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.
#3967 of 24726 The 2004 NAIAS Report (the luxury version)
Jan 21, 2004 (10:50 pm)
I'll shorten this from the News and View version which covers "everything". I spent two days total at the show, it's so much more than Chicago's autoshow.
Acura has proven to me that they don't hold water to the Euro luxury brands past the TL class. The RL and NSX sat unloved with all the attention at the Acura display going to the TL and TSX. I heard one person say, "this is their new sports car", pointing to the NSX. I wanted to say, dude this "new" car is 15 years old!!!
BMW has lost me. The 5-Series has an interior to match the exterior, a mess. Did anyone check where the door grab handles line up with the dash when the doors are closed? The only BMW I like now is the M3. I could barely do anything until I laid my eyes on the 6-Series. Rarely does a coupe look better than it's convertible counterpart, but this is the case with the 6. The convertible's top up look is truly ugly. The Coupe is no beauty either, but in a darker color it does *somewhat* hide that hideous trunk lid. What the hell is BMW on?
Lexus' new GS...ah the subject of much infighting within the Lexus camp. Another not ugly, not much to look at design from Lexus. It has a hint of the new 5 in the front-fender treatment and its grille is pure Camry Solara, but overall it isn't as bad as some have said, including me. If anything it's just too derivative. Ironically autospies is saying the LF-S is the next IS, figures since they said it was the GS before. Does it look better than the E-Class (the car I see most compared to the GS), heck no it's not even close. Otherwise Lexus' display was just as unimpressive as their lineup of cars. One thing about Lexus that impressed even me, was their JDP awards display. My god they've won every award possible!
Infiniti was all the rage except for the M and Q "45" models that sat mainly with their doors closed and no lookers. The QX56 has way too much grille, other than that it looks pretty good. Then again, I like the Nissan version also. The G35 Coupe (before I buy one) is missing one thing, a decent interior. So cheap it is.
Audi.....always one of my favorites. One of my favorite sedans of all time, the current A6 is finally showing its age. It looks dated next to the A6 and A8, though it took 7 years to get to that point. The price has gone up a lot too, a loaded 2.7t "S line" model is 50K!! The new-look grille on the A8L 6.0 is gorgeous. It says power, which is what the A8L 6.0 has. The LeMans Quattro is another stunner. Not sure how accurate this is, but one of the reps said look for the production version at the 2006 NAIAS.
Ferrari and Maserati are 1 for 2. The 612 Scagletti, while not ugly or as questionable as the Enzo was upon first glance, does have some issues. Two things, the long hood and the space over the front wheels, far too much space in the wheel wells. I'll have to wait and see this one in different colors because the side treatment is hidden in dark red paint of the one car they had on display. This is not a good sign, it should be love at first sight with Ferraris. Look for a facelifted 360 Modena at Geneva in March.
The Maserati Quattroporte on the other hand looked just like I thought it would. Unique, and different, but a looker. It's interior is even better than the exterior. What a sensuous luxury car compared the S-Class, 7-Series, LS, and A8. Only the Jaguar XJ approaches this car in that respect. Major crowds at their combined displays, I mean can't even move around or get closer to the display without pushing type of crowd. So stylish the Italians are!
Mercedes-Benz. Why wasn't the CLS flown in after the L.A. show was over? The GST should be hit with the crossover crowd.....it looks ok I guess, me no likem SUV/Crossover things much. The SLR was stunning, and smaller than I thought it would be. People stood around in a daze. I still say Mercedes' "best" car is the CL coupe, it felt custom made for me. The E55 and SL55 drew a lot of attention too. The SLK is done, little or no interest. Look for a Geneva debut for its replacement. The S-Class is in "classic" status now, still looking good, but you sense there is something new coming soon, and it is. The CLK, while not as hot as the previous generation (to me, the market says different) had a considerable line waiting to sit in them, especially the Cabrio models.
Aston-Martin. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. The DB9 Volante had people mesmerized. I heard all kinds of conversation about this car. They could have picked a better color than that powerdery blue for the interior, but still a real looker. Ahh..the Vanquish a pit-bull on wheels. Can't say enough about how good these cars look. Same level of people as Ferrari/Maserati display. Thick.
