Last post on Jan 28, 2013 at 5:55 PM
You are in the Sedans
What is this discussion about?
Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Jaguar XJ-Series, Lexus LS 460, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Volkswagen Phaeton, Maserati Quattroporte, Mercedes-Benz CL-Class, Sedan
Let's try to define this forum as being limited to luxury performance vehicles where the mainstream version in a typical configuration has an MSRP of at least $60k.
A luxury vehicle with a base price of $59k qualifies because it would typically be bought with some additional equipment, bringing the MSRP over $60k.
Vehicles like the E, 5, A6, M, or GS, even if available in certain versions over $60k, don't qualify because they are cars from companies that have higher end cars in their lineups.
Oct 21, 2003 (8:52 pm)
"In your opinion, what is Build Quality vs Reliablity? Are they mutually exclusive?"
The short answer is no they aren't mutually exclusive. Lexus blends them very well, on the whole probably better than anyone else. I'm just guessing here, but I think you knew this, but wanted me to admit that? Anyway...with Audi they are exclusive traits. When you open the door of a A8, A6 or A4 you feel the heft, when you sit down your senses are delighted by the sheer quality of the interior plastics, wood, chrome, aluminum and the way it all all assembled. The A4 Cabriolet is stunning this reguard, try one out. The convertible top and it's folding structure are overbuilt. Look at the trunk hinges on the upcoming VW Phaeton, overbuilt and really not necessary, but they scream quality.
You'd think an Audi would be very reliable too, considering the last forever "feel" of their cars. Audi has more problem than either Mercedes or BMW, and gulp(!) admittedly more serious ones at that (trans, engine etc). So really the answer to the question depends on the brand being discussed.
Mercedes for example used to be the standard in build before they starting cutting cost. Mercedes' problem is that when they used to insist on overbuilding their cars they really didn't have much competition, yet when they decided to downgrade their interior fittings, the Japanese appeared and BMW, Audi, and all the rest got much better at it. The funny thing is that Audi and Mercedes use the same (French) supplier for the S-Class and the A8, but Audi pays for higher specification, thus VW's thinner profit margins. Mercedes specifies thicker gauge steel and sheet metal (Volvo does too) for safety purposes, magnesium seat frames and so on..all costing...while not really noticeable by the average buyers, unless you get into an accident.....while using lesser grade materials for things that didn't relate to safety. This is most easily seen in the 1999 S-Class compared to the 2000 S-Class.
The British and German press continue to insist that Mercedes is going old-school with build quality, and focusing more heavily on reliability with the next S-Class, but for a price. There was a tear down study done about a year ago comparing newer Mercedes' with older ones. Surprisingly they found that the newer cars structure/chassis was just as robust as the older cars, but the decontenting mainly came in the areas of interior panel thickness, plastics for just about everything and seat frames. Interesting indeed. All car companies decontent in some way or another, but they do it differently. Toyota does it where you can't see it and where the average car buyer is not likely to care. Or in other words where its not likely to show up.
Oct 22, 2003 (8:23 am)
Best business post I've ever seen you make and NOT because of the Lexus comment. I must be getting to you.
The Audi folks in my office had a number of tranny problems and a business associate of mine just had his transmission go on his Jag at 58k miles - one year out of warranty. These things can be very expensive. Cost on the Jag - just for the transmission before labor - $9,500. Ouch. But - he complained to Jaguar and after a few go rounds they admitted they had a number of problems with their transmissions and agreed to provide the transmission free if he picked up the labor costs. That was classy and a lot better service than Audi provided to the folks in my office.
Oct 22, 2003 (2:46 pm)
Ksurg: I really like the Audi, but I found it interesting that you are wanting to make the A8L into more of an envigorating sports sedan than it really is....
In my own test driving experience the A8L felt like a great luxury sedan. It was a really "nice ride"-- but it was not particularly fast, sporty, or lithe. Despite Car and Driver, I did not have any complaints about the ride, but I found it almost sedate until pushed it hard in the "dynamic" suspension mode.
