentioned this before -- and it did have to do with a GM car in the spirit of full disclosure -- but my neighbor with 80K on his somewhat late model "paid for" Pontiac Bonneville was, according to him, making maintenance and repair payments that were not too far below his financing payments. He went ahead and got a new big-boy Dee-Lux CUV (Chevy) using the logic that if he was going to make payments on a crappy, unreliable, old car, why not make the same payments and be driving a new car with a warranty.

    He also bought a super-nice Ford four door pickup truck (with what darn near looks like a car interior, only nicer) -- and plans to keep it until the wheels turn square. Perhaps Ford trucks are really hard to kill or wound.

    Took my S4 in for the 35K service interval + a tire rotation last Thursday night; got an A7 with 5K miles on it; car was apparently a base model with 19" wheels, winter package (F/R heated seats, steering wheel) and LED headlights. For all intents and purposes, the window sticker I found in the glove box bottom lined at $69K. The option packages did not include the upgraded sound system, but, oddly Nav and voice command and BT communications and WiFi hotspot were all included. It also had premium paint (a kind of crystal black). Perhaps Premium+ doesn't merit a separate line item (which I thought odd, since there was an A6 Prestige on the showroom floor).

    The A7 was sublime -- library quiet, supple, smooth -- the thing oozed from point A to point B. As Col Potter once said, "there aren't enough O's in smooth to describe it." Of course he was talking about some very old scotch whisky as I recall.

    The upgraded wheels and tires (with all-season designation) were probably on the car for styling purposes since the car lacked the sport suspension option. But I hoped the A7 would be a true Luxury Performance Sedan -- especially for nearly $70K.

    In a straight line and at triple digit speeds, the car was, to repeat, sublime. However, I really could not find much of that German Taught feel I assumed would be present. Oh hell, the thing seemed very close to mushy, with ample body roll and, despite quick turn-in, a huge tendency toward understeer at any slightly above posted limits upon entering a curve or twisty section of highway.

    I had been, previously, loaned an A6 with all of the sport option boxes checked off and it seemed much much better than the A7.

    The thing sure was purty however -- but not nearly $10K more beautiful than a comparable A6 -- and driving it although not exactly a chore, was, hmm, rather a disappointment.

    I was able to pull into the dealer in the A7 and five minutes later drive out in my S4 -- the main straight line difference was that the S4 is not quite as quiet as the A7, but everything else about the S4 -- from the sound system to the sound of the engine at full cry -- was superior.

    Now, then, however, would I have the need to drive myself and 3 passengers on a 100 mile trip to Columbus, Louisville or Indianapolis, well the extra rear seat leg room of the A7 would be appreciated.

    I guess the S cars have the power to spoil (me at least). I simply would not pay the extra $13K for a relatively stripped A7 -- and if they were both $57K, the S4 would still be my first choice. Makes me wonder how much better, even, the B9 S4 will be over the A7's.

    Drive it like you live.
  • Re: Entry Level Luxury Performance Sedans

    Ain't it the truth regarding the limited colors available -- and, at the risk of being creamed here -- why do all these high-buck German cars always seem to have black interiors? I ONCE got a black interior (and that was in an Acura TL) because the dealer discounted the car so seriously once he found out that I would walk out rather than have a black interior car. I got rid of this car as quickly as finances and family would allow -- I get inside of a black car and my mood darkens, my optimism vanishes, the interior seems so tiny, hot and constantly dusty.

    Yet, you walk into the Audi dealer and there is this beautiful A6 3/0T Prestige, sport package, upsized wheels, and every functional and fun option man or god has created, all for the bargain basement price of $68K and the dealer ONLY has them with black interiors.

    Have we become so uncreative, so bleak, so moribund that we can only "see ourselves" in black cars, gun-metal gray cars, white cars -- all with black on black on black interiors?

    Now, as you know, I resent seeing a $ next to the color -- and ONLY black gloss or white gloss are free colors, but the interior options usually provide several no-charge options at least once Premium Package (which they all have) is included.

    My dealer actually, now, has a lot of cars on the lot and on the "overflow lot" several miles away from the dealership. But they're all black, dark-silver, gray or gloss white -- most with the dreaded (by me) black leather interiors. Reminds me of:

    "And they're all made out of ticky-tacky; And they all look just the same."

    Black cars with black interiors must be the PC equivalent for cars these days -- well except they offend the hell out of me.