Bentley. The Continental GT is a hit with the press and show goers alike, but it looks like a giant VW or some type of shoe to me. They had one there and it was the ugliest blue you can imagine. One thing about the Conti though is that it makes the Arnage and Arnage RL look like they're from another era, of which they are. Not quite as crowded as the above brands, but still crowded.
VW, yes VW they have some "high-end" products now. Surprise, surprise, people actually liked the Phaeton a lot, which I just my first TV commercial on, btw. Nobody seemed to be shocked at how much it costs. Did people looking at it know that its a relative of the A8 and is made by basically the same company? Seems they did. The Phaeton is also a comfortable car too, especially in the rear seat. Lots of buttons though. This biggest of VWs might have a chance here judging purely on the crowd reaction to it is any indication.
#3968 of 24726 cont.......
Jan 21, 2004 (11:00 pm)
Mercedes had a Smart car there, lots people *trying* see inside it. I say trying because it's so small that if too many people get to close it looked like it would tip over.
BMW's X3 will most likely be a runaway sales hit, but those black baby-buggy bumpers have go to go. The interior looks just like the Z4, and it doesn't fit the SAV imo.
Out of all the cars I sat in, the Volvos had the best seats. The S60R and S60 T6 Premier to be exact. Pure comfort. I almost forgot, the Volvo S40. Pretty good, you can't tell it shares parts with a Ford.
The cars that made the biggest impression on me were the Aston-Martin DB9 Volante (possibly the best looking car there), Mercedes SLR (functional styling like the Enzo), Rolls-Royce Phatom (in black its downright evil looking, like something a cartoon character would drive), Vauxhall VX (man what a roadster), VW Concept R (another roadster), Audi A8L 6.0 and lastly the VW Phaeton.
Least impressive, Maybach, Lexus GS, Corvette......while they all might be great cars, all three lose points with me on styling.
There you have it, Merc1 reporting......
Jan 22, 2004 (4:51 am)
Merc 1... nicely done... thoroughly enjoyed reading your report as I do with all cogent commentary on style.
One thing I would like to comment on is “I'll have to wait and see this one in different colors...” with regard to Enzo. I believe a well-designed car looks good in any color, even one’s least favorite. If you have to judge it by color, the car is compromised IMO.
Your distaste for BMW has been no secret and I share your scorn. I’m not sure what will replace my “antique” 03 530 down the road, but if BMW doesn’t get its act together it will be out of my life. It never ceases to amaze me what they have done to their ENTIRE repertoire. And it’s not over... we will have to endure the new 3 and 1.
“So stylish the Italians are!” Amen. In addition, there is this independent sports-car maker in Stuttgart who also has something going with minimalism. I anxiously await the arrival of 997 and surely hope Porsche can remain autonomous. I also like the SLR... has some art deco to it. In any event thank God for sports cars, without which I’d be aesthetically starved. Everything else seems to be getting uglier by the day.
#3970 of 24726 designman
Jan 22, 2004 (5:25 am)
Yes, I must be honest, that "I must see it different colors" line is really an excuse for an ugly car, most of the time. However this time I truly couldn't see how much of a scoup the car has on its sides because of the dark color and my viewing distance from it. The dark color also hides the length of the car. I suspect they did this intentionally, Ferrari ususally uses their signature red, not that dark red. But then again that bright red wouldn't look right on their "GT" car, as the 456 never wore red either. It always dressed in dark Blue or Black. I guess I need to see the car in silver, but yes I ninety-nine percent agree, a good looking car wears any *appropriate* color well. Meaning even an A8 can't wear Orange.
The next few years will be very telling for BMW. I think that once the new got-to-have it factor wears off the 5 its sales too will drop, just like the 7-Series. If BMW uglifies the M3 I'm done with them......it is the only remaining good looking BMW to me. You could have never told me this would happen back in 2001.
#3971 of 24726 Thanks merc1, Great Report -
Jan 22, 2004 (5:56 pm)
As others have said your report on Detroit was great.