I am not an active member of the Lexus fan club, but I imagine that the new '04 Lexus LS 430 is actually quicker in acceleration, and may even equal or exceed the A8L in handling, with the optional handling package.
During my own recent car shopping experience, I also drove the MB S500 (your "rerun documentary")and found that it's powertrain and acceleration was pretty spunky compared to the A8L. So in my book, as nice as it is, the Audi is just as much of a sedate luxury cruiser as the Lexus or Mercedes.
That said, I still am an admirer of the big Audi, and was almost going to buy one......
(None of this should be considered as negative commentary since we are talking about big luxury cars here)
#3321 of 24726 merc1
Oct 22, 2003 (3:25 pm)
To echo you comments about VW/Audi.
Have always heard and felt that they put their money in the interiors. Especially Audi, which has just the right mix of aluminum, wood and plastic.
I guess the powertrain has to take the hit. There is no free lunch.
No manufacturer has figured out how to do it all for a price.
Don't know about Lexus, but i think Hondas have thinner sheetmetal.
The Asians have been doing this for some time.
The public doesn't seem to notice or care until it needs to be repaired.
I believe GM was the first of the domestics to go with thinner sheetmetal.
In '77 with the redesigned/downsized Impala/LeSabre/Bonneville/Fleetwood,etc.
Chrysler made a bid deal about the reintroduced early 80's Imperial having extra thick sheetmetal.
The new SSR has thicker sheetmetal but weighs 4700 lbs!!!
#3322 of 24726 DonFenn
Oct 22, 2003 (7:23 pm)
Thanks for you comments. Truth be told I'm not sure I want to spend the extra bucks for the S500. For most of my friends it's a status thing, which I think is stupid. I've never been in the Lexus fan club either. It's not that it isn't a great vehicle, it just isn't my preference. When it comes down to it I guess my choices are between the A8L,745iL, or XJ-8. Keep in mind I already have a C4S for fun and a Yukon XL for utility( a must with 3 kids, two dogs, a boat...).
Oct 22, 2003 (8:17 pm)
Well despite popular belief it's not all about the so-called bashing of Lexus with me. I see things a lot clearer than you might think. I like Audi almost as much as do Mercedes-Benz, but that doesn't mean I don't see the issues that both makes have.
Yep, the Japanese have traditionally used thinner sheetmetal. VW/Audi should be able to get past their infamous window switch and transmission issues as they have either, or are going to switch suppliers for both as new models arrive. The new A8 uses the same trans as the Jaguar XJ & S-Type, and the BMW 7-Series, among others. I actually got a chance to talk to a ZF engineer at the Detroit show this year. They supply something to just about every European make nowadays. ZF along with Bosch are the German brands key suppliers.
#3324 of 24726 German trannies
Oct 23, 2003 (7:07 am)
I may be mistaken in this, but I believe the new Porsche Cayenne and VW Touraeg use a 6-speed automatic sourced from Japanese transmission company, Aisin. Sacrilege! I have driven both however and found the transmission incredibly smooth, especially in the VW. Perhaps the Japanese technology and build quality has been attractive to the Germans? I'd imagine the ZF marketing people must have fainted!
#3326 of 24726 tasillo
Oct 23, 2003 (9:09 pm)
Partially correct. The Cayenne uses a Asisn (sp) (Japanese) unit, and VW uses a ZF (German) unit.
#3327 of 24726 Saw a Cadillac XLR Convertible today!
Oct 24, 2003 (11:00 am)
My local dealership was delivering a XLR to a customer. I made a quick U-turn on my way to work (priorities) and stopped to take a look at it. I was impressed by the exterior design--very modern, and displaying all the latest Cadillac styling cues. The man buying it was pushing 80. I had my checkbook out to put a deposit on one, but the salesman wrote MSRP plus $5,000 on the sales order. I don't want one that badly!
I hope that the cars sell well. It's nice to see a good-looking American car.