    Oh gawd, have you, lately been invited to a fund-raiser at someone's country club (with valet parking)? We were invited to a fund-raiser to raise money for inner-city disadvantaged kids; "business attire" was specified, so you trot out the dark suit, tie and shiny shoes and pull up to the valet behind a line of black, gray, silver and white German cars (and the odd Lexus or Jaguar) all the while unable to suppress the lyrics: "And they're all made out of ticky-tacky; And they all look just the same." It was all for a good cause, but it certainly was a sad indictment of where we've come to.

    I keep telling myself that I'll bite the bullet and pay for the paint color next time -- we'll just have to wait and see if I can actually pay extra for a paint color other than black or white.

    What a world, what a world -- I'm melting, I'm melting [sic]. . . .
  • Re: Entry Level Luxury Performance Sedans

    One of the key comments -- and one that I agree with -- is that the advantages that diesel (engines) have over gasoline is/has diminished. The thing is, do we know how much we've seen the gasoline engines catch up with the diesel?

    Clearly forced induction and small displacement engines have contributed to this. Now, or at least it would be fair to say "soon" we will have the ability to synthesize "gasoline" from termite (well sorta) waste and we just keep finding more and more ways to extract energy from the planet in many forms, including natural gas and shale, etc.

    I saw another TV show -- which of course means it's true -- that said something to the effect that we have about 99 years worth of traditional fuels -- that we know of -- available to us (at present rates of consumption) in the US.

    In 99 years, or even 59 years, I would assume we'll find ways to manufacture or harvest or extract energy from sources that today are too expensive or from sources that we currently aren't even aware of.

    Perhaps diesel is done -- but, isn't it true that diesel contains more energy per drop and has (historically) been some 33% more efficient than gasoline. Moreover, with filters and converters and adblue, haven't we reduced pollution? Of course, perhaps this event will mark the turning point for the love affair Europe has had with diesel and the surging love affair Americans have started to have with it.

    With the claimed ability to manufacture fuels from bio-substances (garbage, not food, hopefully) and with the claims that we will be able to figure out how to make fuel from water and make it affordable, maybe we've breathed new life into the internal combustion engine.

    With respect to the "reason" for the lie postulated as "VW didn't want their cars to have less pep and less MPGs if they had made the cars pollute less, it seems like a reason that still doesn't make sense.

    The engines, mostly, where this cheat was perpetuated were the VW and/or Audi 2.0L, correct? Wouldn't it have been possible to apply the pollution corrective measures on a 2.2L engine to keep up the HP and torque and perhaps suffer an MPG or three drop?

    Again, this seems like a pressure cooker left alone with the heat on high -- it was only a matter of time before the thing would blow up (spraying beans all over the place). How could anyone think this cheat would not be discovered? I guess I am amazed that it took this long for the ruse to be brought to the light of day.

    So now these folks are all getting fired. My take is the people who ordered the cheat and the folks who were in a position to blow the whistle and didn't ought to face some PERSONAL consequences beyond being fired (with some kind of generous exit package one would imagine). Perhaps a "programmer" who wrote the lines of code could be spared, perhaps. But the programmer's manager who told him/her to write the code, should be in a "you are personally liable" position at least somewhat.

    Did the board know? Or do that have provable, plausible deniability?
  • Re: Entry Level Luxury Performance Sedans


    Driver of a late model Lexus merges onto I-75 south, immediately moves to the left-most lane, slows to 50 (apparently setting cruise control) and using one free hand, starts holding the phone to his ear -- the conversation apparently goes on for many miles, although I broke protocol after a few miles and committed one of the most vile acts anyone can do behind the wheel . . . I passed on the right after my repeated attempts at turning on my left turn signal were ignored.

    I'm all for most freedoms -- really. But, you can't yell fire in a theater (unless there really is one) and expect to be covered by the first amendment. I guess, technically, there is no reason you can't hop onto a major federal highway and drive in the left-most lane at 50 MPH (the speed limit here in Ohio has, in many places, now been bumped to 70); I also assume passing on the right side (or suicide) isn't illegal. But, and it pains me to say this, I would vote for laws that would disallow both of these behaviors, were such items placed on a ballot. But, then again, I am also in the minority that votes.

    We're doomed.

    Just another reason I can't imagine the frustration of owning/driving an RS7 or M5 or CTS-V, etc, where in wide wide world of sports can such machines be driven using more than a fraction of their engineer-imbued "talents?" Not that a Prius is all of a sudden looking good.