I had planned on going but missed the Detroit show for the first time in three years or so. I try to go every year just to fight the wind and cold on Jefferson Avenue going into Cobo.
When I saw two versions of the new BMW 5 Series at the DC Show and the rest of the BMW models, I also could not believe what has happen to BMW. I know I have said this before, but as a prior BMW owner I do not even consider them anymore. It is such a shame what has been done to one of the great automotive brands in just 3 years or so. If it wasn't for the Mini and their SUVs they would be in serious sales trouble.
Will BMW's senior management ever wake-up?
Jan 22, 2004 (6:05 pm)
Thanks. Great report. I also saw that wall of JD Power awards at the NY show last year and it is quite impressive - whether you like or dislike Lexus.
Did Lexus show the HPX at this show and if so what did you think. I know the minivan is not your cup of tea but some of us are married with kids and need these type of vehicles. Also is BMW going anywhere in the GST/HPX segment or ignoring it altogether. God only knows what a Bangle designed minivan would look like. Do you really think BMW is going to let him wreck their vaunted 3-series? I think you're right - 5-series will do well for a brief period and fall like a rock. That's why I think Lexus is making such a big mistake with the next GS.
Any hint at the show about the next gen S-class?
I saw your less than stellar comments about the Maybach but did you happen to see the Rolls?
Finally - given all the cars you saw - what is your dream car and what is your reality car?
#3973 of 24726 Thanks, Merc
Jan 22, 2004 (6:23 pm)
Good report for those of us that couldn't go.
#3974 of 24726 Merc, a little Deja Vu?
Jan 22, 2004 (8:15 pm)
Your September 2003 posting on the Bentley Continental GT discussion:
"I've tried to like this car, but can't. It looks like a giant VW Bug or a shoe."
I guess your view has not changed!
#3975 of 24726 jamesfletcher2
Jan 22, 2004 (10:28 pm)
Yes, BMW is losing me as a fan big time, even the 3-Series isn't as desireable as it used to be with all the other unattractive models sharing floor space with it. Sound silly I know.
I don't think BMW's management sees a problem, yet.
Yes Lexus did show the HPX, it looked smaller than I thought it would be. It's just a raised station wagon, to me. The new GS however should have had the HPX's front end and sides, it would look a lot better. Funny you should ask about BMW and the HPX/GST market. Autospies has a article clearly showing BMW's Chris Bangle looking over the GST, along with other high-level BMW execs. Britian's "CAR" magazine has an article about 2 crossovers that BMW is supposed to be planning. I'm sure they aren't going to ignore it, but they'll be hard pressed to get a crossover to stay true to the BMW "driving" theme.
Yes the BMW 3-Series is next in line for the Bangle treatment. In his defense the new 6-Series wasn't designed by him, but Bangle is the head of BMW design so he takes all the flac. They'll probably tone it down for the 3-Series, but if that trunklid is part of the deal then forget about a good looking car.
Yes (see post after report) I saw the Rolls, stunning in every way except for the front end treatment, it looks unfinished.
"Finally - given all the cars you saw - what is your dream car and what is your reality car? "
If I must pick one it would be the Aston-Martin DB9 Volante. Such a gorgeous car. Reality cars: Infiniti G35 Coupe (interior redo is rumored for 05'), Saab 9-3 Aero, Audi A4 3.0, and in the distance.....the revised 05' C-Class.
I said that before huh....I guess I'm holding firm on that opinion of the car. Do you realize what a new Bentley is supposed to do to the high-end market? Its supposed to be the second coming, and this Continental GT just fell way short of that. It's so NOT attractive.
I'm glad you guys liked the report. Anyone want to fly me to Geneva in March?
Jan 23, 2004 (4:32 am)
"Yes the BMW 3-Series is next in line for the Bangle treatment. In his defense the new 6-Series wasn't designed by him, but Bangle is the head of BMW design so he takes all the flac."
Very interesting, call me fickle; however, even though I detest the E60 and E65, I love the E63. I was actually wondering if Chris Bangle had finally gotten one right, then you let slip that it wasn't penned by him. Either way, I still like the E63, go figure.