    One more note - I would imagine that driving in Italy would be a free-for-all (and Rome, actually, is). But, other than perhaps a slight decrease in speed, the folks driving on the Italian Autobahn (the autostrada, as I recall), behave pretty much exactly like the Germans -- lane discipline, left lane to pass and the lanes get faster the further left you go, period. Folks respond to a wink of your turn signal to get over and, from what I can tell (other than in Rome) there is no road-rage.

    Although many of our Interstate road surfaces are pock-marked, I generally think we have a well thought out (mostly) highway system here, that is rendered far less efficient that it could be by either ignorance, stupidity or lack of driver training. Instead, here, we rely, in this order, upon: Enforcement (sort of), Engineering (a somewhat distant second) and Education (a very distant third.) I would think we could drive faster, experience fewer delays, fewer hours lost per person, per year, etc, if we just made getting a driver's license require a bit more rigor. One would think, considering the death-rate, that getting a DL should require no less preparation and education than getting a pilot's license. My wife got her pilot's license before she was old enough to get a driver's license -- and she thinks that getting a DL is about like getting a box-top off of a box of Wheaties.

    Something is wrong with that.

    One last note: I love test driving all kinds of cars, despite my completely above-board bias toward Audis, German cars and European cars, generally. I have taken so many folks on test drives these past 5-10 years, I can't remember just how many. Not one (other than my wife) has ever had ABS engaged (that they know of -- although I wonder if they just don't know what ABS braking feels like); and the thing is, when I -- in a large deserted parking lot -- get them to engage ABS, the moment the pedal pulsing starts, they [so they say] instinctively know to release the brake to the point the pulsing stops.

    I have been through 4-two day Audi Driving Experiences (on ice), 1-two day BMW Driving Experience (not on ice) one Porsche Driving Experience (1-day) and a Cadillac driving experience (also 1-day). Every instructor literally starts the training with the following exercise: accelerate to about 50MPH from a dead stop and when you reach the orange cone laying on its side at the end of the "runway" press the brake pedal "as if" this is a panic stop. To a man/woman instructor, the command is "when the pulsing is felt through the pedal, press the brake as hard as your leg can press -- imagine your goal is to BEND THE BRAKE PEDAL."

    The reason given for this "press harder" instruction is always, "braking force will continue to increase the harder you press, even with Brake Assist (which bases braking force somewhat on the speed at which the driver presses down)." I've seen this impact myself on dry, wet and icy pavement.

    Yet, when I try to get someone who is testing a new car to brake with any degree of urgency, the instant the pulsing is felt, they release the brake -- which, were this a real emergency could increase the probability of a crash.

    We need to license drivers much, much more rigorously. And, despite this old fashion notion, I think knowing how to drive a manual transmission would be helpful too, much in the same way it is said that video games are helpful prerequisites for so many endeavors.

    I happen to love my DSG transmission, but in a heartbeat, going back to a six-speed manual wouldn't be anything but fun.

    We really are doomed!
  • Re: Entry Level Luxury Performance Sedans

    I'll give them a chance to move over.. but, I'm not sitting in the fast lane for 5 miles behind someone doing 10 MPH under the traffic flow. At some point, you have to go around. What if they were doing 30 mph?
    Traffic flow = the "Natural Speed Limit." Several studies show that if the speed limit on a given highway is 65 and the flow is 80 - 85, that the flow remains virtually unchanged, when the speed limit is raised to 75 or 80 even. The flow of traffic like the ebb and flow (rise and fall) of the stock market really does have a mind of its own. Efforts to enforce (and seriously fine) lane protocols would do far more to increase the safety of many of our highways than "speed traps" will ever do.

    There will be folks who drive at 110MPH when the speed limit is 65 or 80 -- that doesn't change. If the natural speed is 85, the "NORMAL" range will be 80 - 90MPH. Go figure.

    Me, I do pass on the right, but only after sincere and polite attempts to get the Left-Lane-Bandit to move over, I'm crazy, I know, but I do have physical symptoms that arise when I pass on the right -- it seems like breaking a societal covenant restricting and preventing us, mostly, from having "stupid attacks."

    Thankfully, I can't recall someone driving at 30MPH in a 70 zone in the left lane, I would think I would probably use my voice command cell phone to call 911 to report a very dangerous situation, then I would pass on the right and get the hell outta Dodge!